Day 1: July 1, 1863 - AP Hill at McPherson's Ridge
about 2:30 PM, General Lee arrived from the northwest in time
to see Ewell's assault. He immediately gave A.P. Hill
permission to join the attack. A.P. Hill sent BG James
Johnston Pettigrew's brigade (over 2,550 men) to attack
brigade who had positioned along McPherson Ridge. Because of its size, Pettigrew's
brigade was able to flank
Meredith on the
left and despite heavy casualties on both sides, forced
retreat towards the Seminary.
brigade defended an exposed section of McPherson Ridge and was attacked by Archer
and also unable to hold its position.
position was particularly vulnerable because it was formed to face northwest
against Heth's division and northeast along Chambersburg Pike
to face Rodes' approaching division. It too found itself in an
untenable position; attacked from two directions, and also retreated
toward the Seminary. Heth's division took a heavy beating as
it attacked the Union units on McPherson Ridge, but it managed to force a Union
retreat from the ridge to the Seminary.
Iron Brigade suffered an enormous 1,153 casualties (out of 1,829 men) while
Heth lost about 1,500 of his 7,000-man division.
Just as Heth's division ran out of
's fresh troops resumed the attack against the rallying remnants of
I Corps at
the Seminary. The Union barely had time to begin construction of breastworks at
the Seminary when Pender's Division attacked up Seminary
Ridge. Lt. James Stewart's
artillery battery had been placed on the ridge and managed to hold off the
Confederate assault for several minutes. But, the Union found itself
overwhelmed by the sheer number of Pender's men and once again
was in full retreat. I
Corps now lost
cohesion and was sent retreating towards Gettysburg and Cemetery Ridge.
was also retreating through town from the north towards Cemetery Hill. The
retreat was carried out in somewhat confusion and several units were slowed
because of congestion in the town or were captured when their retreat was
cut-off. Despite the near rout situation, the Confederates had taken heavy
casualties and lacked the strength to pursue vigorously.
had left Adolph von
division on Cemetery Hill with orders to hold the position at all costs.
had spent several hours erecting breastworks and created a formidable defensive
position. At about 4:30 PM, MG Winfield
at Cemetery Hill and assumed overall command (under orders of
was senior to Hancock)
just as Howard
were trying to rally their units.
he had an excellent defensive position, but he also knew his forces would be
stretched thin to cover the needed area. MG Daniel E.
III Corps and MG Henry W.
Corps were arriving from the south, but
not know when. Hancock
ordered part of remaining
I Corps to
occupy Culp's Hill. Doubleday
protested, but then sent the remnants of
Iron Brigade to secure the hill.
Surveying from Seminary Ridge, Lee requested A.P. Hill
to continue the assault. But, Hill's Corps had been heavily
battered and was nearly out of ammunition. Lee immediately
sent word to Ewell to "secure possession of the heights...if
practicable". Also, at this time, LG James Longstreet arrived
and conferred with Lee. Longstreet wished to
take a more defensive posture and place the army between the Union army and
Washington. His rationale was to force the Union army into attacking a strong
Confederate position. Lee, on the other hand, believed that he
must confront the Union army and bring the fight to the Federals.
Ewell had always served under General Stonewall Jackson
(who died at Chancellorsville) and this was the first time directly under Lee.
Ewell, who had taken heavy casualties and could not count on A.P.
Hill's support, hesitated. He was further confused by Lee's
"if practicable" order. After waiting over an hour for the attack to begin,
Lee personally rode towards Ewell's headquarters
to find out why there was a delay. By the time Lee arrived at
's headquarters, Slocum
Corps were deploying along Cemetery Ridge and the opportunity for attack had
all but disappeared.
Biography of Major General Howard