Day 1: July 1, 1863 - Overview
8 AM, units of CSA Major General Heth approached Gettysburg
along Chambersburg Pike. Expecting Union minimal resistance, Heth
sent Davis and Archer along the pike. But,
almost immediately, Heth's Brigades ran up against
cavalry. After heavy fighting,
forced to retreat, but only after being relieved by
Brigades. Archer and Davis, unprepared for
the fresh Union infantry reinforcements, attacked and incurred heavy
casualties. Both Confederate Brigades were forced to retreat back to Herr Ridge
and reform. By 11 AM, the fighting ceased as both sides waited for approaching
Division (who had arrived at 11:30) to reinforce
Brigade on McPherson Ridge.
placed Col. Chapman Biddle
on Meredith's left and Col. Roy
right. The XI Corps, under command of Major General Oliver
and headed north through the town, intent on occupying Oak Ridge (especially
Oak Hill which was the highest point on the ridge). To secure the ridge, Howard
sent Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz's
Division followed by Brig. Gen. Francis
Division in support. Observing the strategic value of the peaks to the south of
the town, Howard
ordered Brig. Gen. Adolph von
2 Batteries of artillery to remain on Cemetery Hill and hold it at all costs.
Brig. Gen. Robert Rodes
' Division approached southward along Oak Ridge and reached Oak Hill before
Rodes immediately placed 16 guns of LtC Thomas Carter's
Battalion on the hill and began bombarding
Brigade which had been placed just south of Mummasburg Road.
unable to occupy the hill, deployed west-to-east facing north with
to his right. The Union hardly assumed their position when Rodes
commenced the attack. Ewell sent Rodes'
ill-prepared Division hastily attacked, but BG Alfred Iverson's
and Col Edward O'Neal's Brigade ran into considerable
opposition from Robinson's
division. Ewell then sent BG Junius Daniels'
Brigade to support Iverson and BG Stephen Ramseur
to support O'Neal. BG George Doles' Brigade
was sent to help attack Schurz's
smaller division which had positioned itself across the open field. As Doles
formed and prepared to attack Doles' left flank. Just then,
Early's Division arrived from the northeast along Harrisburg Road
and threatened the Union XI Corps' entire right flank. Early joined
the attack and assaulted Barlow's Division with Gordon,
Hays, and Avery's Brigades.
Lee arrived to the battle in time to see Ewell's
assault. He immediately gave A.P. Hill permission
to join the attack. BG James Johnston Pettigrew
's Brigade (a particular large Brigade) attacked
Brigade who had positioned along McPherson Ridge.
Brigade became flanked on its left by Pettigrew's larger
Brigade and eventually was forced to retreat - forming several defensive lines
until it could reform in front of 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 retreat from the
ridge to the Seminary. Just as Heth's Division ran out of
effectiveness, Pender's fresh troops resumed the attack
against the rallying remains of I Corps at the Seminary.
had hoped reinforcements from the XII Corps would arrive, but realized they
would not reinforce the position in time. Thus, he ordered the I Corps and XI
Corps to fall back through the town and reform on 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.
MG Winfield Hancock
arrived at Cemetery Hill and assumed overall command just as
were reforming their units. Cemetery Hill soon became an impressive defensive
position with nearly 9,000 men and about 40 guns. Lee studied the situation and
left the decision of attack to Ewell. Ewell,
who had taken heavy casualties and could count on little help from A.P.
Hill's battered units, decided it better not to attack the hill.
The first day's battle was over.
Copyright î¢³p;2007 Brian Williams.
Last Modified: 02/10/2007.