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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Battle of Gettysburg: Day One

Union General John Buford's First Cavalry Division was sent out to meet advancing Confederate troops on July 1, 1863.  A few thousand dismounted Cavalrymen held off Confederate General Heth's division (about 8,000 men) until General Reynolds arrived with the First Corps to hold the ground at Gettysburg and deny the Rebels roads that could take them to Washington, D.C.

 is located on Oak Ridge,
 south of McPherson Ridge.

Eric & Adam closely follow
Park Ranger Brian's descriptions
of the first day's fighting on 
McPherson Ridge.

We look north to Gettysburg & McPherson Ridge, to the right.

With more Confederate troops massing around the town, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered flanking assaults (attacking the extreme end of an enemy line) to push Northern soldiers away from Gettysburg and to take Cemetery Hill, southeast of town.  General  Robert E. Rode's troops flanked Union troops on McPherson Ridge, east of Gettysburg. Rebel troops were able to force Union troops into Gettysburg.  The town was in chaos with Union soldiers, pursued by Confederates became lost in the maze of unfamiliar streets.  Northern soldiers were captured.

Union General Oliver Howard chose Cemetery Hill for his Headquarters on July 1st.  This proved to be a great decision for the North.  This section of high ground would prove to be strategic as the three day battle unfolded.  Some Union soldiers retreating from McPherson's Ridge made it to Cemetery Hill and reformed their lines.

Confederate General Jubal Early was given orders by General Robert E. Lee to take Cemetery Hill, "if practicable."

Culp's Hill, to the south of Cemetery Hill is taller than Cemetery Hill and was believed to be unoccupied on July 1.  If Confederate troops can command this hill, their fire, from higher ground, will drive Union soldiers from Cemetery Hill.

Unbeknownst to the Southern
 Generals, Union Brigadier
 commander of the Army's
right wing, were occupying
 Culp's Hill.

Greene's men were building breastworks (earth and wood defensive structures) to protect his men from expected assaults.

Confederate scouts probed the hill late on July 1st and were fired upon.  They reported back that Culp's Hill was heavily defended.  Darkness falls around 7:30 (no Daylight Savings Time).  Plans were drawn up to attack this hill on July 2nd.  General Early believes that Culp's Hill is the key to taking Cemetery Hill and complying with General Lee's order.

All too soon, our Ranger led tour of this portion of the Battle of Gettysburg came to an end.

A photo of Ranger Brian & me.

As the first day of fighting came to an end, the Confederates gained ground and Union troops lost ground.  More Union and Confederate troops massed around Gettysburg.  Union lines formed from Culp's Hill, north to Cemetery Hill, then south and west to Little Round Top.  

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