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Walking the Good and Bad Ground at Gettysburg


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I’m in Gettysburg this weekend getting a chance to do some research and walking areas of the battlefield that I have stopped at but never fully explored on foot. Trust me, there is a difference when you actually walk the ground versus making stops and looking around.


I drove up this morning and thankfully traffic was light and there were no traffic jams at any point along the way which meant I made the trip in just a bit over four hours. When I got here I checked into my hotel, unloaded my stuff and set to work walking the route I had planned out. My hotel is right at the base of East Cemetery Hill where the Union troops rallied on the night of July 1st 1863. I decided that I would walk through the town and up to McPherson’s Ridge where John Buford’s cavalry and John Reynolds’s First Corps fought A.P. Hill’s Third Confederate Corps, before turning north past the unfinished Railroad Cut and Oak Ridge on my way to Oak Hill where Confederate General Robert Rhodes’ division of Dick Ewell’s Second Confederate Corps went into action.


Oak Hill is the site of the Eternal Peace Monument which was dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938 as a symbol of reconciliation between the North and South. It bears the words “Peace Eternal in a Nation United”. That was a mere seventy-nine years ago and my heart breaks when I see the same forces at work which tore apart the nation in the years before the Civil War, and sadly they are being stirred up by President Trump who more resembles the incompetence of James Buchanan coupled with the malevolence of Jefferson Davis than Abraham Lincoln, or the loyal opposition of Stephen Douglas.



As I looked out from that high ground I saw the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside still covered in Fall foliage with fields of Sorghum ready for harvest, and cornfields waiting to be plowed over for the next season. Directly in front of me was the ground that two of Rodes’s brigades, those of Alfred Iverson and Edward O’Neal, both incompetent pro-secession political generals sent their units into the attack leading to their slaughter. As I walked into the field where those soldiers fell I felt a certain amount of sadness for them. Yes, most of them made the choice to enlist in the Confederate cause, while others joined out of peer pressure, or others because they were drafted: but none signed up to be slaughtered at the hands of their incompetent commanders. One regiment, the 23rd North Carolina lost 89% of the men it took into battle in barely half an hour of combat. As I walked across that swale in front of Oak Ridge where the men of John Robinson’s division awaited them I was struck by the tragedy of men who went into battle for an unjust and unrighteous cause who fell in such large numbers on July 1st 1863. I wrote in the draft of my yet unpublished Gettysburg book:

When the Confederates got to about fifty yards of Baxter’s troops the commander of the 83rd New York, the Swiss born lieutenant Colonel Joseph A. Moesch shouted: “Up men, and fire.” Moesch rode behind his line cheering his men on, but they needed no urging. In the words of one of one, “The men are no longer human, they are demons; a curse from the living here, a moan from the dying there. ‘Give them — shouts one.’ See them run’ roars another.” The well concealed veterans of Baxter regiments slaughtered them as they had O’Neal’s men just minutes before. “One regiment went down in such a neat row that when its survivors waves shirt tails, or any piece of cloth remotely white, Iverson thought that the whole regiment of live men were surrendering.” As the Confederate attack collapsed some “of the regiments in Robinson’s division changed front again, charged, and captured nearly all the men who were left unhurt in three of Iverson’s regiments.” Official Confederate reports list only 308 missing but that number differs from the Union reports, Robinson reporting 1000 prisoners and three flags and Baxter’s brigade nearly 400. As Robinson’s troops smashed the brigades of O’Neal and Iverson, they were joined by the remnants of Cutler’s brigade which changed its face from west to north to deliver more devastating fire into the Confederates.



From there I went over to Oak Ridge and then made my way to Blocher’s Knoll, now know as Barlow’s Knoll. Once you leave Oak Ridge the ground to the east is flat and relatively devoid of any good defensive positions. The Union Eleventh Corps Commander, Major General Oliver O. Howard sent two of his understrength divisions under the command of Carl Schulz to link up with the right flank of Robinson’s division and extend the Federal line to prevent it from being flanked. Unfortunately, one of the division commanders, Francis Barlow decided to advance his division to Blocher’s Knoll which was a mile in front of where Schurz and Howard intended. Noticing what was going on Schurz ordered the other division under the command of Schimmelpfenning to extend its line to maintain contact with Barlow’s division. But there were not enough troops to fill the gap. The line was barely a skirmish line and with no good defensive ground it could do little to stop a determined Confederate attack. Which was exactly what occurred.


George Doles’s brigade of Rodes division, strongly supported by artillery attacked the thin blue line of Schimmelpfenning’s division just as Gordon and Hays Brigades of Jubal Early’s division enveloped Barlow’s terribly exposed division. The men of Barlow and Schimmelpfennig’s divisions made a spirited and fierce defense before they were overwhelmed and retreated to Gettysburg, some making a fighting retreat, others fleeing the Confederate advance, many were killed, wounded or captured. Barlow lay wounded and was given aid by John Gordon who later became a lifelong friend. Schimmelpfennig was rescued from certain capture by a woman in the town who allowed him to hide in a shed behind her home as the Confederates moved into the town.


The memorials to these forgotten and often slandered soldiers line the road from the Mummasburg Road to Barlow’s Knoll. They did fight hard as A private of the 61st Georgia Infantry of Gordon’s brigade noted that the XI Corps troops “stood firm until we got near them. Then they began to retreat in good order. They were harder to drive than we had known them before….Their officers were cheering their men and behaving like heroes and commanders of ‘the first water’”

The 157th New York, was order to help shore up the line. The regiment advanced and engaged in a furious twenty minute fight, continuing the battle “in Indian fashion” until Schurz ordered them to retreat. The gallant 157th sacrificed itself buying time for others to withdraw and left over 75 percent of its men on the battlefield, when the order came, “less than fifty of the 157th were able to rise out of the wheat and follow.” “So the horrible screaming, hurtling messengers of death flew over us from both sides,” recollected a New York soldier. “In such a storm it seemed a miracle that any were left alive.” Krzyzanowski described the scene as “a portrait of hell.”

When one walks that ground it is impossible how that any unit of similar size or composition could have held against the massive pincer attack of Doles’s brigade and Early’s division on Barlow’s exposed position.


As I walked back into town I could imagine the chaos of the retreating Union troops as well as the victorious Confederates as day turned into evening. The Union troops who escaped made their way to link up with Steinwehr’s division and the Eleventh Corps artillery which had been positioned on Cemetery Hill as well as the survivors of the Union First Corps which had fought the Confederate Third Corps to a standstill before being forced back due to weight of numbers. I finished my walk by going up to Cemetery Hill where with the sun beginning to go down I walked among the graves of the fallen Union soldiers and a monument to John Reynolds who fell on McPherson’s Ridge.

As I noted a couple of months ago when I described my walk at Antietam, there is something immensely valuable about walking these battlefields. First, one gets to experience the elements of weather, distance, and terrain which are helpful in understanding what it was like for the soldiers involved. Second, one can see the battle from the perspective of those soldiers, imagining what it would be like to be deal with being under fire on that ground. One understands what men like John Buford and John Reynolds meant when they said that certain terrain was “good ground.” You don’t understand that until you walk it.


I finished tonight with a friend who met me here going to a number of pubs and walking through the town. While walking I saw a number of the churches that served as field hospitals, including Christ Lutheran. The horror of those hospitals is unimaginable to most of us. I have worked in inner city trauma centers and been in field hospitals in Iraq with our wounded and nothing can really prepare you for the horror of blown up, destroyed, and burned bodies of still living men on a such a massive scale.

But what I have experienced pales in comparison to what occurred at Gettysburg and Antietam, and what will certainly happen if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. I have been in the military all my adult life and I dread what I see coming, but since I know that chances are that it will happen I prepare myself and the men and women who serve under me for it. Sadly, most people, even those who have experienced combat in our recent wars are capable of imagining the carnage and horror of the next war. As a historian and a chaplain who has seen combat and a lot of other violent death I can well imagine it and no I don’t sleep well with that knowledge, especially when I see our President rattling sabers so often with seemingly little concern for the men and women that he will be committing to combat. In light of how he has dealt with the deaths of U.S. military personnel since he has been in office, taking no responsibility for any of them, passing the responsibility to military leaders, I tremble at the thought of what his next tweet might bring, but I digress.

Anyway, tomorrow begins another day of exploring parts of the battlefield on foot. Today I walked just over thirteen miles. I think that tomorrow I may well exceed that. I will tell you about that walk tomorrow night.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Disaster at Blocher’s Knoll

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Today another section from my Gettysburg text, this on the disaster the befell the Union Eleventh Corps north of the town on the afternoon of July 1st 1863.

Have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

barlow_gordon

Schurz placed his own Second division under the acting command of Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelpfennig his senior brigade commander. Schimmelpfennig was a former Prussian Captain, an engineering officer, who had left the Prussian army to fight in the 1848 Revolution where he met Schurz and the two men became fast friends. When the revolution was crushed Schimmelpfennig, like Schurz fled Germany and was sentenced to death in absentia by the government of the Palatine region. He immigrated to the United States in 1853 “where he wrote military history and secured a position as an engineer in the War Department.” [1] He volunteered to serve at the outbreak of the war, and was appointed as colonel of the German 74th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Schimmelpfennig took command of the brigade when his brigade commander was killed at Second Bull Run, and he was promoted to Brigadier General by Lincoln in November 1862. According to an often told fable Lincoln supposedly promoted the German “because he found the immigrant’s name irresistible,” [2] but unlike so many other volunteer generals Schimmelpfennig was no novice to soldiering. It “took him aback to discover that American-born generals “have no maps, no knowledge of the country, no eyes to see where help is needed.” [3] He also criticized the method by which many American staff officers were selected, from their “relations, some of old friends, or men recommended by Congressmen,” [4] as compared to Molkte’s Prussian General Staff which prided itself on producing competent staff officers who could also direct troops in the heat of battle.

He too was a Chancellorsville and warned of the danger of the hanging flank and his troops were routed by Jackson’s, but as one writer noted “The brigade’s list of casualties indicates that it deserves more credit than it has been generally given.” [5] Schimmelpfennig too wanted to redeem himself and the Germans of his command as they marched to meet Lee again.

The First Division of Eleventh Corps was under the command of Brigadier General Francis Barlow. Barlow was a twenty-nine year old Harvard law graduate and Boston Brahmin was well connected politically with the more radical abolitionists of the Republican Party and had an intense dislike of Democrats. He volunteered for service and became the regimental commander and of the 61st New York Infantry. Though he did not have prior military training he “was a self-taught officer of resolute battlefield courage.” [6] His courage and competence were recognized and was promoted to Brigadier General after Antietam where he had been wounded in the groin by canister in the vicious battle for the sunken Road.

Due to his abilities the “Boy general” was convinced by his fellow abolitionist, Howard to command an Eleventh Corps division after Chancellorsville, but Barlow soon regretted his decision. Barlow, was to use modern terminology somewhat of an elitist and snob. He disliked army life and developed a reputation as a martinet with a boorish personality, who life in the army “very tedious living so many months with men who are so little companions for me as our officers are.” [7]

“Billy” Barlow was not happy with commanding the Germans, and he “disliked the beery and impenetrable Germans in his division as much as he disliked Democrats.” He admitted that he had “always been down on the ‘Dutch’ & I do not abate my contempt now.” [8] The feeling was reciprocal, his men considered him a “petty tyrant” and one wrote “As a taskmaster he had no equal. The prospect of a speedy deliverance from the yoke of Billy Barlow filled every heart with joy.” [9] As Barlow marched with his men into Gettysburg he had in his pocket a letter requesting to be given command of one of the new brigades of U.S. Colored Troops which were then being raised, something he felt was more attuned to his abolitionist beliefs and temperament.

Brigadier General Adolf von Steinwehr was another of the German’s and he enjoyed a solid reputation as a soldier. Steinwehr was a German nobleman, actually “Baron Adolf Wilhelm Augustus Friedrich von Steinwehr, a onetime officer in the army of the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbutel.” [10] Steinwehr was a graduate of the Brunswick Military Academy came to the United States seeking to serve in the United States Army and served in the Coastal Survey as an engineer, but was not able to get a commission. He settled in Connecticut and volunteered to serve at the beginning of the war. He raised the heavily German 29th New York Infantry. He was made a brigadier general in October 1861 and took command of the Eleventh Corp’s Second division in in the summer of 1862 when the Corps was still under the command of Franz Sigel. A Pennsylvania soldier noted that Steinwehr was “accomplished and competent, and deserv[ing] of more credit than he ever received.” [11] At Chancellorsville his troops performed well and did some hard fighting before being driven back, Howard considered Steinwehr’s conduct and bearing at Chancellorsville as “cool, collected and judicious.” [12]

As Howard and Schurz consulted on Cemetery Hill, it was decided that Schurz would advance Schimmelpfennig and Barlow’s divisions to the north of the town in order to anchor the right flank of Doubleday’s embattled First Corps. “As Schurz remembered it, he was to take the “First and Third Divisions of the Eleventh Corps through the town and … place them on the right of First Corps, while he {Howard} would hold back the Second Division… and the reserve artillery on Cemetery Hill and the eminence east of it as a reserve.” [13] Schimmelpfennig’s division led the way through the town and deployed to the north, Barlow’s division followed moving to its right.

Schurz had two missions, to protect First Corps right flank and also to “guard against the anticipated arrival of Confederates from the northeast.” [14] Schurz intended to bring his two divisions into line each with one brigade forward and one in reserve. Schimmelpfennig’s brigade was placed at a right angle to the flank of Robinson’s division. It was Schurz’s intention that Barlow’s division “extend Schimmelpfennig’s front facing north” by keeping Ames’ brigade as a reserve in the right rear “in order to use it against a possible flanking movement by the enemy.” [15]

Both divisions were very small, especially compared to their Confederate opponents, consisting of just two brigades apiece. Schurz estimated that the two divisions numbered “hardly over 6,000 effective men when going into battle…” [16] and the ground that they had to occupy, being flat and open without and without any geographic advantage was hardly conducive for the defense, but it was necessary in order to attempt to secure the flank of First Corps and to prevent Doubleday’s command from being rolled up by Ewell’s Corps.

With the heavy pressure being put on First Corps by the Confederate divisions of Heth, Pender and Rodes; and the arrival of Jubal Early’s division of Ewell’s Second Corps Howard had few choices, and realistically Howard’s “only course was to delay the enemy.” [17] Howard has been faulted by historians Stephen Sears and Edwin Coddington for allowing Doubleday and First Corps to continue to fight on McPherson’s Ridge instead of withdrawing back to Seminary Ridge or even Cemetery Ridge during the lull in fighting early in the afternoon. [18] However, in defense of Howard, the only Confederate troops on the field when he met with Doubleday between Seminary and McPherson’s Ridge during the lull were those of Heth and Pender, as Rodes’ division had not yet arrived. As such, Howard promised to protect Doubleday’s flank without full knowledge of the situation, a promise that “would soon prove rash.” [19]

In making his decision to advance it was Howard’s intention was to get Schimmelpfennig and Barlow’s divisions up to Oak Hill to secure the right flank, but by the time his troops were moving into the open country north of the town, Rodes’s division was already there and the guns of Carter’s artillery battalion soon found the range on the Union troops. Because of this Schimmelpfennig “had to post his troops on the plain facing northwest off the right and rear of First Corps” [20] and his troops were never able to “make their link up with Robinson and the dangling flank of First Corps.” [21]

Schurz’s small divisions now found themselves facing elements of two veteran Confederate divisions; those of Robert Rodes and Jubal Early. Unlike the battle on McPherson’s and Seminary Ridge the Eleventh Corps troops did not have the advantage of good defensible ground. Likewise they had to cover a front that was much too wide for their numbers without fast reinforcements from Third or Twelfth Corps, which would not come.

Oliver Howard was counting on the timely arrival of either Slocum’s Twelfth or Sickles’ Third Corps which were in reasonable marching distance of Gettysburg, however Sickles was attempting to sort out conflicting orders from Meade and Howard, while Slocum who had just gotten the now hopelessly out of date Pipe Creek Circular waited for hours after receiving Howard’s message before putting his troops on the road to Gettysburg. Coddington argues that Howard’s hope for reinforcement at this point “was both unrealistic and unfair to the commanders of the other corps,” [22] but others have questioned that point of view, especially in regard to Slocum. Slocum’s most recent biographer Brian Melton notes that Slocum seemed to believe that “Reynolds and Howard were actively disobeying orders” [23] and wanted Slocum to do the same, and “because he deemed it contrary to Meade’s wishes, he did not want to come forward himself to take responsibility for the fight, or “of becoming a scapegoat for a lost, politically important fight someone else started against standing orders.” [24]

Melton attributes Slocum’s reluctance to take command and send his troops forward was that he had been McClellanized as a result of learned behavior in the politically charged Army of the Potomac. As such he was hesitant to jump into a situation that he had no control and then be blamed for the defeat.

“What historians see in Slocum at Gettysburg is not so much a failure of nerve (though it can be described as such) but, rather, the triumphant moment of his McClellanism. Slocum, with his tendency to absorb the philosophies of his powerful superiors, displayed conduct on day one and day two of Gettysburg that looks like McClellan in microcosm. He was absorbed with maneuver, over-cautious, focused on retreat, and scrupulously concerned with the chain of command (sometimes conveniently so). Like McClellan on the Peninsula he found excuses that kept him away from the fight, and therefore the responsibility.” [25]

What the Union command situation does show is that in a rapidly changing tactical environment that orders, no matter how well thought out, can become obsolete as soon as soon as contact is made. There it is imperative that commanders and staff officers adapt to changing situations. However, in the Army of the Potomac, which had been formed and taught by McClellan, and had endured command shake ups and the political machinations of many of its senior commanders, Slocum found that he could not take that risk. Melton wrote, “no matter what his reasons, Slocum missed an important opportunity to play an important role in the most famous battle fought on this continent, Acoustic shadows and conflicting orders kept him away from the fighting when other corps desperately needed him. Instead of covering himself with glory that day, the best he can hope for is to be quietly excused.” [26]

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Major General Francis Barlow

“A Portrait of Hell”

Without reinforcements Schurz’s divisions moved north out of the town. Schurz had two missions as he moved north, “to protect Doubleday’s right and to guard against the anticipated arrival of Confederates from the northeast.” [27] to do this he had to keep his line compact enough on bad defensive ground with little natural advantage and maintain a reserve to parry any emerging Confederate threats from the northeast. The first issue was that to meet these missions Schurz only had about 6,000 troops, and these had to be spread along a line beginning at the Mummasburg Road to the York Pike. Even so there was a gap of about a quarter of a mile between Schurz’s left and Doubleday’s troops on Oak Ridge. It was the best he could do and for practical purposes the two Eleventh Corps divisions were only able to form “the equivalent of a strong skirmish line along their broad front.” [28] Had Barlow remained in place his troops would have been in a better position to receive the Confederate attack and protect Doubleday’s right flank.

However, this did not happen. Barlow did not comply with Schurz’s orders to simply extend Schimmelpfennig’s line and keep Ames’s brigade as a reserve to parry any attack on his right flank. Instead, as he moved his division through the town, Barlow secured the permission of Howard to take a small portion of high ground about a mile further north, called Blocher’s Knoll. There was a certain logic to the move, “to prevent the Rebel troops then visible to the north – George Doles’s brigade, of Rodes’s division – from occupying it and using it as an artillery platform.” [29] But the advance was to be a disastrous mistake as it left Barlow’s division exposed to Doles’s advancing troops, as well as Jubal Early’s division which then deploying for battle along the Harrisburg Road in perfect position to turn the flank of Schurz’s divisions. When Howard saw that deployment he countermanded his order that had allowed Barlow to seize Blocher’s Knoll. Howard wrote, “as soon as I heard of the approach of Ewell and saw that nothing the turning of my right flank if Barlow advanced… I countermanded the order.” [30] But the aggressive Billy Barlow continued to advance and left his own flank exposed to the attack of Early’s division which was “deployed in a three-brigade-wide battle front that was almost a mile across – and overlapped the Union line by almost half a mile.” [31]

Barlow was the only non-German division commander in XI Corps and he had little regard for Schurz. “Without consulting or even notifying his superiors, Barlow issued orders that got his division moving toward that point.” [32] Barlow advanced Colonel Ludwig Von Gilsa’s small brigade with two sections of artillery to Blocher’s Knoll placing it on the extreme right of the Union line. Instead of maintaining Ames’ brigade in reserve and slightly to the right of von Gilsa to guard against any potential flanking attack, Barlow deployed Ames’s brigade on the left of von Gilsa’s brigade facing slightly to the northwest. Barlow’s decision to do this left von Gilsa’s right flank hopelessly exposed and gave him no reserve to meet any danger on the right.

The orders that Barlow had previously had from Howard to move forward to Blocher’s Knoll were predicated on Oak Hill being unoccupied and Schimmelpfennig’s division being able to occupy it before the Confederates could do so. Barlow, on his own volition, knowing that the Confederates had taken Oak Hill and were assaulting Robinson’s division on Oak Ridge decided to advance movement placed Barlow’s division “where Barlow wished it to be” [33] and not where Schurz or Howard expected it, with disastrous results. Schurz noted:

“But I now noticed that Barlow, be it that he had misunderstood my order, or that he was carried away by the ardor of the conflict, had advanced his whole line and lost connection with my third division on the left, and…he had instead of refusing, had pushed forward his right brigade, so that it formed a projecting angle with the rest of the line.” [34]

There are still debates as to why Barlow advanced but one of the most likely explanations is that he saw the unprotected left of Brigadier General George Doles’s brigade of Georgians from Rodes division and wanted to strike them in the flank. [35]

To be sure, the position on Blocher’s Knoll “offered a cleared crown suitable for artillery and a good line of sight up the Heidlersburg Road,” [36] provided that it could be supported but it had a weakness in that “thick woods began about one hundred feet below the crest toward Rock Creek, severely limiting the field of fire in the direction of the anticipated Confederate advance.” [37] Barlow’s deployment provided Jubal Early with the perfect opportunity to execute one the hard hitting flanking attacks that had been the specialty of his old superior Stonewall Jackson.

The instrument of Barlow’s division’s destruction was Brigadier General John Gordon’s brigade of Early’s division. Gordon was a self-taught soldier whose army service began when he was “elected Captain of a mountaineer company” [38] called “the Raccoon Roughs” in the opening weeks of the war.” [39] As Georgia had no room in its new military for the company Gordon offered it to Alabama where is was mustered into the 6th Alabama regiment. Even though Gordon had no prior military experience, he learned his trade well and possessed “an oratorical skill which inspires his troops to undertake anything. His men adore him….he makes them feel as if they can charge hell itself.” [40] After Manassas, Gordon was elected colonel of the 6th Alabama. He commanded the regiment until he was wounded five times in the defense of the Bloody Lane at Antietam. His final wound that day was to the face, which rendered him unconscious. He fell “with his face in his cap, and only the fact that another Yankee bullet had ripped through the cap saved him from smothering in his own blood.” [41] Before Chancellorsville the gallant colonel was promoted to brigadier general and given command of Lawton’s brigade.

Gordon’s troops hit the exposed right flank of Colonel Ludwig Von Gilsa’s tiny brigade and that force was overwhelmed by the fierceness of the Confederate assault. Von Gilsa was a professional soldier by trade who had served as a “major in the Prussian army during the Schleswig-Holstein War before immigrating to the United States” [42] from 1848 through 1850. After coming to the United States Von Gilsa supported as a singer, piano player and lecturer in New York, and on the outbreak of the war he raised and was commissioned as the Colonel of the 41st New York Infantry. He was badly wounded at the Battle of Cross Keys in the spring of 1862 and was made a brigade commander when Julius Stahel was elevated to division command. His first battle as a brigade commander was Chancellorsville where on the extreme Union right he warned of Stonewall Jackson’s flanking move, but his reports were discounted. Von Gilsa was a colorful man who won the respect of his men and “was notorious for his genius for profanity in his native German.” During the difficult retreat from Chancellorsville, Oliver Howard reminded the German Colonel “to depend upon God, and von Gilsa poured out a stream of oaths in German with such vehemence and profusion that Howard thought he had gone insane.” [43] Admired by his troops, one officer noted that von Gilsa was “one of the bravest of me4n and an uncommonly good soldier.” [44] This did not keep his new division commander Barlow from taking a dislike to him and arresting the German on the march to Gettysburg for allowing more than one soldier at a time to break ranks to refill canteens. Barlow reinstated Von Gilsa to his command at 1 p.m. just as his brigade was entering Gettysburg and beginning its march to engage the Confederates north of the town.

The position occupied by von Gilsa’s brigade “was at once a strong and dangerous position, powerful in front…but exposed on both flanks.” [45] Thus the exposed position of Barlow’s troops on Blocher’s Knoll provided the advancing Confederates the opportunity to roll up his division and defeat it in detail before moving down the Federal line to deal with Schimmelpfennig’s division. The Confederate attack engineered by Jubal Early was a masterpiece of shock tactics combining a fearsome artillery barrage with a well-coordinated infantry assault.

Colonel H.P Jones who commanded Jubal Early’s artillery battalion opened up a crossfire on von Gilsa’s brigade from its positions east of the Heidlersburg Road as Gordon’s brigade struck assisted by pressure being put forth by Junius Daniel’s brigade of Rodes division which was attacking Ames’s brigade from the northwest. The concentrated fire of the artillery added to the din and furthered the destruction among the Union men as Jones’s battalion’s fire “enfiladed its whole line and took it in reverse.” [46] The artillery fire from Jones’s battalion supported Gordon’s brigade as well as Early’s other two brigades, those of Hays and Avery as they advanced. “A prominent member of Ewell’s staff later said he had never seen guns “better served than Jones’ were on this occasion.” [47]

Von Gilsa’s outnumbered and badly exposed Union troops attempted to make a stand but were slaughtered by the Confederates; soon the brigade began to unravel, and then disintegrated. But it was not the complete rout posited by the brigade’s critics. It took “fifteen to twenty minutes of hard fighting for John Gordon’s men, assisted by some of George Doles regiments, to overrun Blocher’s Knoll” [48]One Confederate soldier later recalled, “it was a fearful slaughter, the golden wheat fields, a few minutes before in beauty, now gone, and the ground covered with the dead and wounded in blue.” [49] Another of Gordon’s soldiers noted “The Yankees…fought more stubborn than I ever saw them or ever want to see them again.” [50] Von Gilsa himself displayed tremendous courage in trying to stem the tide of the Confederate advance. He had “one horse shot from under him, but jumped onto another and desperately tried to stem the retreat. On soldier saw him ride “up and down that line through a regular storm of lead, meantime using German epithets so common to him.” [51] Despite his best efforts, just as a Chancellorsville von Gilsa was unable to hold his position and his troops fled through crowded and chaotic streets of Gettysburg to Cemetery Hill where their retreat was halted and they joined the troops of Steinwehr’s division and the other survivors of the First and Eleventh Corps troops who managed to escape the Confederate onslaught.

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Brigadier General John Gordon

As Von Gilsa’s brigade collapsed Gordon “focused on the exposed right flank of Ames’s brigade” and Doles’s troops, now supported by Ramseur fell upon its left and “Ames’s outnumbered troops also collapsed” [52] even as that young and gallant commander attempted to advance his brigade to support Von Gilsa’s now fleeing troops. Barlow was in the thick of the fighting attempting to rally von Gilsa’s troops when he was wounded. Ames, the senior brigade commander took command of the shattered remnants of the two brigades when Barlow, went down. The wounded Barlow would be assisted by Gordon and “carried to the shade” of a nearby farmhouse by a member of Early’s staff. [53] Barlow recovered and after the war “he and Gordon established a friendship that lasted for the remainder of their lives.” [54]

Adelbert Ames was a native of Maine and had a stellar reputation when he entered Gettysburg. The young officer “graduated 5th out of 45 students in the Class of 1861, which completed its studies just after the fall of Fort Sumter.” [55] He was commissioned into the artillery and was wounded at First Bull Run where he was awarded the Medal of Honor. After he recovered he was commended for his service during the Peninsular Campaign. Ames then returned to Maine where he organized and commanded the illustrious 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, and after Fredericksburg was promoted to brigadier general. “Like von Gilsa’s brigade, Ames’s came under fire from both infantry and artillery.” [56] After Chancellorsville he was promoted to brigadier general and took command of his brigade in Barlow’s division. Ames was a brave and capable leader who would continue to serve with distinction throughout the war ending up as a Major General of Volunteers and serving as one of Mississippi’s Reconstruction governors after the war. He lived a long and eventful life and was the last Civil War general to die in 1933.

Amidst the chaos of the retreat Ames worked with von Gilsa to “try to gather enough men together around a cluster of buildings along the Heidlersburg Road which served as the Adams County almshouse,” [57] and upon assuming command he succeeded in “slowing the retreat and establishing a second line when Avery’s and Hays’s brigades came crashing in on the right.” [58] However, this line too was driven back in great confusion as the brigades of Gordon and Hays, supported by Jones’s artillery hammered the thin blue line.

Schurz attempted to recover the situation by extending Schimmelpfennig’s division to the right, and advanced his reserve brigade under Polish born Colonel Wladimir Krzyzanowski to support Barlow counterattacking against Doles’s brigade. Krzyzanowski too was a refugee from Europe, coming from a region of Poland occupied by Prussia. “Kriz” as he was known to many Americans had fled to New York following the failed revolution of 1848 and made his living as a civil engineer. When war came Krzyzanowski volunteered for service, and was allowed to recruit “a multinational regiment that became known as the 58th New York Infantry, the “Polish Legion.” [59] Following service in a number of campaigns he was given command of a brigade in June of 1862.

Krzyzanowski’s brigade achieved some initial success against one of Doles’s regiments and for a time engaged in a furious short range shoot out with two more of Doles’s regiments. The opponents stood scarcely seventy-five yards apart aiming deadly volleys at one another without regard for themselves, an Ohio solider recalled “Bullets hummed about our ears like infuriated bees, and in a few minutes the meadow was strewn with…the wounded and the dead.” [60] Despite their gallantry Krzyzanowski’s troops were also rolled up in the Confederate assault when Doles and Gordon turned his flanks. Both of “Krzyzanowski’s flanks received enfilading fire and the brigade fell back across the Carlisle Road toward an orchard on the north side of Gettysburg.” [61]

As the situation deteriorated Schimmelpfennig ordered the 157th New York Infantry to support Krzyzanowski. The regiment advanced and engaged in a furious twenty minute fight, continuing the battle “in Indian fashion” until Schurz ordered them to retreat. The gallant 157th sacrificed itself buying time for others to withdraw and left over 75 percent of its men on the battlefield, when the order came, “less than fifty of the 157th were able to rise out of the wheat and follow.” [62] “So the horrible screaming, hurtling messengers of death flew over us from both sides,” recollected a New York soldier. “In such a storm it seemed a miracle that any were left alive.” [63] Krzyzanowski described the scene as “a portrait of hell.” [64]

Harry Hays brigade of Louisianans joined the assault on the collapsing Federal right while on the left Schimmelpfennig’s line collapsed under the weight of Doles’s attack, which had now been joined by the brigade of Stephen Ramseur. The proud Schimmelpfennig joined his troops in retreat. Inside the town he was unhorsed by enemy fire. In the town Schimmelpfennig was knocked unconscious “with the butt of a musket – “by the blow of a gun” – as he tried to scale a fence.” [65] By the time he regained himself Confederate troops were swarming all around, and to avoid capture he prudently “took refuge in a woodshed, where he remained in hiding the next three days.” [66] The attack of Early’s division supported by Doles and Ramseur “completely unhinged the end of the long Union line and destroyed any opportunities for resistance on that part of the field.” [67]

Howard was still looking for relief from Major General Slocum’s Twelfth Corps and seeing the disaster unfolding north of the town sent the First Brigade of Brigadier General Adolph Steinwehr’s division from Cemetery Hill to support the fleeing men of Barlow and Schimmelpfennig’s divisions. The small brigade of about 800 soldiers under the command of Colonel Charles Coster advanced through the town to a brickyard on the outskirts of the town. Before this small force could get into position they were hit hard by Hays and Avery’s brigades of Early’s division. The Confederates again had a massive numerical advantage at the point of attack with “eight big regiments to face Coster’s three small ones” [68] and they too were able to find an open flank and envelop both flanks of the tiny Union brigade. Avery’s brigade took them in the right flank and with both flanks turned by the advancing Confederates [69] Coster’s little brigade broke under the pressure and began to retreat leaving many prisoners to be collected by the Confederates. The commander of the 134th New York exclaimed “I never imagined such a rain of bullets.” [70] In its fight with Avery’s brigade which had the New Yorkers in a crossfire, the 134th lost some forty men killed and 150 wounded. Coster had entered the fight with about 800 soldiers but by the end of the afternoon over 550 were casualties, with “313 of them left it as prisoners.” [71] Coster survived the assault but resigned from the army a few months later never having filed and official report. [72] As the Union right collapsed and the Confederate pressure on Robinson’s division on Oak Ridge mounted, von Amsberg’s brigade, without the 157th New York found itself without support and was forced to withdraw. However, the sacrifice of Coster’s brigade “succeeded in checking the enemy long enough to permit Barlow’s division to “enter the town without being seriously molested on its retreat.” [73]

In his after action report as well as in other correspondence Barlow was acrimonious toward the German troops who he had so carelessly exposed to the Confederate onslaught on Blocher’s Knoll. He wrote “We ought to have held the place easily, for I had my entire force at the very point where the attack was made….But the enemies [sic] skirmishers had hardly attacked us before my men began to run. No fight at all was made.” [74] However, more circumspect Union officers do not back the gallant, but arrogant Boston Brahmin’s statement nor do his Confederate opponents. The Union artillery commander Henry Hunt wrote that it was “an obstinate and bloody contest” [75] while Gordon, whose brigade had inflicted so much of the damage on Barlow’s divisions wrote:

“The enemy made a most obstinate resistance until the colors of the two lines were separated by a space of less than 50 paces, when his line was broken and driven back, leaving the flank which this line had protected exposed to the fire from my brigade. An effort was made by the enemy to change his front and check our advance, but the effort failed and this line too, was driven back in the greatest confusion with immense loss in killed, wounded and prisoners.” [76]

A private of the 61st Georgia Infantry of Gordon’s brigade wrote that the Eleventh Corps troops “stood firm until we got near them. Then they began to retreat in good order. They were harder to drive than we had known them before….Their officers were cheering their men and behaving like heroes and commanders of ‘the first water’” [77]

During the retreat the redoubtable Hubert Dilger whose battery had wrought such death and destruction on O’Neal and Iverson’s brigades and Carter’s artillery while supporting Robinson’s division on Oak Ridge continued its stellar contribution to the battle. Instead of withdrawing his battery completely he halted four guns north of the town to support the infantry. “The four cannon immediately banged away at the approaching Confederate infantry and helped hundreds of Federal troops successfully escape the clutches of the enemy.” [78] When he could do no more Dilger withdrew to Cemetery Hill where his guns joined the mass of Union artillery gathering on that edifice.

Collapse and the Retreat of First & Eleventh Corps

The retreat of Eleventh Corps “southward through the streets of Gettysburg exposed the rear of the First Corps at a time when Doubleday’s troops were already having to give ground before the superior numbers represented by” [79] the divisions of Harry Heth and Dorsey Pender of A.P. Hill’s Third Corps. The First Corps had been battling Hill’s troops for the better part of the morning and for the most part had gotten the better of their Confederate opponents, inflicting very heavy casualties on the divisions of Heth, Pender and Robert Rodes. The fierceness of the Union defense of the ridges west of the town wreaked havoc on the Confederate attackers. The remnants of the Iron Brigade supported by the brigades of Biddle and Stone, Gamble’s dismounted cavalry, and Wainwright’s expertly directed artillery inflicted massive casualties on their Confederate opponents.

Notes

[1] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.218

[2] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.63

[3] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.166

[4] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.166

[5] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.139

[6] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.38

[7] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.181

[8] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.181

[9] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.126

[10] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.162

[11] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.63

[12] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.132

[13] Trudeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2002 p.198

[14] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.74

[15] Ibid. Guelzo . Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.181

[16] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, p.288

[17] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.74

[18] Ibid. Sears, Gettysburg pp.193-194 and Coddington p.303

[19] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.142

[20] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.140

[21] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.166

[22] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.303

[23] Melton, Brian C. Sherman’s Forgotten General: Henry W. Slocum University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London 2007 p.125

[24] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.143

[25] Ibid. Melton Sherman’s Forgotten General p.124

[26] Ibid. Melton Sherman’s Forgotten General p.128

[27] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.74

[28] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.76

[29] Ibid. Sears, Gettysburg pp.193-194 and Coddington p.212

[30] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.77

[31] Ibid. Sears, Gettysburg pp.193-194 and Coddington p.212

[32] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.217

[33] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.216

[34] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.77

[35] Ibid. From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership Greene p.78

[36] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.216

[37] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.78

[38] Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of Confederate Commanders Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 1959, 1987 p.111

[39] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.262

[40] Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee’s Lieutenant’s a Study in Command, One volume abridgement by Stephen W Sears, Scribner, New York 1998 p.41

[41] Sears, Stephen W. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam Houghton-Mifflin Company, Boston and New York 1983 p.242

[42] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.224

[43] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.127

[44] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.61

[45] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.128

[46] Hunt, Henry The First Day at Gettysburg in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War edited by Bradford, Neil Meridian Press, New York 1989 p.363

[47] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, p.291

[48] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.225

[49] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.79

[50] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.225

[51] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.128

[52] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.79

[53] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.188

[54] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.141

[55] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.129

[56] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.234

[57] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.187

[58] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, p.292

[59] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg p.236

[60] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.80

[61] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.80

[62] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.186

[63] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.225

[64] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.186

[65] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.139

[66] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two Fredericksburg to Meridian Random House, New York 1963 p.477

[67] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, p.292

[68] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.190

[69] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, p.241

[70] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage p.241

[71] Ibid. Sears, Gettysburg pp.193-194 and Coddington p.217

[72] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.190

[73] Ibid. Pfanz The First Day at Gettysburg pp. 267-268

[74] Ibid Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.79

[75] Ibid. Hunt The First Day at Gettysburg p.365

[76] Report of Brigadier General J. B. Gordon, CSA, commanding brigade, Early’s Division, in Luvaas, Jay and Nelson Harold W editors. The U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg South Mountain Press, Carlisle PA 1986 p.45

[77] Ibid. Greene From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.79

[78] Gottfried, Bradley The Artillery of Gettysburg Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville TN 2008 p.71

[79] Weigley, Russell F. A Great Civil War: A Military and Political History 1861-1865 Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis 2000 p.244

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A Christian & an Enthusiast: General Oliver O. Howard

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

A change of pace as I get ready for a new class and a section of my Gettysburg Text about Major General Oliver O. Howard. Howard is interesting because alone of senior Union generals his Christian Faith guided his actions and he was maligned by some for that faith. 

This section is only biographic sketch before his Eleventh Corps went into action at Gettysburg. Likewise it does not discuss his very successful command of a corps and army in the West under William Tecumseh Sherman, nor his post war service. I think that he makes an interesting character study; after all, the one constant in history is humanity. We learn from men like Howard and that is important.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Oliver-Otis-Howard-9345101-1-402

Major General Oliver O. Howard, U.S. Army

With John Reynolds dead and Abner Doubleday directing First Corps in its defense west of Gettysburg Major General Oliver O. Howard, commander of Eleventh Corps assumed command of the Federal forces around Gettysburg. Howard was one of the more unusual characters in the senior leadership of the Army of the Potomac, and later when he served under William Tecumseh Sherman’s command in the west, mostly because of his strong Evangelical Christian religious convictions and the fact that he did not drink. Sherman remarked to a group of generals who were mocking Howard’s temperance, “Let Howard alone! I want one officer who don’t drink!” [1]

“A Christian and an Enthusiast”

The thirty-three year old Howard was from Maine, his father had died when he was ten and in 1846 at the age of sixteen he entered Bowdoin College. He graduated from Bowdoin in 1850 near the top of his small class, and education, far from being something simply to prepare himself for a career was important of itself, and he told his mother, “Education is my first aim…. I seek not money, but a cultivated and enlightened mind, becoming & corresponding with the age in which we live.” [2] During his time at Bowdoin Howard was introspective and frequently mused on his own shortcomings and failures. He also showed little interest in world or national events, including the war with Mexico, but in his first year at Bowdoin he did take an interest in the cousin of a classmate, Elizabeth Ann Waite, or Lizzie who eventually became his wife.

While he was finishing his time at Bowdoin he was still uncertain of what he would do. It was then that his uncle, Congressman John Otis who had help to raise him following the death of his father secured for him an appointment to West Point. He did very well academically but at times struggled with some of his fellow students, some of who considered him “priggish, self-righteous, and opinionated.” [3] This was most likely due to a number of reasons, first his moderate abolitionist views, which were unpopular with many cadets, his active participation in the Bible class, which some classmates ridiculed, and his high academic standing, which provoked the jealousy of others. Howard was also resented by some for his friendship with Sergeant Warren Lothrop, a Mexican War veteran, a childhood friend who was “the son of a close friend of his own father” [4] as well as maintaining a friendship with a cadet “who had been “cut” – shunned – by the corps.” [5] While he stood by the cadet, he was forbidden to maintain the friendship by the Commandant of Cadets due to rules on fraternization, but in the eyes of some classmates, the damage had been done. One cadet who never accepted Howard was Custis Lee, an academic rival and the son of Robert E. Lee.

Despite a rough start Howard became friends with many cadets, including some who had shunned him early in his West Point experience. However, one friend who stood by Howard throughout was a cadet from Virginia named J.E.B. Stuart, who he knew from the Bible class. Howard wrote of that friendship, “I can never forget the manliness of J.E.B. Stuart…. He spoke to me, he visited me, and we became warm friends, often, on Saturday afternoons, visiting the young ladies of the post together.” [6] Howard’s friends included cadets from north and south, and never appeared to let political or ideological differences influence his choice of friends.

He graduated fourth in the class of 1854 and commissioned as a Brevet Second Lieutenant in the highly technical Ordinance Corps. He married Lizzie the following year and held a number of assignments in his corps before being assigned to Florida at the tail end of the Seminole Wars where as an Ordinance officer he saw no action. However, during his time in Florida he experienced his conversion to Evangelical Christianity, following his attendance of a number of Methodist revival meetings and his future life would bear evidence of the influence of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. His faith became a facet of his life that he would never waver from incurring the praise as well as the criticism of various contemporaries. He wrote Lizzie:

“I then bore hat the text above in mind, & said in my heart oh! My Saviour, I know that thou canst save me! I made an effort to fully believe that my sins were washed in the blood of the Lamb, that my dear Saviour had actually saved me at that moment, i.e. had pardoned all my transgressions of the laws of God, & all the wickedness of a corrupt heart – The fullness of the glow of happiness came into my heart, the tugging & burning left me – the choking sensation was gone…my mind is as clear as when making out an Ordinance Return…” [7]

Following his conversion he led prayers and Bible studies, had enlisted me to his quarters for morning devotions and even considered leaving the army for the ministry. It was fortunate for Howard that his commander, an elderly Colonel, Gustavus Loomis, was a devout Christian who had first taken him to the Methodist revival meetings, for many other senior officers would have not approved of such overtly evangelical behavior.

Howard was transferred back to West Point in September of 1857 where now as a First Lieutenant he was assigned as an instructor in Mathematics, and was able to again be with Lizzie and their children. At West Point he continued his religious activities, leading Bible studies and became the superintendent of a Sunday school for the children of enlisted men and briefly explored the possibility of entering the ministry with a local Episcopal priest and even studied Hebrew for a time.

During his time as an instructor at West Point the young officer, like many devout converts to any religion, wrestled with his faith. Always introspective Howard became even more so, do much soul-searching and with two issues that he recognized in himself, vanity and pride. He wrote: “the pride & haughtiness of my heart is more than pen can tell, but I believe God will so school me, by failures when I act without Christ, by disappointments & afflictions, as to bring my miserably foolish soul into full subjection to himself…. I fear if God would give me success with my heart as it is now, that I would be puffed up with pride & thus lose the countenance of my blessed Saviour.” [8] That struggle to harmonize the tension between his desire to excel in the army and life, with his concerns for his soul should he become consumed by ambition and vanity would become more pronounced within a few very short years.

As he had for most of his life Howard took little interest in political questions and the growing movement toward secession. This was not surprising because Howard, whose religious commitment was continuing to grow was planning to take a leave of absence from the army to attend Bangor Theological Seminary, where his brother, Charles was already a student. However, when Fort Sumter was fired on Howard “abandoned the plan to enter the ministry and determined to stay as a regular or volunteer until the war was over.” [9]

As the officers who made their choice to remain loyal to the Union were now confronted with the decision to remain in the Regular Army or join the new volunteer regiments being formed by Northern states. For many, loyalty and the desire to fight to protect the Union was mixed with a certain amount of pragmatic ambition. Remaining in the relatively small Regular Army might leave them in the position of assisting the training of new volunteer units, or involved with the administration or organizing and equipping them, possibly with limited promotion opportunity while taking a volunteer commission could lead to rapid promotion, command of a regiment or even a brigade.

But initially “the was “a prevalent opposition to regular officers accepting commissions in the volunteers,” [10] but soon the reality that the Regular army was insufficient to bring the rebellious states back into the Union caused the army to allow officers to serve with the volunteers. Howard’s fellow Mathematics instructor, Lieutenant Gouverneur Warren was one of the first young officers at West Point to accept a volunteer commission in the Fifth New York Infantry, the Duryea Zouaves. Howard wrote to Maine’s governor, Israel Washburne offering his services to the State, and after an initial rebuff was offered command of the Third Maine Volunteer Infantry. When he received the offer from Maine Howard took it to Lieutenant Colonel John Reynolds, the Commandant of Cadets and told Reynolds of the offer and asked, “I’ve had the tender, or what amounts to it, of a Maine Regiment. What answer would you give, colonel?’ Reynolds replied, “You’ll accept, of course, Howard,” [11] and then preceded to give the young officer a lesson on what colonels needed to know.

One thing Howard had settled in his mind was the legitimacy of war. As a cadet at West Point he had studied the works of Henry Wager Halleck, who wrote one of the first comprehensive books on strategy by an American and who included in his work a synopsis of the traditional Just War Theory. Halleck, like Howard, was a devout Christian and in his book he wrote “The prevention and punishment of crime causes much human suffering; nevertheless the good of the community requires that crime should be prevented and punished. So, as a nation, we employ military officers to man our ships and forts, to protect our property and our persons, and to repel and punish those who seek to rob us of our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness…” [12] When Fort Sumter was attacked and other Federal installations in the South being overrun Howard believed that “it was a citizen’s duty to defend his country just as a father would defend his wife and children from an assassin.” [13] When the regiment arrived in New York on its way to Washington it was presented a flag by patriotic Maine citizens living there. Upon receiving it, Howard thanked them and his words reflected his thoughts about war and duty, as well as his religious faith: “I was born in the East, but I was educated by my country. I know no section; I know no party; I never did. I know only my country to love it, and my God who is over my country. We go forth to battle in defense of righteousness and liberty, civil and religious. We go strong in muscle, strong in heart, strong in soul, because we are right…” [14]

Howard’s faith would be a source of personal strength throughout the war and while some like Joseph Hooker ridiculed his faith saying “He was always taken up with Sunday Schools and the temperance cause. Those things are all very good, you know, but have little to do with commanding an army corps. He would command a prayer meeting with a good deal more ability than he would an army.” [15] Likewise his “reputation as a Christian “hampered his acceptance by both fellow officers and enlisted men.” [16] Despite this, many soldiers and officers in every unit Howard commanded came to admire him

Despite this Howard did eventually succeed and became the only officer of his West Point class of 1854 to become a Major General in the Regular Army of the United States. It was not always an easy road, but Howard displayed a resiliency in the face difficulty and even defeat, a resiliency that enabled him to grow as an officer and commander as the war went on.

Shortly after the Third Maine joined the army at Washington Howard was made a brigade commander. His brigade was involved in the final attack at Bull Run were it was caught up in the disaster that overtook the army of Irvin McDowell. He was promoted to brigadier general and commanded a brigade during McClellan’s inept Peninsular Campaign and “at Fair Oaks on June 1, he was hit twice in the right arm while leading a charge; a second bullet shattered the bone near the elbow, and the arm had to be amputated.” [17] Howard’s bravery in the face of the enemy was noted, especially after having received the first wound he continued to lead his men despite having three horses shot from under him. One of his regimental commanders wrote, “The General was the only Brigadier that I saw on the field who led his men into battle & handled them there – He acted with a bravery bordering on rashness & nobly sustained his reputation as a brave and efficient officer.” [18]

Within two months Howard was back with the army, his former officers writing McClellan to recommend that Howard be given command of a division. He did not immediately get that, but was given command of a brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves, the Philadelphia Brigade in John Sedgwick’s division. He took command of that division when Sedgwick was wounded at Antietam. He commanded the division when it was thrown into General Ambrose Burnside’s ill-advised and doomed assault of Marye’s Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Though his division could not break the Confederate line he was commended by Major General Charles Sumner and Major General Darius Couch for his actions. Sumner noted Howard’s “judicious disposition” in driving the Confederates from Fredericksburg” while “Couch, in speak of the corps losses, stated: “Howard, coming up late, lost 700 men, besides 150 on the 11th. He did well in the part assigned to him.” [19]

During the winter following Burnside’s relief and the appointment of Major General Joseph Hooker to command the Army of the Potomac, Howard remained in command of his division. The vanity that he wrestled with in his spiritual life got the better of him when Daniel Sickles, a political general with no formal military training was appointed to command the Third Corps. Howard, who was senior to Sickles protested to Hooker and was promised the newly arrived Eleventh Corps. The corps, which had just become part of Hooker’s army was never “accepted as a true part of the Army of the Potomac,” where it was viewed as a “foreign contingent,” [20] “and was looked upon by the older units with some distain, despite its having seen considerable action.” [21] The previous Corps commander, Major General Fritz Sigel had just left the army after a disagreement regarding not receiving a larger command during the reorganization of the army. When he left many of the corps’ soldiers remained very loyal to their old commander, and “thought Howard was being advanced at Sigel’s expense.” [22]

But Hooker had created a problem for himself. Eleventh Corps was the only large unit in the Federal Army with a high concentration of Germans. Many of the soldiers had enlisted to serve under men that they knew and trusted, Fritz Sigel and Carl Schurz. When Sigel left command Hooker could have appointed Carl Schurz to command the corps, but “Hooker had little use for Schurz’s generalship,” [23] and bluntly told Secretary of War Stanton that he would not appoint Schurz to corps command. For Howard, this was not good, for “in his anxiety to receive a command commensurate with his rank he had failed to consider all the consequences.” [24]

Howard took command of Eleventh Corps barely a month before Hooker launched his offensive against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, which culminated in the Battle of Chancellorsville. Howard struggled to gain the acceptance of the German soldiers of his new command, many of whom were resentful of having to serve under a non-German officer who did not understand them. Howard’s overtly Evangelical Christian approach to command and stress on temperance, which included the distribution of religious tracts did not endear him to the Germans, many of who were Catholics, free-thinkers and beer drinkers. While Howard’s piety was appreciated many soldiers of English and Scottish descent with Protestant roots, the “Germans of the Eleventh Corps, many of whom were freethinkers, the activities of “Old Prayer Book” were not welcome…. The Eleventh Corps would go on campaign under a general it neither liked nor trusted, and Howard was marching quite out of step with his command.” [25] Some understood this, Colonel Charles Wainwright, commander of the First Corps artillery wrote, “Howard, who succeeds Sigel in the Eleventh is brave enough, and a most perfect gentleman. He is a Christian and an enthusiast, as well as a man of ability, but there is some doubt as to his having snap enough to manage the Germans, who require to be ruled with a rod of iron.” [26]

In the ensuing battle Howard’s Eleventh Corps was taken in the flank by Stonewall Jackson’s troops which outnumbered his badly situated corps by nearly three-to-one, his only reserve brigade having been taken by Hooker to support Sickle’s Third Corps. The ensuing action was a disaster as regiment after regiment was rolled up by the rapidly advancing Confederate phalanx.

Blame could be assigned to both Hooker and Howard, Hooker for leaving Eleventh Corps unsupported and isolated on the flank without a reserve, and Howard for not taking better precautions to secure his right flank from a surprise attack. Neither Howard, nor his senior division commander Brigadier general Charles Devens “personally investigated any of the reports of Rebel activity on their front, and Howard compounded his negligence by leaving his command for two critical hours.” [27] Only Carl Schurz took any action to protect the corps flank and rear by quietly facing three of his regiments west. When the night was over Howard admitted “I wanted to die…. That night I did all in my power to remedy the mistake, and I sought death everywhere I could find an excuse to go to the field.” [28] However, Jackson’s victory was more tactical than strategic and as one historian noted “the corps had generally acquitted itself well in a nearly hopeless situation and delayed Confederate progress until dark,” [29]at which time the Confederates experienced the loss of Stonewall Jackson who was mortally wounded in the darkness by his own troops as he tried to push his corps forward.

However, the morale of the Eleventh Corps was crushed and it would not get a chance to redeem itself during the rest of the Chancellorsville campaign. When Hooker lost his nerve, refused to counter-attack, and then decided to withdraw he was opposed by Howard, George Meade, Darius Couch and John Reynolds who advocated a renewal of the offensive against Lee who they knew to have taken heavy casualties and had to be outnumbered by the Army of the Potomac.

The ever insightful Charles Wainwright wrote, “Some of the papers are very severe on Hooker, and insist upon that he was drunk, which I do not believe. Others go quite as far the other way, and try to screen him from all blame, seeking to throw it on one or the other of his subordinates. The attacks on General Howard are outrageous. He had been in command of the Eleventh Corps but a month before the fight, and was previously unknown to its officers and men…. He is the only religious man of high rank I know in this army, and, in the little intercourse I have had with him, shewed himself the most polished gentleman I have met. I know that he was very anxious to attack Lee on Monday, and together with Couch, Reynolds, and Meade was decidedly opposed to our withdraw on Wednesday night…” [30]

But the damage to the Eleventh Corps had been done. In the search for blame the old line prejudice and sentiment of the “Know nothings” against the immigrant Germans was once again unleashed. Inside and outside the Army of the Potomac, the Eleventh Corps was given the derisive nickname of “the flying Dutchmen” despite the fact that approximately half of its soldiers were of old line Yankee stock. The Eleventh Corps was not without good soldiers or good leaders, the real issue came from “the prejudice of Americans and the defensive attitude of the Germans…” [31] The soldiers of the corps had to endure the mocking of soldiers of other units and the scorn of the press, which “spoke of the “unexampled conduct” of the Eleventh Corps and how “the whole failure of the Army of the Potomac was owing to [its] scandalous poltroonery.” [32] In defense of the Corps Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelpfennig wrote “It would seem a nest of vipers had but waited for an auspicious moment to spit out their poisonous slanders upon this heretofore honored corps…. I have been proud to command the brave men in this brigade; but I am sure that unless these infamous falsehoods be retracted and reparations made, their good will and soldierly spirit will be broken…” [33]

Like his army commander, Fighting Joe Hooker, Howard never “conceded that he was in any way negligent, but he once hinted that at Chancellorsville he was inexperienced and that he had learned a lesson. “When I was a lad, a larger boy gave me a drubbing, but I grew in size and strength till he could do it no longer. The war experience of some of us was like that.” [34] To his credit, Howard did learn from his mistakes and never was surprised again as Eleventh Corps commander or the Commander of the Army of Tennessee under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman. However, Hooker, not only refused to take any blame, but proceeded to blame “squarely upon three of the army’s eight corps commanders…” [35] Howard, John Sedgwick and cavalry corps commander George Stoneman.

The troops were discouraged and resentful of their treatment; one officer wrote of the corps’ withdraw from Chancellorsville “I recrossed with a heavy heart, and… I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I was ashamed of the battle, and deplored the sad experience of the Eleventh Corps…” while Howard noted, “there was no gloomier period during the great war than the month which followed the disasters at Chancellorsville.” [36] Carl Schurz wrote “The spirit of this corps is broken, and something must be done to revive it.” [37] It was in this depressed environment, commanding a corps that was defeated and demoralized that Oliver Howard advanced into Gettysburg on July 1st 1863.

Notes

[1] Hebert, Walter H. Fighting Joe Hooker University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London 1999. Originally published by Bobbs-Merrill, New York 1944 p.178

[2] Carpenter, John A. Sword and Olive Branch: Oliver Otis Howard Fordham University Press, New York 1999 p.3

[3] Thomas, Emory M. Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK 1986 and 1999 p.24

[4] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.8

[5] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.24

[6] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.25

[7] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.17

[8] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.20

[9] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.21

[10] Jordan, David M. Happiness is Not My Companion: The Life of G.K. Warren Indiana University Press, Bloomington Indiana 2001 p.34

[11] Howard, Oliver O. Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard, Major General, U.S. Army Volume 1 The Baker and Taylor Company, New York 1907 Made available by the Internet Achieve through Amazon Kindle location1627 of 9221

[12] Halleck, Henry Wager. Elements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Instruction In Strategy, Fortification Tactics of Battles, &c. Embracing the Duties of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Engineers, Adapted for the Use of Volunteers and Militia Third Edition D. Appleton & Company, New York and London 1862 Amazon Kindle edition location 149 of 6332

[13] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.21

[14] Ibid. Howard Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard location 1983 of 9221

[15] Girardi, Robert I. The Civil War Generals: Comrades, Peers, Rivals in Their Own Words Zenith Press, MBI Publishing, Minneapolis MN 2013 p.92

[16] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.25

[17] Tagg, Larry The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America’s Greatest Battle Da Capo Press Cambridge MA 1998 Amazon Kindle Edition p. 121

[18] Ibid. Girardi The Civil War Generals: Comrades, Peers, Rivals in Their Own Words p.91

[19] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.41

[20] Ibid. Hebert Fighting Joe Hooker p.178

[21] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.43

[22] Ibid. Hebert Fighting Joe Hooker p.178

[23] Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston and New York 1996 p.64

[24] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.43

[25] Ibid. Sears Chancellorsville p.65

[26] Wainwright, Charles S. A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journal of Colonel Charles S. Wainwright 1861-1865 edited by Allan Nevins, Da Capo Press, New York 1998 p.183

[27] Ibid. Sears Chancellorsville p.270

[28] Ibid. Sears Chancellorsville p.286

[29] Greene, A. Wilson. From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership in The First Day at Gettysburg edited by Gallagher, Gary W. Kent State University Press, Kent Ohio 1992 p.57

[30] Ibid. Wainwright A Diary of Battle p.210

[31] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster New York, 1968 p.306

[32] Ibid. Green From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.58

[33] Ibid. Green From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.58

[34] Ibid. Carpenter Sword and Olive Branch p.49

[35] Sears, Stephen W Gettysburg Houghton Mifflin Company, New York 2003 pp.193-194 and Coddington p.20

[36] Ibid. Green From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership p.57

[37] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.37

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Gettysburg Day One: “A Portrait of Hell” The Collapse of Barlow and Schimmelpfennig’s Divisions at Blocher’s Knoll

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Note to readers: This is another of my articles on the battle of Gettysburg.  

Oliver Howard’s XI Corps had a bad reputation in the Army of the Potomac through no fault of its commander. Composed mainly of German immigrants the corps was on the extreme right of the Union line at Chancellorsville with its flank exposed. It was hit unexpectedly by Jackson’s Corps and routed, its soldiers fleeing as Howard and other commanders tried to rally them. The action earned the corps the derisive nickname “the flying Dutchmen.”

As the battle along McPherson’s and Seminary Ridge continued between Hill’s Third Corps and the Union I Corps and Buford’s Cavalry Howard’s Corps deployed to cover I Corps flank. Howard sent two divisions forward under the command of Major General Carl Schurz. The divisions Schurz’s Second division temporarily under the command of Brigadier General Alexander Schimmelpfennig, one of the brigade commanders and the First Division under the command of Brigadier General Francis Barlow were small divisions of just two brigades apiece. Schurz estimated that the two divisions numbered “hardly over 6,000 effective men when going into battle….[1]

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Carl Schurz

Schurz intended to bring these two divisions into line each with one brigade forward and one in reserve. Schimmelpfennig’s brigade was placed at a right angle to the flank of Robinson’s division and it was his intention that Barlow’s division “extend Schimmelpfennig’s front facing north” keeping Ames’ brigade as a reserve in the right rear “in order to use it against a possible flanking movement by the enemy.” [2]

However Barlow did not comply. Barlow was a 29 year old Harvard law graduate and Boston Brahmin was well connected politically with the more radical abolitionists of the Republican Party and had an intense dislike of Democrats. He came from a family well entrenched in Boston society and though he became a competent soldier and was promoted to Brigadier General after Antietam and was convinced to command a division in XI Corps by Howard after Chancellorsville. He soon regretted his decision. Barlow was to use modern terminology somewhat of an elitist and snob. He “disliked the beery and impenetrable Germans in his division as much as he disliked Democrats.” He admitted that he had “always been down on the ‘Dutch’ & I do not abate my contempt now.” [3]

barlow

Francis Barlow

Barlow was the only non-German division commander in XI Corps and he had little regard for Schurz. Instead of following Schurz’s direction he advanced Colonel Leopold Von Gilsa’s small brigade with two sections of artillery to a small knob of high ground known as Blocher’s Knoll. Instead of maintaining Ames’ brigade in reserve and to the right to guard against a flanking attack he deployed it facing slightly northeast on the right of Von Gilsa’s brigade. It was to be a costly error. Schurz noted:

“But I now noticed that Barlow, be it that he had misunderstood my order, or that he was carried away by the ardor of the conflict, had advanced his whole line and lost connection with my third division on the left, and…he had instead of refusing, had pushed forward his right brigade, so that it formed a projecting angle with the rest of the line.” [4]

There are still debates as to why Barlow advanced but one of the most likely explanations is that he saw the unprotected left of Brigadier General George Doles’s brigade of Georgians from Rodes divsion and wanted to strike them in the flank. [5] However this left his own flank exposed to the attack of Brigadier General John Gordon’s brigade of Early’s division.

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John Gordon

Gordon’s troops hit the exposed right flank of Von Gilsa’s brigade and that force rapidly cracked under the fierceness of the Confederate assault. Jones’ artillery battalion “enfiladed its whole line and took it in reverse” [6] supporting Gordon as well as Hays and Avery’s brigades as they advanced. One Confederate recalled “it was a fearful slaughter, the golden wheat fields, a few minutes before in beauty, now gone, and the ground covered with the dead and wounded in blue.” [7]

As Von Gilsa’s brigade collapsed Gordon “focused on the exposed right flank of Ames’s brigade” and Doles fell upon its left and “Ames’s outnumbered troops also collapsed” [8] even as he advanced his brigade to support Von Gilsa’s now fleeing troops. Ames took command of the shattered remnants of the two brigades when Barlow, attempting to rally his troops fell badly wounded. Barlow would be assisted by Gordon who had one of Early’s staff “carried to the shade” of a nearby farmhouse. [9] Barlow recovered and “he and Gordon established a friendship that lasted for the remainder of their lives.” [10]

barlow and gordon

Schurz attempted to recover the situation by extending Schimmelpfennig’s division to the right, and advanced his reserve brigade under Polish born Colonel Wladimir Krzyzanowski to support Barlow counterattacking against Doles’s brigade. However they too were rolled up in the Confederate assault, both of Krzyzanowski’s flanks received enfilading fire and the brigade fell back across the Carlisle Road toward an orchard on the north side of Gettysburg.” [11] During the retreat the 157th New York sacrificed itself leaving over 75 percent of its men on the battlefield. Krzyzanowski described the scene as “a portrait of hell.” [12]

Harry Hays brigade of Louisianans joined the assault on the collapsing Federal right while on the left Schimmelpfennig’s line collapsed and the Prussian joined his troops in retreat. Inside the town he was unhorsed and in order to avoid capture “took refuge in a woodshed, where he remained in hiding the next three days.” [13]

Howard, looking for relief from Major General Slocum’s XII Corps sent the First Brigade of Brigadier General Adolph Von Steinwehr’s division from Cemetery Hill to support the fleeing men of Barlow and Schimmelpfennig’s divsions. The small brigade of about 800 soldiers under the command of Colonel Charles Coster advanced through the town to a brickyard on the outskirts of the town. They were hit hard by Hays and Avery’s brigades of Early’s division; Avery’s which took them in the right flank. Both flanks turned by the advancing Confederates [14] Coster’s brigade too broke under the pressure leaving many prisoners to the Confederates. The commander of the 134th New York exclaimed “I never imagined such a rain of bullets.” [15] Coster survived but resigned from the army a few months later never having filed and official report. [16]

Barlow was acrimonious toward his troops who he had so carelessly exposed to the Confederate onslaught. He wrote “We ought to have held the place easily, for I had my entire force at the very point where the attack was made….But the enemies [sic] skirmishers had hardly attacked us before my men began to run. No fight at all was made.” [17] However this statement is not backed by others on the Union of Confederate side. Henry Hunt wrote that it was “an obstinate and bloody contest” [18] while Gordon wrote:

“The enemy made a most obstinate resistance until the colors of the two lines were separated by a space of less than 50 paces, when his line was broken and driven back, leaving the flank which this line had protected exposed to the fire from my brigade. An effort was made by the enemy to change his front and check our advance, but the effort failed and this line too, was driven back in the greatest confusion with immense loss in killed, wounded and prisoners.” [19]

A private of the 61st Georgia Infantry of Gordon’s brigade wrote the XI Corps troops “stood firm until we got near them. Then they began to retreat in good order. They were harder to drive than we had known them before….Their officers were cheering their men and behaving like heroes and commanders of ‘the first water’” [20]

xi corps

Their right now uncovered by the retreat of the XI Corps the battered I Corps survivors fell back through the town onto Cemetery Ridge.  There they and the remnants Barlow and Schimmelpfennig’s divisions were rallied by Howard and the recently arrived Major General Winfield Scott Hancock around Colonel Orland Smith’s fresh and dug in brigade and a substantial amount of artillery.

[1] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster New York, 1968 p.288

[2] Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion Vintage Books a Division of Random House, New York 2013 p.181

[3] Ibid. Guelzo. P.181

[4] Green, A. Wilson. From Chancellorsville to Gettysburg: O. O. Howard and Eleventh Corps Leadership in The First Day at Gettysburg edited by Gallagher, Gary W. Kent State University Press, Kent Ohio 1992 p.77

[5] Ibid. Greene p.78

[6] Hunt, Henry The First Day at Gettysburg in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War edited by Bradford, Neil Meridian Press, New York 1989 p.363

[7] Ibid. Greene p.79

[8] Ibid. Greene p.79

[9] Ibid. Guelzo p.188

[10] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.141

[11] Ibid. Greene p.80

[12] Ibid. Guelzo p.186

[13] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two Fredericksburg to Meridian Random House, New York 1963 p.477

[14] Tredeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2002 p.241

[15] Ibid. Trudeau p.241

[16] Ibid. Guelzo p.190

[17] Ibid Greene p.79

[18] Ibid. Hunt The First Day at Gettysburg p.365

[19] Report of Brigadier General J. B. Gordon, CSA, commanding brigade, Early’s Divsision, in Luvaas, Jay and Nelson Harold W editors. The U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg South Mountain Press, Carlisle PA 1986 p.45

 

[20] Ibid. Greene p.79

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Lee Blunders into Battle: Day One at Gettysburg

Railroad_CutBetween Heth’s Divsion and I Corps at the Railroad Cut-Dale Gallon

The Army of Northern Virginia commanded by Robert E Lee was now deep in Union territory and nearly blind to the location of the Federal Army of the Potomac. On the 30th advanced units of Dick Ewell’s Second Corps had gone nearly as far as Harrisburg while most of the Army was on the road around Chambersburg. J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry was far away encumbered by a large captured Federal wagon train around Hanover and not in position to report on Union troop movements.

As reports from the spy Harrison came to Longstreet he reported them to Lee. Lee was surprised but quickly began to concentrate the Army around Cashtown. As the rest of the army gathered General A.P. Hill sent Johnston Pettigrew’s Brigade of Harry Heth’s Division to Gettysburg on the 30th. Pettigrew observed the Federal cavalry of Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division as they took up positions on Seminary Ridge. Since it was late he declined to engage and reported the Federal concentration to Hill, believing it to be nothing more than militia and cavalry.

427_2Buford Defending McPherson’s Ridge Mort Kunstler

On the morning of July 1st Hill ordered Harry Heth’s to advance his division to Gettysburg without the benefit of cavalry support or reconnaissance. Hill believed that the troops reported by Pettigrew could be nothing more than local militia. As they advanced the leading brigades under Brigadier General James Archer and Joseph Davis met Federal forces. Heth first became embroiled in a fight with Buford’s cavalry, which forced him to deploy and held up his advance along McPherson’s and Herr’s Ridge. Lee’s “laxness with respect to reconnaissance and his lack of control of Hill’s movements caused him to stumble into battle.” For the master of so many battlefields it was an inauspicious beginning.

Heth had been surprised and then suffered heavy casualties when lead elements of the Federal 1st Corps under the command of Major General John Reynolds arrived. In the ensuing fight both Archer’s and Davis’ brigades were mauled with Archer being captured and Davis wounded. As the fight continued the Federal XI Corps under Oliver Howard arrived, extended the Right of the Federal line and emplaced troops on the hills to the east of the town. Unfortunately Howard’s dispositions were faulty and the choice of his First Division commander Barlow to advance to an exposed area of high ground proved to be nearly disastrous to the Federal position.

gettysburg_battle_map_of day1Gettysburg Day One (Map by Hal Jespersen, http://www.posix.com/Com)

Lee was surprised by the engagement and though he chastised Heth for getting involved but committed his army to the attack the Federals. Reynolds was killed early in the engagement but the fight was bitter, the Iron Brigade exacted a fearful toll on Archer and Davis’s brigades.

The attack by Heth was helped immensely when the lead elements of Ewell’s 2nd Corps in the form of Robert Rodes’ division arrived. Rodes’ division hit the right flank of the I Corps where it joined XI Corps and was joined by part of Jubal Early’s Division to his right. They overwhelmed the division of Francis Barlow who was wounded and captured, as well as other elements of XI Corps which was deployed on bad ground for defense.

The attack was well conceived but poorly executed, in part due to the failures of some of the subordinate brigade commanders. However, the attack threw the Federal line into confusion and the Federals shifted to meet the attack. Heth sought and got permission from Lee to renew his attack and the combination forced the Federal troops to withdraw through Gettysburg and up to Cemetery Ridge, where two brigade’s of Steinwehr’s division and the tough survivors of the Iron Brigade were already in place.

800px-First_day_at_gettysburgPender’s Division Goes into Action

In making the attack Lee acted against his own directions to his commanders. Though he only had a fraction of his army on the field and was unaware of the strength and location of the bulk of the Federal Army, Lee committed himself to a general engagement. In the process he placed his army at a disadvantage. Unless he could break the Federal line and take Cemetery Hill he would leave the Army of the Potomac with the high ground and with the ability to fight on interior lines, while his forces would be spread out over a long arcing line.

leeindexLee with A.P. Hill and Heth Bradley Schmehl

Ewell’s arrival was fortuitous because it temporarily tilted the balance to Lee, but the advantage was short lived, once again due to a vague order from Lee. This time it was an order to Ewell and like many things about Lee’s conduct of the battle this too is shrouded in controversy.

Lee’s report describes the order:

“General Ewell was, therefore, instructed to carry the hill occupied by the enemy, if he found it practicable, but to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army…”

But Lee had already committed himself to a general engagement in pursuing the attack during the afternoon. Although it appeared that Federal forces in turmoil as Reynold’s was dead and elements of XI Corps in retreat the situation was serious but the Confederates were not in a perfect or even completely advantageous position. Howard was able to rally his troops on Cemetery Hill taking advantage of his earlier deployment of Steinwehr’s division. Abner Doubleday who had succeeded Reynold’s brought his tropes back to reinforce the line as well as occupy Culp’s Hill to the right.

bogbayardwilkesonwebAbner Doubleday directs his troops on Day One

When Meade learned of Reynold’s death he dispatched Winfield Scott Hancock of II Corps to take command of all Federal Forces. Though he was junior to Howard, Hancock was able to work out a command arrangement with Howard and take command. Howard had to his credit Federal command position was strengthened.

Hancock doncemeteryhilljuly1_zps512a40faHancock Arrives on the Battlefield

Hancock was authorized by Meade to select where the Army would make its stand. Hancock told Howard “But I think this is the strongest position by nature upon which to fight a battle that I have ever saw…and if it meets your approbation I will select this as the battlefield.” Howard agreed and both men set off to rectify their lines.

Despite their success Ewell and his Corps were disorganized and not in a good position to take advantage of their earlier success. Likewise he was limited in the forces that he had available to continue the attack. Both his and A.P. Hill’s Corps only had two of their divisions in the field. Hill reported that his divisions “were exhausted by some six hours of hard fighting (and that) prudence led me to be content with what had been gained, and not push forward troops exhausted and necessarily disordered, probably to encounter fresh troops of the enemy.” Ewell reported that “all the troops with me were jaded by twelve hours’ marching and fighting.” Lee’s report of the battle indicated that the four divisions involved were “already weakened and exhausted by a long and bloody struggle.”

As such a night assault would have been exceptionally risky. Ewell would have only had the tired and disorganized survivors of four brigades at his disposal with no support from A.P. Hill on his right.

Early's_Charge_on_East_Cemetery_Hill

Ewell has often been criticized by the defenders of Lee and the legend of the Lost Cause for his failure to press the attack on Cemetery Ridge or Culp’s Hill. Critics cite that Federal forces were still disorganized and he could have easily attacked and driven the Federal Forces form the hills. Much is made of the protests of Major General Isaac Trimble as well as General John Gordon who were with Ewell. However as Edwin Coddington noted that these men concentrated their efforts on Ewell’s action to determine what went wrong at Gettysburg. In large part this was due to their inability to criticize Lee. Trimble’s account made its way into Michael Shaara’s classic novel of Gettysburg, the Killer Angels and were acted with conviction by Morgan Shepperd in the film adaptation of the book Gettysburg. Coddington correctly observed that “they forgot, however, the exact circumstances that kept the move from being “practicable” at the time.”

Rodes after battle report supported Ewell’s decision. He wrote before “the completion of his defeat before the town the enemy had begun to establish a line of battle on the heights back of the town, and by the time my line was in condition to renew the attack, he displayed quite a formidable line of infantry and artillery immediately in my front, extending smartly to my right, and as far as I could see to my left in front of Early.” Unfortunately for historians Rodes was killed in action at the Third Battle of Winchester in September 1864.

The Army of Northern Virginia came very close to sweeping Federal forces from the field on July 1st in spite of Lee’s lack of planning and clear commanders intent. But close was not enough. His forces which were committed in a piecemeal manner were unable to follow up their initial success. His orders to Ewell, to take the high ground “if practicable” were correctly interpreted by Ewell. Thus Federal corps under the command of Howard and Hancock were able to regroup, dig in and be reinforced by the rest of the Army on good ground of their choosing with interior lines.

Whether Lee intended to engage the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg so early in the campaign is debated. His multiple and contradictory strategic aims left his commanders acting much on their own. His lack of clear commander’s intent to his subordinate commanders created confusion on the battlefield and paved the way to many controversies in the years following the war as Southerners sought to explain the failure of the Lost Cause, for which Lee could not be blamed.

Much of the controversy comes from Lee’s own correspondence which indicates that he might have not fully understood his own intentions. Some correspondence indicates that Lee desired to avoid a general engagement as long as possible while other accounts indicate that he wanted an early and decisive engagement. The controversy was stoked after the war by Lee’s supporters, particular his aides Taylor and Marshal and generals Gordon and Trimble, men like Longstreet and were castigated by Lee’s defenders for suggesting that Lee made mistakes on the battlefield.

Lee’s actual misunderstanding of his situation can be seen in the account of Isaac Trimble, traveling with Lee at the beginning of the invasion of Pennsylvania. He wrote:

“We have again outmaneuvered the enemy, who even now does not know where we are or what our designs are. Our whole army will be in Pennsylvania day after tomorrow, leaving the enemy far behind and obliged to follow by forced marches. I hope with these advantages to accomplish some single result and to end the war, if Providence favors us.”

The vagueness of Lee’s instructions to his commanders led to many mistakes and much confusion during the battle. Many of these men were occupying command positions under him for the first time and were unfamiliar with his command style. Where Stonewall Jackson might have understood Lee’s intent, even where Lee issued vague or contradictory orders, many others including Hill and Ewell did not. Lee did not change his command style to accommodate his new commanders.

That lack of flexibility and inability to clearly communicate Lee’s intent to his commanders and failure to exercise control over them proved fatal to his aims in the campaign. Stephen Sears scathing analysis of Lee’s command at Gettysburg perhaps says it the best. “In the final analysis, it was Robert E. Lee’s inability to manage his generals that went to the heart of the failed campaign.”

The vagueness of Lee’s intent was demonstrated throughout the campaign and was made worse by the fog of war. Day one ended with a significant tactical victory for Lee’s army but without a decisive result which would be compounded into a strategic defeat by Lee’s subsequent decisions on the 2nd and 3rd of July.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Gettysburg: The Order of Battle

battle-of-gettysburg-war-is-hell-store

Note: This is a resource for those following my Gettysburg series and for my students that go with me on the Gettysburg Staff Ride. When the armies met at Gettysburg Lee’s Army of Norther Virginia had about 75,000-80,000 effectives, Meade’s Army of the Potomac had about 80,000-85,000 depending on the sources. This meant that they were relatively evenly matched in terms of manpower and that the battle came down to leadership, tactical decisions and strategic factors that were already in play by the time that the armies met at Gettysburg.

As a note of explanation the Confederate forces at the division and brigade level were named after their commander’s, or in some cases previous commanders. Confederate units were allocated to the Army from the various states, thus there is no Confederate “Regulars” as are shown in the Union order of battle. Union Corps were numbered as were the divisions and brigades in each corps. In some cases the brigades or divisions were referred to by the names of their commanders, but this was not consistent. Federal forces consisted of both Regular Army units as well as units allocated by the states. The reader can note the composition of each brigade in both the Union and Confederate armies to see from where the soldiers were recruited from.

So apart from that there is no story to tell tonight. Nothing in the way of commentary. This is simply a resource.
Have a great night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Army of Northern Virginia – General Robert Edward Lee, Commanding



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General Staff: Chief of Staff and Inspector General: Col Robert H. Chilton; Chief of Artillery: BG William N. Pendleton; Medical Director: Dr. Lafayette Guild; Aide de Camp and Asst. Adjutant General: Maj Walter H. Taylor; Aide de Camp and Asst. Military Secretary: Maj Charles Marshall; Aide de Camp and Asst. Inspector General: Maj Charles S. Venable; Aide de Camp: Maj Thomas M. R. Talcott

General Headquarters
Escort: 39th Virginia Cavalry Battalion (companies A & C)

James_Longstreet

I Corps- Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, Commanding

Lafayette_McLaws

McLaws’ Division- MG Lafayette McLaws

Kershaw’s Brigade-BG Joseph B. Kershaw
2nd South Carolina, 3rd South Carolina, 7th South Carolina, 8th South Carolina,  15th South Carolina; 3rd South Carolina Battalion
Barksdale’s Brigade- BG William Barksdale (mw); Col Benjamin G. Humphreys
13th Mississippi, 17th Mississippi, 18th Mississippi, 21st Mississippi
Semmes’ Brigade- BG Paul J. Semmes (mw); Col Goode Bryan
10th Georgia, 50th Georgia, 51st Georgia, 53rd Georgia
Wofford’s Brigade- BG William T. Wofford
16th Georgia, 18th Georgia, 24th Georgia, Cobb’s (Georgia) Legion, Phillips’ (Georgia) Legion, 3rd Georgia Sharpshooter Battalion
Cabell’s Artillery Battalion- Col Henry C. Cabell; Maj Samuel P. Hamilton
1st North Carolina Artillery, Battery A, Pulaski (Georgia) Artillery, 1st Richmond Howitzers, Troup (Georgia) Artillery

GeorgePickett

Pickett’s Division- MG George E. Pickett

Garnett’s Brigade- BG Richard B. Garnett (k); Maj Charles S. Peyton
8th Virginia, 18th Virginia, 19th Virginia, 28th Virginia, 56th Virginia
Kemper’s Brigade- BG James L. Kemper (w&c); Col Joseph Mayo, Jr
1st Virginia, 3rd Virginia, 7th Virginia, 11th Virginia, 24th Virginia
Armistead’s Brigade- BG Lewis A. Armistead (mw&c); Ltc William White (w); Maj Joseph R. Cabell; Col William R. Aylett
9th Virginia, 14th Virginia, 38th Virginia, 53rd Virginia, 57th Virginia
Dearing’s Artillery Battalion- Maj James Dearing; Maj John P. W. Read (w)
Fauquier (Virginia) Artillery, Hampden (Virginia) Artillery, Richmond Fayette (Virginia) Artillery, Blount’s (Virginia) Battery

Lt._Gen._John_B._Hood

Hood’s Division- MG John Bell Hood (w); BG Evander M. Law

Law’s Brigade-BG Evander M. Law; Col James L. Sheffield
4th Alabama, 15th Alabama, 44th Alabama, 47th Alabama, 48th Alabama
Robertson’s Brigade- BG Jerome B. Robertson (w); Ltc Philip A. Work
3rd Arkansas, 1st Texas, 4th Texas, 5th Texas
Anderson’s Brigade- BG George T. Anderson (w); Ltc William Luffman (w)
7th Georgia, 8th Georgia, 9th Georgia,  11th Georgia,  59th Georgia
Benning’s Brigade- BG Henry L. Benning
2nd Georgia, 15th Georgia,  17th Georgia, 20th Georgia
Henry’s Artillery Battalion- Maj Mathias W. Henry; Maj John C. Haskell
Branch (North Carolina) Battery, Charleston German (South Carolina) Artillery, Palmetto (South Carolina) Light Artillery, Rowan North Carolina Artillery
Artillery Reserve- Col James B. Walton
Alexander’s Artillery Battalion- Col Edward P. Alexander (w)
Ashland (Virginia) Artillery, Bedford (Virginia) Artillery, Brooks (South Carolina) Artillery, Madison (Louisiana) Light Artillery, Richmond (Virginia) Battery, Bath (Virginia) Battery
Washington (Louisiana) Artillery Battalion- Maj Benjamin F. Eshleman
First Company, Second Company, Third Company, Fourth Company

Richard-Ewell

II Corps- Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell Commanding

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Early’s Division- MG Jubal A. Early
Hays’ Brigade- BG Harry T. Hays
5th Louisiana, 6th Louisiana, 7th Louisiana, 8th Louisiana, 9th Louisiana
Smith’s Brigade-BG William Smith
31st Virginia, 49th Virginia, 52nd Virginia
Hoke’s Brigade- Col Isaac E. Avery (mw); Col Archibald C. Godwin
6th North Carolina: Maj Samuel McD. Tate, 21st North Carolina: Col William W. Kirkland, Maj James Beall, 57th North Carolina: Col Archibald C. Godwin, Ltc Hamilton C. Jones
Gordon’s Brigade- BG John Brown Gordon
13th Georgia, 26th Georgia, 31st Georgia, 38th Georgia, 60th Georgia, 61st Georgia
Jones’ Artillery Battalion- Ltc Hilary P. Jones
Charlottesville (Virginia) Artillery, Courtney (Virginia) Artillery, Louisiana Guard Artillery, Staunton (Virginia) Artillery
Cavalry 35th Virginia Battalion: Ltc Elijah V. White

JohnsonE

Johnson’s Division- MG Edward Johnson

Steuart’s Brigade- BG George H. Steuart
1st Maryland Battalion, 1st North Carolina, 3rd North Carolina, 10th Virginia, 23rd Virginia, 37th Virginia
Stonewall Brigade- BG James A. Walker
2nd Virginia, 4th Virginia, 5th Virginia, 27th Virginia, 33rd Virginia
Nicholls’ Brigade-Col Jesse M. Williams
1st Louisiana, 2nd Louisiana, 10th Louisiana, 14th Louisiana, 15th Louisiana
Jones’ Brigade- BG John M. Jones (w); Ltc Robert H. Dungan
21st Virginia, 25th Virginia, 42nd Virginia, 44th Virginia, 48th Virginia, 50th Virginia
Andrews’ Artillery Battalion- Maj Joseph W. Latimer (mw); Cpt Charles I. Raine
1st Maryland Battery, Alleghany (Virginia) Artillery, Chesapeake (Maryland) Artillery, Lee (Virginia) Battery

robert-rodes

Rodes’ Division- MG Robert E. Rodes

Daniel’s Brigade-BG Junius Daniel
32nd North Carolina, 43rd North Carolina, 45th North Carolina, 53rd North Carolina, 2nd North Carolina Battalion
Doles’ Brigade-BG George P. Doles
4th Georgia, 12th Georgia, 21st Georgia, 44th Georgia
Iverson’s Brigade- BG Alfred Iverson, Jr.
5th North Carolina, 12th North Carolina, 20th North Carolina, 23rd North Carolina
Ramseur’s Brigade- BG Stephen D. Ramseur
2nd North Carolina, 4th North Carolina, 14th North Carolina, 30th North Carolina
Rodes’ (old) Brigade- Col Edward A. O’Neal
3rd Alabama, 5th Alabama, 6th Alabama, 12th Alabama, 26th Alabama
Carter’s Artillery Battalion-Ltc Thomas H. Carter
Jefferson Davis (Alabama) Artillery, King William (Virginia) Artillery, Morris (Virginia) Artillery, Orange (Virginia) Artillery

Artillery Reserve- Col J. Thompson Brown
First Virginia Artillery Battalion- Cpt Willis J. Dance
2nd Richmond (Virginia) Howitzers, 3rd Richmond (Virginia) Howitzers, Powhatan (Virginia) Artillery, Rockbridge (Virginia) Artillery, Salem (Virginia) Artillery
Nelson’s Artillery Battalion- Ltc William Nelson
Amherst (Virginia) Artillery, Fluvanna (Virginia) Artillery, Milledge’s Georgia Battery

general_a_p_hill

III Corps- Lt. Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill Commanding

Richard_H._Anderson

Anderson’s Division- MG Richard H. Anderson
Wilcox’s Brigade- BG Cadmus M. Wilcox
8th Alabama, 9th Alabama, 10th Alabama, 11th Alabama, 14th Alabama
Mahone’s Brigade- BG William Mahone
6th Virginia, 12th Virginia, 16th Virginia, 41st Virginia, 61st Virginia
Wright’s Brigade-BG Ambrose R. Wright; Col William Gibson; BG Ambrose R. Wright
3rd Georgia, 22nd Georgia, 48th Georgia, 2nd Georgia Battalion
Perry’s Brigade- Col David Lang
2nd Florida, 5th Florida, 8th Florida
Posey’s Brigade- BG Carnot Posey (w); Col. Nathaniel Harris
12th Mississippi, 16th Mississippi, 19th Mississippi, 48th Mississippi
Cutt’s Artillery Battalion- Maj John Lane
Company A, Company B, Company C

heth

Heth’s Division- MG Henry Heth (w); BG James J. Pettigrew (w)
Pettigrew’s Brigade-BG James J. Pettigrew; Col James K. Marshall (k); Maj John T. Jones (w)
11th North Carolina, 26th North Carolina, 47th North Carolina, 52nd North Carolina
Heth’s (old) Brigade- Col John M. Brockenbrough; Col Robert M. Mayo
40th Virginia, 47th Virginia, 55th Virginia, 22nd Virginia Battalion
Archer’s Brigade- BG James J. Archer (w&c); Col Birkett D. Fry (w&c); Ltc Samuel G. Shepard
13th Alabama, 5th Alabama Battalion, 1st Tennessee (Provisional Army), 7th Tennessee,  14th Tennessee
Davis’ Brigade- BG Joseph R. Davis (w)
2nd Mississippi, 11th Mississippi, 42nd Mississippi, 55th North Carolina
Garnett’s Artillery Battalion- Ltc John J. Garnett
Donaldsonville (Louisiana) Artillery, Huger (Virginia) Artillery, Lewis (Virginia) Artillery, Norfolk (Virginia) Blues Artillery

William_Dorsey_Pender

Pender’s Division-MG William D. Pender (mw); BG James H. Lane; MG Isaac R. Trimble (w&c); BG James H. Lane
McGowan’s Brigade-Col Abner M. Perrin
1st South Carolina (Provisional Army), 1st South Carolina Rifles, 12th South Carolina, 13th South Carolina, 14th South Carolina
Lane’s Brigade- BG James H. Lane; Col Clark M. Avery
7th North Carolina, 18th North Carolina, 28th North Carolina, 33rd North Carolina, 37th North Carolina
Thomas’ Brigade- BG Edward L. Thomas
14th Georgia, 35th Georgia, 45th Georgia, 49th Georgia
Scales’ Brigade- BG Alfred M. Scales (w); Ltc George T. Gordon; Col William L. J. Lowrance
13th North Carolina, 16th North Carolina, 22nd North Carolina, 34th North Carolina, 38th North Carolina
Poague’s Artillery Battalion- Maj William T. Poague
Albemarle (Virginia) Artillery, Charlotte (North Carolina) Artillery, Madison (Mississippi) Artillery, Brooke’s Virginia Battery
Artillery Reserve- Col Reuben L. Walker
McIntosh’s Artillery Battalion- Maj David G. McIntosh
Danville (Virginia) Artillery, Hardaway (Alabama) Artillery, 2nd Rockbridge (Virginia) Artillery, Johnson’s Virginia Battery
Pegram’s Artillery Battalion- Maj William R. J. Pegram; Cpt Ervin B. Brunson
Crenshaw (Virginia) Battery, Fredericksburg (Virginia) Artillery, Letcher (Virginia) Artillery, Pee Dee (South Carolina) Artillery, Purcell (Virginia) Artillery

CWP015

Cavalry Division- Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart
Hampton’s Brigade- BG Wade Hampton (w)
1st North Carolina, 1st South Carolina, 2nd South Carolina, Cobb’s (Georgia) Legion, Jeff Davis (Mississippi) Legion, Phillips (Georgia) Legion
Robertson’s Brigade (not present at Gettysburg) BG Beverly H. Robertson
4th North Carolina, 5th North Carolina
Fitzhugh Lee’s Brigade- BG Fitzhugh Lee
1st Maryland Battalion, 1st Virginia, 2nd Virginia, 3rd Virginia, 4th Virginia, 5th Virginia
Jenkins’ Brigade- BG Albert G. Jenkins (w); Col Milton J. Ferguson
14th Virginia, 16th Virginia, 17th Virginia, 34th Virginia Battn., 36th Virginia Battn., Jackson’s (Virginia) Battery
William H. F. (Rooney) Lee’s Brigade- Col John R. Chambliss, Jr.
2nd North Carolina Cavalry, 9th Virginia, 10th Virginia, 13th Virginia
Jones’ Brigade- BG William E. Jones
6th Virginia, 7th Virginia, 11th Virginia
Stuart’s Horse Artillery- Maj Robert F. Beckham
Breathed’s (Virginia) Battery, Chew’s (Virginia) Battery, Griffin’s (Maryland) Battery Hart’s (South Carolina) Battery, McGregor’s (Virginia) Battery, Moorman’s (Virginia) Battery
Imboden’s Command- BG John D. Imboden
18th Virginia, 62nd Virginia, McNeill’s Company (Virginia), Staunton (Virginia) Battery

Union Order of Battle
unionorg

general-george-meade

Army of the Potomac – Major General George Gordon Meade, Commanding



General Staff: Chief of Staff: Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield, Chief of Artillery: Brig. Gen. Henry J. Hunt, Medical Director: Maj Jonathan Letterman, Chief of Engineers: Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, Bureau of Military Information: Col. George H. Sharpe
Command of the Provost Marshal General: Brig. Gen. Marsena R. Patrick
93rd New York: Col. John S. Crocker, 8th United States (8 companies): Capt. Edwin W. H. Read, 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry: Col. R. Butler Price, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Companies E&I): Capt. James Starr, Regular cavalry
Engineer Brigade: Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham
15th New York (3 companies): Maj Walter L. Cassin, 50th New York: Col. William H. Pettes, U.S. Battalion: Capt. George H. Mendell

GenJFRenyolds

I Corps- Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds (k)

JSWadsworthBGenleft

First Division- Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth
1st  Brigade (The Iron Brigade)-Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith (w); Col.. William W. Robinson
19th Indiana, 24th Michigan, 2nd Wisconsin, 6th Wisconsin, 7th Wisconsin
2nd Brigade- Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler
7th Indiana, 76th New York, 84th New York (14th Militia), 95th New York, 147th New York, 56th Pennsylvania (9 companies)

john_Cleveland_Robinson

Second Division- Brig. Gen. John C. Robinson
1st Brigade- Brig. Gen. Gabriel R. Paul (w); Col. Samuel H. Leonard (w); Col. Adrian R. Root (w&c); Col. Richard Coulter (w); Col. Peter Lyle; Col. Richard Coulter
16th Maine, 13th Massachusetts, 94th New York, 104th New York, 107th Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Henry Baxter
12th Massachusetts, 83rd New York (9th Militia), 97th New York, 11th Pennsylvania, 88th Pennsylvania, 90th Pennsylvania

abner-doubleday

Third Division- Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday; Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Rowley; Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday
1st Brigade- Col. Chapman Biddle; Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Rowley; Col. Chapman Biddle
80th New York (20th Militia), 121st Pennsylvania, 142nd Pennsylvania, 151st Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Col. Roy Stone (w); Col. Langhorne Wister (w); Col. Edmund L. Dana
143rd Pennsylvania, 149th Pennsylvania, 150th Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade- Brig. Gen. George J. Stannard (w); Col. Francis V. Randall
13th Vermont, 14th Vermont, 16th Vermont
Artillery Brigade- Col. Charles S. Wainwright
Maine Light, 2nd Battery (B), Maine Light, 5th Battery (E), 1st New York Light, Batteries E&L, 1st Pennsylvania Light, Battery B, 4th United States, Battery B

HancockWinfield_teaser

II Corps- Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock (w); Brig. Gen. John Gibbon; Brig. Gen. William Hays

John_C._Caldwell

First Division- Brig. Gen.  John C. Caldwell
1st Brigade- Col. Edward E. Cross (mw); Col. H. Boyd McKeen
5th New Hampshire, 61st New York, 81st Pennsylvania , 148th Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade (The Irish Brigade) – Col. Patrick Kelly
28th Massachusetts, 63rd New York (2 companies),69th New York (2 companies), 88th New York (2 companies), 116th Pennsylvania (4 companies)
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Samuel K. Zook (mw); Lt. Col.. Charles G. Freudenberg (w); Col. Richard P. Roberts (k); Lt. Col.. John Fraser
52nd New York, 57th New York, 66th New York, 140th Pennsylvania
4th Brigade- Col. John R. Brooke (w)
27th Connecticut (2 companies), 2nd Delaware, 64th New York, 53rd Pennsylvania, 145th Pennsylvania (7 companies)

john_Gibbon

Second Division- Brig. Gen. John Gibbon (w); Brig. Gen. William Harrow
1st Brigade- Brig. Gen. William Harrow; Col. Francis E. Heath
19th Maine, 15th Massachusetts, 1st Minnesota, 82nd New York (2nd Militia)
2nd Brigade- Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb (w)
69th Pennsylvania, 71st Pennsylvania, 72nd Pennsylvania, 106th Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade- Col. Norman J. Hall
19th Massachusetts, 20th Massachusetts, 7th Michigan, 42nd New York, 59th New York (4 companies)
Unattached: Massachusetts Sharpshooters, 1st Company

Daniel_Edgar_Sickles

III Corps- Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles (w); Maj. Gen. David B. Birney

David_B._Birney_-_Brady-Handy

First Division- Maj. Gen. David B. Birney; Brig. Gen. J. H. Hobart Ward (w)
1st Brigade- Brig. Gen. Charles K. Graham (w&c); Col. Andrew H. Tippin; Col. Henry J. Madill
57th Pennsylvania (8 companies), 63rd Pennsylvania, 68th Pennsylvania, 105th Pennsylvania, 114th Pennsylvania, 141st Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade- Brig. Gen. J. H. Hobart Ward; Col. Hiram Berdan
20th Indiana, 3rd Maine, 4th Maine, 86th New York, 124th New York, 99th Pennsylvania, 1st United States Sharpshooters, 2nd United States Sharpshooters (8 companies)
3rd Brigade- Col. P. Régis de Trobriand
17th Maine, 3rd Michigan, 5th Michigan, 40th New York, 110th Pennsylvania (6 companies)

HumphreysA

Second Division- Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys
1st Brigade- Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Carr (w)
1st Massachusetts, 11th Massachusetts, 16th Massachusetts, 12th New Hampshire, 11th New Jersey,26th Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Col. William R. Brewster
70th New York, 71st New York, 72nd New York, 73rd New York, 74th New York, 120th New York
3rd Brigade-Col. George C. Burling
2nd New Hampshire, 5th New Jersey, 6th New Jersey, 7th New Jersey, 8th New Jersey,115th Pennsylvania
Artillery Brigade-Capt. George E. Randolph (w); Capt. A. Judson Clark
1st New Jersey Light, Battery B, 1st New York Light, Battery D, New York Light, 4th Battery, 1st Rhode Island Light, Battery E, 4th United States, Battery K

George_Sykes_and_staff_-_Brady-Handy

V Corps-Maj. Gen. George Sykes

James_Barnes

First Division- Brig. Gen. James Barnes (w)
1st Brigade-Col. William S. Tilton
18th Massachusetts, 22nd Massachusetts, 1st Michigan, 118th Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Col. Jacob B. Sweitzer
9th Massachusetts, 32nd Massachusetts, 4th Michigan, 62nd Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade-Col. Strong Vincent (mw); Col. James C. Rice
20th Maine, 16th Michigan, 44th New York, 83rd Pennsylvania

2.-Brig.-Gen.-Romeyn-B.-Ayres

Second Division-Brig. Gen. Romeyn B. Ayres
1st Brigade- Col. Hannibal Day
3rd United States (Cos. B, C, E, G, I and K), 4th United States (Cos. C, F, H and K), 6th United States (Cos. D, F, G, H and I), 12th United States (Cos. A, B, C, D and G, 1st Bn. and Cos. A, C and D, 2nd Bn.), 14th United States (Cos. A, B, D, E, F and G, 1st Bn. and Cos. F and G, 2nd Bn.)
2nd Brigade-Col. Sidney Burbank
2nd United States (Cos. B, C, F, H, I and K), 7th United States (Cos. A, B, E and I), 10th United States (Cos. D, G and H), 11th United States (Cos. B, C, D, E, F and G),17th United States (Cos. A, C, D, G and H, 1st Bn. and Cos. A and B, 2nd Bn.)
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Stephen H. Weed (k); Col. Kenner Garrard
140th New York, 146th New York, 91st Pennsylvania, 155th Pennsylvania
Third Division-Brig. Gen. Samuel W. Crawford
1st Brigade-Col. William McCandless
1st Pennsylvania Reserves (9 companies), 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves,13th Pennsylvania Reserves
2nd Brigade (not present—assigned to Washington defenses)
3rd Brigade-Col. Joseph W. Fisher
5th Pennsylvania Reserves, 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, 12th Pennsylvania Reserves (9 companies)
Artillery Brigade-Capt. Augustus P. Martin
Massachusetts Light, 3rd Battery, 1st New York Light, Battery C, 1st Ohio Light, Battery L, 5th United States, Battery D, 5th United States, Battery I

John_Sedgwick

VI Corps-Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick

HGWright

First Division-Brig. Gen. Horatio G. Wright
1st Brigade-Brig. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert
1st New Jersey, 2nd New Jersey, 3rd New Jersey, 15th New Jersey
2nd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Joseph J. Bartlett; Col. Emory Upton
5th Maine, 121st New York, 95th Pennsylvania, 96th Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. David A. Russell
6th Maine, 49th Pennsylvania (4 companies), 119th Pennsylvania, 5th Wisconsin

Provost Guard: 4th New Jersey (3 companies): Capt. William R. Maxwell

albion-howe-111-b-4713

Second Division- Brig. Gen. Albion P. Howe
2nd Brigade-Col. Lewis A. Grant
2nd Vermont, 3rd Vermont, 4th Vermont, 5th Vermont, 6th Vermont
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Neill
7th Maine (6 companies), 33rd New York (detachment), 43rd New York, 49th New York, 77th New York, 61st Pennsylvania

NewtonJohn

Third Division-Maj. Gen. John Newton; Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton
1st Brigade-Brig. Gen. Alexander Shaler
65th New York, 67th New York, 122nd New York, 23rd Pennsylvania, 82nd Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Col. Henry L. Eustis
7th Massachusetts, 10th Massachusetts, 37th Massachusetts, 2nd Rhode Island.
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Frank Wheaton; Col. David J. Nevin
62nd New York, 93rd Pennsylvania, 98th Pennsylvania,139th Pennsylvania
Artillery Brigade-Col. Charles H. Tompkins
Massachusetts Light, 1st Battery, New York Light, 1st Battery, New York Light, 3rd Battery, 1st Rhode Island Light, Battery C, 1st Rhode Island Light, Battery G, 2nd United States, Battery D, 2nd United States, Battery G, 5th United States, Battery F

Oliver-Otis-Howard-9345101-1-402

XI Corps-Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard; Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz

Francis_C._Barlow

First Division-Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow (w); Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames
1st Brigade-Col. Leopold von Gilsa
1st New York (9 companies), 54th New York, 68th New York, 153rd Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Adelbert Ames; Col. Andrew L. Harris
17th Connecticut, 25th Ohio, 75th Ohio, 107th Ohio

Adolph_von_Steinwehr

Second Division-Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr
1st Brigade-Col. Charles R. Coster
134th New York, 154th New York, 27th Pennsylvania, 73rd Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade  Col. Orland Smith
33rd Massachusetts, 136th New York, 55th Ohio, 73rd Ohio

schurz

Third Division-Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz; Brig. Gen. Alexander Schimmelfennig; Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz
1st Brigade-Brig. Gen. Alexander Schimmelfennig; Col. George von Amsberg
82nd Illinois, 45th New York, 157th New York, 61st Ohio, 74th Pennsylvania
2nd Brigade-Col. Wladimir Krzyzanowski
58th New York, 19th New York, 82nd Ohio, 75th Pennsylvania, 26th Wisconsin
Artillery Brigade-Maj Thomas W. Osborn
1st New York Light, Battery I, New York Light, 13th Battery, 1st Ohio Light, Battery I, 1st Ohio Light, Battery K, 4th United States, Battery G

Henry_Warner_Slocum

XII Corps-Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum; Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams

alpheus-williams1

First Division-Brig. Gen. Alpheus S. Williams; Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger
1st Brigade-Col. Archibald L. McDougall
5th Connecticut, 20th Connecticut, 3rd Maryland, 123rd New York, 145th New York, 46th Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger; Col. Silas Colgrove
27th Indiana, 2nd Massachusetts, 13th New Jersey, 107th New York, 3rd Wisconsin

General-John-Geary

Second Division-Brig. Gen. John W. Geary
1st Brigade-Col. Charles Candy
5th Ohio, 7th Ohio, 29th Ohio, 66th Ohio, 28th Pennsylvania, 147th Pennsylvania (8 companies)
2nd Brigade-Col. George A. Cobham, Jr.; Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Kane
29th Pennsylvania, 109th Pennsylvania, 111th Pennsylvania
3rd Brigade-Brig. Gen. George S. Greene (w)
60th New York, 78th New York, 102nd New York, 137th New York, 149th New York
Lockwood’s Brigade-Brig. Gen. Henry H. Lockwood
1st Maryland, Potomac Home Brigade, 1st Maryland, Eastern Shore,150th New York
Artillery Brigade-Lt Edward D. Muhlenberg
1st New York Light, Battery M, Pennsylvania Light, Battery E,4th United States, Battery F  5th United States, Battery K

pleasonton

Cavalry Corps -Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton

buford

First Division-Brig. Gen. John Buford
1st Brigade-Col. William Gamble
8th Illinois, 12th Illinois (4 cos.) & 3rd Indiana (6 cos.), 8th New York
2nd Brigade-Col. Thomas Devin
6th New York (6 companies), 9th New York, 17th Pennsylvania, 3rd West Virginia, Companies A and C
Reserve Brigade-Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt
6th Pennsylvania, 1st United States, 2nd United States, 5th United States, 6th United States

dmgregg

Second Division-Brig. Gen. David Gregg
1st Brigade-Col. John B. McIntosh
1st Maryland (11 companies), Purnell (Maryland) Legion, Company A, 1st Massachusetts, 1st New Jersey, 1st Pennsylvania, 3rd Pennsylvania, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Section, Battery H
3rd Brigade-Col. John I. Gregg
1st Maine (10 companies), 10th New York, 4th Pennsylvania, 16th Pennsylvania

Kilpatrick-Judson(1)

Third Division-Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick
1st Brigade-Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth (k); Col. Nathaniel P. Richmond
5th New York, 18th Pennsylvania, 1st Vermont, 1st West Virginia (10 companies)
2nd Brigade-Brig. Gen. George A. Custer
1st Michigan, 5th Michigan, 6th Michigan, 7th Michigan: (10 companies)
Horse Artillery
1st Brigade-Capt. James M. Robertson
9th Michigan Battery, 6th New York Battery,2nd United States, Batteries B and L, 2nd United States, Battery M, 4th United States, Battery E
2nd Brigade-Capt. John C. Tidball
1st United States, Batteries E and G, 1st United States, Battery K, 2nd United States, Battery A

Robert_O_Tyler

Artillery Reserve-Brig. Gen. Robert O. Tyler, Capt. James M. Robertson

1st Regular Brigade-Capt. Dunbar R. Ransom
1st United States, Battery H, 3rd United States, Batteries F and K, 4th United States, Battery C, 5th United States, Battery C
1st Volunteer Brigade-Lt. Col.. Freeman McGilvery
Massachusetts Light, 5th Battery (E), Massachusetts Light, 9th Battery, New York Light, 15th Battery, Pennsylvania Light, Batteries C and F
2nd Volunteer Brigade-Capt. Elijah D. Taft
1st Connecticut Heavy, Battery B, 1st Connecticut Heavy, Battery M, Connecticut Light, 2nd Battery. New York Light, 5th Battery
3rd Volunteer Brigade-Capt. James F. Huntington
New Hampshire Light, 1st Battery, 1st Ohio Light, Battery H, 1st Pennsylvania Light, Batteries F and G, West Virginia Light, Battery C
4th Volunteer Brigade-Capt. Robert H. Fitzhugh
Maine Light, 6th Battery, Maryland Light, Battery A, New Jersey Light, 1st Battery, 1st New York Light, Battery G, 1st New York Light, Battery K
Train Guard: 4th New Jersey Infantry (7 companies)

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