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July 1 1863


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Military History Online




The first Confederate troops to enter the vicinity of Gettysburg were BG James Archer's and BG Joseph Davis' (the nephew of Confederate President Jefferson Davis) Brigades of MG Heth's Division (General A.P. Hill's Corps). At approximately 8 AM, Heth reached the crest of Herr Ridge and surveyed the approach to Gettysburg. Observing minimal resistance, Heth ordered his two Brigades (Archer and Davis) to march southeast along Chambersburg Pike and occupy Gettysburg. Heth decided to deploy Archer to the south and Davis to the north of the pike.


But, unknown to Heth (pronounced "Heeth"), Union BG John Buford's cavalry held the town with two Brigades. In fact, Gamble and Devin's Brigades were deployed just east of Willoughby Run, northwest of town and supported by Lt. John Calef's horse artillery). The battle began when Gamble's dismounted skirmishers (who were armed with Sharps' breech-loading carbines) were attacked by Archer's Infantry Brigade. They managed to hold off the Confederate advance for over an hour, but eventually, Buford was gradually forced to retreat.


At the same time of Buford's retreat, BG Meredith's Brigade (known as the "Iron Brigade") and BG Cutler's Brigade arrived to relieve Buford's cavalry Brigades and occupy McPherson Ridge. General Reynolds (the Commander of I Corps), the senior officer on the field, saw the initial Confederate troops and sent word to the other nearest Corps (XI Corps and III Corps), to move towards Gettysburg at once......(Snip)




Know your history....never forget your history

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Big events and big people like this should not be forgotten.


Thanks Valin!


Echoes of Gettysburg


July 1, 1863 - Day 1


In May of 1863 Confederate General and Commander of the southern army Robert E. Lee decided to take the war to the north with the ultimate goal of winning a victory on northern soil and forcing Washington, D.C. to settle for a peace agreement with the Confederate states. Up until this point the Confederate strategy had been a defensive and cautious one, letting the Union army take the offensive and be the invading force. However this time it would be the Confederate army that would be the invaders and on the offensive. Clearly Robert E. Lee's string of victories against the Union army during the first two years of the Civil War influenced Lee to carry out this bold plan for his army. Robert E. Lee led his three Confederate Corps north using the Blue Ridge Mountains to screen his movement as he pushed north into Pennsylvania. Robert E. Lee led the Confederate First Corps commanded by General James Longstreet, the Second Corps commanded by General Richard Ewell, and the Third Corps commanded by General A.P.Hill. The Union army began their pursuit of Lee's army and Lee's army was being shadowed by two brigades of Union cavalry under the command of General John Buford. As Lee pushed into Pennsylvania he was let down by General Jeb Stuart who commanded the Confederate cavalry. It was General Jeb Stuart's cavalry that was to be the eyes of the army as it pushed north and was to keep Lee informed as to the location and status of the pursuing northern army. Instead Stuart had been roaming around Pennsylvania near Harrisburg and York engaging in raids and getting in the Pennsylvania newspapers. When Lee finally learned of the close proximity of the northern army he was in a vulnerable state as his army was spread from Chambersburg to Carlisle to York. Lee knew he had to consolidate his army or else his army risked being destroyed piecemeal. As Lee viewed a map of Pennsylvania his eye caught a nearby town that had ten roads leading into it like a spider from from each direction on the map. That town that caught Lee's eye was the town of Gettysburg. It was Gettysburg that Lee ordered his troops to descend upon in order to consolidate their forces. It is important to realize the significance of the many roads leading into Gettysburg. To move an army of that size, nearly 80,000 men, multiple road ways were needed and the roads that led into Gettysburg provided that. However Robert E. Lee did not desire a full scale engagement with the Army of the Potomac. Lee wanted first to unite his forces which were spread between three towns north, northwest, and northeast of Gettysburg. As a result the Confederate troops approached first from the West (from Chambersburg) and then soon after from the north (from Carlisle), and then from the northeast (from York).


General John Buford, whose two brigades of Union cavalry were shadowing Robert E. Lee's army, realized the significance of Gettysburg and anticipated that Lee's army would try to occupy the town. The significance of Gettysburg was not only the many roads leading into it but also the many hills and ridges that dominated the land just south of the town. General John Buford was the first to notice the many strategic hills and ridges around Gettysburg. By this time it was June 30, 1863. Buford had a decision to make, should he withdraw from the town knowing that he did his duty in tracking and reporting the location of Lee's army and thus allow the Confederates to take the town and surrounding strategic ground or should he stay and try to make a stand the next morning against the Confederate infantry who for sure would be entering the town the next morning. General Buford had seen enough so far in the war of Union troops being sent to take high ground with an entrenched opponent and the ensuing Union losses and massive casualties. General Buford decided to stay and hold for as long as he could until the Union infantry arrives. This was a brave decision as cavalry is usually not expected to make a prolonged stand against blocks and columns of infantry. General Buford dismounted his cavalry troopers, assigning every fourth man to watch the horses, and deployed his men in a battle line west of the town at near Seminary Ridge. The next morning elements of the Confederate army began to enter Gettysburg from the west and the battle of Gettysburg begins. It was July 1st, 1863.

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