Tuesday, July 2, 2013

150th of Gettysburg: Day 2

Meade and Lee.jpg
Left: US Gen. George Meade; Right: CS Gen. Robert E. Lee

Today we mark the 150th Anniversary of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, fought between the 75,000-man Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under the command of General Robert E. Lee and the 90,000-man Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Major General George G. Meade.

On the second day of fighting at Gettysburg, 2 July 1863, General Lee decided to hammer the Union Army of the Potomac where he had found it: on the ridges south of the town of Gettysburg.  The fighting on this day would be fierce, and would center on a few iconic locations.

File:Gettysburg Battle Map Day2.png
Map of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Attribution: Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

The Union III Corps, under Daniel Sickles, was supposed to anchor the left of the Union line on Little Round Top, with his men on Cemetery Ridge, but the political general decided to move his force forward into the Peach Orchard and Wheat Field, using Devil's Den as the left end of his line.  These would be the positions pummeled by the First Corps of CS General James Longstreet on the afternoon of 2 July.  General Sickles would lose a leg in the fighting.

A view from the boulder-strewn Devils' Den looking up at Little Round Top.

Hood's Division of Longstreet's Corps attempted to turn the corner on the III Corps, only to find that a portion of US General Meade's old command, V Corps, had been placed on those heights by the Union Army of the Potomac's Chief Engineer, US General Warren, preventing the envelopment of the Union army.  [As an aside, one of the staff officers of General Warren sent to look for units to secure the position was Washington Roebling, who would design Brooklyn Bridge, and whose grandson, Donald Roebling, would design the Marine Corps LVTs of WWII.]  Of course, this action on Little Round Top is most famous for the stand of Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine Regiment.  General Warren would be given command of V Corps for his efforts.

The fighting on the left practically destroyed the Union III Corps, and gained the South some ground, but failed to break the Union, or turn the flank.

Meanwhile, on the right of the Union army, Robert E. Lee sent the Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, of Richard Ewell, to take Culp's Hill, defended by the Union XII Corps of General Slocum.  The Union would hold here, and the right flank, too, failed to crumble.

Lee had pummeled both flanks, at great loss, and the Union army, while holding, seemed to him compromised.  The next day, he would try to strike the center of the Army of the Potomac, and deal a knock-out blow.

For more on the Battle of Gettysburg, you might note:
National Park Service Description

Official Website of Gettysburg National Military Park

This site also includes the official reports of the battle from the day:
Civil War Home: Gettysburg

Live well.

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