Gettysburg – Third day

Well, my third and final day at Gettysburg is over. Unfortunately the weather was not kind, but with some juggling and armed with rain coats I achieved the key aims of my final day here. Let’s start by looking at East Cemetery Hill, where I left off in yesterday’s post.

As you will recall the Confederates attacked here late on the second day. The attack was proceeded by an artillery barrage from Benner’s Hill which was not successful, being countered by Union artillery from Cemetery Hill and Stevens’ Knoll. Below, the Union guns line East Cemetary Hill. In the right distance is Culps Hill and between the to, but not shown, Stevens’ Knoll.

Undeterred, the Rebels attacked with two brigades, under command of Hays & Avery. The attacking Louisiana and North Carolina brigades swept up the hill and captured the guns on the top of East Cemetery Hill after desperate fighting. However, they were then driven back down by a Union counterattack.

The slope here is steep as the photo above attempts to illustrate. To the right, and shown below, it is even more so.

Now for the final few photos we will switch to Cemetery Ridge, on the other side of the fish hook. We also advance to the historical third day.

Opposite Cemetery Ridge Lee had determined to attack the Union line and assembled some 150 guns which began their bombardment around 1pm. The centre of his attack would be a clump of trees. Yesterday I had some difficulty determining the specific spot when viewed from Seminary Ridge, however after viewing from the Union side I was able to determine the trees from the Confederate positions. The trees are much larger now, but other trees which complicate matters. Anyway, the bombardment started around 1pm and after almost two hours 12,000 Confederates infantry prepared to attack, with the focus of the advance being the area around “The Clump of Trees”.

Below, a portion of the Confederate gun line with Spangler’s Woods behind. Here General Pickett formed his division of three brigades. Garnett’s Brigade would have been nearest with Kemper’s further out. Armistead’s brigade was in reserve. The line extended with further divisions each side of where I am standing.

As you begin to cross the you step down from Seminary Ridge into something of a valley. I walked two slightly different routes but in both the clump of trees was only just visible for some distance.

Below is photo taken part way across. I am looking from behind the Rebel line along its rear. Again you can “see” Pickett’s division as it nears the fence. Remember, Garnett’s and Kemper’s Brigades are in front with Armistead in reserve. Anderson’s Division is further away. They are all moving to the left, I’m looking at the left rear. Behind me Pettigrew’s Division extends the Confederate line which is around one mile in length. Trimble’s Division behind Pettigrew.

As you cross the battlefield, using a mown strip, you are effectively between Pettigrew’s and Pickett’s Division and angle towards “The Angle”. In front of me is the Emmitsburg Road. In the photo below the tree on the left marks “The Angle” while the large clump is indeed “The Clump of Trees”.

While I was the only person making the charge today, at this point I could almost feel the impact of Union guns.

Now having crossed the Emmitsburg Road I am 200m or so from the defences. The slope has become visibly noticeable and the musket fire intense. Armistead’s Brigade is aiming to cross the Union line between “The Angle” and “The Clump of Trees.”

Now closer and looking directly at “The Angle”. The grey and butternut line each side of me is thinning but presses on.

Below, and to my right General Armistead is in front leading with his hat on his sword and is seconds away from crossing the wall. In front Cushing’s artillery fire. Yet Armistead continues forward and somehow captures some of the Union guns. In 1863 the stones would have been higher by the addition of timber.

To my left however, the 11th Mississippi part of Davis’s Brigade of Pettigrew’s Division attempt to breech the Union line, shown here comprising stone and timber. This is just meters from Brian Barn.

The plaque on the left reads:

The 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, with its ranks growing thinner at every step, advanced with the colors to the stone wall near the Brian Barn. The regiment was here “subjected to a most galling fire of musketry and artillery that so reduced the already thinned ranks that any further effort to carry the position was hopeless, and there was nothing left but to retire.” Report Brig Gen. Joseph R. Davis

Below it further states:

Combatants 393. Killed in Action or Died of Wounds – 110. Wounded or Wounded Captured – 193. Captured Unwounded – 37. Non Casualty – 53.

I think this sums up the attack rather well…

2 thoughts on “Gettysburg – Third day

  1. What I did notice when doing the ‘charge’ on the 150th anniversary is how often advancing Confederates would have been masked by the undulations as they approached.rally disappearing into the folds of the ground as they approached…

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