The Battle of Gettysburg, Day One

The battle of Gettysburg is one of the most well known battles of the American Civil War. It lasted for three days and when it was over, more than 8,000 soldiers on both sides were dead. As we specialize in all things Gettysburg, we decided it appropriate for us to spend some time sharing more about the event with memory to those who gave their lives to afford us many privileges that Americans enjoy today. Let’s get started…

While the war did not begin until July 1st, events were already transpiring that would lead to the opening actions of the first day of the battle of Gettysburg. Union General John Buford arrived in Gettysburg with two cavalry brigades on June 30th 1863. They were the first Union troops to arrive in Gettysburg and while they were never directly ordered to defend the town, Buford decided that they would. He was a wise man and understood that the best tactic he could employ was to set his men in a defensive position to buy some time while waiting for the main army to arrive. So, he placed his men on McPherson’s ridge for the night.

The next morning began the battle of Gettysburg. It was Confederate General Heth that ordered the first attack on the cavalry that was defending Gettysburg up on McPherson’s ridge. Two Confederate brigades advanced, with the intention to quickly defeat the Union, however were in for a surprise as the Union troops fought brilliantly and held them off for two hours which is when Union General John Reynolds and his veteran infantry corps arrived. Reynolds is said to have been killed upon arrival however, his men fought hard driving the Confederates away from McPherson’s ridge and inflicting a great deal of casualties in the process.

Then, around two o’clock a second attack was launched. Confederate Lt. General Richard Ewell’s corps charged the Union line in their right flank. Upon seeing this as a successful tactic, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered an attack along the entire line. The Union troops were quickly overwhelmed and fled. In response, Union General Howard ordered a general retreat to higher ground on Cemetery Ridge. Lee quickly realized that the Union retreat to Cemetery Ridge would put their opposition in an excellent defensive position and suggested that Ewell to take control of it. However, despite the urging of his subordinates, Ewell decided against it. Meanwhile, on the Union side, General Hancock had arrived, calmed down the troops and decided they were in an advantageous defensive position. It was this knowledge that led to the Union to decide to stay put. And, with this decision, day one of the battle of Gettysburg came to a close.

Eager to read part two and three of the battle of Gettysburg? Well, you’re just going to have to wait! Check back next Tuesday morning for the second part of this series which covers the second day. It is sure to be interesting…

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  1. Ben says:

    i like it i also think the next person to read this is going to like it

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