Tour of The Gettysburg Battlefield

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863. On July 1, the advancing Confederates clashed with the Union’s Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade, at the crossroads town of Gettysburg. The next day saw even heavier fighting, as the Confederates attacked the Federals on both left and right. On July 3, Lee ordered an attack by fewer than 15,000 troops on the enemy’s center at Cemetery Ridge. The assault, known as “Pickett’s Charge,” managed to pierce the Union lines but eventually failed, at the cost of thousands of rebel casualties, and Lee was forced to withdraw his battered army toward Virginia on July 4. (


Join the tour groups at the Gettysburg National Military Park. 

First of July, 1863

5am – Confederate Major General Henry Heth’s Division sets out for Gettysburg from Cashtown. To the west of town Union Brig. General John Buford’s Cavalry Division sits just west of town with 2,700 troops. Advanced skirmishers have been deployed to meet the Confederate advance.

10:15amUnion General John Reynolds’ I Corps arrived on the scene to reinforce Buford’s Division against increasing pressure from the roughly 13,500 advancing Confederates.


Second of July, 1863

4:30pm – Confederate regiments from Texas and Alabama overrun Union skirmishers on Big Round Top and make their way toward Little Round Top. Union Brigadier General Governor K. Warren notices that Little Round Top is undefended and after sending aides foe help, Colonel Strong Vincent reinforces the hill just as the Confederate assault begins.

4:15-5:30pm – After Union General Daniel Sickles advanced his entire corps to higher ground ½ mile out of line with the rest of the Union army, a dangerous salient was created. It did however put his men in a position that the Confederates did not expect so heavy fighting ensued immediately upon the initial assault. Confederate General John Bell Hood led the assault and his men from Alabama, Texas and Georgia fought valiantly, but were unable to unseat the Union forces.

4:15pm-7:30pm – Often referred to as the “Bloody Wheatfield” due to the catastrophic losses by both sides in just a few hours of fighting on this 20-acre sight. Time-after-time the Wheatfield exchanged hands and was the scene of frantic hand-to-hand fighting that was a rarity in Civil War battles. In the end the Confederates failed to capitalize on their successes and the Union forces commanded the field.

5:45-7:00pm – Initially, Brigadier General Joseph B. Kershaw’s South Carolina brigades attacked the Union lines at Stony Hill. General Sickles who had been leading his troops from the Trostle house began to withdraw due to the pressure of the advancing Confederates. A cannonball caught Sickles in the right leg and he was quickly put on a stretcher and taken to the rear.

8:00-midnight – Culp’s Hill was a substantial hill with wooded slopes on the extreme right flank of the Union army. It made up the point on the “fishhook” as part of the Union defenses and saw considerable action on July 2.

Third of July,1863

1:00-3:50pmGeneral Robert E. Lee’s plan of attack was to assault the Union center with 12,000 troops with General James Longstreet coordinating the attack. After a devastating artillery attack that was intended to loosen up the Union defenses, the Confederates attacked across a mile of open ground.

Jeb Stuart at Gettysburg

Contrary to the movie “Gettysburg”, Jeb Stuart was not “riding around getting his name in the papers”.  He was in fact following orders given him by General Lee to ride around the Union Armies and gather supplies for the Army of Northewrn Virginia.  He was to be away from the Army for two to four days.  This being the tactic used in the past.  Stuart’s orders were to join Ewell’s Corps in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  The Battle of Gettysburg was not a fight for shoes.  Brigades were sent into the town in search of shoes as part of the process of foraging.  When Lee found out that the Army of the Potomac was “in the open” and between him and the Potomac, he ordered an emergency concentration centered on Cashtown Pennsylvania.  By the time Stuart got to Carlisle, Ewell had already left for Cashtown.

Stuart was further hampered by the wagon train of 100 wagons of supplies he had “acquired” in Rockville, Maryland.  

The US Army War College Lecture Series

This is a playlist of 17 lectures. 


The Battle of Gettysburg 160 Years Ago

Today is the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  After three days of hard fighting, the two armies suffered between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties.

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General Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania commanding the Army of Northern Virginia some 70,000 strong.  The campaign started in July of 1862 and lasted until Lee was routed from Gettysburg.  During the first days of the campaign the Confederate army marched through Pennsyvanian towns with the Northern women pelting the soldiers with vegetables.  In rebuke one soldier was remembered to have said , “Madam, how do like us coming back into the union this way?”

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During the filming of the Ted Turner film “Gettysburg” , Civil War reenactors came from all over the country to participate in the first authorized reenactment on the actual battle field.  During a break, a group of men  noticed a fellow reenactor emerge from the woods.  “He smelled real bad”, remembered one man.  The man said to them, “Rough one today, ay boys?”  The men agreed with him as they complemented him on his authentic  garb.  He had a quizzical look on his face and asked them how they were situated for ammunition.  When they replied that they had no ammunition, the man reached into his pouch and produced  a handful of  musket rounds.   He apologized for not having more to share. As they were inspecting their gifts the man turned and disappeared back into the woods.

58 caliber ammunition cartridge.

Noticing that they didn’t look like the rounds issued to them, they went to the head of props for the film, who told them they weren’t issued by him. Later they made their way into Gettysburg proper to have them checked out, and were chilled to learn that they were genuine musket rounds, dating from the time of the battle.

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During the battle, the 20th Maine regiment was marching towards the Pennsylvania hamlet when they struck a fork in the road and found themselves unsure which direction to proceed. Luckily for them, a mounted rider appeared, albeit in somewhat unusual and old-fashioned uniform, who directed them in the right direction, and even brought them to the top of Little Round Top, where they became famous for repelling one of the first massive assaults on the union lines. Even as they followed this unnamed rider, many found his appearance unusual, particular the eerie glow which seemed to emanate from him. When he disappeared without a word, many were convinced that he was not of this earth. Lincoln’s Secretary of War,  did a proper investigation of the matter, and was told by Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Commmander of  the regiment, “We know not what mystic power may be possessed by those who are now bivouacking with the dead. ”




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“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” – President Abraham Lincoln