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Day 2 July 2nd, 1863

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      By the late aftternoon of the second day of the battle, July 2, 1863, there seven Union Corps at Gettysburg, they were the I, II,III, V, VI, XI, and XII Corps. Though there were more Union Corps at Gettysburg than Confederate Corps the two sides were fairly evenly matched because though there were only three Confederate Corps there were more brigades and regiments in the Confederate Corps. There were roughly 160,000 men facing each other at Gettysburg. By this time the Union battle line was arranged south of town in the shape of an upside down fish hook. The hook part of the line being at Culp's and Cemetery Hill and the "eye" of the hook being at the end of a small ridge extending south of town called Cemetery Ridge and further south to the Devil's Den area. By the mid-late afternoon of the second day of the second day of the battle there had been no significant fighting. As a result tensions had risen and nerves were strained as soldiers on both sides anticipated the impending continuation of the battle. However something had occurred earlier in the day that would significantly impact the occurrence of events that day. Major General Daniel E. Sickles, who commanded the Union army's Third Corps, advanced his entire line without orders nearly one mile ahead of the rest of the Union line. This left the Third Corp's flanks or sides exposed and also left it isolated. According to General Sickles he believed there was higher ground ahead and so advanced his troops to that ground ignoring the fact that he stuck out like a proverbial sore thumb and jeopardized the entire Union battle line for it was his Corps that held the southern part of the line at the southern end of Cemetary Ridge and the area of the strategic Round Tops (which Sickles left unoccupied). When Sickles advanced his line, his new battle line from right to left formed a sort of triangle with the apex being in the place known as the Peach Orchard. The line then extended left through a place that would notoriously become known as The Wheatfield. The line then extended further left or south to a large outcropping or formation of boulders known by locals as Devil's Den.
       The Confederate plan for the second day of the battle was to attack the Union left and right flank. Richard Ewell's Second Corps would hit the Union's right flank at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill while General James Longstreet's First Corps would hit the Union's left flank (the southern end of the Union battle line), the areas where Union General Daniel E. Sickles was holding. The Confederate plan relied on timing so that the Confederate attack on the Union's flanks or sides would occur at the same time. The attack would also occur in echelon, that is like a wave,one Confederate brigade would hit, then the one next to it, then the one next to that one, etc. The logic being so that Union reinforcements would be rushed from the Union line next to it thereby weakening the Union line that sent the reinforcements, who would then be attacked next by the advancing Confederate brigades.  However the Confederate timing of the attack was off, the attack on the Union's left flank or southern most point occurred earlier than the attack on the Union's right flank or northeastern most point.
            

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Enlarged Maps of Day 2 Gettysburg Battlefield

       At approximately 3-4 o'clock in the afternoon artillery fire announced the beginning of General Longstreets attack on the Union's left flank. As the Confederate brigades advanced all along the southern part of the Union line they encountered General Sickle's exposed Third Corps line. Just before the fighting Major General George Meade, who was in command of the entire Union army at Gettysburg, had confronted Sickles as to why he had advanced his line without permission. Sickles explained about the high ground but offered to pull his Corps back. However it was too late, no sooner had that been suggested that the Confederate wave struck Daniel Sickles exposed Third Corps. The initial fighting occurred at the Union position on Devil's Den and Little Round Top, and spread to The Wheatfield and to The Peach Orchard. By the end of the day the fighting would reach Cemetery Ridge. General Sickle's Third Corps was soon overwhelmed and had to withdraw but help was needed to cover his withdrawal. To reclaim The Wheatfield General Meade turned to Major General Winfield Scott Hancock's Second Corps, specifically the first division which was made up of 4 brigades. The 1st division of the Union's Second Corps under General Caldwell was rushed into the Wheatfield to shore up the collapsing Third Corp line there. The Second Corp's 1st division was able to recapture the wheatfield but had to abandon the wheatfield when the area to the left, Devil's Den, was captured by the surging Confederates. This allowed Confederate troops to pour into the maelstrom of The Wheatfield from the left. Soon after the Third Corp's Union line at The Peach Orchard broke and the swarming Confederates continued their advance and entered the The Wheatfield from the right. The Second Corp troops in The Wheatfield were now taking fire from three sides and were in danger of being surrounded. The Second's Corps 1st Division narrowly escaped the Wheatfied. Just before the fighting broke out in the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863 it was discovered by Union General Warren that Little Round Top had been left undefended. General Warren soon became aware of large masses of Confederate troops headed in the direction of Little Round Top which sat just behind Devil's Den. The Union's Third Brigade of the 1st Division of the Fifith Corps led by Colonel Strong Vincent was rushed to the hill top just in time to prevent the Confederates from taking the hill which overlooked the entire Union line at Gettysburg. In the the ensuing defense of the hill the young Colonel Strong Vincent fell mortally wounded, however his brigade successfully defended the hill and saved the left flank of the Union army. The routed Union troops from the Third Corps (Sickle's exposed line) and the 1st Division of the Second Corp retreated to Cemetery Ridge and reformed there, some also retreated to the area of Little Round Top. The pursuing Confederates pursued the fleeing federals to these areas but were stopped at Cemetery Ridge and the area of the Wheatfield near Little Round Top called Houck's Ridge. This ended the Confederate attack on the Union left flank or southern part of Union line. Around the time that the Confederate attack on the left flank ended, the attack on the right flank at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill began. It was around 8:00PM and nearly dark when the Confederates attempted to capture Cemetery and Culp's Hill. Due to poor Confederate timing in those attacks they also failed, however the Confederates had at one point reached the top of Cemetery Hill only to be driven back off by Union reinforcments. The Confederate troops attacking Culp's Hill had captured part of the lower slope of the hill and had occupied abandoned Union trenches and breastworks there after most of the Union troops were sent off to help support the defense of the Union's left flank. The Confederate troops held this position on the lower slope of Culp's Hill through out the evening and night of July 2nd. The Union army however securely held the upper hill and crest and was holding it with only one brigade. The fight for Culp's Hill would renew again early the next morning with both sides being reinforced, however the Union would remain in posession of the crest of the upper hill at the end of the fight for Culp's Hill. Just as the first day of the battle of Gettysburg belonged to the Confederate army so the second day of the battle belonged to the Union army. However both sides suffered terribly on the July 2nd. The end of the second day of fighting turned previously insignifcant places into infamous places that became engraved in American history, places such as The Wheatfield, The Peach Orchard, Little Round Top, and Culp's Hill. 

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Day 3 July 3rd, 1863

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(above) Confederate artillery position of Major Latimer on Benner's Hill. Confederate Major John Latimer, 19 years old, and called affectionately the "boy major", needed an artillery platform by which to support the Confederate attack against Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill that evening. The only suitable ground (certainly not ideal) was Benner's Hill. Unfortunately for Latimer, Benner's Hill was dominated in height by Culp's Hill. Soon after unlimbering and firing Latimer's position drew immediate and severe counter fire from Union artillery on Culp's Hill, Steven's Knoll (small rise of ground in between Culp's Hill and East Cemetery Hill), and East Cemetery Hill. The Union artillery fire was accurate and overhwhelming and hurled Latimer's artillery platform backwards. After approximately one and a half hours Latimer's artillery position could not function. Major Latimer was mortally wounded in the artillery duel.

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(above) A view of the Peach Orchard from the Rose Farm. It was on this ground that Kershaw's Brigade of South Carolinians advanced enroute to the Wheatfield. Kershaw's men were exposed to destructive artillery fire from Union artillery at the Peach Orchard as they swept past the Rose Farm buildings. 

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(above) Union artillery in the Peach Orchard. The Union artillery in the Peach Orchard was forced to limber up hastily to avoid capture as the Union regiments of the III Corp in the Peach Orchard and around the Sherfy House (family that owned the orchard) were crushed by General Willian Barksdale's MIssissippi brigade.

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(above) A view of the Round Tops from the Confederate staging areas.

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(above) Fr.Corby blesses the Union troops of the II Corp under General Caldwell just before they enter The Wheatfield.

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(above & below) Photos of The Wheatfield.

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(above) General Samuel Crawford's two brigades of Pennsylvania Reserves were responsible for finally stopping the Confederate advance that was headed towards Little Round Top in the evening of July 2nd, 1863. When the Confederate soldiers who had been triumphant in The Wheatfield emerged from The Wheatfield and headed towards Little Round Top they were met by Crawford's two fresh brigades of Pennsylvania Reserves. To rally his men Gen.Crawford, while on his horse, grabbed the flag from the flagbearer and rode in between the lines carrying the flag. Crawford's fresh Union troops were too much for the exhausted Confederate soldiers and the Confederate soldiers withdrew through The Wheatfield and back to the Rose Farm. The monument in the photo depicts a triumphant Crawford holding the flag and facing The Wheatfield, Little Round Top looms in the background.