Skip to comments.The Battle of Gettysburg (2nd Day) The Battle of Gettysburg - 2nd Day
Posted on 07/02/2008 6:08:10 AM PDT by mware
July 2, 1863
The morning of July 2 found the two armies facing each other from two nearly parallel ridges separated by a plain of open farmland. Overnight, Longstreet had arrived with the divisions of McLaws and Hood, bringing the strength of the Confederate Army to 50,000. As of this morning, Pickett's division had not arrived. The Union Army had also received reinforcements during the night, bringing their numbers to over 60,000.
While Meade's attention was directed towards Ewell's corps on Culp's Hill to the north, Lee decided to attack from the south. In the afternoon, Hood's division encountered Federal forces with hand-to-hand combat in an area of rock-strewn confusion of large boulders known as "Devil's Den." The Confederates worked past Devil's Den and for a short time nearly overtook Little Round Top before being repulsed by the 20th Maine regiment. The Confederates withdrew to Devil's Den where sharpshooters kept up a deadly exchange with Federal troops on Little Round Top.
A little later in the afternoon, McLaw's division overpowered Sickles' Federals with hand- to-hand combat at the Peach Orchard and the adjacent wheat field. However, losses were great and the Confederate push lost momentum at the creek at the base of Little Round Top known as Plum Run.
Next, Anderson made a run on Hancock's center Federal position which had been weakened in an attempt to aid Sickles. The Confederates were successfully pushing towards the Federal's ridge position when Hancock ordered the First Minnesota regiment to counterattack. Although the First Minnesota suffered enormous casualties, they managed to give Hancock enough time to establish a new line of defense. Anderson's men had to withdraw to Confederate positions across the valley.
To the north, Ewell's divisions had some success with late afternoon attacks in and around Culp's Hill. Early's division temporarily broke through Federal lines as darkness fell, but with lack of support and Federal counterattacks, had to withdraw. Lee had come close to success causing Meade to consider a possible retreat. The 2nd of July 1863 became one of the bloodiest days in American military history with each side losing about 10,000 men.
Thanks for posting this. I went to Gettysburg a couple of years ago and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. If every American were required to make one “patriotic pilgramage” in their lifetime, I would nominate Gettysburg as the destination.
Each side actually lost 10,000 combat effectives to capture, wounding and death.
About 8,000 men were killed in total over the whole three days including both Federal and rebel mortalities.
Total casualties (killed, wounded and captured) for the three days were 46,000 in total or 23,000 apiece - almost exactly matched.
However, for Meade that meant 25% of his army and for Lee that meant 33% of his army.
I just finished “High Tide at Gettysburg” by Glen Tucker. Quite good, and you can see how the first two days led Lee to believe that victory was just around the corner.
I had the pleasure of touring the battlefield 2 months ago. It really brings home what the soldiers went through, and also how spread out the Confederate artillery was on the last day. There must have been a north breeze, several plaques that describe the actions of the various southern batteries say they couldn’t fire effectively due to the smoke, and in fact didn’t do much except repel a minor counterattack after the failed charge.
Every death is a tragedy, and I don’t mean to minimize the grief that is felt today with each loss in our war against terrorism — but I do find it staggering that losing 4000 people over a 5 year period is now seen as a sign that we’ve lost the war. We used to understand the cost of war a bit better in this country.
“However, for Meade that meant 25% of his army and for Lee that meant 33% of his army. “
I don’t think that the magnitude of the loss was apparent until months later, at the time it was considered by the Confederacy “Tough day for us, we’ll get them next time.” Was it Shelby Foote who said that like the Japanese after Midway there was no more victory, just different degrees of losing?
Wish that Turner would complete the trilogy on the Civil War.
I will give the devil his due, his works on the Civil War were very good.
The artist Mort Kunstler??
Unfortunately he lost so much on "Gods and Generals" that he called off plans for "Last Full Measure".
You'll be happy to know that we are making a number of changes in the battlefield to restore it to a condition closer to its original state.
The telephone and cable lines that ran across Devil's Den in front of Little Round Top have now been rerouted or buried beneath the soil.
The Visitor's Center is in the process of being removed from Cemetery Ridge just in front of the Angle and a new state-of-the-art Visitor's Center is now sited adjacent to the battlefield in an unobtrusive place. Soon visitors should be able to have a view from Seminary Ridge similar to the one that Pickett himself had at the time of his division's famous charge.
Looks more like Troiani’s work to me.
I have an ancestor who fought in the Devil’s Den. When I visited the battlefield my thoughts ran to how difficult it must have been to attack against troops entrenched in that rock pile.
Go, you 1st Texas! YYYYAAAAAAAEEEEEEEE!
We were there just before they closed the old visitor's center. We hired a park service guide to take us around the site and he was just awesome. He really brought the whole experience to life for us, including our 4 year old.
I'm glad to hear of the improvements. You have every reason to be proud. Hopefully, we'll get back there some day and see all the new things.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.