Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Gen. Richard Ewell at Gettysburg (7/2/1863) - Mar. 21st, 2005
America's Civil War Magazine | Robert C. Cheeks

Posted on 03/20/2005 9:54:07 PM PST by SAMWolf


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

.................................................................. .................... ...........................................

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

Where Duty, Honor and Country
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.

Our Mission:

The FReeper Foxhole is dedicated to Veterans of our Nation's military forces and to others who are affected in their relationships with Veterans.

In the FReeper Foxhole, Veterans or their family members should feel free to address their specific circumstances or whatever issues concern them in an atmosphere of peace, understanding, brotherhood and support.

The FReeper Foxhole hopes to share with it's readers an open forum where we can learn about and discuss military history, military news and other topics of concern or interest to our readers be they Veteran's, Current Duty or anyone interested in what we have to offer.

If the Foxhole makes someone appreciate, even a little, what others have sacrificed for us, then it has accomplished one of it's missions.

We hope the Foxhole in some small way helps us to remember and honor those who came before us.

To read previous Foxhole threads or
to add the Foxhole to your sidebar,
click on the books below.

Failure on the Heights

For the second day in a row, Confederate General Richard Ewell inexplicably failed to take the offensive at Gettysburg. "The fruits of victory," Robert E. Lee lamented, had not been gathered.

As dusk settled over south-central Pennsylvania on the evening of July 1, 1863, 27,000 Union infantrymen and nearly 85 fieldpieces held the heights overlooking this misleadingly peaceful countryside near the tiny hamlet of Gettysburg. The Army of Northern Virginia had won decisively the first day of fighting there, but it had failed, as commanding General Robert E. Lee knew only to well, "to gather the fruits of victory."

The next morning the conversation at Maj. Gen. Richard Ewell's II Corps headquarters concerned Lee's expectations for the coming day. Said Lee pointedly: "We did not pursue our advantage of yesterday, and now the enemy are in good position." Given Lee's habitual gentlemanly demeanor, that amounted to a severe dressing down of Ewell, as "Old Baldy" immediately realized. Wisely, Ewell made no reply. The day before, ordered by Lee to take the Heights south of Gettysburg, specifically Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill, Ewell had flinched. With much of his corps scattered and exhausted by the hard march and even harder fighting earlier that day, the usually aggressive Ewell had taken one look at the two hilltops bristling with Union artillery and chosen not to attack.

Ewell's decision -- or indecision -- had pained Lee greatly, but to some extent it was Lee's own fault. Accustomed to the brilliant and imaginative leadership of Stonewall Jackson, dead now for two months, Lee had fallen into the bad habit of "suggesting" rather than ordering. His directions to Ewell had been typically contradictory and confusing: he was to take the heights "if practicable" but not bring on "a general engagement." Given the fact that a general engagement had already been flaring for 12 hours at Gettysburg, Ewell's puzzlement, if not necessarily his paralysis, was understandable.

Now, Lee kept his orders simple. Ewell was to keep pressuring the Federal right in order to prevent Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade from transferring troops to the left, where the primary Confederate assault of the day was planned. Again, should the opportunity present itself, Ewell was to take the heights. For his part, Ewell did not interfere with the previous dispositions of his divisional commanders. Major General Robert Rodes held the corps' extreme right, southwest of Gettysburg; Maj. Gen. Jubal Early held the center, due east of the Baltimore Pike; and Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson was posted east of town above the Hanover Road.

Fighting on Culp's Hill

Confronting Ewell were elements of three corps from the Union Army of the Potomac: Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard's XI Corps; Maj. Gen. John Newton's I Corps; and Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum's XII Corps, all occupying the high ground just south of Gettysburg, the Northernmost part of the Union line. Howard's corps, in particular, had been roughly handled by Ewell's forces the day before, but reinforcements had rushed to the scene and stabilized the line, which was now shaped like an inverted fishhook, with the hook's curve sweeping west from Culp's Hill to Cemetery Hill.

During the morning and the midafternoon of July 2, the infantrymen and cannoneers of both armies made ready for renewed war. The Federals dug trenches, built abatis and felled trees to open lines of fire. Rations were cooked, brought to the front and quickly dispersed. Water, which was scarce, was rationed and shared among friends. Cartridges were unloaded off the ammunition trains, and each soldier saw to it that his pouch was full. Muskets were cleaned, bayonets sharpened. The familiar ritual was a shield against the accursed gods of war, against death, and against the terrible wounds that had so shocked their tender sensibilities when the war first began, but that now no longer caused distress. These Yankees were veteran infantrymen; they had "seen the elephant." Now they waited.

Across the way, their enemies in butternut and gray did much the same. Their rations were not quite as good, but they had better access to water, and by now they had managed to equip themselves with the standard 1863-era musket, their home-brought smoothbores and shotguns a thing of the past. But the Rebels were expecting to make an assault, and their haversacks, many stamped with the initials U.S., were lightened of all but the essentials.

General Edward Johnson

Sometime after noon, Confederate Major Joseph W. Latimer had gotten the 16 guns of Snowden Andrew's Maryland Battalion and the Rockbridge Artillery from II Corps' artillery reserve on the heights of Benner's Hill, a small rise about 1,400 yards northeast of Cemetery Hill. The 20-year-old boy major had distinguished himself in previous battles, and clearly intended to do his duty. Further dispositions of the corps artillery were hindered by terrain and by the singular failure of II Corps' artillery command. Of the early 80 guns available to the corps, only 48 had been brought to bear on the enemy, and only 32 had been fired in anger. It was a terrible showing by the heretofore excellent artillery officers, especially in light of the fact that the Federal position south of town was a salient, and very much subject to enfilading fire from both II Corps and III Corps artillery. But this opportunity, too, had been missed by Ewell. Any attack on the heights would now be strictly an infantry affair, virtually unsupported by the long arm of the army.

During the morning hours, Ewell had ordered his divisional commanders to prepare to advance on the enemy. He sent couriers to Maj. Gen. Dorsey Pender, on his right, asking that support be provided in the event the corps went forward. Brigadier General James Lane had assumed command of the division several hours earlier when Pender went down with the severe leg wound that would eventually kill him. Lane replied to Ewell's request in the affirmative and ordered two of his brigades to the skirmish line. Ewell's attack was planned in echelon, a favorite Confederate tactic. Left to right, Johnson would go first, followed by Early, then Rodes.

Breastworks near the summit of Culp's Hill

Johnson's division lay just north of Hanover Road, east of town, about a mile from their objective, Culp's Hill. Brigadier General John M. Jones had been ordered to move his brigade in support of Latimer's artillery in the area of Benner's Hill. Colonel J.M. Williams' brigade fell in on Jones' right, while on his left Brig. Gen. George Steuart's hard-fighting infantry extended the front several hundred yards eastward. On Steuart's left, the renowned Stonewall Brigade formed but was quickly forced to change fronts, bringing its line perpendicular to the division's front in order to fend off some forceful skirmishing by belligerent Union cavalry. As a result of the Union harassment, only three of the four brigades of Johnson's division would go forward.

In the corps' center, Jubal Early had placed Colonel Isaac E. Avery's brigade on the left, while Brig. Gen. Harry Hays' brigade of tigerish Louisianans was posted on the right. Brigadier General John B. Gordon's brigade made up a reserve, and Brig. Gen. William "Extra Billy" Smith's little brigade was sent up the York Road in response to erroneous reports of Federal activity there. Again, as had happened with Johnson, only three of Early's four brigades would be available for the upcoming assault.

1st Maryland at Culp's Hill

On the right, Rodes had not gotten out of town before dusk. Nevertheless, Ewell ordered Johnson to take his command forward. Marching in two lines with battle flags unfurled in the July twilight, the three brigades stepped off briskly, taking shells from opposing Union batteries. Brigadier General James A. Walker, commanding the Stonewall Brigade, had been given discretionary orders concerning the Federals on his right, with the intention that his command would join the division as soon as practicable. The three brigades crossed the Hanover road in good order, only to be stymied at Rock Creek, where they lost much time fording the stream. By the time the Rebel brigades made the base of Culp's Hill, it was dark.

As the confederate assault began, Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum ordered Brig. Gen. Alpheus Williams, temporary commander of XII Corps, to send his former division, then holding the line along the southeastern portion of Culp's Hill, to support Maj. Gens. Daniel Sickles and Winfield Scott Hancock fighting on the left. Williams, informed Slocum that at least one division, Brig. Gen. John Geary's, should remain posted along the hill. Slocum initially agreed but later ordered Geary to follow, leaving behind only Brig. Gen. George "Pap" Greene's five upstate New York regiments. Greene's brigade would now be responsible for a battle line formerly held by a corps.

KEYWORDS: cemeteryhill; civilwar; colonelisaacavery; culpshill; freeperfoxhole; gengeorgegreene; genrichardewell; gettysburg; veterans; warbetweenstates
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-77 next last
To: The Mayor

Good morning Mayor.

41 posted on 03/21/2005 8:02:45 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Valin

Thanks for the new section on the GWOT.

42 posted on 03/21/2005 8:04:22 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: alfa6

Great painting, thanks.

Sounds like you accomplished a lot!

43 posted on 03/21/2005 8:05:25 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: snippy_about_it

Hi Snippy!

44 posted on 03/21/2005 8:07:11 AM PST by The Mayor (
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 41 | View Replies]

To: Mudboy Slim
...for expecting the Laws of this Nation to apply to ALL Americans

They apply, Justice on the other hand isn't dished out equally, at least not in this life.

Mornin' Mud.

45 posted on 03/21/2005 8:08:32 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Professional Engineer

Morning PE.

46 posted on 03/21/2005 8:09:40 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Wneighbor

Good morning Wneighbor.

47 posted on 03/21/2005 8:10:12 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: stand watie


48 posted on 03/21/2005 8:11:25 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 35 | View Replies]

To: snippy_about_it

I've thinking (yes, an actual thought! It does happen on occasion) about this for a while now. I mean it has been 30 years, if you know what I mean. God bless these men and their families, but....

49 posted on 03/21/2005 8:12:07 AM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: SAMWolf

Thank you, my FRiend...MUD

50 posted on 03/21/2005 8:12:57 AM PST by Mudboy Slim (Liberty and Equal Justice fer ALL!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: snippy_about_it


51 posted on 03/21/2005 8:16:46 AM PST by stand watie (being a damnyankee is no better than being a racist. it is a LEARNED prejudice against dixie.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies]

To: snippy_about_it
Good morning,, Justice is not dished out equally, but we've got the goods on Slick Willie, and with the HildaBeast being the odds-on favorite to be the DemonRAT nominee fer POTUS in 2008, the GOP would be derelict in its duty if we fail to bring the Clinton's rampant corruption into the debate about whether or not the DespoticDuo is returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


52 posted on 03/21/2005 8:17:25 AM PST by Mudboy Slim (Liberty and Equal Justice fer ALL!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 45 | View Replies]

To: Mudboy Slim
I think a lot about bring Clinton to justice. I think it could be done. Unfortunately there is a "I won't out your closet skeletons if you won't out mine" agreement of long standing, and a more principled fear of a Tiberius Gracchus type event.

If the Dems win in 2008 they would certainly try GWB for treason and convict him, railroad him, into a "warcrime" based conviction if Clinton had earlier been brought to justice.

One of the ways republics decay is through the use of the State to punish political opponents individually and personally. This is the reason for the "Bills of Attainder" clause in the Constitution.
53 posted on 03/21/2005 8:55:35 AM PST by Iris7 (A man said, "That's heroism." "No, that's Duty," replied Roy Benavides, Medal of Honor.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 52 | View Replies]

To: stand watie

You were gone? :-)

54 posted on 03/21/2005 9:14:20 AM PST by Valin (DARE to be average!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 51 | View Replies]

To: Wneighbor

welcome back! Tell Schlohweiss I said hi. Hopefully we can all get together again vey soon.

55 posted on 03/21/2005 9:55:09 AM PST by msdrby (Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen and defended by its citizens.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: bentfeather

Hi miss Feather

56 posted on 03/21/2005 9:57:09 AM PST by Professional Engineer (My baby girl has the strongest little finger known to man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: SAMWolf

Good Afternoon, Foxhole - Here's to another great thread, and another great day.


("Baldy" Ewell)

"Where fiercest grows the battle's rage
  And Southern banners spread;
Where minions crouch and vassals kneel,
  There sleep Virginia's dead."

- Cornelia J. M. Jordan




57 posted on 03/21/2005 10:01:40 AM PST by tomball
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SAMWolf

Hi Sam.

58 posted on 03/21/2005 10:04:05 AM PST by Aeronaut (I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things - Saint-Exupery)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Valin
1685 Johann Sebastian Bach Eisenach Germany, composer

Aaah, Radar...

Which MASH character are you?

59 posted on 03/21/2005 10:10:38 AM PST by Professional Engineer (My baby girl has the strongest little finger known to man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: SAMWolf

Hiya Sam

60 posted on 03/21/2005 10:11:50 AM PST by Professional Engineer (My baby girl has the strongest little finger known to man.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-2021-4041-6061-77 next last

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.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson