Friday August 7, 5:30PM
“The Push To Seminary Ridge – The First Day”
Early in the morning on July 1st Confederate General Henry Heth moved toward Gettysburg from Cashtown on the Chambersburg Pike in search of supplies. Heth’s entire division was mustered for the march when one of his brigade’s had returned and reported a sizeable force of Union cavalry near Gettysburg. After exchanging a few shots with a Union cavalry picket post near Marsh Creek, Heath believed he may be facing some local militia and a small Union force as he approached Herrs Ridge, Willoughby Run, McPherson’s Ridge and Seminary Ridge. This belief was short-lived. Heath discovered the Rebels were facing General Buford’s dismounted cavalry, who had been sent forward to McPherson’s Ridge and to Willoughby Run in order to stall the Confederate advance. Colonel William Gamble’s brigade of Buford’s division, supported by Lt. John H. Calef’s U.S. Battery with their breech loading carbines, did a fine job of delaying the Confederate approach. The Rebels were stalled – but only for a short period. The intense fighting of the First Day was just beginning.
Two brigades, commanded by General Archer & Davis, pressed slowly ahead crossing Willoughby Run. On Seminary Ridge from the cupola of Schmucker Hall, General Buford was watching his men being pushed back from Willoughby Run when General John Reynolds, riding ahead of his First Corps coming up in support, asked Buford to hold out until his troops arrived. “The devil’s to pay”, exclaimed Buford. Then he simply replied, “I reckon I can.” At the end of the first day’s battle, locations west of Gettysburg such as Herr’s Ridge, McPherson’s Woods, Willoughby Run, The Railroad Cut, Iverson’s Pits, Oak Hill, Schmucker Hall and Seminary Ridge would be etched into American history. The Union forces were eventually driven back through the town, but the First Day delaying action that held the line gave Union reinforcements enough time to arrive and secure the strategic advantage on Cemetery Ridge. Experience the exhilarating ‘Push To Seminary Ridge” action as the battle begins on Friday, July 3rd at 5:30PM, at the 152nd Gettysburg Anniversary Civil War Battle Reenactment.
Saturday, August 8, 11AM
“Hell To Pay – Buford Defending The High Ground”
This constantly changing First Day action, involving cavalry, artillery and infantry, recreates the gallant initial defense and eventual retreat of Union forces from the western and northern outskirts of Gettysburg, to the final defensive Federal position on Cemetery Ridge on July 1st. The Battle of Gettysburg began with Confederate troops approaching from Cashton attacking the Federal troops on McPherson Ridge, just west of town. The attack began along Chambersburg Pike when members of General A.P. Hill’s Corp began probing the Federal line on McPherson Ridge. Largely outnumbered, the Union forces fight valiantly to hold the high ground on McPherson, Seminary and Oak ridge’s. As the Federals were overrun by the Confederate forces in the afternoon, they were chaotically driven back through town. Thousands of Union soldiers were captured as they made their way to Cemetery Hill to rally the troops and make their historically definitive stand. This action was critical to ensure that Meade’s army secured the high ground on Cemetery Ridge. Enjoy an entire day of reenactment events while experiencing this battle on Friday at the 152nd Gettysburg Anniversary Battle Reenactment.
Saturday, August 8, 4:00PM
A Bloody Harvest – The Wheatfield
On the morning of July 2, 1863 the Confederate forces were jubilant. They had driven the enemy from the field and now occupied the town of Gettysburg. General Robert E. Lee decided to remain at Gettysburg to defeat the defending Federal force, now deployed on high ground south and east of town. Deciding on a Napoleonic flanking maneuver against the Union troops, Lee ordered an attack, with General Longstreet’s 1st Corps engaging the Federals on Little Round Top, and General Ewell’s 2nd Corps hitting the Federals on Cemetery and Culp’s Hills as a diversion.
General Longstreet’s troops had not arrived yet on the morning of July 2, and determinedly traveled in a counter-march to avoid detection. As a result, Dan Sickles, commander of the Union 3rd Corps, ordered his men off the rocky hill and positioned them in fields and knolls in the shadow of the Round Tops. He believed the Confederates would not attack his men on high ground; rather he thought, Lee was probably going to skirt around the Union forces and run toward Washington.
When General Longstreet’s troops arrived at Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 2, he was amazed to find men in blue in the Peach Orchard that ran along the Emmitsburg Road. Sickles had deployed most of his men there, leaving a brigade under Regis DeTrobriand in a wheat field and another in Devil’s Den, under the command of Hobart Ward.
Longstreet launched his troops against the Federals, hoping to gain the high ground of Little Round Top before Union General George Meade discovered that his flank was void of protection. Soon Sickles found himself in desperate trouble and as Devil’s Den fell, he asked for reinforcements for the Wheatfield. General John Caldwell’s division of the Union 2nd Corps was dispatched in reply. Caldwell’s division consisted of four brigades, commanded by Colonels Cross, Kelly, Brooke, and Brigadier General Samuel Zook. These troops were immediately engaged in fierce, hand-to-hand combat as the Wheatfield became enveloped in smoke and musketry. Six times the field changed hands in just over two hours as Cross and Zook fell mortally wounded, and Kelly’s Irish Brigade rushed to the stony ridge to stop their foes in gray. Men from Georgia and South Carolina collided with men from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Ireland, leaving many dead and wounded in their wake.
The Wheatfield extracted a gruesome toll of death and carnage for both sides. The Confederates suffered causalities of 1,394 and the Union 3,125 – which was not a typical ratio of causalities for attackers to defenders. This small expanse of agricultural ground would long be remembered by veterans as a name unique in the history of warfare given the unwavering furiousness of this fight. Experience this violent struggle with varied action in Bloody Harvest At The Wheatfield at The 152nd Gettysburg Anniversary Civil War Battle Reenactment on Saturday, July 4th at 4PM.
Sunday, August 9, 11AM
“Wolverines and Virginian’s – Rummel Farm”
General J.E.B. Stuart ordered the 1st VA Cavalry of Fitz Lee’s Brigade to make a mounted charge to drive a wedge between the Union lines at the Rummel Farm and Low Dutch Road. Stuart is unaware of the presence of the 1st and 7th Michigan over the ridge guarding the intersection of the Low Dutch and Hanover roads. General Gregg orders a charge against the 1st VA regiment. Brig. General Custer places himself at the head of the charge and with his saber drawn led the 7th Michigan in the charge. Custer stood and turned in his saddle, took off his hat, and shouted, “Come on, you Wolverines!” To this point in the war the Confederate cavalry had maintained consistent superiority to their Federal counterparts. This Union victory not only prevented the Confederate cavalry from attacking and disrupting the rear of the Federal position prior Pickett’s Charge, it also signaled the beginning of Federal cavalry advancement for the duration of the war. Cavalry actions are always a crowd pleaser at the reenactment. Normally these reenactment equestrians salute the spectators with a close up Grand Review at the conclusion of the battle. Don’t miss Wolverines and Virginians – Rummel Farm on Sunday morning at the 152nd Gettysburg Anniversary Battle Reenactment.
Sunday August 9, 2:30pm
“Glory or Death” (Segment of Picket’s Charge)
Just mention of the phrase “Pickett’s Charge” brings forth a multitude of vivid thoughts and sensory perceptions. The stone wall at the copse of trees on Cemetery Ridge came to symbolize the most significant Southern advance on Union soil during the American Civil War. During the conflict at the wall artillery explosions, brutal hand to hand combat, cannons filled with canister and wave after wave of Confederate soldiers being decimated was the order of the day. At the wall the Federals had rank after rank, infantry division after infantry division, artillery filled with canister and even the provost guards on the line awaiting the Confederate advance To the rear of this force awaited a regiment of cavalry. Against a Federal army so disposed, driven to end the conflict, its different parts thrown from point to point with certainty and anticipating every possible Confederate movement, the Union forces awaited the Confederate advance across one mile of open fields.
This energy filled and desperate attack that Lee had launched was in truth the mad and reckless movement that Meade characterized it and accomplished no more than a slight fraying of the edge of the front line of the Union troops as the Union Army rose up to repel the Confederates. The next day the struggling Confederate army would begin its trek back south across the Potomac River signaling The High Tide of the Confederacy was on the decline. A massive artillery barrage between opposing artillery precedes Sunday’s troop advance at the reenactment. Experience a segment of this most famous battle every year on Sunday afternoon, July 5th, 2:30PM at the 152nd Gettysburg Battle Reenactment.