battle begins The first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg
is fired down this road, the Chambersburg Pike, about a
mile and three-quarters in front of us. A little after 7:30
in the morning on that July 1st, one lone 2nd lieutenant
in the 8th Illinois Cavalry—his name was Marcellus
Jones—will raise his carbine to his shoulder and squeeze
off a shot at 6,500 Confederates marching down the road—in
column by fours—at him. Jones doesn’t hit anyone,
but the battle begins from that one simple shot. Upon hearing
that shot, John Buford—realizing that the Confederates
are coming en masse down that road from the west—realizes
he needs help...
Archer’s Confederates meet the Iron Brigade The infantry that hits Archer’s
Brigade in these woods is one of the finest outfits in the
entire Union army—mid-westerners from the states of
Michigan, Wisconsin, and Indiana, known as the Iron Brigade.
They earned their nickname, Iron Brigade, for their reputation
of never taking a step back in battle during two years of
fight for the colors of the Second Mississippi There are 10,000 Union soldiers coming
up from the Emmitsburg, Maryland area, arriving from the
south and the southeast (through these fields front of us).
First the Iron Brigade advances diagonally across these
fields and into the woods, very close to the spot where
General Reynolds is killed...
reinforcements arrive from the north When 8,000 Confederates come in behind
us, Robert Rodes finds himself in a remarkably good situation.
He is on the flank of the Union position—like a big
“T,” about as good as you can get, tactically
speaking, in the American Civil War. This position is a
general’s heaven, and Rodes has to be salivating at
the prospect here. The very first thing he does is set up
14 cannons on top of this hill, to start firing down the
Union battle line. From that fire, about 500 Union soldiers
retreat from McPherson’s Ridge across these open fields
and into that tree line—the Railroad Woods again.
Rodes sees those men retreating into the woods, and he is
determined to go after them...
first breaks down from right to left What we’re standing on right
now is the Union right flank, at a place called Barlow’s
Knoll. It was called Blocher’s Knoll at the time of
the battle because it was named after the farmer who owned
the property. It was renamed Barlow’s Knoll for the
Union general, Frances Barlow, whose men fought and bled
on this ground...
First Corp makes final stand before retreating through town We’re now on Seminary Ridge,
on the far left of the Union battle line. That battle line
is breaking down on July 1st from right to left. The positions
in front of you are the last to break, with Union soldiers
making a final stand among the buildings behind us (the
Lutheran Seminary), before their lines again break and they
are driven through the streets of Gettysburg...
troops reorganize on high ground south of town Confederates drive the Union soldiers
back through the streets of Gettysburg to join their fellow
soldiers who have retreated from the north. The retreat
through town is a miserable affair for the Union army. The
Confederates are no more than 300 yards away at any one
point, and as a result, there are almost 3,000 killed, wounded,
and captured Union soldiers in the streets of Gettysburg
before they arrive at this position...
author and businessman, is one of the most popular
Licensed Battlefield Guides at the Gettysburg National
Battlefield Park. A member of the advisory board of
Blue & Gray magazine, he published special editions
of that magazine in 1988, 1995, 1996 and 1997 on the
Battle of Gettysburg. His vivid battlefield tours
provide a level of dramatic realism to Virtual Gettysburg.
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