July 2, 1863

The 2nd day of the Battle of Gettysburg saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the entire Civil War -and on the North American continent.

After testing the Union’s right flank the day before, the Confederates shifted their attack to the unprotected left flank that was dominated by several geographical features that are still known today by their names on that day:  Little Round Top, Devil’s Den and The Wheatfield.

The attack started from this position along Warfield Ridge as General James Longstreet’s men formed up to attack the Union lines ahead of them.   In the image you’ll see the Round Tops on the right background and Devil’s Den over the small rise near the middle of the shot.

Little Round Top

There were southern units that had been through a forced march the night before to arrive on the scene and who wound up fighting throughout the day with little to no water.   Just to get to the fight that day they had to make it through deadly Union sharpshooters tucked into the Devil’s Den and then make a rough march up the hills of the Little Round Top.

The way up

As you can see – this is not easy hiking even when no one is shooting at you.  As I moved in and around the rocks (big and small) in my modern hiking shoes, I couldn’t imagine how difficult this would be in a pair of brogans – carrying a bit of weight on my back after marching all night long with no water.  And with someone trying to kill me.

Once you reach the top, there are signs, even today, of the enormous fight – everywhere.

Col. Vincent

During the course of the day’s fighting, the Union troops also had to deal with Confederate sharpshooters sniping at them from 500 yards away in the Devil’s Den – once it had been cleared of Union sharpshooters.  You can see Devil’s Den here with the sun hitting it in the upper left corner.

Devil's Den

The view from the top in magnificent – if it weren’t for the slaughter that took place here it would be quite scenic.

View from the top

Perhaps the greatest fighting of the day, if not the entire war, took place in a little 25 acre field that became known as The Wheatfield.  More than 4,000 men were killed or wounded in this tiny enclosure as troops from both sides attacked and counterattacked.

The Wheatfield

It was said you could walk from one end to the other without your foot ever touching the ground.

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~ by Derrick Birdsall on July 2, 2010.

3 Responses to “July 2, 1863”

  1. Thanks for posting these historical briefs Derrick. They’re very interesting to us non-historical folks.
    And the sepia toning is perfect given the nature of the subject matter.
    Well done.

  2. Sure thing, Albert. Glad you’re liking them.

  3. […] their positions on the first day of the battle and the Confederates had been hammered hard on the second day. Lee, feeling his momentum slipping away, decided on an all out attack on what he perceived to be […]

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