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Chapter 4 Friday, July 3, 1863, and Afterward One of Lee’s objectives in moving his army out of Virginia was to fight and defeat the Army of the Potomac on Northern territory. In the last days of June, he began concentrating his army for the decisive battle he sought. However, with Stuart out of contact and unable to communicate with him, this concentration was being done with minimal information on where Meade’s army was located. During the process of concentrating, Lee’s army made contact with the lead elements of Meade’s army on July 1. The failure of subordinates to follow their commander’s intent, concentrate, and then fight, along with poor decision-making, brought four divisions into a battle that Lee was not prepared to fight until at least the following day. Unwillingly committed to battle on July 1, Lee decided he must make the best of the situation. Unable to remain east of South Mountain and the Cumberland Valley for an extended period of time and unwilling to withdraw and surrender the initiative, he found that his only option was to attack. This he proceeded to do on Thursday. Lee’s July 2 plan was for a main attack against the Union left with a supporting attack against Meade’s right. This plan was based on poor reconnaissance by his staff and subordinates and no reconnaissance from his absent cavalry. Even though the supporting attack provided no timely assistance to the main attack, it was partially successful on its own. The partial successes of 80 Friday, July 3, 1863, and Afterward the main and supporting attacks caused Lee to think that a coordinate action by his army could still produce the victory he sought and so desperately needed. Slocum and Williams Steal the Initiative On July 2 Longstreet, using two of his divisions, was to conduct an envelopment and attack Meade’s left (south) flank. This was the main attack. Simultaneously Ewell was to conduct a demonstration, with the option of turning it into an attack, on Meade’s right (north) flank. This was the supporting attack. Ewell’s supporting attack was to hold the Union troops in positions on Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill to prevent Meade from moving them south to reinforce his position there. Because of a lack of coordination, poor staff work, and difficulties in communication between the two flanks, Ewell’s attack did not begin as soon as it should have and did not keep all of the defenders in place.1 Ewell began his demonstration with Major Joseph W. Latimer’s reinforced artillery battalion. Latimer deployed twenty guns on to Benner’s Hill, twelve hundred yards north-northeast of Culp’s Hill and seventeen hundred yards northeast of East Cemetery Hill, and engaged in an artillery duel with the Union batteries on East Cemetery Hill. Latimer opened fire shortly after Longstreet’s artillery began firing on the south flank. Latimer’s gunners held their position for two hours but were eventually forced off Benner’s Hill by the artillery on East Cemetery Hill.2 Ewell followed up his artillery demonstration with two infantry attacks : one against East Cemetery Hill and one against Culp’s Hill. Two brigades from Early’s Division made the attack against East Cemetery Hill. After heavy fighting, this attack was repulsed by the Eleventh Corps with reinforcements from the Second Corps. Major General Edward Johnson’s division conducted the attack against Culp’s Hill. Earlier in the day Culp’s Hill was defended by the first day’s survivors of Brigadier General James Wadsworth’s division of the First Corps and the two divisions of the Twelfth Corps.3 Prior to Ewell’s ordering his infantry attacks, Meade did exactly what Lee was trying to prevent and redeployed most of the Twelfth Corps off of Culp’s Hill to provide reinforcements to the left and left center part of his defenses, then under heavy attack. When Johnson commenced his attack, only Wadsworth’s troops and Brigadier General George S. Greene’s brigade were on Culp’s Hill.4 Extending his brigade to occupy as much of the unmanned Twelfth Corps position as possible, Greene, eventually reinforced with other regi- Friday, July 3, 1863, and Afterward 81 ments, fought a masterful defensive action and was able to hold the higher part of the hill while having to give up the lower southeastern part. Although denied the top of the hill, Johnson controlled the lower southern...


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