Beyond the town of Gettysburg

Intentional The Killer Angels reference?
Yes. Well observed!

I'm absolutely amazed and caught by this alternative Gettysburg...
Thank you, I hope you are on board for the action to come. Up to now this has been more or less an extended foreplay :cool:

Very interesting. Part of me Hope's Sickles is humiliated. Dude was an awful person, but most TLs have him achieve great success
Sickles will have his grand moment, but one can be grandiose both in victory and defeat ;)
 
Interlude II
Interlude II

In the late evening of July 2, the situation is as follows:

Lee's army is finally concentrated with 57,200 infantry in three corps along the South Mountain Ridges and 6,100 cavalry in four brigades under Stuart to their rear.

Imboden's cavalry brigade (1,800 troopers) has successfully countermarched to Greencastle while Robertson (1,000 troopers) sorts things out in Chambersburg and Grumble Jones (1,900 troopers) protects the left flank at Shippensburg.

Six corps of Meade's army with 61,800 infantry and 6,500 cavalry in two divisions remain in position at Gettysburg. Sickles' III Corps (10,000 infantry) and Kilpatrick's division (3,800 troopers) camp at Fairfield for the night and prepare to move out towards the gap at Monterey Pass at first light.

Couch's three militia brigades (4,600 men) under Baldy Smith reached Carlisle and are ready to cautiously probe south.

French's VIII Corps still holds Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights with around 10,000 infantry and has not yet shown any inclination to move in concert with Sickles.

Gettysburg_Evening_July2.jpg
 
Chapter 9
Chapter 9

July 3, 1863, 8:45 a.m.
Monterey Pass
Pennsylvania

Strangely, there was no pain, just a numbed shock that knocked the wind out of his lungs. There was darkness for a moment, and then he was looking up at green leaves, sunlight filtering down. A man knelt down by his side. John Hanson McNeill could barely see him; the sunlight behind him was blinding. He tried to breath and was not able to. He felt as if he were drowning. Then hands grabbed him under the shoulders. The man pulled him up. There was a terrible stab of pain now. The man eased him back down, sitting up against the side of a rock. His mind began to wander.

His scouts had spotted them just after dawn, on the road south of Fairfield. Not just a few riders foraging, but obviously several brigades of cavalry, followed by an almost infinite column of infantry. Union troops on a flank march. McNeill had grasped the gravity of the situation within seconds. This movement was not only aimed at the right flank of the army, but it looked like a planned sickle cut to ultimately penetrate deep into the rear area. He could not let that happen.

He had sent two men north and west to raise the alarm and bring reinforcements, but initially he was on his own. He had no more than ninety men. Irregulars, bushwhackers, whatever you wanted to call them. Armed with a hodgepodge of firearms, including a variety of old shotguns and hunting rifles. So far they had raided supply lines and attacked soft targets. That would change that day.

They holed up in and around the narrow pass as quickly as possible. Time was precious and the minutes they had before the first opponents arrived were used to roll stones and fell and relocate tree trunks.

The Union cavalry vanguard was formed by a regiment from Michigan. The dressed-up blue coats rode forward unsuspectingly as if on parade. McNeill let them get within a hundred yards before he gave the order to fire. In a split second the column turned into a chaotic heap. Well over a dozen men and many mounts were hit. People screamed, horses shied and curses rang out. Before order was restored, McNeill's men had reloaded. The second volley hit less enemies due to the unpredictably moving targets, but it served its purpose from a psychological point of view. The Michigan men streamed back.

They had come again just a few minutes later. This time fanned out in battle formation. They galloped up like ancient knights. The Confederate shotguns took a terrible toll on them and also this advance, as arrogant as McNeill had never seen it before, was thrown back.

After that, they had gotten smarter. They dismounted from their horses and proceeded in loose formation. As soon as they got within range again, they dropped to the ground behind bushes, trees and stones and began to return fire. This exchange asted long minutes and since the southerners had a height advantage, a stalemate developed. Until another enemy regiment appeared. McNeill had been able to make out another pennant on the right and was about to refuse his right flank when the bullet hit him in the chest.

Back in the present, he thought weakly that it was over. He could make out blue shadows approachim him and his small band. But suddenly the men around him began to cheer. And then he heard it. He heard hooves drumming almost like an earthquake. But the noises did not come from in front, but from behind him. Finally his eyes sharpened and he recognized the man at his side as his son and second-in-command. Jesse Cunningham McNeill yelled wide-eyed "Imboden is coming".

Reassurance washed over the older man's body. He grasped the hilt of his sword and pulled it close to his heart. Now I can rest in peace, he thought as he took his last breath.

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Chapter 10
Chapter 10

July 3, 1863, 9:30 a.m.
East of Monterey Pass
Pennsylvania

'What do you mean, you have been thrown back? This is unacceptable'. Daniel Sickles was seething with anger.

The man in front of him in heavy riding boots, who sported a curly blond mane, bowed his head in embarassment when he answered. 'Sir, I am sorry. At first we only dealt with a single company, which is why I ordered only the 1st Michigan to attack. But the rebels fought doggedly and threw us back twice. Colonel Town is badly hit, an ugly shoulder wound, he may lose his arm. Just as we were about to evict them from their positions, reinforcements suddenly arrived, an entire cavalry brigade. We were no longer outnumbering them and the terrain worked against us from the start'.

'Between us, General Custer, I do not care a whit whether one of your officers has exposed himself too much and now has to pay the bill for it. I need this pass taken so that we can get into the rear of the rebel army. Certainly I will not return to General Meade like a tailed-in dog just because a couple of tattered figured with shotguns refused to clear our way'.

'They have now a battery of horse artillery in position as well', offered the third man in the meeting.

'Ah, Kilpatrick, that may be so. But your division is vastly superior to the enemy. Have you finally brought up your second brigade?'

'Farnsworth is up now, sir. We will put them on the run, but it may be expensive'.

'I need results, gentlemen. War means fighting and fighting means killing. Get those stubborn Confederates out of the way and we can move on. My plan is far from having failed'.

George%20Custer.jpg

Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, USA.
 
'I need results, gentlemen. War means fighting and fighting means killing. Get those stubborn Confederates out of the way and we can move on. My plan is far from having failed'.
Perhaps this is going to give Custer some lesson about not being so recklessly foolish.

If he survives to tell the tale, of course.
 
Chapter 11
Chapter 11

July 3, 1863, 10:30 a.m.
Monterey Pass, Pennsylvania

'Dismount!' George Custer himself remained mounted, ignoring the rounds whistling around his head. The troopers of the 1st Michigan, their blood up after the initial repulse and the injury of their leader, gladly followed orders, deploying out into heavy skirmish line, every fifth man detailed off to hold the reins of his four comrades.

He wished now just for a few guns akin to those firing down on him and his men from above. But Kilpatrick had left his artillery behind.

'Boys, forward at the double!' Custer shoutetd, 'Take that damn pass!'

The men started forward on foot, running flat out. A fed tumbled over before reaching a shallow depression, pausing, hunching down, a ragged volley ringing out as they began to return fire. The bravest of them then stood up, racing forward, closing the range to a hundred yards. The rebels, though, were in an excellent position. His counterpart, Imboden as it was reported, had picked his ground well. To Custer's left the troopers of the 5th Michigan were advancing dismounted as well, shooting, pushing up a few dozen yards, sprawling out on the ground, firing again. Custer went up, ignoring the danger, furious that he, again, had been repulsed.

'Here comes Farnsworth!' someone shouted.

Custer looked back. Kilpatrick had promised to send Farnsworth up in support, and finally, after a long period of waiting, the column was nearing his position, riding hard.

'Keep pushing them, keep pushing!'

--------------------------------------------------------------------

John Imboden raised his field glasses and saw the distant column coming for him. This time Kilpatrick was doing it right, he thought. One brigade, Custer's, was coming down on his left. The second brigade now meant that around 3800 men would be pushing in on him in a matter of minutes. At better than two-to-one odds he would simply be pushed back from the pass. It was just a matter of time.

Several of the men next to him were already down, one dead, another cursing, holding his leg, a third one sitting on the ground, sobbing. He walked to the far side of the ridge and looked along the line. His men were firing away, but he knew it was useless now to try to hold longer.

Damn it all, I hope this achieved anything, he thought. He gazed back westward, hoping against hope that he would see a column approaching even now, reinforcementscoming up to hold this crucial position.

'They are starting to deploy out, sir.'

He looked back to the east. The second blue column was swinging out into line, preparing to charge. They would ride through the dismounted skirmishers and this time overrun him.

'Time to get out boys, pass the call down the line', Imboden shouted. His adjutant raced towards the nearest cluster of officers.

Soon, his men were disengaging, sliding down the slope, running to their horses, mounting up. The battery of guns was the first unit to quit the field. It was going to be a tough race. As soon as his boys would stop shooting, the Yankees would press in. Imboden only hoped most of them would get out in cohesion. Maybe we could make another stand, perhaps at Waynesboro, he concluded as he turned his horse around and rode away.

Elon_John_Farnsworth.jpg

Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth, USA.
 
Wow, I actually felt some sympathy for Custer this time. Great job, I'm looking forward to what happens with the battles for the pass and supply line
 
Thank you all for the input so far, the increased amount motivates me greatly.

I habe a clear path in my mind how the Pennsylvania-Campaign will go, but the aftermath is still pretty open. As soon as I finish publishing my chain of events, I will call for suggestions concerning the future of the TL. Due to flexible work hours I hopefully will be able to keep my current pace.
 
Chapter 12
Chapter 12

July 3, 1863, 11:30 a.m.
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

The courier had reached him around seven in the morning. A man from McNeill's independent company, Imboden's brigade. He had slipped from his sweat-covered, exhausted horse and had called in an almost hysterical voice for the next officer. Unfortunately, what he had to report afterwards did not come from a confused mind. Yankees on a flank march, cavalry in divisional strength, infantry behind. All together, moving west towards their life line.

He hadn't waited to ask his superior for permission, he had acted. It had only taken about thirty minutes to get the men ready to march. From the South Mountain Plateau to this sleepy little town, however, it had taken him four hours of marching time. But that wasn't important anymore, the only important thing was that he had obviously won the race. The first cavalrymen in grey coming in from the east, including a John Imboden moved to tears by the surprise, had reported that the enemy was close on their heels.

He slowly rode along his defensive line infront of the town, a battlefront three brigades wide, from left to right half a mile, thousands of rifles flashing and gleaming in the midday sun. Four batteries of artillery had gone into position as well, bronze Napoleons glinting. Red battle flags held high, marking the individual regiments and their alignment.

He nearly wept with joy at the sight of it. His moment had finally arrived. We are ready, we are doing it in style, it was so good to be alive on this day in July, Major General George Edward Pickett thought.

Standing in his stirrups, he addressed his men. 'Virginians! This is the hour! We gonna have to be stubborn this day. The fate of the army and of our whole nation is in our hands! Hold your positions! Drive them back to Washington!'

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Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, CSA.
 
Ooh, Pickett conducting a desperate defense and Sickles attacking with overwhelming force. That's an interesting change from OTL. :)
 
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Chapter 13
Chapter 13

July 3, 1863, 11:40 a.m.
In front of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

'Infantry, Kilpatrick? Is that confirmed?' Daniel Sickles blinked away single drops of sweat that had curdled in his eyes.

'Yes, sir, we're assuming a single division, but obviously not at full strength. They're standing outside the town of Waynesboro with several artillery batteries as backup. The cavalry we pushed back has split and regrouped on the flanks.'

'We would not be in this unsatisfactory position if your brigades had made short work of the rebels in the hills. So don't think that the fact that it's just a small division is cause for celebration.'

Judson Kilpatrick cleared his throat in embarrassment and slowly took a step back.

'Gentlemen,' Sickles began again, addressing his two division commanders who were also present. "What do you think we should do about this situation?'

'Meade's prime directive remains that we should not engage in significant combat,' David Birney began cautiously and with restraint.

'Meade can go to hell. No plan survives first contact with the enemy and the situation has changed. We still have the element of surprise on our side, don't we? What do you say, Humphreys?' Sickles spat directly.

'I agree with you, sir, that the situation has changed. We seem to be outnumbering the enemy in both branches by about two to one. The rebels are also isolated here. If we could force them to retreat, it would allow our cavalry to overrun them piecemeal,' Andrew Humphreys replied.

'I see it this way' that was Sickles again. 'We have marched too far to turn back now. Besides, the pass we have just conquered might turn into a bottleneck on the way back. We're going in. Both divisions at once, no delays, no attack en echelon. A solid push with everything we have. We're standing on home soil and the men have never let me down. We'll rub them down and let the cavalry do the rest. That should scare Lee, anyway. After that, we go back to our primary objective.'

He looked around the group of men and continued talking.

'Birney, Humphreys, line up your men. Randolph and our artillery brigade will provide you with cover fire. Do not engage in long-range skirmishes. Our numerical superiority is best utilized in close combat. And if necessary, we will give the rebels the bayonet.'

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Sickles and his officers evaluate the situation.
 
So, we might see things spiraling into a battle of Waynesboro instead of a battle of Gettysburg? Interesting.

I'm really liking Sickles here, you can see that he's not what you would call a nice guy, or a even a particularly good commander, too hot-blooded and too self-centered without the wisdom to keep that in check, but he found an opportunity to complicate Lee's life immensely, and he's determined to push it for all that it's worth.

So, go Sickles, go! Put some real pressure on those confederates, give them a real scare, make them fight for their supply lines, give us an interesting battle. Lee and co already got too much attention and have been much overrated over the years, authors shouldn't be afraid of making them sweat, and if events go down that way, of putting them in a really nasty spot, they're only human after all, and they shouldn't be immune to being screwed over by the course of events like it happened to so many people over the course of history.
 
So, we might see things spiraling into a battle of Waynesboro instead of a battle of Gettysburg? Interesting.

I'm really liking Sickles here, you can see that he's not what you would call a nice guy, or a even a particularly good commander, too hot-blooded and too self-centered without the wisdom to keep that in check, but he found an opportunity to complicate Lee's life immensely, and he's determined to push it for all that it's worth.

So, go Sickles, go! Put some real pressure on those confederates, give them a real scare, make them fight for their supply lines, give us an interesting battle. Lee and co already got too much attention and have been much overrated over the years, authors shouldn't be afraid of making them sweat, and if events go down that way, of putting them in a really nasty spot, they're only human after all, and they shouldn't be immune to being screwed over by the course of events like it happened to so many people over the course of history.
Thank you for your input. I can promise you, that the fight will be very costly for both sides. And is surely only the prelude for a real clash of both armies
 
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