Beyond the town of Gettysburg

Chapter 1
  • Chapter 1

    July 1, 1863, 10:15 a.m.
    East of Herr's Ridge
    Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    The sun was now steadily rising and the damp moisture of the night finally gave way to the dry warmth of midsummer day. Brigadier General James Jay Archer from Heth's Confederate division pondered what the day ahead would bring. For the past three hours, his twelve hundred men from Tennessee and Alabama had been driving a Union cavalry brigade, part of a whole division, steadily eastward, that had blocked the road to Gettysburg, a small Pennsylvania town. The blue-clad riders had been stubborn. They had positioned themselves loosely behind big rocks, bushes and pasture fences and stoically fired their carbines. Still, Archer's men had driven them out of their positions time and again. The losses had so far been surprisingly light and the morale of the men was accordingly high. After the Confederates had taken the latest ridge, they were now faced with a small body of water that ran parallel to their battle line and had to be crossed. On the other bank, in the northeast, there was a fenced field with a white farmhouse and an annex behind it, while a little further south a small but relatively dense grove was located. Archer was about to give the order to advance again. From his location, he could already make out the characteristic cupola of the Lutheran seminar in Gettysburg and the most direct route to this landmark was through the already mentioned woods.

    Suddenly a rider approached him. Archer quickly recognized him as Major Abram Sebastian Van de Graaff, commanding officer of the 5th Alabama Battalion, that formed the left flank of his line and waited for further instructions in skirmish order on the west side of the farm field.

    "What brings you here, Major?“, demanded Archer as soon as the younger man had steadied his horse infront of him.

    "Sir, I have important news to report, may I speak?“

    "Speak frankly, Abram, you look to be agitated“

    "General Archer, I believe we are no longer facing cavalry, sir. I scanned the fence line in my front with my field glasses and I am almost certain that there is infantry in my way.“

    "No need to worry, as you may remember General Pettigrew informed us yesterday that militias might be in the area. And the shootout of the past few hours has certainly brought even some of these amateurs to the scene. Deliver them a sharp volley and they will be running back to their mothers before your men will have finished reloading.“

    "Sir, I fear we are facing men of the Army of the Potomac. Next to a unit of bluebellys I could see a large regiment in fancy zouave uniforms. This is certainly not militia clothing. And, more importantly, their left flank connects directly with the forest in your front. While I would expect an open flank from newbie soldiers, the army men should have learned their lesson from Chancellorsville by now. The poor visibility makes me really uncomfortable. Who knows what might be located in those trees.“

    There was silence around the two men as Archer arranged his thoughts. Van de Graaff was only thirty-one, but still a reliable commander who cared for his men. And he was right, when there were zouaves, that actually meant trouble. If Meade's army was already here, that would radically change the equation. Located north of Archer was the 1,700-strong brigade of Joseph Davis, the Confederate president's nephew, but the numbers of the cavalry they had engaged had been comparatively strong. The rest of Heth's division was still a few miles away, and even one or two Union brigades could do serious damage to the Confederates, who were isolated from their main force. In addition, Archer now remembered General Lee's order not to start any major engagement without having concentrated the army first. It was time to make a decision.

    "You are right, Major, and I do thank you for this valuable piece of information. If there are army men confronting us, and I believe this to be the case, we are vulnerable in this depression here. You are hereby ordered to hold your ground while I retire the brigade to the ridge in our rear. General Heth must be informed about the situation before I am going to issue any further movement east. Please return to your men!“

    As the major reigned in his horse and sped away, Archer barked orders to his other regimental commanders and called for couriers. As his men were orderly retracing their steps in the opposite direction, a lieutenant dashed towards the Chambersburg Pike in order to bear the news to the division commander Henry Heth while a corporal went north with the difficult task to locate the whereabouts of Brigadier General Joseph Davis.


    Brig. Gen. James J. Archer, CSA​
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    Chapter 2
  • Chapter 2

    July 1, 1863, 11:00 a.m.
    Oak Ridge
    Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    They were gone again as if they were ghosts. Gray ghosts. Only the heaps of blue that covered the ground in front of him showed that the attack had not just been an imagination, but a brutal reality. The sun, almost at its zenith, made Brigadier General Lysander Cutler painfully feel each of his fifty-four years. His shoulders were aching. It had been a disaster, a bloody disaster. He looked around and the sad piles of men grouped around the worn and tattered flags finally brought him back to the present.

    He and his men had been the first to respond to Buford's call for help, and they had bled for it. The brigade excepting the 7th Indiana, which was on duty in the rear, had moved from camp early in the morning towards Gettysburg. As they approached, Cutler was ordered by division commander Wadsworth to move obliquely to the left across the fields to Seminary Ridge west of the town, where the Confederates had already engaged Buford's cavalry. He moved forward across a railroad cut with the 76th New York, 147th New York and 56th Pennsylvania, immediately formed in line of battle and almost in the same instant found himself engaged with rebels in front and on his right flank, who were soon to be identified as belonging to Joseph Davis' brigade of Mississippians and North Carolinians. Cutler went into the fray with around one thousand men in three regiments, because the 95th New York and the 14th Brooklyn had been detached to the left to support a battery of artillery. While the 147th New York had held steady behind a wooden fence and traded fierce volleys with a regiment of Mississippians, the other two regiments were assaulted by superior numbers, outflanked on the right and driven back in confusion. Finally, the 147th New York, being now nearly surrounded, was forced back as well. Cutler had been riding constantly from one end to the line to the other and encouraged his men by recklessly exposing himself, but to no avail. When James Wadsworth finally ordered the retreat to the next ridge in order to establish a new line of defense, Cutler's brigade had already suffered more than four hundred and fifty casualties. The brigade commander had been certain that a new attack had to be launched at any moment. But suddenly, apparently without any reason, the rebels had turned. They had been about to attack Cutler's remaining two regiments south of the railroad cut when they fell back.

    "Can you explain this sudden change of heart, sir?“, Cutler asked his superior, Brigadier General James Wadsworth.

    "Not completely. A very unusual behavior for Bobby Lee. I have been told that a second rebel brigade had been sighted in the southwest and has never even attempted to advance.“

    "Do you think Lee is up to something, sir?“

    "He always is, isn't he?“, Wadsworth asked back rhetorically. "For now we have to make the best of the situation. The odds could be worse. Our lines held against them, at least sort of, and Meredith's brigade is now up. When Robinson and Doubleday arrive, we can prepare a nasty surprise for the rebels. And you, Lysander, get yourself something to drink and see to your men. I still need you today“

    Cutler nodded weakly, saluted and departed.


    Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler, USA​
    Chapter 3
  • Chapter 3

    July 1, 1863, 11:30 a.m.
    Cashtown Hotel
    Cashtown, Pennsylvania

    The buttermilk served in a stone jug was cool and tasty. General Robert Edward Lee almost half-emptied the vessel in one go and allowed himself a quiet, contended sigh. He had reached the place a few minutes ago with his staff, and Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill had suggested a remote room in the central hotel as a meeting space. The window curtains were drawn to keep the heat out and there was only muffled noise from the street to be heard.

    “So the Army of the Potomac is definitely here, General Hill?”, Lee asked his short subordinate who wore his characteristic red battleshirt.

    “Yes, this fact is confirmed by now. General Heth reports he has taken prisoners from Wadsworth's division, Reynolds' corps. While Archer refrained from attacking due to the confusing terrain, Davis was a little less reluctant. According to the report, he pretty much demolished a Union brigade and took over two hundred prisoners. However, when he noticed that Archer was not advancing in agreement with him, he stopped further aggressive movements.”

    “Reluctance has never been Joseph Davis' strength”, Lee smirked. “This confidence seems to go hand in hand with being related to the president. In order not do to him any injustice, however, especially his Mississippians are a rough and undisciplined bunch. All in all, we can therefore be satisfied with his performance. He was not tempted to let himself be lured into a general engagement and General Archer acted according to my orders. I would have felt very uncomfortable to slug it out with an army I do not know the dispositions of.”

    “That means you still haven't heard from Stuart, sir?”

    “Not a word yet. The fact that those people are now occupying the railroad junction near Gettysburg poses the question of what our next steps will be. Without our eyes and ears, an attack is completely out of the question for me. We have to concentrate our forces.”

    “If i could make a suggestion, General Lee...?”

    “Go ahead, General Hill.”

    “If I am properly informed, General Ewell should have crossed the mountains coming from Carlisle by now. General Longstreet's corps is still on its way north in the direction of Chambersburg. This makes the region around Cashtown where we are currently located a good gathering point.”

    “Elaborate further, please.”

    Lieutenant General Hill walked over to a mapping table and began to explain.

    “Just a little west of Cashtown is a ridge that runs from Arendtsville in the north to the Caledonia Cold Springs Hotel in the south. The heights command the Chambersburg Pike in the middle of the line. The left flank as well as the left rear is covered by Conewago Creek, which makes any attack from the north extremely difficult. There are also a number of smaller bodies of water in the south that offer protection.“

    “This looks like a solid position to await the arrival of General Stuart“, Lee observed. He pondered for a few moments, then continued with determination in his voice. “General Hill, this is the place. I want you to countermarch Heth's and Pender's divisions immediately. Those divisions shall be the center of our defensive line. When Anderson comes up, he is to be held in reserve. As soon as your men arrive, they are to begin constructing field works. I am going to order General Ewell to join us via Middletown. His corps will file in to your left. When Longstreet comes up from Chambersburg, he is going to form our right flank.“

    “With all due respect, sir, what are your plans for the near future?“, Hill asked excitedly.

    “Until I hear from General Stuart, I do not want to commit. We are as far north as never before and the wires from Washington will heat up with orders for General Meade to do something. Here we can receive him and give him a bloody nose. And we will know how to use the resulting opportunities, as we have always done so far. In addition, we will pursue our secondary goals and stock up with as many supplies as we can find. Virginia agriculture must be relieved this summer.“


    Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lieut. Gen. Ambrose P. Hill meet in Cashtown.


    Hill's plan for a defensive position.​
    Chapter 4
  • Chapter 4

    July 1, 1863, 12:30 a.m.
    Taneytown, Maryland

    George Gordon Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, wiped sweat from his forehead with a tissue and faced his assembled subordinates. Without a word, he passed the letter, which he had received from a courier, on to Chief of Staff Major General Daniel Butterfield.

    “Would you be so kind, Dan?“

    Butterfield nervously cleared his throat and startet reading aloud: “My command has relieved Buford's cavalry division west of Gettysburg, that had been engaged with two brigades of rebel infantry. Prisoners of war confirm that we are facing part of Henry Heth's division. Gallant General Cutler successfully stopped Heth's advance even though his brigade suffered heavy losses in the process. It looks like the rebels have withdrawn westwards after their reverse. Cavalry outposts report that the enemy is heading towards Cashtown via the Chambersburg Pike. In my opinion, the local area is excellent for a deployment. The town and thus the road and rail junction are dominated by several hills. Flank protection is provided at various points. I would therefore recommend gathering the army at Gettysburg as long as we have no further information on Lee's intentions. The road network would allow us to react promptly and appropriately to any situational changes. Respectfully, John Reynolds, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.“

    “Well, Gentlemen“, Meade began. “Although I haven't seen the site myself, I have no reason to distrust John Reynolds. Our soldiers defended this patch of earth and gave their blood for it. Given this, I think it would be a mistake and a hard hit against the morale of the men if we give up this place again. Does anybody have an opinion on this?“

    Daniel Edgar Sickles, the political soldier, was the first to respond. “We should teach Bobby Lee a lesson. And that would prove difficult if we hid in the hinterland to wait for him. He and his army are on our own soil now and we should drive them off by all means. I am in favor of going to Gettysburg, sir!“

    “But what about the Pipe Creek Line?“, conservative Oliver Otis Howard put in. “Our plan was to fight a defensive battle there to shield Washington.“

    “Washington can take care of itself“, Sickles immediately chimed in. “The city is protected by the strongest fortifications in the world. If Lee were actually stupid enough to attack the capital with us intact behind him, the heavy artillery would blow him to smithereens and we were able to wipe up his remains. We must focus on the rebel army!“

    “We may have our differences, but I have to at least partly agree with you, General Sickles. We cannot just let Lee go and run in Pennsylvania, although public opinion in the capital is not to be neglected totally. If no one else has anything to contribute, I suggest you all get your men moving and I hope to god that this is good ground up there.“, Meade wrapped up the conversation.


    Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, USA.​
    Interlude I
  • Interlude I

    In the late evening of July 1, the situation is as follows.

    Ewell's corps has arrived north of Cashtown and extends the line to Conewago Creek. Robert Rodes' division (7,600 infantry) is positioned on the extreme left of Lee's line. South of Rodes is Edward 'Allegheny' Johnson (6,000 infantry). Jubal Early (5,100 infantry) is in reserve.

    A.P. Hill's corps forms the center with Henry Heth (6,800 infantry) on the left and William Dorsey Pender (6,300 infantry) on the right. Richard Heron Anderson (6,500 infantry) is in reserve.

    Two divisions of James Longstreet's corps have reached Cashtown as well and file in on Hill's right. Lafayette McLaws (6,800 infantry) is on the left and John Bell Hood (6,900 infantry) forms the extreme right. Protecting that flank is Albert Gallatin Jenkins' cavalry brigade (1,300 troopers).

    Longstreet's third division, George Pickett's (5,200 infantry), camps in Chambersburg for the night, together with John Daniel Imboden's cavalry brigade (1,800 troopers) that protects the army's trains and supply line.

    At Shippensburg, Beverly Robertson (1,000 troopers) and William Edmondson 'Grumble' Jones (1,900 troopers) shield Lee's rear from the north.

    James Ewell Brown 'Jeb' Stuart tries to link up with Lee's army after his ride around Meade. However, his 4,800 troopers are still only at Dover, north-west of York.

    The majority of George Gordon Meade's army has reached Gettysburg. Oliver Otis Howard's XI Corps (8,300 infantry) holds the right flank from Blocher's Knoll to Oak Ridge. John Fulton Reynolds' I Corps (11,100 infantry) stretches from Oak Ridge to the Fairfield/Hagerstown Road. Winfield Scott Hancock's II Corps (10,500 infantry) is positioned along Seminary Ridge up to the side arm of Pitzer's Run. The left flank from Pitzer's Run over the Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield to Little Round Top is held by Daniel Edgar Sickles' III Corps (10,000 infantry). Henry Warner Slocum's XII Corps (9,100 infantry) is held in reserve near Cemetary Hill. George Sykes' V Corps (10,300 infantry) is halfway up from Littlestown while John Sedgwick's VI Corps (12,500 infantry) camps way in the rear near Manchester. David McMurtrie Gregg's division (2,600 troopers) guards the Harrisburg Road, John Buford's division (3,900 troopers) is located at the Taneytown Road near the Round Tops and Judson Kilpatrick's division (3,800 troopers) waits for further orders at Power's Hill.

    At Harrisburg, Darius Nash Couch gathered three brigades of New York Militia under Philip Schuyler (1,000 infantry), Joseph Farmer Knipe (2,200 infantry) and John Ewen (1,400 infantry).

    William Henry French holds Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights with around 10,000 infantry from the VIII Corps in Rutherford Birchard Hayes', Carr Baily White's, William Walton Morris Jr.'s and Washington Lafayette Elliott's brigades.

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    Chapter 5
  • Chapter 5

    July 2, 1863, 6:30 a.m.
    Carlisle Pike
    West of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

    May God curse this Jenkins, thought Brigadier General William Farrar 'Baldy' Smith as he gazed at his spread-out column. The men who stumbled along looked less like soldiers and more like a hungover wedding party. March discipline was practically non-existent. Smith cursed silently. It would be a success if no one lost his musket until the next break.

    The order to march from Harrisburg to Carlisle had come late the previous evening. Since Lee had been unusually passive, George Meade probably wanted to do everything in his power to put pressure on the rebel leader. Which meant calling for the militia. On its own, this would not even have posed too much of a problem. The rail connection between the two towns was excellent and a quick relocation would have been possible. At least if it had not been for Albert Gallatin Jenkins. Smith's militiamen under the command of Major General Darius Couch had fought several skirmishers with Jenkins' cavalry brigade in the past few days when the latter had shielded the advance of Ewell's corps to the northeast and also had briefly made contact with Harrisburg and its defenses. The raider's greatest achievement, however, had been the systematic destruction of the railway line. Rails had been torn from their anchorages, the wood had been burned and the iron parts melted and bent over the fire. Train traffic had thereby been made impossible. That was the only reason Baldy Smith had to grapple with freshly called up newcomers on a mediocre pike.

    When a color guard with the state banner of New York passed him, he was again made aware of the irony of the overall situation. Allthough the governor of Pennsylvania had grandly proclaimed the drafting of 100,000 men to defend the state, the absolute majority of men who had volunteered to serve at the gun were from New York state. In fact he commanded an outfit of 4,600 men exclusively from New York. Even in Harrisburg, Smith almost ran out of patience. The majority of the local able-bodied young men had just watched the construction of entrenchments without participating. Sections of the population had had the nerve to give water to soldiers from the neighboring state, who were toiling in the blazing sun, only in exchange for money. In view of this attitude, the Union commander had briefly been tempted to offer the rebels the city as a gift if the situation had not been so serious.

    More men stumbled past Smith. It would be a long march before they reached Carlisle.


    Brig. Gen. William F. 'Baldy' Smith, USA​
    Chapter 6
  • Chapter 6
    July 2, 1863, 11 a.m.
    Lutheran Seminary

    'The last reports from our scouts have arrived. Lee's army is in the heights to the west. Nine infantry divisions were able to be identified, which should give him between 50,000 and 60,000 men in this branch of service. We have six out of seven corps in position, which gives us about 60,000 infantry. Sedgwick should arrive around afternoon, which will add to our numerical advantage. Outposts in the Carlisle area report that Lee's left rear is guarded by two cavalry brigades. His supply line is believed to be through Chambersburg and Hagerstown. The mobilization of the militia has been slow so far, but Smith should soon have a division worth of men in Carlisle. However, it is strongly advised not to use them too aggressively. They may be able to hold their own against cavalry, but Lee's veterans would slaughter them in a standup fight', Dan Butterfield reported to the officers that had assembled in a meeting room of the characteristic seminary.

    'What about the VIII Corps?', asked John Reynolds.

    'After the rub Ewell gave them, they continue to lick their wounds', Meade sighed. 'French has about 10,000 men at Harper's Ferry, but those are currently incapable of performing independent operations'.

    'So Lee wants to wait us out?', Dan Sickles remarked. 'Have the politicians knocked on your door yet, sir?'

    Meade had to smile because Sickles himself was one of those politicians whom he now commented on with a derogatory tone. 'The first cautious feelers were put out but no concrete instructions were given yet. But I can imagine, that the status quo is dissatisfying for the capital. After all, we are not at the gates of Richmond as planned. But if I am being honest, the situation is not likely to motivate me to attack. I have only been in command of this army for a few days and Lee's positions are formidable'.

    'Lee, Lee, it is always that Lee', that was Sickles again. 'He wants us to dance to his tune. But how about we turn the tables and finally force him to react to us?'

    'What do you have in mind, Sickles?'

    'We have a clear numerical advantage. Give me an extra cavalry division and I will march southwest with my corps and through one of the South Mountain gaps. We cut through Lee's supply- and retreat line and establish ourselves in defensive territory between Hagerstown and Chambersburg. French should go north to support me. Lee is then forced to do one of two things. He must either turn his entire army around, move it back on a single road, and confront me, which would allow the rest of the army to attack him from behind. Or else he would have to break through our positions here at Gettysburg to regain freedom of movement. In either case, we would be in the stronger position.'

    Sudden silence surrounded the assembled men. George Meade thought about it. Did the ambitious Dan Sickles actually come up with a viable operation plan? And could he actually be trusted with an independent command? The suggestion sounded logical and understandable. And there would still be French. With this approach it would be possible for the first time to coordinate and concentrate independent units in two states against the gray fox Lee. If Meade had been asked earlier which of his commanders he trusted to hold an independent command, he would have immediately named John Reynolds and Winfield Scott Hancock, not Sickles. But was his underlying dislike of the New Yorker really justified? Admittedly, he was self-centered, arrogant, self-promoting and reluctant to submit to other authorities. A stereotypical politician. But he was also brave and had an eye for terrain, even though he was not from a military academy. He had to make a decision.

    'All right Sickles, your suggestion sounds reasonable. We shall still wait for General Sedgwick to arrive. He will take your place in our formation. I put Kilpatrick's division at your disposal. However, you have the order not to start a general engagement yourself, just steal a march on the rebels. And should something unforeseen happen, let us know immediately. Do you already have a route in mind for your flank march?', Meade asked.

    'I think we will march over Monterey Pass and Waynesboro.' Daniel Sickles beamed with satisfaction.


    Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, USA.
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    Chapter 7
  • Chapter 7

    July 2, 1863, 4:00 p.m.
    Between Chambersburg and Greencastle, Pennsylvania

    John Daniel Imboden picked an apple from the tree under whose leaves he had sought refuge from the scourching sun. The fruit was ripe and after the first hearty bite the juice ran down his chin. His second regiment just trotted past him and its leader, Colonel George H. Smith, saluted him with a big grin. At least the countermarch did not seem to have spoiled his mood. Only a few hours before Imboden had had a heated discussion about the purpose of their latest assignment with his younger brother George, whose 18th Virginia Cavalry was at the head of the marching column.

    The order to leave had come around noon, along with the news that the prodigal son, Jeb Stuart, and his missing three brigades had finally linked up with the army at Cashtown. Although it had been written that they were now entrusted with the protection of the right flank and the supplies, Imboden was aware of the fact that the high command rather disregarded his combat skills and those of his men. He was already bored of having to watch out for annoying mule drivers and of having to listen to their complaints about the poor quality of the roads, the hot weather or the world in general.

    Life is not fair, Imboden thought in frustration. He had commanded artillery, infantry and cavalry, had marched through the Shenandoah Valley with Stonewall Jackson and carried out a raid through the Kanawha region. He was not an amateur and he commanded nearly 2,000 good men. It was a shame. When another man reined his horse in the shade of the tree, Imboden was torn from his thoughts. The newcomer was a few years older than him and sported a far more impressive beard, but his insignia only identified him as a captain.

    'Captain McNeill, it is good to see you, how is your outfit?'

    'My men are doing well, the so far not plundered fields and groves of this state provide enough distraction and joy. Why did you call for me, sir?'

    'As you know we are heading back to Greencastle. The area is nice to look at and features many beautiful girls, but is not particularly helpful in a strategic sense in my opinion. The mountain range in the east completely shields us from the rest of the state. And I do not like that.'

    'So you would like me and my company to take a look at what is located behind? You know that we are riders and not mountain goats?', the older man added with a smirk.

    'Despite your beard I would never mistake you for a goat, Captain', the amused Imboden fired back. 'Do not worry, nobody is asking you to climb. Post yourself at the entrance to Monterey Pass and send a message if you do not like what you see there. That would certainly ease my paranoia.'


    Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden and Captain John H. McNeill, CSA.​
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    Chapter 8
  • Chapter 8

    July 2, 1863, 7:00 p.m.
    Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia
    West of Cashtown, Pennsylvania

    Robert Edward Lee leaned over a true-to-scale map of the area and waved his most trusted subordinate, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, to his side. Major Walter Taylor had filled in the latest troop dispositions just minutes earlier.

    'General Stuart reports that all seven Union army corps are assembled east of us. Those people's positions show no apparent weaknesses and they arguably hold the most important road junction in this part of Pennsylvania. Getting between them and Washington seems almost impossible', Lee told matter-of-factly.

    'We would have had other options if Stuart had followed his orders and we had updated information days ago', Longstreet replied coldly.

    'That may be true, but this discussion is of no help right now. Rather, the question arises as to how we should act now. What do you think, Pete?'

    'Our position is impressive, but not too strong to make the Yankees categorically shy away from any attack. We have the interior lines to Virginia, the men do not have to starve in this landscape, and we have enough ammunition for at least one major battle. Let them come and let us bleed them in these hills.'

    'We have to keep our focus, General Longstreet. We wanted to take the war home to those people, relieve Virginia, and deal a devastating blow to the enemy. Or do you think otherwise?'

    'So far, this war does not look like it will allow either side a Waterloo. We should concentrate on trying to break the will and morale of the enemy rather than his armies. So for the bluebellys have always come back no matter how we humiliated them.'

    'Your words sound wise, Pete. But our stay here is quite suitable to demoralize the opposing civilian population. In either case, we have to be determined, but must not be reckless. This army may seem invincible even to me on many days, but numerous wolves can cause the demise of the most powerful and mighty bear. We should be especially careful not to get surrounded. In contrast to the fate of Vicksburg, ours has not yet been sealed. So i am worried about the militias in the Carlisle area. If the main enemy does not budge by tomorrow morning, it seems advisable to give them a bloody nose.'

    'With your permission, sir, I would suggest sending Gordon's brigade from Early's division along with Grumble Jones' cavalry. That should be enough to disperse them to the wind. Our other flank, the right, is secured as well. I have old George Pickett in reserve. His men are rested and eager to fight. But I do not think they will be tested anytime soon.'


    Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet and Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA.​
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    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.

    Chapter 9
  • Chapter 9

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

    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.

    Chapter 10
  • Chapter 10

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

    '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'.


    Brig. Gen. George A. Custer, USA.
    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.


    Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth, USA.
    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!'


    Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, CSA.
    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.'


    Sickles and his officers evaluate the situation.
    Chapter 14
  • Chapter 14

    July 3, 1863, 12:15 p.m.
    Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

    ‚That’s it Stribling, feed it into them, feed it into them!‘

    Sitting down to see under the smoke, Major James Dearing braced his elbows on his knees and trained his field glasses on the column of Union infantry coming across the open field.

    The first piece of Stribling’s four Napoleons and two Parrotts recoiled with a thunderous boom, smoke jetting from the muzzle and touchhole. A yellow blossom of fire ignited several dozen yards short of the Yankee column. The shell of the second gun slammed into the flank of the column and detonated, toylike figures of men tumbling over.

    Captain Robert Mackey Stribling, whose Fauquier Virginia Artillery had been in action for at least the quarter of an hour, came up to the major. ‚Sir, ammunition?‘ he asked, his voice hoarse from breathing dust during the long march in the morning.

    ‚I am bringing up more‘, Dearing said. ‚Just pour it into them, you have got infantry columns in front, by God. The arrogance of those bluecoats is amazing.‘

    He started to turn away.


    Dearing looked back.

    ‚Sir, I am not sure what shall be accomplished here today…‘

    ‚We hold this ground, this town until the last man, the last gun. And even if you are the last man standing, these guns do not move back another inch.‘

    ‚Yes, sir.‘

    The crews had finished reloading and began to fire the next salvo. Dearing tried to turn his attention back, but the smoke was too thick.

    He walked off, barely moved by the fact that a shot plowed through the air over his head. To his front, he watched the Confederate infantry bracing themselves for the coming attack. It was the largest of Pickett's brigades, maybe 2,000 men who looked eager to prove themselves.

    An officer with a slouched black hat, sporting the insignia of a brigadier general, came off the line, approached and gave a friendly salute. ‚Major Dearing, I see you are giving the enemy a warm welcome.‘

    ‚General, sir, my batteries will do what they can, but we are counting on you to cover my guns. If it comes to canister rounds, I need clear fields of fire in front. When the time comes, I kindly ask you to pull back in around my guns and clear the field for my canister.‘

    ‚Do not worry, James, every man here knows his duty. The cowards and shirkers are long gone, those men will stand with you until Judgement Day‘, Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead replied.

    Dearing saluted, turned and continued down the line. Armistead was one of the most reliable men he knew. And he had charism. He would not have to worry about them.

    Next to Stribling, to the north, were the four guns of Macon’s Richmond Fayette Virginia Artillery. They were opening up with case shot right at that moment. Guns recoiled, their thunder joined by the other batteries around the town. Dearing heard the sharp whine of shells dropping down into the Federal ranks, detonating with deadly accuracy. He went back towards Stribling, knowing the advance elements of the enemy would hit there first.

    'Canister! Switch to canister!' the major roared. The gunners working at the caissons picked up the tins holding several dozen iron balls. Gun sergeants actually raised the elevation slightly to loft the canister rounds across the two hundred yards to the closing enemy lines. The first gun fired, its brethren soon joining in, then lifting up by the massive recoil. The scream of canister tins bursting echoed around Dearing, iron balls shrieking eastward. If one was close enough, a man could hear the sickening sound of hot iron tearing into limbs and bodies.

    Still the bluecoats came on. Their lines were spreading out, a brigade or more coming straight at Stribling and Armistead's center regiment. The 53rd Virginia Infantry opened up with a sharp volley, tearing gaping holes into the front ranks of the advancing yankees. Another volley from them and then the men started to pull back, not running, but being directed orderly by Armistead himself and their young colonel William Roane Aylett. The sight of the 53rd pulling back heartened the Federals, who let loose a triumphal triple huzzah and pressed on.

    As the Virginians filled in around the guns, hunkering down, rifles poised, the distance lessened to one hundred fifty yards.

    'They are actually going to try for it!', Armistead exclaimed. Now one could make out enemy flag bearers at the fore, colors leaning forward, officers waving swords. At a hundred yards, they were breaking into a run.

    'Stribling, double canister!'

    The battery commander did not need to be told. The charge was coming on fast. Aylett's men were pouring it on, volleys by companies, then the roar of independent fire.

    The gunners waited, crouching low, gripping the lanyards tight. As the yankees were realizing what was ahead of them, a full battery loading with double canister, they slowed, until officers, screaming for the charge, pushed them forward.

    'Battery, fire!'

    Stribling's guns recoiled, each discharging nearly one hundred fifty iron balls, turning the space ahead into a killing zone.

    The impact was terrifying. Entire lines went down, men were pitched backward several yards, bodies were decapitated, limbs broken and torn.

    'That is it!' Dearing shouted. 'Another one, give it to them!'

    Amazingly, out of the dust and smoke, a blue battle line appeared. There were wide holes in the ranks, but they still came on. The sound of the battle crescended into a thundering roar. A gun sergeant in front of Dearing, ready to pull the lanyard, suddenly collapsed in a bloody heap.

    Beyond the gun, Dearing could see them poring in. Several of the yankees, the bravest of the brave, dashed already up onto the lunette, bayonets poised, as the men of the 53rd Virginia rose up to meet them. Close combat exploded around the guns.

    He looked forward. Soldiers in blue were emerging out of the smoke, a color bearer leading them. Dearing jerked the lanyard of the fallen gunner and the artillery piece lept back with a roar. Those men in front of the bore simply disappeared.

    As the major pulled out his handgun, there was nothing left to shoot at, only the smoke of the countless discharges engulfing him and the Virginians around. He caught glimpses of Yankees retreating, running, disappearing into the smoke. The charge was broken.

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    Chapter 15
  • Chapter 15

    July 3, 1863, 1:00 p.m.
    In front of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

    'Humphreys! Why did Brewster go ahead without waiting for backup? My orders were quite specific about that! He came on too soon!' Dan Sickles hisses like a volcano just before it erupted.

    'I can only imagine he thought he could trigger a panic, break through their center and claim the glory for himself.'

    'I swear to god, I will court martial this man!'

    'Well sir, that should be rather difficult. A stretcher recently carried what was left of Brewster past me. The man might be on trial right now, but not in this world.' Humphreys replied reluctantly.

    Shortly it became quiet and even Sickles, who had been so angry a moment ago, took off his hat and stared into the void.

    'He charged valiantly, and he was butchered valiantly. But you have to give him credit for leaving the stage in style...' The corps commander breathed out audibly and then tightened his shoulders before continuing. 'Are all your units finally in place, gentlemen?'

    David Birney and Andrew Humphreys nodded without a word.

    'Then let us now clean this mess and drive the rebels off that goddamn town in this lord forsaken state.'

    Chapter 16
  • Chapter 16

    July 3, 1863, 2:00 p.m.
    In front of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

    A cheer went up from the road as the batteries were racing forward, reaching the crest. They turned at right angles at the full gallop, dirt and dust spraying up. Even before the last gun had appeared, solid shot ranged out from the rebel line, one shell hitting and exploding a recently arrived limber wagon. The guns swung about, dismounted, and in less than a minute opened up as well, returning the favor.

    In the fields behind the slope, the wave of infantry was beginning to advance. Five brigades up front with the pityful remains of the proud Excelsior Brigade bringing up the rear. There was no cheering this time, just focused determination.

    David Bell Birney could not longer contain himself. Turning about, he raced down the slope and reached the left flank of his advancing division, joining them in their march. 'For the Union, forward!' he shouted. The cry was echoed down the line by brigadiers and regimental commanders alike.

    Billows of smoke, light gray to night dark, obscured the Confederate lines. Bursts of flame marked the muzzles of Confederate batteries, but the enemy could be seen only when a quirk of the air made a path through the earthbound clouds.

    There was smoke in plenty around Birney's forming ranks, too, but shafts of golden afternoon light pierced it, gilding rifle barrels and bayonets. Noting his presence, some of his men gave Birney a cheer. He nodded, but did not smile. It was serious business now. The alignment of the long lines of men advancing was far from perfect, but they pressed steadily forward, centered on their colors. The regiments in blue rushed handsomely for the line of artillery and infantry opposing them on the higher ground.

    Ragged and proud, the men crossed a shimmering field, not caring at all for enemy cannon. They tore down a fence with hardly a moment of pause and brushed aside a Rebel skirmish line. Men began to fall, but at that instant it did not make a difference. The juggernaut was rolling forward.

    Smoke rose. And screams. With a cheer, Birney's soldiers swept through a Confederate line, the grey-clad defenders falling back. But they were not running, were not beaten. Regaining cohesion, the Rebels kept up their fire as they slowly withdrew closer to their guns. On the other side of the field, Birney could make out the mass of Humphrey's division advancing at comparable pace, also driving the enemy before them. The Federals no longer displayed parade-ground precision, but they held together well enough and went forward to get in range of Confederate regiments scrambling to change front.

    Birney watched as one of his brigades shot it out with two Virginia regiments until the bluecoats swarmed in for the melee, rifle buts raised and bayonets poised. 'Come on boys, come on! They are breaking, force them back!' the division commander cried.

    Flags were held up all up and down the line. Two divisions, six brigades, perhaps ten thousand infantry were in this from the beginning, their opponents numbering maybe half as many.

    Birney continued to ride with his men, ignoring the protests of his adjutants. The charge ahead was stalled; the men had opened fire on the Rebels in their second position too soon. Regardless of losses they should have pressed in before firing. Through the smoke he could now dimly see that hundreds were falling.

    The charge gained momentum again, men exhorting each other on, screaming to keep going forward. The reserves joined them, swarming into the main volley line over the bodies of those who had fallen in the instances before. Enthusiasm spread, sweeping the entire front, an ocean of armed men bent on victory.

    A solid grey line appeared in front of them. Less than five thousand men, rifles leveled, waiting for the order. An officer with golden locks shouted one word: 'Fire!'. The line erupted in flashes and smoke.

    The Federals shrugged off the volley, surged up over dead, wounded and dying and pushed forward, some now firing so close that the discharges burned the men in front of them. The wall of men had broken across the front of the town into several funnels, swarms of men, all formation lost, pressing ahead. Then they saw them, the muzzles of massed cannon not a hundred feet away, aimed straight at them. When the guns fired their double canister, the scenery turned into hell on earth.

    The entire front of the charge collapsed in a bloody heap. Men simply disappeared, leaving only a light red mist behind. Again and again, the cannon roared, spewing death and destruction. As David Bell Birney was swept from his horse with shrapnel to his guts and one of his legs blown off below the knee, as he saw Union men all along the line staggering to a halt, hunkering down, shocked and panicked, as he saw the first of his proud men stepping back, he realized, he had failed.


    Maj. Gen. David B. Birney, USA.
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    Chapter 17
  • Chapter 17

    July 3, 1863, 4:00 p.m.
    Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

    George Pickett was dying. The bullet had punctured one of his lungs and the organ was slowly but surely filling with blood. Each breath sounded harder than the previous one.

    'Can you hear me, Lo?' Pickett pushed out in a rough voice.

    Lewis Armistead kneeling beside him squeezed his hand and nodded, his voice denying him service.

    'How was I, Lo?'

    'You were great, George. Like an ancient god of war, you stood amidst the chaos and devastation.'

    'That sounds like a good story, and you're an excellent narrator. Please, make sure Sally will be proud of me.'

    Tears veiled Armistead's eyes as he answered in a choking voice. 'I will, my old friend. You will not be forgotten.'

    Pickett's breathing relaxed, calmed down and then stopped for good.

    A jolt went through Armistead as he rose and pushed his overwhelming emotions away in order to function as it was expected of him.

    'Colonel Aylett, you have my brigade now. Adjutant, what about our losses, what is left of our division?'

    'Sir, General Garnett is wounded, but he will live. General Kemper is supervising the prisoner round-up as we speak. We lost nearly 2,000 men, well over a third of the division. General Imboden reports that he has lost 800 men here and before at the pass, only slightly less than half his men.'

    Armistead let his eyes wander over the battlefield. Before the Confederate positions, the ground was littered with bodies in blue uniforms.

    'By God, what must they have lost then?' he thought to himself.
    Chapter 18
  • Chapter 18

    July 3, 1863, 9 p.m.
    Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    The main room of the house was filled with the smoke of cigars and pipes. One of the adjutants had just served freshly brewed coffee, which had briefly interrupted the muttered conversations. When George Meade cleared his throat, curious pairs of eyes looked at him from all directions.

    'Gentlemen, we have received a message from General Sickles which I cannot withhold from you.' He unfolded the densely written paper and began to read aloud.

    'To the commanding general: My troops began their flank march this morning as planned. At Monterey Pass, several Confederate cavalry brigades stood in our way, but after heavy fighting we were able to drive them out of their formidable higher positions. After we crossed the pass on the heels of the cavalry, an ambush by the rebels revealed itself at the height of the town of Waynesboro. We were faced with numerically superior enemy forces, two or realistically three Confederate infantry divisions. My men defied the overwhelming odds for several hours, inflicting terrible losses on the enemy. Despite this heroism, we could not hold our positions and had to retreat to the western entrance of Monterey Pass. We are still holding this opening and I am optimistic that I will be able to fend off any rebel attack on my lines.'

    He left the attendees some time to digest the news, then continued.

    'What is your opinion on this?

    John Reynolds drew attention to himself.

    'Apart from the fact that Dan Sickles is obviously sugarcoating it, this message does contain relevant information. Lee has obviously weakened his lines at Cashtown to stop the 3rd Corps down there. With a quarter to a third of his infantry absent, there is only one realistic option for us: We must attack.'


    Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds, USA.