Near Emmitsburg, Maryland. Nine miles south of Gettysburg.
Union General, Eleventh Corps commander, Oliver O. Howard
shaken from damp sleep
to half consciousness.
He was handed marching orders by
an aide on General Meade’s staff.
or does not.
(too early for this German)
Eyes closed for a few more hours of sleep.
Moritz Tavern, South of Greenmont, Pennsylvania. 7 miles south of Gettysburg.
Dawn also came early for John Reynolds.
Wing commander, First Corps General
austerely sleeping in full uniform
on the wooden tavern floor
as discovered by his aide,
like ants crawling around this morning.
Returning from General Meade’s Headquarters:
Marching orders, like morning ritual.
The aide reads them to the groggy general
-First Corps to Gettysburg
-Eleventh Corps to Gettysburg
or “supporting distance”
-Third Corps to Emmitsburg
He could work out the details as needed
in the long day ahead.
Cashtown, Pennsylvania. 9 miles west of Gettysburg.
Half-hour before dawn
the world is asleep
but somehow everything is alive.
The blackest sky before sunrise
yet another light illuminates.
Confederate General Henry Heth, a division commander of Hill’s Corps,
eager, anxious for Gettysburg
anxious to “feel the enemy”
woke with specific orders from Confederate commander,
General Robert E. Lee,
to report back if he should wander across
anything bigger than militia
but not infantry
“do not force an engagement.”
It was clear: no battle today.
The rest of Hill’s Corps was a few miles back along the Chambersburg Pike
Ewell’s Corps was to the north
Longstreet’s miles away, behind Heth
Stuart’s dashing cavalry God knows where
(Dover, 25 miles away. He was looking for Ewell).
Even though Heth’s hands were obviously tied,
today was important.
and high holy food
much more scarce here than in Virginia.
All in Gettysburg
like Canaan to these
two year worn and barefooted Israelites.
Pettigrew’s Brigade, also of Heth’s Division of Hill’s Corps,
lay bivouacked five miles west of Gettysburg
Sleepy pickets like feelers extended,
campfires like a million demon eyes.
(a little later)
Heth’s Division, in traditional hurry up and wait fashion
started off late.
East on Chambersburg Pike towards
dimly misted peeking sunrise.
Leading the newly formed, yet lovingly familiar brown and gray column
were Pegram’s Five Batteries
(twenty guns, 400 men)
swiftly followed by Archer’s 1,200 from Tennessee and Alabama,
three regiments of Davis’ Brigade,
1,700 from Mississippi and North Carolina.
They were deeply Southern men.
General John Buford’s Union Cavalry Division was arrayed in a semi-circle
around the northern and western outskirts of Gettysburg.
To the north, they waited for Ewell.
To the west, the skirmishers and pickets posted west of town,
near Marsh Creek, were lying in wait to receive
the nearly unaware men of Heth’s Division.
To the west of Gettysburg, five ridges rise from the rolling fields.
McPhearsons Ridge, closest to the town, and now
headquarters for Buford and his cavalry
was the largest and best defendable of the five.
A creek named Willoughby Run
separated this ridge from Herr Ridge.
Hardly discernable from the former,
was Belmont School House Ridge,
rising just westerly.
Whisler’s Ridge, often called Knoxlyn Ridge,
follows after a gulf of gentler swells.
Finally, Lohr Ridge rises just beyond Marsh Creek.
From McPhearsons Ridge, these features are plainly seen.
Tree line between Chambersburg Pike and Mummasburg Road
A picket from the 6th New York Cavalry
posted for hours now near Willoughby Run
even rusty coffee couldn’t keep away
damned jittery images
Something was coming.
A gray form?
Dear God, a reb!
He leveled his rifle at this shifting mass,
aimed, as best he could.
Did it fall?
Maybe he rubbed his eyes.
Undoubtedly he cursed.
He had fired at nothing.
Three miles north of Gettysburg
Major Anderson’s detachment of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry
were posted on the Carlisle Road
Unlike his comrade from the 6th New York
they waited until these gray
possible forms took true shapes.
They became men.
Skirmishers of Ewell’s Corps,
probably cavalrymen of the 1st Maryland Battalion,
advancing south towards them
Here they come.
Anderson’s men did not fire.
Instead, they fell back two miles
and called for support,
also sent word to headquarters.
They were quickly joined by reserves who took cover
behind a stonewall.
Fifteen minutes later
Rebel skirmishers approached them from
their left flank and front.
Men from the 6th and 9th New York Cavalry
The Rebs were held up at the Hoffman and Forney Farms
on both sides of the Mummasburg Road.
At the Forney Farm, Union men from the 9th New York
with but a few shots
drove the enemy from their front.
This Union detachment then withdrew
returning to their squadron.
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