July 1, 1863
Village of Seven Stars, Chambersburg Pike
The 13th Alabama of Archer’s Brigade, now five miles
from Gettysburg, halted.
The color bearer,
until now, unexpectant of action,
spotted Union cavalry to his right in an open field,
holding their horses.
He was ordered to uncase the colors
in the misty rain.
Part of the 13th Alabama,
all of the 5th Alabama Battalion, led by their
mascot, a little dog,
were deployed as pickets.
As Brockenbrough’s Brigade, nearly 1,000 strong, all Virginians
was finally leaving Cashtown,
Pettigrew’s Brigade of 2,500 North Carolinians
fell in behind
Davis’s Brigade on the Chambersburg Pike.
Now more than doubling the number of
Confederates marching towards Gettysburg.
General John Buford,
seven miles from his command
Met personally with John Reynolds,
no time for aide de camps
Reported the closeness of the enemy on all fronts.
The infantry must come up.
Still behind their stonewall, near the Mummasburg Road
just northwest of town
Captain Hanley’s detachment of the 9th New York Cavalry
heard gentle rustling coming from
the wheatfield to their front.
Gray men squiggling, hardly graceful, bellies to the ground.
Crawling through the wheat to surprise them.
Private Cornish, of the 9th, made sure the rolls would reverse.
He waited, like the rest of the men
in his detachment.
But when the moment took him,
he fired one shot,
killing a southerner.
A great cheer roared from the blue-clad fellows.
Thinking it a battle cry,
this sent the remaining Confederate infantry men
scrambling up from the ground
and high-tailing it in retreat.
One, who was caught resting by a tree, breathless
unable to run another yard
was taken prisoner.
For him, the battle was over
before it began.
For the Union pickets on Whistler’s Ridge, along the Chambersburg Pike
Six AM was their Changing of the Guards
Two privates, who, all night
stared at the burning fires of Pettigrew’s camp
just two miles to their front,
were replaced by two fresh privates
still shaking sleep from their eyes,
for clear minds
for clear fields ahead
Idle chatter, or maybe none at all
simply two horse soldiers
beautiful wide rolling hills
like green and golden ripples
lapping onto the shores of deep
Blue Ridge Mountains.
They were out there somewhere
maybe breaking camp
maybe coming here
all screams and
bloody hell opening up
Two pickets from the 8th Illinois Cavalry
now, with the rising sun to their backs
Minutes crawling by
ten of them
until a small plumb of dust
rising, miles off
miles down the Chambersburg Pike
something is coming
To see a dust cloud this far away,
a lot of men.
The two pickets, now entertained
They simply watched the small column of dust
grow in size,
traveling with the Road
Even slinking towards these two waiting men.
Corporal Cyrus W. Jones, 9th New York Cavalry was killed
as Company G filled a gap in the line north of Gettysburg.
Union First Corps receives its marching orders
Wadsworth’s Division to be first
to move out of Greenmont
Buford was returning to his command.
He was informed of some Rebel forces
moving towards them on the Chambersburg Pike.
He ascended the Seminary Copula
for a clearer look.
For nearly an hour the pickets from the 8th Illinois
watched the dust rising from the Chambersburg Pike.
Dotting and accenting this plumb,
dimly colored specks
became flags unfurled
Normal procedure would have been to alert
Sergeant Shaffer, who was in charge
of the pickets in this area.
But Shaffer was not to be found.
Lieutenant Marcellous Jones, next on the ladder
was sought and alerted.
Minutes now no longer crawled
All time was swiftly slipping away.
In ten minutes, Jones arrived.
It could not have taken
more than his quick glance
to determine what was
waiting for them
Not waiting, but
coming for them.
Jones’ Company E quickly followed
and as they formed into a defensive
one soldier shouted the often heard,
(though, what else can be said?)
“There They Come!”
He raised his carbine to fire.
Lieutenant Jones dismounted,
perhaps realizing the importance,
the gravity of things to come,
calling for the gunman to “hold on.”
He walked to Sergeant Shaffer, who handed him his
“Give me the honor of opening this battle.”
Then steadied the gun on a nearby
beside the Marsh Creek Bridge,
found a target mounted on horseback
800 yards distant.
Near Heidlersburg, Pennsylvania
Rodes’ Confederate Division of 7,500 men
begin their march to Gettysburg
Ten miles south.
Davis’ Brigade deployed skirmishers north of the
Chambersburg Pike as
Archer’s skirmish line, now joined by sharpshooters
of the 1st Tennessee,
formed along Marsh Creek
mere yards to the front of Marcellous Jones’ Company E.
Behind this gray line, below the crest of Lohr Ridge
a gun of Marye’s Battery of
unlimbered and was ordered:
“Load with shrapnel Shell!”
General Buford and staff, resting outside of a tavern
in downtown Gettysburg,
were witness to Colonel John A Kress,
a staff officer of Wadsworth’s Division
riding up, looking intent, if not proud.
Buford questioned the lad, “What are you doing here sir?”
Kress replied, “I am getting shoes for Wadsworth’s Division.
Hard to understand how, at such a time as this, Buford instructed,
“You ought to get back to your command.”
“Why what’s the matter?”
As the words left Kress’ mouth,
a cannon shot rang across the hills and valleys,
thought the town, mixing among those gathered
outside this tavern.
As he mounted his horse to gallop to the beckoning sound,
Buford punctuated, “That’s what’s the matter.”
The projectile exploded in mid-air
and the yankees clung to the ground
The shot was followed by several others
This, now fated, blacksmith’s shop was owned by
Ephram Whisler, an older gentleman,
who, with his curiosity getting the best of him
decided to investigate.
More than poking his gray head
out from some gopher hole of a window.
He sauntered out on the Chambersburg Pike
in front of his house.
a solid shot from Marye’s Battery
hit the road a few feet in front of him,
ploughing a messy furrow
scattering dust and dirt and
some horrifying noise
all over the old man
who then, with terror engulfing him wholly,
returned to his bed
never rising from it again.
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