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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.

Moritz Tavern
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.
   Now closer.

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
               westerly looking 
   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 marching
   maybe coming here
               coming now
      to kill
                     all screams and 
                 bloody hell opening up

Two pickets from the 8th Illinois Cavalry
   now, with the rising sun to their backs
           maybe daydreaming:
              Loved ones
   quiet now
  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
              just watched.
   They simply watched the small column of dust
         grow in size, 
      draw closer
                  traveling with the Road 
  Slowly.  Creeping.
     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
 Just as 
          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
                 gray splotches
          became men.

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
 skirmish line, 
              one soldier shouted the often heard, 
          seemingly rehearsed 
  (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
           rail fence
    beside the Marsh Creek Bridge,
 found a target mounted on horseback
                800 yards distant.


He fired.


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
      Pegram’s Artillery, 
             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 
   for cover.
 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.

Just as
    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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