July 1, 1863
Under heavy enemy artillery fire,
Buford and Reynolds rode to
the defensive line
learn the situation.
Pegram’s Rebel Artillery ceased fire
allowing Archer and Davis to
advance their brigades.
The First Corps by now,
in their advance towards the action
could hear artillery booming to their left.
General Cutler halted to wait for Meredith’s Iron Brigade
as they lagged behind.
To catch up in good order,
a “quick-step” was ordered.
Here, Colonel Rufus Dawes, commander of the 6th Wisconsin
of Meredith’s Brigade
uncased their colors
to a brass band playing
“The Campbells are Coming.”
Enter: the Hero
He carried an ancient flint lock, smoothbore from a
His black silk hat, slightly tattered,
Gruff and intent.
His name was John Burns.
Elderly, superstitious, and ready for a brawl.
He was a veteran of the War of 1812,
the Seminole Wars
and tried to fight in the Mexican War,
but was rejected:
Now, in his late 60's, he might not get this chance again.
Earlier in the morning, he grabbed his old relic
off the gun rack.
He was obviously itching for some action.
His wife, understandably worried, questioned
what in the devil did he think he was doing?
You’re an old man, John. Not now.
“The boys might need this.”
Maybe lovingly patting his old friend.
He left his house and now stood beside
Major E. P. Holstead, not five minutes into his
journey to report to General Doubleday.
To Burns, this could be his ticket in.
He need know only two things:
“Which was are the Rebels?”
“Where are our troops?”
Holstead was dumbstruck.
Who was this antique of a man?
Some local too big for his britches.
Burns sensed his thoughts.
Determination overcame him.
In his eyes, he was a warrior.
“I have fit before.”
and walked towards the front lines
to fit again.
With infantry out of danger of friendly fire,
Pegram’s artillery opened up once more.
Archer’s and Davis’ main bodies,
were only 150 yards away from where Buford’s skirmishers
were recently posted along Willoughby Run.
They now rejoined their units.
One of Calif’s guns had been hit
in the second volley from Pegram.
The axil was split,
the gun unoperational.
Codori fields east of the farm
The 76th New York of Cutler’s Brigade, as they waited for
the boys of Meredith’s Brigade to hurry on
could not help but develop a healthy lusting
for the cherries, ripe for picking.
The men were under strict orders not to harm any
of the farmers’ property.
They knew this
as did their commander, Major Grover.
He spoke to his men, in a lecturer’s voice.
We are under orders to harm no property.
When you pick the cherries, be mindful not
to harm any of the good farmer’s trees.
And then turned his back
while in the distance, the booming of
cannons engaged could be heard.
Bringing up the rear of Meredith’s Brigade,
the 6th Wisconsin, maybe growing bored with marching,
but more than likely, dealing with their own mortality,
quickly flew into song.
A German company sang out in their native tongue,
jolly, a drinking song.
Another company shared one of its favorites.
An Irishman sang a solo
until the contagious chorus swept the
entire regiment under its spell,
startling the cattle they passed
as well as the civilians watching the men go by.
It all then dissolved into uncontrollable fits of giggles,
General Reynolds and Buford
stood near the section of
on the south edge of the Chambersburg Pike.
Reynolds sent a dispatch to General Howard
to bring up his Eleventh Corps to the southern outskirts
of town and wait for orders.
After Reynolds left the front lines to hurry his own men along,
Buford rode up and down Gamble’s defensive line
to offer encouragement for the engagement
now picking up.
Archer’s skirmishers, still on the other side of
Hammered away at Gambles men, holding to their
The smoke building until neither side could see the other.
Now just firing at the red-orange flashed
of the enemy’s rifles.
But no rebel yell.
Just stand and take it.
And hold. Please hold.
Near Codori Farm, Emmitsburg Road
One mile south of Gettysburg
General Meredith’s First Corps brigade, quick-stepping,
to catch up with Cutler’s Brigade near
the Codori farm,
still in advance of Meredith’s
is ordered to halt
as their divisional commander, General Wadsworth,
peers across fields to the northwest
towards the now audible battle.
towards where John Reynolds
must surely be coming.
As he strained his eyes across orchards and meadows,
he saw a kicking up of dust.
Thinking it must be Reynolds,
he rode out to meet him.
It was indeed John Reynolds coming at a fast trot.
Cutler’s Brigade must leave this road,
move across these fields to their left,
cross Fairfield Road and halt near
the Chambersburg Pike.
Hall’s Battery, which for some reason never left
for the front as ordered,
to fall in behind Cutler.
Meredith to follow.
All at the double-quick.
Reynolds will meet them there.
Colonel Dawes, 6th Wisconsin, seeing Cutler’s Brigade
beginning to move from the road.
orders the regimental band to cease playing.
Serious work afoot.
A handful of Union skirmishers were still clinging to
a portion of Herr Ridge, north of the Chambersburg Pike.
Men of the 12th Illinois and 3rd Indiana
under the command of Major Lemon.
First it was against Davis’ sharpshooters.
Cavalry skirmishers up against sharpshooters
didn’t stand much of a chance.
But now it was the entire battle line of Davis’ Brigade.
What chance could they have?
Now it was time to move.
As they left Herr Ridge behind them,
they left Major Lemon as well.
He and sixteen others fell dead
or mortally wounded.
The ridge was now clear of Yankees.
Back to main page.