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July 1, 1863


General Reynolds was too exposed. 
      But that is where Eleventh Corps Commander, 
   General Howard’s aide found him.
As much a target as any private, 
           Reynolds was unaffected. 
   Quickly gave the aide the message:
Get the Eleventh Corps to the assistance of the First
                as rapidly as possible.

As the 56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York scrambled
      across the railroad cut and
            hurried into formation.
   General Cutler, with them, surveyed the ground 
                to their front.
         “Is that the enemy?”

Still running into position, the 56th could clearly 
     see Davis’ advancing troops
              closing in.
    (Because of a swell in the ground, 
               the 76th could not)

Not long after Cutler inquired as to the
         enemy’s position.
  Colonel John Hoffman of the 56th ordered
     his still running men to fire a volley
    towards the 55th North Carolina of Davis Brigade
         which was advancing on their right front.
Cutler called to Hoffman
      not to fire until the enemy was
  within range.
His order was cut short by a return volley
            by the North Carolinians,
                       killing and wounding many 
                  in the 56th Pennsylvania
           as well as killing Cutler’s horse.

    The 56th fired again.

Perhaps with bellies full of cherries, 
           the 76th New York was still forming up.
    Their commander, Major Grover, 
           ordered them not to fire until the enemy
        was in view.
    They were receiving fire on their left flank
               from the 2nd Mississippi, 
        many boys did not make it into position.

It would not take long for the 55th North Carolina
       to appear in their front.
                      When they did, 
             the 76th released a volley.

  As the 55th advanced closer,
      their commander, Colonel Connally took hold of
    the colors, and raced out in front of his men.

While the 56th Pennsylvania was introduced   
         to the 2nd Mississippi, 
    the 147th New York, after receiving their orders,
      quick-stepped across the Chambersburg Pike, 
  though the field to the railroad cut and filed
              into it and up the other side.
Still out of view of the Rebels, they ran
       across the adjoining wheatfield
   and up the western slope
              of McPherson’s Ridge, 
           advancing 300 yards to the left front 
         of the 56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York.
     A rail fence running east and west, parallel with
                 the rail road cut, split the regiment
               in two.
    The rail road cut separated the 147th from Hall’s Battery.

The 42nd Mississippi, now to the front
     of the quickly coming Yankees, 
          could see them forming up, 
   coming to the ready.
        Before the New Yorkers could get 
            a shot off, 
    the 42nd fired into them.

The ranks of the 147th thinned 
      as men, guns still cold, 
    fell dead and wounded all up and down the line.
       “Lie down!”
              “Fire through the wheat!”

The regiment dropped where they stood.
     Rising only to fire,
  then dropping again into the tall wheat
               to reload.

But many would drop, never to rise again.

As the three Union regiments 
      and the three Confederate regiments
   paired off, 
 Hall’s Battery was also pounding away, 
          but was little match for Pegram’s guns.

Meredith’s Brigade advanced to Gamble’s position en echelon.
     At the 45 degree angle.
       The 2nd Wisconsin still leading.
                  Some units paused to reload.

Reynolds, still exposed, received word
           of a strong Rebel force 
     moving ahead of the main Confederate line.
 He rode into Herbst Woods with two staff officers
       to investigate.
  As he exited through the opposite side  
                 of the clump of trees,
       he could see that the advancing
    Rebels would threaten the left flank of
           Cutler’s brigade, to the right, 
       unless Meredith came quickly.

Turning his mount around, 
     he rode back through woods
          to the advancing 2nd Wisconsin, leading them
    up McPherson’s Ridge.

In a line of battle, the 2nd Wisconsin entered the trees
     to the calling of Reynolds
   “Forward men!  Forward for God’s sake, 
          and drive those fellows out of the woods!”

A few more paces and they nearly stumbled into the
       1st Tennessee of Archer’s Brigade
    50 yards to their front.

It was then that nearly 300 veteran Tennessee boys
     learned their fate.
  In their front was no militia, 
         no dismounted cavalry.
   This was the damned black hat boys!
       The First Corps!

Yes, shocked, 
        but they let go a volley
    killing many in black felt hats.

The 2nd Wisconsin did not break and run.
       Many other regiments may have.
   Not these boys.  
      They wavered on their left flank,
           shifted slightly to the right. 
 But held.
          And fired.

Reynolds rode over, then up and down their line.
     The commander of three corps, 
                now leading a single regiment.
  But one man,
           even the god-like Reynolds
      could not hold this line.
         Support was needed.
 Where is the 7th Wisconsin?

Further on the Confederate left,
     to the right of the 2nd Wisconsin and the
  missing 7th, 
 the 13th Alabama of Archer’s Brigade
         chose their target:
   Calef’s remaining section.
 Two guns still posted south of Herbst Woods
             with only a spattering of dismounted
         cavalry support.

The Alabamians charged for the guns
           Here was their glory
    So early today.
      So much.

The battery section commander, Pergel, 
     fired a shot or two more at the 1st Tennessee,
  then seeing that he and his boys would soon
       and surely be overrun by the 13th Alabama,
     limbered up and quickly pulled out.

The 13th Alabama’s glory rolled off and
         over Seminary Ridge.

Upon realizing that support was sorely needed
      for the 2nd Wisconsin,
         Reynolds rode off in search of
     the 7th Wisconsin.
The thick woods prevented him from 
          seeing much more than trees.
   He had to leave this cover and move out 
       into the open.
Coming upon a slight rise,
     he could see the rest of
   Meredith’s Brigade coming in support.


The 13th Alabama of Archer’s Brigade, 
      with the 2nd Wisconsin to their front left,
   were suddenly faced with the 7th Wisconsin
         coming through the woods directly 
     in their front.
Company F of the 13th was ordered to fire
       at the man on the horse.
   30 yards.  Behind the advancing regiment.
          The company fired.
                 The man fell.


He slumped in his saddle.
     Falling, his foot caught in the stirrup, 
  as his horse still trotted a few more steps,
        he was dragged the last several yards.
Reynolds was dead.

A single orderly was by his side,
     thinking he may still be alive.
He pulled him to a safer location.
       There was no blood.
  He’s only stunned.
                 A spent shot must have
                     knocked him unconscious.
    He’s not dead.

He dragged him over the crest of the rise
    out of the range of fire.
A few members of Reynold’s staff
            had gathered around the still body.

He isn’t dead.

   Captain Mitchell spoke to him, 
        “General, are you in pain?”

A smile.  Slight.
     But he smiled.  He did!
   And a gasp.  He needs air!
  My God, he is alive!

Captain Baird, after loosening the General’s clothes, 
     looking for a wound
          discovered blood from behind Reynold’s right ear.
  This was serious.

He grabbed a canteen to give the General some water.
     Drink.  Breathe.
   Smile again.

But his eyes glazed lifeless.
    His body limp.
There would be not another breath 
            to pass these lips

It was finished.
      Death had done its work upon their hero.
  He was dead.

The 19th Indiana and the 24th Michigan 
     now joined the battle to the left of the 
  two Wisconsin regiments.
        En route, they passed this massing of staff officers
     gathering around they could not tell what.
   No time to stop.

A few men from the 14th Brooklyn took the honor
    of litter bearers for the
         dead General,
   taking his body behind enemy lines
           for now
   to Seminary Ridge.


North of Chambersburg Pike, McPherson’s Ridge
The 76th New York, carrying the right flank of
       the entire division
           could see, 
    even through thick building smoke
                 that the 55th North Carolina
      directly to their front, 
                   greatly extended past 
     their own dangling right flank.
       Dangerously overlapping.
Colonel John Connally, the 55th’s commander, could
        clearly see this as well and ordered all to fix bayonets.
     Also for his left companies to wheel right
               to fire on the flank of the 76th.
    Was it perpetual motion?  
     Unable to halt, the wheel turned into a dash,
           rebel yell screaming, 
   Connally rushed to 
         the front of the left companies.
      Charging, bayonets thrust forward
           seemed to come up from nowhere.
    At their head, vigorously waving the flag,
                calling his boys forward.   

Another volley from the 76th and Connally fell, 
          shot twice.
His now second in command at his side,
       Connally could not go on.
            Gave the colors to him, 
    saying with the prideful spirit of competition, 
   “Don’t let the Mississippians 
             get ahead of you.”
  To the front, 
         and now to the right, 
     They’re coming.
 Bold and arrogant.  Like a cold slap, 
        the 2nd Mississippi charged the
    56th Pennsylvania, just to the 76th’s left.
            They came fast and powerful.   
    Came fighting and seized the 56th’s colors,
               capturing their pride as well.
     All in the same breath, 
            like a hard cresting wave,
        the charge waned, returning down the slope.
 The Pennsylvanians held for now.

McPherson’s Ridge, South of Chambersburg Pike
One of the last orders Reynolds gave
          before he fell 
    was for the 14th and 95th New York
      to be placed just south of the Chambersburg Pike, 
    directly across form Hall’s Battery.
        With the McPherson Farm to their backs.
 The 14th New York to the left, 
                                     The 95th New York to the right.
   Since brushing away a few Rebel skirmishers
         in their front,
    they have been unengaged.
        While, on either side, great battles raged.

Just south of these two waiting regiments,
      the 2nd Wisconsin was engaged with the 1st Tennessee.
   and now the 13th Alabama had wheeled left
           to pour enfilade fire on the Wisconsin Boys,
       balls flying from two sides, 
                entering bodies from two angles.
    As the 13th Alabama’s flank was exposed to the front,
         the 7th Wisconsin  entered Herbst’s Woods
             to the aide of their Wisconsin brothers.
      Coming in nearly square on top of the 13th.
  The cover of trees was thick.  
       Mixed with humid clinging smoke
             and typical chaos of battle, 
       discerning who was who was no easy task.
   Confusion set in along with dreadful fear
              of firing upon their own men.
      The 7th Wisconsin hesitated in firing
            (though so few rifles had been loaded
           since no one issued the orders to do so)
 An officer of Reynold’s staff rode up
                 to Lt. Colonel John Collis, 
       the second in command.
    “Halt! Halt!”
                        to load?
                    or let’s sort this all out?
   Collis fired back, “Halt?
        It is now too late to halt!”

 Had they been spotted?
           The staff officer then rode down the line
         to the 7th’s Colonel, 
                  ordering them forward.
     A now moot point.

To the left of the 7th Wisconsin, 
      and 200 yards behind them,
               the 19th Indiana, 
            guns fully loaded 
    (praise be to last night’s picket duty).
  A newly made regimental flag was cased up, 
       and ordered not to be flown in whatever action
               may come.
   But spunk overtook the color bearer,
       with the help of another,
         he encased the colors,
    running to the front of the regiment
                  in defiance of all.

The first Rebel volley pierced the flag,
        adding glory now to courage. 
    The 19th emptied their muskets
               in immediate return.

To the 19th Indiana’s left and 200 yards behind,
      the 24th Michigan advanced up the
    eastern slope of McPherson’s Ridge.

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