July 1, 1863
McPherson’s Ridge, North of Chambersburg Pike
In response to the flanking maneuver of the 55th North Carolina
on the 76th New York,
the commander, Major Grover ordered the
right half of his regiment to face north
to confront the charging rebels.
This was pulled off under fierce fire
from, now, two fronts.
As the regiment faced to the west,
and now to the north, Major Grover
placed himself between the two sides,
at the regiment’s salient.
Enemy bullets from two sides,
he was struck and fell.
The 56th Pennsylvania, on the left of the poor New York Boys,
were facing another front attack
from the 2nd Mississippi..
Holding, but barely.
The 147th, to the front and left of the 56th,
in protection of Hall’s Battery
stood strong, but clearly could not for long.
The Rebs came strong, again and again, against
these three regiments.
Gaining more and more ground,
killing more and more Yankees.
Pushing them back
in on their flanks.
If something was not soon done,
all three could be captured.
Many good men would needlessly die.
Wadsworth, division commander, seeing this,
ordered all three to retire
The 56th and 76th, nearly spent,
upon receiving the order,
near literally took flight.
It was not orderly.
It was not gradual.
They ran or died running
to Oak Ridge,
(the northern extension of
But the 147th never received the order.
Never saw the initial retreat.
They did not know they were alone.
Did not know their right flank
became the Union’s right flank.
Too far extended.
Did not know that with no support to their right,
the two freed up Confederate regiments
must soon come crashing down upon them.
Even behind them.
McPherson’s Ridge, South of Chambersburg Pike
Three of Meredith’s Iron Brigade regiments had
advanced to their position and were exchanging intense fire
with Rebels of Archer’s Brigade,
advancing up the western slope of
On the left, the 24th Michigan, the last of the advancing
Union regiments, had no enemy to their front.
They moved forward, passing the battle line of the
rest of their brigade,
past the 19th Indiana,
until they could clearly fire upon the flank
of the 7th Tennessee.
The Tennessee boys, now receiving fire from
their front and right,
shocked screams mixing with the
horrible din of battle,
refused their right flank.
But could not possibly hold.
and now out flanked
7th Tennessee fell back.
As the Confederate advance ground to a bloody halt,
the Union advance began.
First from the left.
The 24th Michigan, barely stopping to fire,
continued down the western slope of McPherson’s Ridge.
To their right, the 19th Indiana began to turn the flank
of the 14th Tennessee, to their front.
Another push, the 14th fell back,
leaving the 13th Alabama, 1st Tennessee, and
the 5th Alabama Battalion (as skirmishers)
to hold off four Union regiments
hellbent on advancing.
With half of Archer's Brigade in rapid retreat,
the three remaining regiments,
from Meredith's advancing brigade.
Could wrap them up,
coming around Archer's right.
Seeing this, Archer ordered his brigade
to rapidly fall back
to the near bank of Willoughby Run.
They reached it and quickly formed
into a defensive line.
But with their backs to the creek
and the swiftly coming yankees
it was not difficult to understand
that this position could not
As a brigade, and in disorder (increasing),
they retreated back across Willoughby Run.
McPherson's Ridge, North of Chambersburg Pike
Gathering in the wood on Oak Ridge
across the Pike from the Seminary:
the 56th Pennsylvania
the 76th New York
when formed up
now more work ahead.
The 55th North Carolina and 2nd Mississippi,
having just beaten the yanks
to near route,
moved onto the ground once held by these
two battered Union regiments.
Through suffocating smoke they could not see
that there was one more Union regiment
remaining on the ridge.
The 147th New York was abandoned
and clinging for life.
But clinging well.
These New York boys were also ignorant
of the two reb regiments,
having troubles of their own from
the 42nd Mississippi:
half of this southern band charging
the New Yorkers
half crossing the rail road cut
disappearing into the
Mistakenly they believed they had flank support
from the 56th Pennsylvania
and 76th New York
and hardly expected two full
to mysteriously appear on their right flank
(now the right flank of the whole Union army)
not only on their flank
but coming quick
The 147th now refused their right flank,
sent half the regiment at a 90 degree angle
from the other half, still facing front.
Now a giant (though not giant enough)
right angle was formed upon the field.
The new line facing north,
took cover behind a convenient stone wall
running parallel to the rail road cut.
They faced the newly recognized
55th North Carolina and
The 55th was actually to their right rear
and coming quick.
Herr Ridge, South of Chambersburg Pike
Archer's retreating Confederates,
some still crossing Willoughby Run
sporadically threw up make shift breastworks
or took cover behind anything
Mother Nature could afford them.
The tired, wounded and slow
were captured en mass.
(Nearly 200 before all was said and done.)
The brigade commander, General Archer,
standing nearly in solitude
thirty or so yards from Willoughby Run
felt a big Irish hand grapple his neck
A slight struggle,
but Archer was out matched by this private
from the 2nd Wisconsin,
a big fellow
and as Irish as you please.
Maloney insisted that the General
kept his hand well above his head.
No special treatment for the Brass
from this old Mc.
Archer was taken to Captain Dow.
After Maloney presented the general
to the captain,
Archer, beaten, offered his
beautifully engraved sword
in humble surrender.
Dow, a gentleman, obviously versed
in some kind of etiquette
A mere captain, as he was, would not
think of accepting the surrender
of a general.
Instead, Dow sent captor and captive
further behind the lines to
Lt. Dailey, who was now in charge of
prisoners captured by the 2nd Wisconsin.
Unlike Dow, Dailey was no gentleman.
At once he demanded the general's sword.
Archer, hoping to surrender to an officer
of at least equal rank
Again, Dailey stated his demands.
"and your side arm"
Archer was appalled.
A general asked to surrender
his side arm?
This time, seeing no clear path around it,
He and Maloney
then moved further back,
slowly walking away from the clicking sounds
of a captain unbuckling his old sword
and replacing it with a new
beautiful saber he happened upon.
Seeing Cutler's brigade crumbling,
Wadsworth had only one
regiment to throw into the fray.
The 6th Wisconsin was still being held
a half-mile away.
Word was sent to have them move to their right,
towards the Chambersburg Pike
to engage the advancing rebels.
Lt. Col. Rufus Dowes, they 6th Wisconsin's
moved his men out across the fields
between McPherson's Ridge and
North of Chambersburg Pike, McPherson's Ridge
The men of Hall's Battery
could now see four Confederate guns
unlimbering only 500 yards to their front.
Far closer than the other guns
in Pegram's Artillery.
At this close range,
the day was about to heat up.
As if this added torment was not enough,
suddenly, to the right of the battery:
Seemed to sprout up from the ground,
rose up from the rail road cut.
Not 40 yards away.
This was half of the 42nd Mississippi.
(The other half of which was
attacking the 147th New York)
After crossing the rail road cut,
this half regiment were lumped together
charging the right front of Hall's Battery.
Hall's right section, two guns,
spun to their right to meet the new attack.
The two gun crews lifted the trail of the piece
with the hand spike and
easily aimed the cannon on the gunner's command.
Each gun was quickly loaded with double cannister,
two metal "coffee" cans
filled to the brim
with thirty some steel balls.
Turned any cannon into an overgrown shotgun.
When fired at nearly point blank range,
one can hardly imagine the results.
To end attempts at imagination,
both guns fired,
a blast, two at once.
The cannons recoiled from their own force.
But looking out, if you could see
arms, legs, heads,
reddened the air
ripped limbs from life
and souls from bodies.
What remained of these companies of
the 42nd Mississippi
back into the rail road cut
to more than lick their wounds.
Though not licked.
There would be an again.
McPherson's Ridge, South of the Chambersburg Pike
just now coming onto the field
not yet aware that the was in command of
the entire battle,
approached the McPherson farm.
He spots and a friend from his old army days.
Maybe memories flood him.
Maybe suddenly he is not on the battlefield,
and Archer is not in gray.
Doubleday, maybe still swimming in his memories,
"Good morning, Archer!"
He's visibly delighted to see again his
"How are you? I’m glad to see you!"
Unable to share in the magic of this reunion,
Archer bitterly spits back,
"Well, I'm not glad to see you!
Not by a damn site!"
Abner Doubleday, now commander of all forces
presently at Gettysburg, is stunned.
Maybe now he is swept back from dusty memories.
Saddly sends General James Archer to the rear.
Herr Ridge, South of the Chambersburg Pike
The Iron Brigade of General Meredith
chased the retreating confederates to Herr Ridge.
The Union boys halted at the crest
and let out a loud, near boastful "hurrah!"
Meanwhile, Col. Birkett Fry, Archer's second in command,
realizing Archer ws gone, took charge of his brigade.
Attempted to bring order to confusion
to form up a defensive line
ward off the Union attack
which was sure to come.
But Doubleday and Wadsworth thought that
the Iron Brigade was far too advanced.
The Union right had collapsed.
The rebs were out there, lots of them.
What was there to stop them from cutting
Meredith's boys from the main body?
(at this point they were the only body)
Both sent word to Meredith to fall back
to McPherson's Ridge.
Dawes' 6th Wisconsin, still moving towards
the Chambersburg Pike,
began to hear, feel rebel bullets
singing their deadly songs
over their heads.
Dawes spurred his mount to the front
of the regiment.
A dense thud,
his horse reeled.
A stray shot had found her.
She went down, throwing rider to the dust.
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