Sunday 26 May 2013

Gettysburg Battlefield 2013 - 150th Anniversary part 3 Oak Hill and Seminary Ridge to Barlow's Knoll

This is the northern part of the battlefield on the 1st July 1863.  While we were there it was raining heavily, so it was more difficult to get good views and to work out exactly what went on where.  However, we did manage to complete the auto tour with the following results.

The Mummasberg Road from Oak Ridge, ruler straight heading towards confederate lines.
 The Mummasberg Road heading into Gettysburg, visible over the eastern edge of Oak Ridge in the right foreground.
 Ewell's Corps marker on Oak Ridge.  Assaults from the north, especially by Early's Division, from 1pm onwards drove the federal troops out of their defencive line, exposing the flank of the forces on McPherson's Ridge, resulting in federal forces retiring to Seminary Ridge and, by niight time onto Cemetry Ridge.
 O'Neil's Brigade marker on Oak Ridge - assaulting the federal lines around 2pm on 1st July, this Brigade was heavily engaged but failed to breakthrough, until Early's troops arrived later in the afternoon when numbers began to tell and the Union line was forced back.
 Typical meadow flowers on the battlefield - these occur all across the Appalachians and line every watercourse or patch of soft ground.
 The McPherson barn is just visible over the ridge in the foreground.
 Snake Rail fence, typical of the battlefield at the time.
 The northeast flank of Seminary Ridge, the town of Gettysburg in the right distance.
 The Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the flanks of the Oak Hill summit, from the north east side of Seminary Ridge.
 Robinson's marker (CO 2nd Div 1st Corps) on northeast flank of Seminary Ridge.
 104th New York Regiment marker on steep northeast face of Seminary Ridge.
 The steep wooded slope of Seminary Ridge with federal brigade monument amongst the trees.
 88th Pennsylvanian Brigade monument on east side of Seminary Ridge.
 More flowers in the open space behind federal lines on Seminary Ridge.
 This little, unimposing marker lies almost forgotten, about 100 yards behind the federal lines on the east side of Seminary Ridge.  It marks the farthest point of a charge by 88th Pennsylvanian Regiment in which a number of prisoners and two confederate battleflags were captured.
 Rather grand 83rd New York infantry memorial on east flank of Seminary Ridge,
 88th Pennsylvania memorial on Seminary Ridge.
 Rear view of Robinson's memorial looking across the low lands across which confederate troops advanced to assault Seminary Ridge.  Barlow's Knoll is to the right, out of shot.
 12th Massachusetts Volunteers memorial.
 Barlow's memorial on Barlow Knoll.  This position was way beyond the lines on Seminary Ridge and were occupied by Barlow (XIth Corps, 1st Div CO) in error in response to earlier orders to advance from Shurz (XIth Corps Commander).  Around 3pm on 1st July, Barlow's forces were pinned to the front by Rodes and then hit in the flank by Early.  Their collapse destabilised the union position leading to a general wiothdrawal to Cemetary Ridge.
 153rd Pennsylvanian marker at the most exposed apex of the Barlow Knoll position.
Gun battery facing north from the most northerly position on Barlow's Knoll.
 The open fields, backed by woods, to the north of Barlow's Knoll.

Gettysburg Battlefield 2013 - 150th Anniversary - part 2, McPherson's Ridge and the Chambersburg Pike.

The view to the east along the Chambersburg Pike towards Gettysburg.  The confederate advance began along this road in the early dawn of 1st July 1863.

 The visitors centre, close to the McPherson farm.
 The McPherson Barn as it appears today from the Chambersburg Road.
 149th Pennsylvanian memorial with McPherson's Barn and Reynold's Wood in the background.
 Reynolds' memorial (1 Corps CO) by the Chambersburg Road.
And again!
 Buford's memorial again by the Chambersburg Road.  Interesting that the cavalry commander is shown on foot.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Gettysburg 2013 - 150th Anniversary - part 1 McPherson's and Oak Ridges

I've just got back from my latest trip to the USA.  I flew in to Washington Dulles airport and we took a road trip across the Appalachians to Pittsburgh.  On the way back we extended an overnight stopover into two nights so we could spend a day touring the Gettysburg battlefield.  By chance, the route we took from Pittsburgh brought us to Gettysburg along the Chambersburg Pike, following a similar route to the battlefield of many of the confederate forces, including Heth's Division.  We crossed the Herr Ridge, where confederate forces deployed on Day 1, and Willoughby Run, before crossing McPherson Ridge and entering Gettysburg, where we stayed at the Gettysburg 1863 Inn - a basic but comfortable motel on the Baltimore Pike close to its junction with the Emmitsburg Road.

On the day of the tour, we had pretty good weather, hot throughout the day, showery in the morning but much drier and sunnier after lunch.  We decided to follow the free auto tour of the battlefield, available from the Visitor Centre, which largely follows the events roughly in chronological order.

The south end of Reynolds Avenue, looking north, at the time of the battle (c. 11am July 1st) the end of the federal line at the south end of McPherson Ridge.  The memorial on the right is to the 121st Pennsylvanian, the extreme left flank unit of Rowley's 1st Brigade, 3rd Div, 1st Corps.
 From the same position, looking south, the small concrete block on the left just beyond the car parking bay marks the extreme left flank of the 121st.
 Views of the open nature of the ground in front of the southern flank of McPhersons Ridge - long grass and undulations in the ground are about the best protection confederate forces could have expected advancing across this area.
Left flank
 To front
 From left flank towards the centre, Reynolds wood is the stand of treees to the right running almost perpendicular to the federal lines.
 The 121st Pennsylvanian Regiment monument.
 To the rear of the federal lines, Seminary Ridge covered in trees, with the Seminary steeple appearing over the top of the woods.  Buford picked his HQ and observation point well as there is almost nowhere along McPherson Ridge and beyond where you can't see the steeple.
 The 80th New York Infantry memorial, next federal unit in line.
 1st Brigade, 3rd Division marker on McPhersons Ridge, the line was held here until c. 3:30pm on 1st July when the federal line was broken from the north and were forced to retire to Seminary Ridge and then, overnight, to Cemetary Ridge.
 Canon marking the position of Battery A, 2nd US Artillery, to the north of the 80th NY infantry lines.
 Note the subtle elevation of the road - from the ditch to the north a standing man presents little more than head and shoulders visible to troops approaching from the front.

 Battery B 1st Pennslyvanian Artillery, next unit to the north.
 142nd Pennsylvanian infantry marker, note the spire of the Seminary in the trees.
 Abner Doubleday's memorial, CO of 3rd Division.
 The buildings of the Lutheran Seminary appearing from the woods.
 8th New York Cavalry, these would form the extreme left of the line on Seminary Ridge in the afternoon of 1st July.
 The spot marking where General Reynolds was mortally wounded, at the eastern edge of Reynolds Wood.  Confederate and federal trrops were exchanging volleys at a few paces seperation in these woods.
 View looking south along McPherson Ridge from Reynolds Wood.
 The McPherson Barn from McPherson Ridge.
 The Lutheran Seminary from Reynolds Wood.
 The McPherson Barn as it appears today.
 The north flank of Reynolds Wood, the McPherson Barn is in the fields to the right of this view.
 Battery L, 1st New York Light Artillery

 151st Pennsylvanian Infantry memorial to the north of Reynolds Wood.
 The southern edge of Reynolds Wood.
 Wadsworth's Memorial close to the intersection of the Chambersburg Pike and McPherson Ridge
 Memorial plaque to Davis's Brigade from the Army of Northern Virginia.  These troops advance down the new railway cut, just north of the Chambersburg Pike, perpendicular to federal lines, allowing them to approach within charging distance of the federal line.  When they emerged, these forces were raked by close range artillery and musket fire, causing them to retire to the cut, only to be charged at considerable cost before being called on to surrender.
The railway cut, as it appears today, looking north from federal lines.  Confederate forces advances towards the camera, using the cut as cover from flanking fire from federal lines to the left.

 The cut looking south towards Gettysburg.
 Memorials next to the cut for the 95th New York (2nd Brigade, 1st Div), who flanked the confederates emerging from the railroad cut, and the Iron Brigade (1st Brigade, 1st Div).
 As above.
  The modern road bridge over the railroad cut - this view, except for the bridge, almost exactly matches contemporary photgraphs of the cut, the main difference being the weathering and denudation of the initially pristime cut banks.
 Various memorials between the railroad cut and Reynolds Wood.
 The 14th Brooklyn Memorial, close to the railroad cut.
 View to the north from Oak Ridge, the line of the railroad cut is the line of trees/bushes in the foreground - a great sap trench directed straight into federal lines on Oak Ridge.  Troops would have been well concealed in here at least initially.
 View to the north of the cut, note the open ground and good fields of fire.
 6th New York Cavalry monument on Oak Ridge.
 View along Oak Ridge to the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
  The Lutheran Seminary from Oak Ridge.

OK, so that's most of what we saw before lunch and covers most of the early engagement sites on McPherson's and Oak Ridges.  More to follow.