Behind The Stonewall

Oak Hill - Gettysburg Pennsylvania



About what you are looking at...

(July 1st, 1863 - late afternoon) The viewer is standing on Oak Hill (Oak Ridge), just north of the Mummasburg Road (and the north end of the Union Ist Corps line).   Using the plaque as a reference point, the pan moves to the right, or north of Oak Hill.  It was from these woods, and those a bit farther west, that two brigades of Confederate infantry from Major General R. E. Rodes' Division (Second Army Corps [Ewell]) under the command of Brigadier Generals Alfred Iverson and S. D. Ramseur burst moving south.  They fell on the point where the Union Ist Corps (Major General Abner Doubleday) , in line of battle on Oak Ridge to the south, and Seminary Ridge below that, and the Union XIth Corps (Major General Oliver O. Howard) met.  It was a weak point, with the joint on the hill.

As the scan passes north and scans out over the valley to the east, the viewer can see the flat plain of the valley floor, which was just north of the town of Gettysburg.  With no natural features to use for defenses, the men of Howard's XIth Corps stood in line of battle waiting for Ewell's Corps to descend upon them.  They didn't have long to wait.  And they didn't hold very long.  Three brigades of Major General Jubal Early's Division, Ewell's Corps, under the commands of Brigadier Generals John B. Gordon and Harry T. Hays, and Colonel Isaac C. Avery (commanding Hoke's Brigade), and one brigade from Rodes' Division under Brigadier General George Doles came from the left or north down roads which came from Harrisburg and Carlisle, where Ewell's men had only the day before been threatening Harrisburg.  Gordon came in from York, about 30 miles to the east.   In the distance over the valley and the town, are the broad summits of Culps Hill and Cemetery Hill, southeast of town, and the place to which the men of the Union Ist and XIth Corps would flee after their defenses crumbled from Ewell's assaults, and continued pressure on the Ist Corps by A.P. Hill's Corps.  By 4 PM just about all resistance from the Union forces north of town and west of town had collapsed, and the men were in full flight through the streets of Gettysburg.

W. G. Davis


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