THE CAVALRY AT GETTYSBURG

Presentation by: Gary Kross

September 14, 1995

Ladies and Gentlemen you have seen this slide from me before, it's just a prepared slide of the first day's fighting at Gettysburg. But basically it doesn't include any of Buford's positions. I'm going to have to point those out to you. We are going to start with John Buford. John Buford, is a cavalry screen, got about 28,000 cavalry, cavalry screen of about 1/3 of the Union Army. Buford's left wing is pushing up from Virginia to Maryland into Pennsylvania. Union 1st corps, Union 3rd corps, Union 11th corps and the cavalry screen is John Buford's cavalry.

A lot of people don't realize that Gettysburg would have had tens of thousands of Union soldiers in it by July 1st even if a shot had not been fired on that July 1, 1863 to begin the Battle of Gettysburg. It was a point in concentration, it was an obvious point for concentration for both armies. John Buford is told to occupy Gettysburg, secure Gettysburg and find good ground for the Union Infantry that were due in Gettysburg on July 1st. There are ten main roads that come into Gettysburg from all different directions like a hub of a wheel. That's what made it a perfect point for concentration for both armies. Both armies are going to use Gettysburg as a point of concentration.

Now Buford arrives, they come down the Emmitsburg Road, which is this road down here. They come into town they go down Washington Street and out to Chambersburg Pike. In fact, at 11:00 in the morning, a Sergeant by the name of Henry Sparks of the 3rd Indiana, Company C, I believe and his company comes charging down Washington Street, make a left hand turn onto Chambersburg Street and head out west. Capturing a number of Confederate forages in the area and driving the Confederate presence west of town out to Cashtown or Chambersburg Pike back in the direction of Cashtown itself. So as soon as Buford arrives in Gettysburg, he realizes that there are Confederates in the area. Now he has a bit of a problem, like I said he has 2800 Union Cavalry. He knows that the Confederates are marching through the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania in division size, that 6-8 thousand men a piece. That means that if a Confederate attacks his position before the Union Infantry can get up the following day, he can lose any good ground that he finds for the Union Army here at Gettysburg.

Soon as he arrives in Gettysburg he reconnoiters the area. What he finds is the very very best ground in Gettysburg is out of town, on a hill that's called Power's Hill, McCallister's Hill, Culp's Hill, Cemetery's Hill, down a ridge line called Cemetery Ridge, down two hills down south of Gettysburg called the Round Top, something we call the Fishhook. He's only got 2,800 cavalry, how best defend this good ground. The answer is you have to push far from it and hopefully slowly back up to it while the Union Infantry is arriving from the south. In fact, the first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg would be 4.2 miles away from the ground that Buford is actually trying to defend south of town. He has only got 2,800 cavalry, he needs a plan of action, a plan of defense if you will. He formulates that on the evening of June 30th.

Basically there are two types defenses, Ladies and Gentlemen that can be deployed and only two types. You have an active defense and a passive defense. The passive defense is almost totally predicated on strong terrain features such as hills or ridge lines. Where you are trying to achieve success on the very ground on which you are fighting. A perfect example of a passive defense is George Green's stand with those New Yorkers on Culp's Hill on July 3rd. When he fortifies the hill and he is successful in driving the Confederates off their position.

An active defense, however, is quite different. In an active defense, terrain features are important but only to slow down your opponent and your lines and flanks have to be flexible if you will. Where you are looking to achieve success somewhere else by someone else. The finest example of a active defense by any cavalry in the American Civil War was Buford's stand west of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

Now, there are going to be three different lines that we are going to be discussing now and we are going to be discussing them in October. Here are the ridge lines called McPherson's Ridge which is right here. The main body of Union Cavalry facing west will be along McPherson's Ridge. However, Buford will predetermine lines of engagement further west about a mile, actually 8/10's of a mile from McPherson's Ridge is another ridge called Herr's Ridge and Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge. Buford will determine to show his strength to his opponent on that Ridge line there. A mile further west, that's off of our map, you will have vedette line an outpost line.

Now vedette, we're going to get into vedette, Ladies and Gentlemen is simply a cluster of Union soldiers in this instance four to five men with an officer and a noncom in charge. These men are out in little pockets. A vedette is here and another vedette is anywhere from 150 to 600 yards to their right to their left. Listening posts, there were 232 men that were sent west on the vedette covering three roads coming in from the west. The Fairfield - Haggerstown Road, the Chambersburg Pike and the Mummasburg Road, 4.1 miles. That means there's only 57 men per mile along that vedette line facing west. That's the first line of defense. Now those men on the vedette have been told, Ladies and Gentlemen that when they see the enemy to fire and flee. Nothing that I described to you so far is a last stand effort by any members of Buford's cavalry. They're to slow down the Confederates and slowly back up into that predetermined fall back point, that predetermined skirmish line along Herr's Ridge and Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge. Well they are doing that, from the main line or the main body, other Union soldiers will mount up and move forward to that same line.

All right we can begin. That's generally what we are going to be discussing here. The defense of Gettysburg from the west by Buford on that July 1, 1863. Any questions up to this point? He will place an observation point in this Lutheran Seminary. I know you guys like old pictures so I dug this one out of my collection. This is the finished railroad, this is taken from the college looking out toward the seminary. From there you have a Lieutenant by the name Jerome, who would secure this area for observation. There's much to look at the enemy in that direction as for Union Infantry coming up from the south. Here's the finished railroad, that railroad was completed in 1887 so there are tracks down there so it had to be after 1887, around the turn of the century I would imagine. This is a remarkable photograph, this is a photograph taken from the Lutheran seminary looking west, this is McPherson's Ridge, those are McPherson's woods right there, that's the Chambersburg Pike and that Ladies and Gentlemen is Herr's Ridge and Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge. The main body of Buford's cavalry is going to be right back here along McPherson's Ridge. When the first shot is fired, men will saddle up in this position and move forward to this ridge and dismount. That's were they will skirmish. That will be the main skirmish line, the main action against Henry Heth's position as they come down from the west.

This from Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge and Herr's Ridge looking west to the vedette line, the vedette line is right along this ridge line right here. That's Knoxslin Ridge, if you will. So again, you have 232 men that are 57 men to the mile stretched 4.1 miles facing west. You also have something called vedette reserves and vedette patrols. Vedette reserves are basically what's left of a company and the officers of that company, basically taking a position somewhere behind the vedettes themselves. From the vedette reserve patrols, mounted patrols go from vedette to vedette. This is an attempt so that no Confederate can sneak through the vedettes, especially the night of June 30th. Buford is very very concerned that might happen. He's trying to achieve total security if he can.

This position right here is 4.2 miles away from Cemetery Hill. This is where the first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg is fired. This is Chambersburg Pike, those of you who have been to the battlefield, know where the first shot monument is, it's just to our right here. Now right about where this farm is, it's an old photograph, that farm and this barn was not there at the time of the battle. It was the vedette line however. The vedette line was down there. What happens is, it's a little after 7:00 in the morning, the vedettes are called back to this ridge line. This is Knoxslin Ridge, because a cloud of dust is rising from the road on the other side of this ridge line.

That's 6,000 men. Henry Heth's division coming down in from the west. What's going to happen is these vedettes down here close to a creek called Marsh Creek are going to back up into this position and form wide along this position. From this position, from the vedette reserve, a gentlemen by the name of Marcellus Jones will borrow a carbine from a Sergeant by the name of Schaffer and fire a shot at Confederate skirmishers leading Henry Heth's division down the road. When the shot is fired, Henry Heth's stops, more Confederate skirmishers are sent forward, about two hundred. He had four companies of the 5th Alabama Battalion about 135 men total moved forward. Also, Companies B and G of the 13th Alabama, these men are coming across the creek and are forming in these fields now moving forward. An officer in the vedette reserve had to call in all of the vedettes in front of him, make a stand along this ridge line.

Captain Amasadana, he's got about 20 men. He separates them about 30-35 feet apart and they start firing at great distances with their carbines. Their not hitting anybody; their trying to make as much noise as they possibly can and their firing after those carbines as quickly as possible giving the impression that there is more Union cavalry than there actually is. It does the job, it stops the Confederate skirmishers to an extent that up here right on that rise, two Confederate cannons are pushed forward. This is Mary's Battery from Mary's Battery, Fredericksburg Artillery. They would set up these guns on this road and they'd start firing at the men along this ridge line. It's not a big fire amounting to eight to ten rounds, so the first shot, the first cannon shot to Gettysburg was taken right there. These guys who are coming with me in October, I'm going to take you out to that position. The effects are harmless, they fly over and to the right and fall harmlessly in a wood lot behind this Union position, right here.

When the first shot was fired, and the reason I put this up is look in that direction Ladies and Gentlemen, the openness, right in back of the old Blue Ridge Mountains there. We are looking northwest. Basically it transpired by Captain Jones and Seargeant Schaffer's carbine, Company E, 8th Illinois Cavalry a little after 7:00 p.m. July 1, 1863. As this line of Union soldiers break under the pressure of the Confederates, on this side 200 more Confederate skirmishers will move forward out of Joe Davis' brigade. So you'll have 400 Confederate skirmishers pushing the Union vedettes back. They'll be pushing them back for at least an hour. You have two hundred men on this side of the road, two hundred men on this side of the road, two hundred men on this side of the road, Confederates pushing in towards you. The rest of Henry Heth's division still in column along the road, it looks like a huge key as it's pushing in, the cavalry videts back toward the predetermined skirmish lines and the main line of John Buford.

Oh course this is where their going to be fighting, they are going to be skirmishing, they're off their horses, each of those weapons can be loaded and fired in the hands of a good cavalryman about 8 to 10 times a minute. They were single shot breach loaders, they were not repeaters. The only repeaters on the battlefield were Custard's. Custard had Spencer rifles not carbine rifles and only three of his regiments had those. These were single shot breach loaders and like I said can be loaded, fired, only about 8 to 10 times a minute. They have a maximum range of about 200 yards accurately and that was in the hands of someone who knew what he was doing. The vedettes were going to back up, slowly contest every step of the Confederates pushing in from the west. Finally they will fall in along this ridge line. This is Herr's Ridge. At this point 500 more Union Cavalry moved forward from the main line and take position along this ridge line as well. There is now about 730 men along the line. Of course, one in every five men are holding horses. That means there's about 550 men in battle line along this ridge line.

How many Confederate skirmishers are pushing forward? Four hundred. This presence right here stops the Confederate skirmish line dead. It's at that point because of the show of force by Buford along this ridge line, he forces Henry Heth's division to go from column along the road, the road is down here, swing out into these fields and form battle line. In reality, in theory an entire division could do that in about a half a hour. But it usually took 2 to 3 times that to actually fit your lines, get your men to know what their doing, set your artillery for support and move forward upon your opponent. It would take about a hour and twenty minutes for Henry Heth to set battle line. He will do that right behind where this big tree is. Now, of course Buford had to be delighted to see that. He was trying to slow down his opponent as best he possibly can. This show of force along Herr's ridge and Belmont Schoolhouse Ridge was not meant to be a last stand position. It was meant to stop the Confederate skirmish line cold and force Henry Heth into battle line. He achieved his goal.

As the Confederates formed battle line and started moved toward this ridge, Union cavalry fires just a few volleys at them. Get back on their horses and go back to McPherson's Ridge. They've done their job. The Confederates will then set up along here, they'll bring up their artillery and a little after ten will start moving forward again, against the Union Cavalry on McPherson's Ridge. This is one of the outfits that did a very very good job because this defense fought basically on the other side of Chambersburg Pike, the 3rd Indiana they suffered greatly. They lost about 32 or 34 men. They had the finest horses in the outfit and they were probably best led as well.

Patrick Lemmon was their Major and he did a heck of a job. Patrick Lemmon would be mortally wounded. He was shot and died the next day. He may have been the first officer, Union officer that was mortally wounded at Gettysburg.

These are the men from 3rd Indiana Cavalry. That's our hero now, that's John Buford. He's 37 years old and he's orchestrating so far playing Henry Heth like a piccolo. He's doing quite a job. He's dictating everything the Confederate commander is doing at this point. These guns are Calef guns those are the original guns, by the way. Calef wrote down the serial numbers of his guns after the engagement taking special note to write down the serial of the first gun that he fired against the Confederates. That's that one right there. That's serial number 233 and after the war when he heard they were putting up a monument to Buford, he gave those numbers to the Ordinance Department, he found that gun in California I believe and they brought the guns over. In the service he would fire all four guns during the commemoration of this memorial.

This is McPherson's Ridge right here. The Union Cavalry is now withdrawn from the vedette position they were drawn from their predetermined skirmish line, they have now gotten to a point where they're now back at the main line. This is the last line, right here starts the town of Gettysburg, we're talking about Lutheran seminary is behind this position. This is Buford's left section, it was under the command Charles Tangle and Buford separated two guns. He had four more guns on the road to Chambersburg Pike and those guns were about a quarter of a mile in that direction on the other side of these trees. The reason he did that was to again to give the illusion to the Confederate that he had more cannon than he actually had. He will hold, these guns will be very important.

Archer's brigade will then start moving forward upon the cavalry positions along McPherson's Ridge and they'll get pretty close to them before the Union Infantry arrives. Then the Union Cavalry, as the Union Infantry does arrive, will remain as a flank support for the Union Infantry as they arrive. In fact this is the infantry line down here, right past this little hump right here is a farm called the Meal's farm and right about there is the Magnere church which use to be Hortain Orchard if you will. You had dismounted Union cavalry at times in both locations. The 8th New York was up at the Meals Property. The 8th Illinois down here near the Horning property, as Confederate infantry would attack these divisions later in the day, this cavalry always responding, always slowing up, always forcing the Confederate to defend their right flank, meet the challenge.

They do an extremely good job stalling up the right portion of every Confederate advance against the Union battle line on the left portion of McPherson's Ridge. This is Fairfield-Haggerstown Road, that's McPherson's Ridge right there, that's the Horning farm, by the way, the orchard is just in front of it slightly to the right of it. It was from that location that they been bothering the Confederates as they advanced.

Now the Union position is pushed off of McPherson's Ridge and they retreat back to the Lutheran Seminary. They're just south of the seminary, it would be in this general direction now across right here, Union cavalry would take position near this road and in this direction along the stone wall. Later in the day Wayne's brigade would advance, cross the road and take position and start advancing toward the Union cavalry, on this side or the south side of the Fairfield-Haggerstown Road.

We have a gentlemen in the audience, Dave Martin, and I respect Dave a great deal. I wrote an article in February, they're still writing letters about it. About forming a square at Gettysburg. I believe it's still happened. Even after reading Dave's new paper on it. I do believe that Wayne's brigade was slowed up by the Union Cavalry in front of him and they formed lanes. Whether it happened or not, I believed something was in front of Wayne that slowed them up and until someone can tell me otherwise, who or what slowed up Wayne's brigade, why Wayne's brigade did not give any support at all to Parins' brigade that was attacking the Union Infantry at the Seminary itself. Then I'm going to still believe that the Union Cavalry forced Wayne's brigade to stop and reform - to form against a mounted cavalry charge. Where that took place I believe is west of the seminary on the south side of the Fairfield-Haggerstown Road.

That's a typical cavalry mount. The cavalry mounts in the Gettysburg campaign were so badly jaded that after the battle or after the campaign they came up with the Cavalry Bureau to standardized the size of mounts, the tactics, and the ammunition and weaponry. This is pretty much a result, right here. They would go with a horse with a minimum of 950 pounds to be accepted by the United States Government. Up until that point, anything would do. These horses were dying left, right and sideways in the Gettysburg campaign. What's interesting is this. Included right after the Gettysburg campaign was to better seat the individual. They realized that there was so much jumping over fences and close post order attacks that they decided to put a guard so the saddle would stay seated better.

Getting to the second day's action. In the second day action, already the Union position is now in the fishhook. There is going to be action taking place on July 2nd out here. Jeb Stuart, he arrives between 12:00 and 1:00 that afternoon, July 2nd. Right behind him about a hour later is Hampton's brigade. Hampton's brigade, they are exhausted but Lee needs flanks fighting protection. Stuart orders Hampton to take a position to cover the left rear of the Confederate battle lines on July 2nd. Hampton will take position astride the Hunterstown Road to block access for any Union cavalry or any Union infantry for that matter, to swing around and cut in behind Lee's battle lines.

That is called the Battle of Hunterstown and we are going to get into that right now. The Action at Hunterstown. What's happening here, you have to look down here if you will, this is the Hunterstown Road, and Hampton forms line along the Hunterstown Road basically facing in this general direction. He will send out skirmishers into open fields. Union cavalry under the command of Judson Kilpatrick, two brigades. George Armstrong Custard and Elon Farnsworth will start moving forward. They are going to be moving in this direction. It is an attempt to probe where the Confederate left flank ends. They will push Confederate skirmishers down this road, into the town of Hunterstown itself and then out to this position right here. When we advance on Hunterstown in October, we will be doing the same thing. We will be following Kilpatrick's division through the town of Hunterstown down to Hunterstown Road. Gettysburg, by the way, is four miles down this road in this general direction. In fact, if you made a straight line from here to here, you get to Culp's Hill. So it's a very strategic point as you can see.

So, we put George Curly right there. The reason I put it there is the first charge he'll make as a brigadier general where he pulls a toledo late. He leads men in battle and loses his first horse in battle here at Hunterstown. He'll have eleven horses shot out from under him during the fours years of the American Civil War. He will lose his first at Hunterstown.

Union Cavalry are going to come down here, here is the ridge line called Sophy Ridge. The 6th Michigan Cavalry is in the advance, Company H specifically. Company H is in the road, in columns by four. They have about 50 men. Custard, he is going to move to the front of those men and they will charge the retreating Confederate skirmishers down the road.

This is a picture you can hardly make out, I took this picture 6:00 in the morning. This is Phelty Farm. You're looking from the Union perspective on the right flank where the dismounted 6th Michigan is and Pennington's guns are. This is that road that Custard and Company A are going to charge down. They are going to start over here, they are going past the Phelty farm, they're going to charge down this road. These are the Gilbert woods right here and there is the Gilbert Farm. Right in front of the Gilbert Farm is a little turn in the road. Custard is going to be charging down that road, to this ridge line, the turn in the road is right near that ridge line. What happened is, as the Confederate skirmishes are coming back out of the town of Hunterstown, there is a Lieutenant Colonel by the name of Pierce Young of Cobb's Georgia Legion who will form a skirmish line of 50 men, two companies along this ridge line. Twenty five men on this side of the road, twenty five on that side of the road. Custard and his men do not see him. Custard has drawn his sword and is leading four abreast, a cavalry charge down this road, when he gets very close to that skirmish line they open up on both sides. The first casualty is Custard horse, shot through the heart, horse and rider go down in a heap. A little malady takes place.

Pierce Young, Lieutenant Colonel of Cobb's Legion then goes back to the woods, in his rear, gains four more Companies, mounts them up. Four Companies of Cobb's Georgia Legion, about 125 men and then charged what was left of Company A and Custard in the road. Custard is dismounted, he's doing the best he can fighting on foot. It's a remarkable action. We have a malady at that position, to an extent where Company A lost out of 51 men that charged - 3 men killed, 25 wounded. That's severe. Of course Custard is saved by a Corporal by the name of Norville Churchill. It was his bugler. Norville Churchill sees a Confederate going after Custard, he pulls his revolver and kills the man and hoists Custard on the back of his horse and they start retreating back to this position. Unfortunately for him, the four Companies of the Georgia Cavalry are right behind them. They said Custard and Churchill were the last out of the fray.

I just bought a letter from a guy in the 6th Michigan. The 6th Michigan are dismounted along this ridge, Phelty Ridge. The Union Cavalry, Company A is retreating back to these positions. The man of the 6th Michigan states that he saw the last man out of the fray was Custard on the back of a horse, two men on the same horse. With a Georgian with his saber getting very very close encircles Custard's head. He took shot with a Spencer Rifle and popped the Confederate and saved Custard's life. They come racing back to this position. Unfortunately for the Confederates, they follow. They're close at hand and like I said, you can see the windows in the barn, from those windows you have members of Company D of the 6th Michigan with their Spencer repeating rifles. Just devastating Confederates as they reigned down and charged toward the Union positions along Phelty Ridge.

In fact, some Confederates will swing in like this and go toward Pennington's guns. Pennington will lose five men wounded in this action they get in and amongst the guns. But finally too many Union dismounted cavalry along the ridge line what's left of these four companies of Cobb's Legion now retreat back to that ridge line.

Now, it's at this point that Hampton wishes to escalate the action. He will set almost his entire brigade along that ridge ready to charge Custard again. But as he preparing he looks forward and what he sees is more Union reinforcements. Elon Farnsworth has come up with his brigade and formed behind Custard's brigade on the same ridge line. At that point, Hampton makes use of the idea of the charge. This little action is a very severe action; Confederates lost only 21 men in this action, but seven of them were officers, five lieutenants, one captain and lieutenant colonel all from the same outfit - Cobb's Georgia Legion.

Let's go to the Battle of Hunterstown, I'll show you a couple more pictures. This is from the other side. Custard raced down this road and right about there defending the road, you could see the ridge line where those Confederate skirmishers would have been. It is at that point that Custard goes down. That is where the malay is, 4 and 1 companies of Cobb's Georgia Legion attack and devastate Company A. Company A now withdraws back to these positions with the Georgians in hot pursuit. Like I said, when they pass this barn fire from the barn and of course fire from the dismounted Union Cavalry along Phelpy ridge devastate the advance at Hunterstown.

This is from the Confederate perspective, they charge down - that's the barn right there, that's Phelty Ridge. They dismounted 6th Michigan there, dismounted Southern Michigan there, Pennington's guns there. I promise we'll be seeing this in October. I already got permission from the Phelty's to park our bus right there. So we can spend as much time on the property as we want.

July 3rd Action, there's two we haven't talked about. Basically it's to the right, about 3 miles from the center of town is E Cavalry Battlefield where Custard meets Stuart. And of course, on the southern most portion of the battlefield, down here you have Elon Farnsworth's charge and Wesley Merrit's action against Confederate Infantry. This is a relief map of the Cavalry Battlefield. Here is Hanover Road, right here, so basically the action that is taking place is just in here. This is the Cavalry Battlefield. This map does show, however, show the Baltimore Pike. Some historians believe that Jeb Stuart on July 3rd was trying to get in behind the Union position so that had Pickett's division been successful at the Union Summer, that he would have been in proper position to harass the Union retreat down the Baltimore Pike. I don't believe that to be true. I do believe that Stuart is in the area to probe for his opponent. Also, there is a very important cross road, that would be the Lodash Road and Hanover Road. I think Stuart was trying to gain access to that road junction just in case it was necessary to move down into the rear of the Union position. He would have done that by going down this road - the Lodash Road at the Baltimore Pike. That was a very very important position. The Union position would be in and out. You have Custard down here, along the Hanover Road and up in this general direction.

In these woods right here, you have a Colonel by of the name, McIntosh and his Union brigade. Two Union brigades got Confederates that are coming in this general direction and they will deploy down in this general direction here, that's Cress's Ridge. This is an unusual line, this is a line that none of you have seen on the battlefield. As you can see, it's the right flank line of the entire army.

The Union position is in an "L", you have Custard down here, McIntosh down here. This indicates the right flank monument where the Lott's woods are. They drive into the East Cavalry Battlefield, that's what you see. These are Pennington's guns. This is Custard's artillery down here. Again, Custard will set up. His cavalry down here, his artillery here, you got some more artillery in this direction.

That's the Lott house and that's the Lott Woods. That's where the other Union brigade is - that's McIntosh's brigades. The Confederates are coming from this direction. This photograph was taken in the nineteen century. This is Jenkin's brigade mounting, that's the Rummel farm. Because they're coming in from the opposite end, they will form lines along Cress Ridge. From here they will skirmish this mountain, they will move in forward to this fence line right here and to the farmhouse and the barn itself. Union Cavalry will counter by sending dismounted skirmishers forward from the Lott woods which is in that direction, forward to this tree line. They call that the "little run line". The first outfit sent forward the 1st New Jersey Cavalry, again there's the Rummel barn, that's Crest Ridge behind us, right there. Jenkin's Cavalry moves forward, and took position along fences that would have been there and these farmhouses here. While down here you have the Union skirmish lines and for a number of hours, almost two hours you have dismounted skirmishing along these two lines. Each side trying to swing around the flank of the other.

The second phase of battle, in my opinion, one of the more fascinating phases. Right here, "the little run line" if you will, that's where the skirmishers are. You have dismounted skirmishers down in this general direction here. This is a stonewall right here and that's the Lott woods. What's going to happen now is you have dismounted Union Cavalry down here along this run line here. These are Confederate artillery pieces, by the way. You're on Confederate battle lines. Jeb Stuart, is to our left here, and he sees an opportunity to swing in behind the skirmishes, the dismounted skirmishes. He sees that there are constantly Union troops coming out of the Lott woods. This an attempt by Stuart to find out exactly what's in front of him. He will order forward the 1st Virginia in a cavalry charge, a mounted cavalry charge. In the idea in coming in and swinging in behind the dismounted cavalry down along "Little Run". Unfortunately, from the other side George Armstrong Custard sees exactly what he's trying to do. He mounts up with the 7th Michigan and the 7th Michigan then charges across these fields and they will meet at this stonewall. The 1st Virginia on this side of it, 7th Michigan on the other side of it with carbines and pistols.

This goes on for number of minutes, but finally Stuart sends forward the 1st North Carolina and the Jeff Davis Legion which would be the 1st Mississippi and three combined Confederate regiments break Custard at this point and force him to withdraw in that direction. These three Confederate regiments then hop over the wall and head toward the fleeing Custard. However, Custard has something for them. Custard is a very bright individual. I have the utmost admiration for the man at least in the American Civil War. What Custard does, this is not a great picture, but there are four cannons, those are Randall's guns. Those are Union cannon. What Custard does is he leads the Confederates that are charging him right into the mouths of those guns. He moves them down and then veers away. These four guns fire cannon at the charging Confederates. Devastating. Of course, down here is "Little's Run". This is where those dismounted Union skirmishers are. Some of those men turn around and fire into the flank as well of the Confederates that are charging and the Lott woods are down here and they do the same thing into the other flank.

The action here breaks those three Confederate regiments and they start withdrawing back from where they come from. That's the end of phase two. Remarkably Action. Gary, what are the weapons of the two sides, the mounted men? At this point, the Confederates have the Richmond Sharps, a reasonable good firing weapon, anywhere from 6 to 10 times a minute it can be loaded and fired. Of course, when they are charging like a ground assualt, these men took the reigns in their teeth with a carbine in one hand or a revolver and a sword in the other. There are some quite remarkable stories about these cavalry battlefields, especially in the third phase. There are only three regiments on the field that have Spencer repeating rifles. The carbine was first issued in September of '63. In July '63, the only Spencer that are available are rifles. That was an incredible weapon. The Confederate's called the Spencer rifle, the "Yankee Tower of Power". It had 7 shots in the magazine and one in the chamber. Like a Winchester today, in fact, Winchester bought out Spencer after the war. It was a very incredible weapon for the day. Fire power is going to rule in the third phase.

The action is over at this point. By the way, those are Randall's guns. So when Custard is broken, he retreats back to these guns. Soon as he gets in front of the guns, he veers away and these four guns open up right into the faces of those three Confederate regiments. Absolutely devastating. The Lott woods are right here, that's the Lott house and that's Little's Run right there, that's Little Run line, right there. So men along that run just turn around and fire into the flank of the Confederate.

This is the third and the last phase of the action. These are the fields of which Custard will charge. He will meet the Confederate at that point right there. That's the Cavalry Shaft, that's the Michigan monument at Gettysburg with a bust of old Curley on that line. So they will be charging in this general direction. About 3:00 in the afternoon, the Union soldiers see something shining in sunlight. What it is, it's sabers, Confederate sabers. Various accounts place that charge to be anywhere from 1500 to 3000 Confederates charges toward us. From Cress Ridge they're going to be charging in this general direction toward us. Where George Armstrong Custard places himself in front of the 1st Michigan Cavalry. Five hundred men charging at full gallop from these positions, across these fields they will meet the Confederate at that point right there. This is Cress Ridge, this is that "L" if you will, this is where Custard is, this is where McIntosh is. Basically, Custard is charging as these brigades of Confederates are charging him and they will meet at the shaft. They'll also get help, by the way, by a cavalry charge coming in on the flank.

A gentlemen by the name of William Miller who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for that action which we will discuss a little bit later on. At the Cavalry Shaft, that's the Michigan monument, that's bust of old Curley, will come in right there and of course that's the Michigan Cavalry. Where this point is, is where Custard will go down again and he will be unhorsed at this position. That's what it looks like, that's what on the monument itself, "The Great Clash of Cavalry". When these two sides hit each other, there are stories of men breaking their backs as horse hit horse at full gallop as these men went tumbling over. There's a lane here, this is part of the Rummel Lane. Old man Rummel was a miserable old man and he thought this was a terrible disturbance in his life. The next day his barn is being used a field hospital and he had to get provisions so he's going down this lane, that's the Cavalry Shaft right there, and his horse will not continue because there's two dead soldiers in front of him. Again, the incredible clash of these two sides. He looks down and he writes in his journal that night that he sees a dead Confederate still grasping a saber thrust through a Union soldier still holding his saber thrust through the Confederate and they are stuck together. It was such a morbid sight that his horse would not go past them.

When five hundred men are engulfed, they are totally engulfed by the Confederates, there are 500 Union soldiers, there are thousands of Confederates that are engulfed the Union position and Custard has to fight his way out. But Custard has his Spencer rifles and he will fight his way out. That's where he gets his reputation. Getting his men in a bad situation and being able to pull them out of it, basically based on firepower. The funny part about it, is that after the war there was a couple of miserable old men by the name of Ripley and Hallid who sat down and decided what weapons would be kept by the United States Army after the war. They decided we're going to get rid of all these repeaters because it was a waste of ammunition to give a man more than one shot. He wouldn't aim it. So they went back after the war, to the single shot carbine, they were Springfields. That's what Custard had at the Little Big Horn, single shot Springfields. Now you know who had the Spencers? The Indians.

From the right flank, William Miller, as Custard is being totally engulfed by these Confederates, William Miller and a couple of squadrons of 3rd Pennsylvania will mount up on their own. Nobody ordered them to do it and they will charge the flank of the Confederate while other Union outfits were down here near Little's Run. Again, the same group that were dismounted, some of those men would mount up on their horses; some of those men would just simply turn around and fire into the other flank of the charging Confederates. With Custard in the middle flank fighting with his Spencers and now cavalry charges at both flanks, the Confederates withdraw.

This is a photograph of Union Cavalry at Wyndburg Camp in a later charge. That's what a squadron looks like. I thought is was nice just to visualize then we can discuss this in October. That's what it looks like before it charges. Again, a squadron like that are going charge into the flank of the Confederate cavalry. This is a remarkable photograph, because it shows you everything. This is the 3rd Pennsylvania, William Miller charged in this position and he charges in that direction. You can just make out over here the cavalry shaft, that's the Michigan Monument. In the distance, that's Lousy Tower, the tower that's above it all at Gettysburg.

From this position early in the action, is the 3rd Pennsylvania, 1st New Jersey move forward across these open fields, the skirmish along Little's Run, the Confederate position on the other side. Of course when those Confederates charge, and Grant charged, they charged across these fields. They met Custard at that position there and then finally this outfit would charge into the flank of the charging Confederates. This is Wesley Merritt on the south end of the field, hw will come up about 3:00 in the afternoon on July 3rd. This field is called the Current field, from the Union position. Those of you who have been to the battlefield, this is very close to the Eisenhower property, try to visualize where you are, it's off the Emitsburg Road. What takes place here is that Union Cavalry is now given the order to harass the right flank and the rear of Lee's army on July 3rd. This action begins at 3:00 in the afternoon. This is called the South Cavalry Battlefield, there are very few of you that have ever been out there. I'm going to take you out there.

This is Wesley Merritt's action. It's not a very complicated action in the least. Wesley Merritt comes in with the 6th Pennsylvania who are skirmishing in this field. They are also called Rush's Lancers, you may have heard of that. This guys up until June of 1863 went into battle with a lance. These guys weren't too bright but they were brave, they would skirmish now with their brand new carbines they had just gotten in this field. Initially, the 7th Georgia but more of Wesley Merritt comes out. They formed battle lines along this ridge line here, there's no name to the ridge line itself.

But the 5th U.S., the 2nd U.S., 3rd U.S. and the 6th Pennsylvania out in this field. The Confederates now along the ridge line, in the tree line you can see in the distance. The 5th U.S. would try to swing around the Confederate position, not mounted. This is perfect position for a mounted charge but instead these men are on foot moving forward trying to swing around the flank of the Confederate battle line. Had they done it on horseback, the ground was certainly conducive for that they would have succeeded. They would have got in behind the rear of the Confederate position. Instead, Kilpatrick will order Elon Farnsworth on Merritt's right flank to make a mounted charge against the slopes of Big Round Top. Should have been just the opposite. That's Rush's Lancers. That's the monument, you've probably passed it but didn't realize what it was. You can see the Lancers right there, from Emmitsburg Road it's south of the battle field.

This position is occupied by a detachment of 1st and 2nd U.S. Cavalry. This is a part road, this is called South Cavalry Battlefield. Again, the position that I showed you, the Cairnes Field and the action takes place through these trees to our right. This is the ridge line right here, where the Confederates are, Union soldiers are right here. They're going to start moving forward, that's Redding Farm, that's the Eisenhower Farm. The Union soldiers try a dismounted advance around the flank of the Confederates right there. They are unsuccessful, the 11th, 59th Georgia will come up form line, fire at the 5th U.S, drive the 5th U.S. back. A little known action, we'll be discussing will be on these positions in October. There is a lot of artillery fire too.

This is Grant's guns, they came in with Merritt. They are basically firing at Rielly's and Bachman's guns. When you are at South Confederate Avenue, where the Alabama memorial is, those artillery pieces right there are pointing at Big Round Top. For two hours they were pointing up the Emmitsburg Road, exactly at an 180 degree turn, they were facing these guns and engaging for two hours. This battery of Grant's. That's what they're looking at. There's Big Round. All the Confederate artillery there firing at is in this direction.

This is Farnsworth's Charge. That's Elon Farnsworth. He'll be killed during this action. Elon Farnsworth has four regiments: the 18th Pennsylvania; the 5th New York; the 1st West Virginia and the 1st Vermont. They will be along this side and they will be charging Confederate positions that are down in this general area. This is Big Round Top, by the way, this does not look the way it does today. In fact, when Evander Long's brigade on July 2nd was attacked at Little Round Top they came right through here, up and over and Little Round Top is down here. Elon Farnsworth's charge, the 18th Pennsylvania are going to be charging across this field here against the 1st Texas. The 1st West Virginia, the same thing against the 1st Texas along the stonewall right there. Elon Farnsworth's charge is a remarkably charge. What they're going to do is start from here, going to go through this tree line and come up through here, up this hill, around this field. This is called a D shaped field. Down in this general direction, off the hill and head back toward the Confederate artillery down in this general direction. As they do, as Elon Farnsworth is doing exactly that, this Confederate artillery which has been pointing at Grant's battery of Merritt's brigade turns around. Also the 9th Georgia comes down in support of the battery and they will block Elon Farnsworth's escape.

In fact, Elon Farnsworth will go down right about there. He will get off his horse, his horse is killed, the rest of his men escape in this general direction. But unfortunately for Elon Farnsworth, it takes time to find him another mount. A major Ralph will stay with him with twelve men and then when they're ready to resume their charge or their escape if you will they find that Confederates have come down in this general direction and have blocked their escape. They must now withdraw the same way they came in. It's right about here that the 15th Alabama will be coming down Big Round Top, set up a battle line and fire a volley. They found Elon Farnsworth, he was dead with five bullet wounds. There was some question whether Elon Farnsworth had committed suicide or not. One Texan said that he saw this Union General be shot and then put four bullets into his own body.


* Gary Kross is a licensed battlefield tour guide at Gettysburg National Military Park.