Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The First Day

What was the situation at 5 P.M.?

It had been a desperate day, filled with all sorts of disasters, but by 5 p.m. the Confederates could justly claim a narrow victory. At the loss of many lives, they had caved in the Yankee defenses and were about to enter the town. On another battlefield, another type of terrain, this would have been sufficient. But given the range of low hills just south of the town, the logistics were turned on their head: the town mattered much less than did the hills. Realizing this, Lee sent an order to General Ewell, commanding the extreme Confederate left, to attack the Union defenders on Cemetery Hill (they had just gotten there and were pausing to catch their breath). Three hours of daylight remained, and one more push would ensure a major victory.


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