Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The First Day

Where were Lee and his staff?

They were several miles to the northwest, but they heard the crack of rifle fire and galloped forward at once. Lee’s plan was not to be pulled into any engagement on this day, and as he rode, the Confederate general lamented that some of his men—which, he was not certain—had been drawn into one. Lee did not yet realize that events were spinning out of his control, and that of his opponent George Meade as well. Subordinate commanders on both sides had chosen the battlefield, and the commanding generals would have to adjust.

John Reynolds was dead, but Buford’s cavalrymen were still holding on, just barely, when the Iron Brigade arrived on the northwest side of the town. Composed of men from Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Iron Brigade was, quite possibly, the toughest unit in the Union Army. Its men wore their black hats in a distinctive style, and they were known for their absolute doggedness in a fight.


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