Civil War News Review

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Facts, Ma'am, Just the Facts (Part 2 of 2)

(These comments and maps are based upon my forthcoming book: Stand To It And Give Them Hell!  (Savas Beatie: June 2014) It is currently being offered at an introductory price on
1.      At 8:30 a.m., Colonel Hiram Berdan (1st U.S. Sharpshooters), under orders from General Birney, approaches Col. Elijah Walker (4th ME) at his picket reserve at the Rodgers house on the Emmitsburg Road.
a.       He tells Walker to take his regiment with the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters to reconnoiter the woods along Seminary Ridge.
b.      Walker argues it would be suicide to do so because a division, much less 2 regiments, could not dislodge the number of Confederates hidden in there.
c.       Berdan concurs
2.      Berdan, however, reports to the division commander, General Birney, that Walker’s assessment of the Confederate troop strength is not credible.
3.      Birney dispatches an aide to Ward’s brigade to bring up more men.
4.      Ward sends the 3rd Maine to the Millerstown Road and the 99th Pennsylvania to the Stony Hill in support.
5.      Simultaneously, Birney’s aide de camp, Capt. Joseph C. Briscoe with Colonel Berdan places four companies of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters in the Emmitsburg Road where the Millerstown Road intercepts it from the east.
6.      Between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., the Berdans, with the 3rd Maine in support, head west toward Pitzer’s Woods where they initiate a nasty skirmish with regiments from Brig. Gen. Cadmus Wilcox’s Alabamians.

 Base maps by Steven Stanley of Gettysburg.      Text and content by John Michael Priest                              

7.       The skirmish is over by 10:00 a.m., and shortly thereafter, Col. Jacob Higgins (86th New York, Ward’s brigade) dispatches a captain and 25 men to tear down the fences west of Trostle’s to the Emmitsburg Road.
8.      10:00 a.m., Major Tremain returns from Army headquarters, his request for artillery on Little Round Top ignored by Meade.
9.      10:30 a.m., Brig. Gen. Charles K. Graham advances his brigade to the Trostle house.
10.  11:00 a.m., Sickles rides to Army headquarters and argues with Meade that he can defend the Emmitsburg Road.
11.  Meade refuses to let General Gouverneur K. Warren with sickles to examine the ground.
12.  Meade, at Sickles’s urging, has Brig. Gen. Henry Hunt accompany sickles to the Peach Orchard.
13.  Sickles explains to Hunt that from his current location, he cannot use his artillery
14.  Hunt, while on site:
a.       Tells Sickles that the position will expose the III Corps to enfilade
b.      But that the ground provided a lot of traverses which could protect the men.
c.       Putting the II Corps there would overextend its lines.
d.      Tells Sickles to conduct a reconnaissance not knowing that while Sickles had already done so.
15.  Hood rides off to investigate the artillery fire coming from the vicinity of Culp’s Hill.
a.       Noon, Ward moves to the Devil’s Den and Houck’s Ridge, and the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters fans east and south to protect the left of the III Corps.
b.      The rest of the III Corps advances onto the ridges west of the Trostle house.

To use an old clich√©: “The rest is history,” or is it?  Examine the information and compare it to the traditional impressions of Sickles’s unauthorized advance.
 Base maps by Steven Stanley of Gettysburg.      Text and content by John Michael Priest   

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