Battle Of Gettysburg - Day 2

On July 2, 1863, the lines of the Battle of Gettysburg, now in its second day, were drawn in two sweeping parallel arcs.

The Confederate and Union armies faced each other a mile apart. The Union forces extending along Cemetery Ridge to Culp's Hill, formed the shape of a fish-hook, and the Confederate forces were spread along Seminary Ridge.

General Robert E. Lee ordered General James Longstreet to attack the Union's southern flank, aiming for the hills at the southernmost end of Cemetery Ridge. These hills, known as the Little Round Top and Big Round Top had been left unoccupied and would have afforded the Confederates a good vantage point from which to ravage the Union line.

General Longstreet, disagreeing with Lee's orders, and hoping that the cavalry under the command of General J. E. B. Stuart would soon come up with the army to participate in the attack, was slow to advance on the hills.

While Longstreet's soldiers broke through to the base of Little Round Top, Union General G. K. Warren perceived the Confederate plan in time to rouse his men to take the strategic hill, fending off the Confederate attack.

On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.

They say the noise was incessant as the sound
Of all wolves howling, when that attack came on.
They say, when the guns all spoke, that the solid ground
Of the rocky ridges trembled like a sick child. ”

— Stephen Vincent Benet, John Brown's Body (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1928)