30 June 2012

Gettysburg, 1st Day

1 July 1863

Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Sides: Union and Confederate

Corps: Seven and Three

Soldiers: 93,921 and 71,699


General George Meade (Sixth Union Commanding General to this point in the Union Army)

General Robert E. Lee (First and Only Commanding General in the Confederate Army)


General John Buford, US Cavalry 

General John Reynolds, Union Corps Commander

General Henry Heth, Confederate Division Commander


General J.E.B. Stuart, Lee's cavalry general and reconnaisance/intelligence bureau.

Background: Robert E. Lee, in Stuart's absence, moves his army north in a roundabout attempt to take Washington DC. He is unaware of the position of the Union Army corps, moving blindly through enemy territory.

Union Cavalry General John Buford spots the Confederate Army's movements 30 June outside of Gettysburg. He deploys his men to take the high ground around the small Pennsylvania hamlet and sends couriers to Corps Commanders John Reynolds and Winfield Scott Hancock for reinforcements.

Overview of First Day of Battle

Trigger Event—July 1, 1863: Two brigades from Confederate General Henry Heth's division march into Gettysburg to secure the town and a supply of shoes rumored to be stashed in one of the factories. They clash with Buford's defenses.

By late afternoon Buford's men are hard put to defend against the rest of Heth's division, some thousands of men. General Reynolds brings his corps up and is killed the same afternoon in battle.

End-of-day Result: Confederate army regroups more quickly than the separated Union corps and has driven Union troops from all ground except a few key hills right outside Gettysburg. Though orders are given for the Rebs to take these hills before the Union can dig in, Confederate General Ewell decides to err on the side of caution and conserve his strength and numbers. By morning of the second day, the Confederate Army is in control of Gettysburg, with the Union army dug in on the high ground outside, and both armies are represented in full strength—some 166,000 men all told.

Casualties, 1 July 1863: 


9,000 and 6,000

To Learn More:

Gettysburg, Day 3

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