The Battle of Gettysburg begins (1863)

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The Civil War’s pivotal Battle of Gettysburg was waged over the first three days of July 1863 in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A brutal and bloody fight, a total of 7,863 soldiers were killed, and another 27,224 were wounded. That November, at a dedication ceremony on that battleground for the Gettysburg National Cemetery, President Abraham Lincoln gave his historic Gettysburg Address.

News of the day

The War

After our paper went to press on Thursday morning, the following news reached the city, dated near Gettysburg, July 1:

“A heavy engagement has been going on since 9 o’clock am, between the Rebel forces of Longstreet and Hill, and the First and Eleventh Corps under Gens. Reynolds and Meade. The locality of the fight is beyond Gettysburg, on the Chambersburg Pike. Portions of the fight have been very severe, and attended with heavy loss. Thus far, the onset of the enemy has been successfully resisted by the two corps mentioned, and the Third and Twelfth are now coming up. I regret to say that Major-Gen. Reynolds was mortally wounded and has since died.”

During the afternoon, we received partially confirmatory accounts, such as the arrrival of General Reynolds’ body at Baltimore, with the addition that that Gen. Paul was killed, and Cols. Stone and Wistar were wounded. Baltimore, also, furnished these particulars of the battle:

“We learn that our forces passed through Gettysburg at 10 o’clock yesterday (Wednesday), and when a quarter of a mile west of the town, encountered Gens. Longstreet and Hill, who attacked the corps of Gen. Reynolds, which was in advance. This corps stood the force of the attack until it was relieved by the Third Corps, and a commanding position secured. The Rebels made a strong attempt to flank the position we had gained, but were repulsed in the attempt. Gen. Reynolds and Gen. Paul fell under a volley from the Rebel infantry. Both officers were mounted, and at the head of their troops. In the course of the conflict we fell back before superior numbers to a stronger position, and the fight ceased for the day at 4 o’clock.

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“At the close of the evening, the whole Army of the Potomac had reached the field, and Maj.-Gen. Meade had all the corps strongly posted for a renewal of the battle this morning. The loss of the enemy was considered fully equal to ours. The Army of the Potomac is in fine condition, and very enthusiastic. Our loss in officers is severe. Cols. Wistar and Stone were wounded when the fell into the lands of the Rebels. Our army is regarded as better concentrated than that of the Rebels for the events of the day.”

Washington, early in the evening, telegraphed: “The latest dispatches received from Gen. Meade are dated last night. They state that the corps engaged with Gen Ewell’s army were Gen. Reynolds’ and Gen. Howard’s. Gen. Reynolds was killed. Gen. Pleasanton succeeded in inflicting severe injury upon Stuart’s cavalry. The reports received from all quarters are encouraging.”


Illustration: “Death of Reynolds — Gettysburg” by Alfred R Waud (July 1, 1863)

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