Gettysburg. When about 5 miles from the latter place, I received your order to push on as fast as possible. General Reynolds had attacked the enemy, and had himself fallen. The First and Third Division, which were in advance of my command, were sent forward to support the first Corps.
At about 2 o'clock I arrived with my division near Gettysburg, and was ordered to occupy Cemetery Hill, where I found the reserve artillery of our corps in position. This hill is situated near the south end of Gettysburg, at the junction of the turnpikes leading to Baltimore and Emmitsburg. Toward the east and south, low ranges connect with it, while toward the north and west a belt of open fields from 1 to 2 miles in width extends along the whole length of these hills, forming a slightly depressed valley, beyond which the ground again rises into a series of broken elevations.
Cemetery Hill is the commanding point of the whole position, and its occupation by our troops had a decisive influence upon the further progress and the final result of the battle. When I arrived upon it, the First Corps and the First and Third Divisions of our corps were engaged with the enemy on the open fields below. I placed the First Brigade, Colonel Charles R. Coster, on the northeast end of the hill, in support of Wiedrich's battery, which was then in position. the Second Brigade, Colonel Orland Smith, took a position toward the northwest, supporting the reserve artillery of our corps. Colonel Coster threw forward one regiment as skirmishers in front of his position, and another one into a large stone church and the surrounding houses in town, in order to prevent the enemy's sharpshooters from annoying our artillery. Shortly after this position had been taken, General Schurz sent an order for re-enforcement, and soon afterward another order to dispatch one brigade upon a reconnaissance upon the York road, whence Ewell's corps was expected to debouch. At this time, however, heavy columns of the enemy approached on the York road, which left no doubt that Ewell had arrived, and was upon the point of taking part in the conflict. This arrival rendered the enemy's forces so strong that they outnumbered our troops very largely. The final issue of the engagement could no longer be doubtful, especially as the enemy had also the formation of the ground in his favor. General Schurz at this crisis sent again for re-enforcement, and I ordered Colonel Coster to advance with his brigade through the town, to report to General Schurz. The Second Brigade I left on the hill, changing, their position so ad to support all the batteries upon the same, and fill with two regiments the place vacated by the First Brigade. Colonel Coster med General Schurz in town, who ordered him to take a position north and east of Gettysburg, and to check the advance of the enemy, who were pressing for Gettysburg, and before whose overwhelming numbers the First and Third Divisions were forced to fall back. Colonel Coster had a severe engagement with the advancing enemy, but was, of course, net strong enough to restore the battle. He therefore ordered his men also to ball back, and again took up his position on Cemetery Hill, leaving one regiment to occupy the nearest brick houses of the town, which successfully prevented the farther advance of the enemy. My division was now again in nearly the same position which it occupied at first. The other two divisions also took position on Ceme-
46 R R - VOL XXVII, PT I