Gettysburg Seminar Papers

This Has Been A Terrible Ordeal:


In the rather astonishing quantity of books published about the battle of Gettysburg since 1863, less than ten are devoted exclusively to the first day of the battle. July 1 has long been overshadowed by the fighting of July 2 and July 3 and the well known landmarks and events associated with these days, such as Little Round Top and Devil’s Den, or Pickett’s Charge. In his famous documentary on the Civil War, Ken Burns breezed by the events of July 1 as something of a prelude to the larger and more famous events that followed the next two days. Yet it was the crucial decisions and fighting on July 1 that determined Gettysburg as the place of the showdown battle between the two great armies, and it was the outcome of that day’s fighting that shaped the battle of July 2 and 3.

For those men who fought on July 1, the carnage was appalling. Of the ten Union regiments that suffered the highest losses in the battle of Gettysburg, nine took nearly all their losses on July 1. Seven of the ten Confederate regiments with the highest losses in the battle suffered their heaviest loss on July 1. The two regiments that suffered the greatest single loss for both armies, the 24th Michigan and 26th North Carolina, both lost most of their men on this day. All told nearly one-third of the men who fought on July 1 became casualties, or some 15,500.

This dramatic and tragic day and the events that led to it is the subject of the papers of the tenth Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar. They range from an analysis of the commanders and command decisions that led to the battle, the role of Confederate artillery that day, a detailed study of the obstinate and violent struggle for Herbst’s Woods, the role of Brig. Gen. Junius Daniel’s North Carolina brigade, a fresh look at the struggle between the 11th Corps and elements of Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s Second Corps north of town, and more. It is noteworthy that staff members of Gettysburg National Military Park wrote five of the eight papers, and two of the remaining three are by licensed battlefield guides, reflecting the scholarship to which our National Park Service historians, historical interpreters, and licensed guides aspire.

I would be remiss if I did not extend my thanks to those who made the seminar and this book possible; Evangelina Rubalcava, for her work in handling all the seminar logistics, Chris Little, for her editorial skills, John Heiser, for the all-important maps, Scott Hartwig, for the layout and design, and to Eastern National, for their support of both the seminar and this book.

John Latschar
Gettysburg National Military Park
November, 2005

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