State Public Affairs Officer
[Second in a series on Gettysburg. Find the first blog post here.]
|A skirmisher with the 2nd Georgia Battalion |
moves out in front of Wright’s Brigade.
Georgia Joins the Fight
As Maj. Gen. Harry Heth contended with the Union Iron Brigade west of Gettysburg, Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s Corps arrived to the north and deployed to dislodge Union positions at Oak Hill. To Ewell’s southeast, Brig. Gen. Francis Barlow’s Union division had advanced to occupy the high ground of Blocher’s Knoll. Exposed as they were on the Union right flank, Barlow’s men made tempting targets for the Georgia brigades of Jubal Early’s Division. While Brig. Gen. John Gordon assaulted and fixed Barlow in place, Brig. Gen. George Doles men swept in and flanked Barlow from his position. The dislodged Union troops belonged to Col. Leopold Von Gilsa – the same New Yorkers who had been flanked by Jackson at Chancellorsville. Barlow was wounded and captured and two of his brigades were routed. In one hour’s fighting the Georgians inflicted more than 3,000 casualties on the Union XI Corps while suffering 750 casualties.
The collapse of the Union right caused the entire Union line to fall back through the town of Gettysburg. Union Soldiers desperately established defensive positions on Cemetery Ridge as darkness brought an end to the fighting. Significantly, though the Confederates had nearly routed the Union, they had failed to dislodge them from the high ground of Cemetery and Culps Hills.