The fighting on Rodes’ front had been going for a few hours with very little to show for it. The Union forces under Brig. General John C. Robinson refused to budge from their position on Seminary Ridge, but the retreat of the XI Corps behind them opened up their right flank and put them at some risk.
150 years ago right now, with the aid of some fresh troops, Maj. General Rodes’ men were finally able to put together a coordinated assault to exploit this weakness. They swept the northern boys from the ridge, and sent them running through town in retreat.
One of the more heroic stories from this part of the battle involves the 16th Maine Infantry, who fought a desperate holding action to cover the retreat of their comrades. They took 241 casualties in the process – almost 81% of their total.
What had started as the withdrawal of the XI Corps from a bad deployment was quickly turning into a disaster for the whole Union army.