After the failure of Pickett’s Charge, the Union cavalry decided to try their own flanking movement just about now, 150 years ago.
Merritt’s men would be on the left of the advance, fighting dismounted up the Emmitsburg Road. Determined fighting from the Confederates of Law’s division, and sufficient reinforcements on their side, meant that this attack stalled.
On the right, Farnsworth’s men were in the woods on Bushman’s Hill. They would charge through the rocky forest on horseback – not the best choice. The attack would become disjointed, and the young Brig. General Farnsworth would pay for Kilpatrick’s poor plan with his life.
The Confederate flank would not be turned, and with no frontal assault coming from Cemetery Ridge, the Confederates were safe for the night.
With the failure of this Union attack, the combat at Gettysburg was over. In 3 days, nearly 170,000 men had fought here, and 51,000 became casualties. It is the bloodiest battle ever fought by Americans in any war, and the largest and bloodiest ever to take place in the western hemisphere.
The massive numbers of dead (over 8,000) will lead to the creation of the first National Cemetery here in the coming months. On November 19, 1863, at the dedication ceremony for that cemetery, Abraham Lincoln will give one of the greatest speeches in American history. His “appropriate remarks” will bring meaning to the devastation, and a purpose to finishing the war.