Gettysburg Live 150 – 3:45pm – Longstreet’s Ready to Attack

It would take Lt. General Longstreet’s Corps over 3 hours to travel the 4 miles between General Lee’s headquarters and the point where their attack would begin. They ended up marching much farther than 4 miles.

Longstreet was not especially excited about his chances for success, so that certainly may have been a factor. The main issue was the lack of a route to the southern end of the field that had been properly scouted.

Taking the most direct route down Seminary Ridge, Longstreet’s men were under the cover of trees and thus concealed from Union eyes. About half-way down though, they came to a clearing that would expose their movement. That obviously couldn’t happen, as the element of surprise was important. Longstreet made the decision to turn his men around and head back up the ridge to the north, cut farther to the west, and hope to find a route behind the ridges that would keep him hidden.

All of this marching and countermarching added a significant amount of time and distance to the move. All of the men, but especially Evander Law’s brigade – who had been marching all day, since about 3:30am – were becoming more fatigued.

By this time, 150 years ago, the two divisions of Longstreet’s Corps that will make the attack today are in position. Within a few minutes, they will step out to confront the over-extended line of Maj. General Dan Sickles’ III Corps.

From Little Round Top, a scared group of Union signalmen, and Maj. General Gouverneur Warren – sent to find a vantage point from which he could see the whole of Sickles’ position – observes the Confederates moving into line of battle to the southwest. Riders are immediately sent out to find someone – anyone – who can occupy that hill.

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