Gettysburg Live 150 – 8:15pm – East Cemetery Hill

As part of his demonstration against the Union right, Lt. General Ewell ordered an assault against East Cemetery Hill. 150 years ago right now, that attack began.

Brig. General Harry Hays’ Louisiana Tigers and Col. Isaac Avery’s (temporarily replacing the wounded Brig. General Robert Hoke) North Carolinians would make the charge across the fields and up the hill. The Union line was not well-positioned in this sector – there was no clear military crest on the east slope of Cemetery Hill, and the men who were holding this position were the shattered remains of the less-than-reliable XI Corps.

Though the infantry was in a tough spot, the Union artillery was well-placed. Four batteries were in place, with another to the right on a small hill between Cemetery and Culp’s that would come to be called Steven’s Knoll.

With daylight fading, the Confederates came on strong. Within 30 minutes, they had dislodged the Yankee defenders and sent them fleeing up the hill. It proved impossible to follow-up on this success, though.

Only a few of the Rebels made it up the hill, and they were able to temporarily seize a few of the cannons, but Cemetery Hill, being near the center of the Union position had too many troops readily available as reinforcements for the Confederate foothold to last. Hays’ and Avery’s men were beaten back in short order. Cemetery Hill was quiet – and securely in Union hands – by 9:00pm.

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