Date/Time/Place: July 2/7 p.m./Emmitsburg Road Participants: Union: 82nd New York Regiment – 22 officers, 305 enlisted men 15th Massachusetts – 18 officers, 221 enlisted men Confederate: 48th Georgia Regiment – 28 officers, 360 enlisted men 2nd Georgia Battalion – 8 officers, 75 enlisted men Attacker’s Advantages: Concealment - Screened by undulating ground and thick grass. Support - Destructive flanking fire delivered by 3rd Georgia. Defender’s Advantages: Cover: Protected by low barricade of rails. Prologue: On the morning of July 2, Brig. Gen. Ambrose Wright led his Georgia brigade, 1300 strong, forward to Seminary Ridge. Once in position, the entire 2nd Georgia Battalion and Company K of the 3rd Georgia Regiment were dispatched to skirmish with their Federal counterparts. In the late afternoon, the battle opened far to the south, but drew steadily closer. As a precaution, the 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts from Brig. Gen. William Harrow’s brigade were ordered out to the higher ground near the Emmitsburg Road, about 200 yards west of Cemetery Ridge. The two left companies of the 82nd were posted near Codori’s brick farm house, while the remaining eight companies extended the line north from the house along the east side of the road. The 15th went into position on their right. Convenient rail fences by the road were dismantled to serve as a makeshift protection for the men. In addition, First Lieutenant T. Fred. Brown’s Battery B, 1st Rhode Island Artillery, comprised of six twelve-pounder Napoleons, was sent into the field behind the right flank of the 15th Massachusetts to engage a Confederate battery that had been throwing shells at Gen. George G. Meade’s headquarters. When Wright was finally directed to move forward, the 2nd Georgia Battalion was still deployed out in front, peppering their opponents at long range. As the main line of battle reached and swept over the skirmish line, many members of the battalion simply joined the nearest ranks and fought with them the rest of the day. However, some battalion members on the left were able to band together and joined the left flank of the 48th Georgia. Small dips in the undulating ground between Seminary and Cemetery Ridges momentarily screened Wright’s men from view as they advanced. In these slight depressions the Georgians could pause to dress their line before breaking into a quick run to surmount the next rise. In this manner they crossed the field with minimal loss from opposing artillery. As a consequence, the brigade was essentially intact when the first clash came at the Emmitsburg Road. Eyewitness accounts (see sketch for their approximate location): 1. Corporal William Paul, Company I, 48th Georgia: “The first line of Federals was behind breastworks made of rails, from which we soon drove them under a heavy fire.” 2. Captain Matthew R. Hall, Company B, 48th Georgia: “The enemy made but a short stand before our fire before they commenced retreating.” 3. Brigadier General Ambrose R. Wright, commanding brigade: “My men moved steadily forward until reaching within musket range of the Emmitsburg turnpike, when we encountered a strong body of infantry posted under cover of a fence near to and parallel with the road.” 4. Captain John Darrow, Company K, 82nd New York: “… the enemy advanced in our front and turned our left flank.” 5. Private William J. Coulter, Company C, 15th Massachusetts: “Our artillery threw grape and canister which no doubt was intended to go over our heads, but a good share of it struck our regiment. One discharge of canister from our guns wounded the captain of Company E, and the orderly sergeant and a private in my own company.” 6. Private Roland E. Bowen, Company B, 15th Massachusetts: “… I rose. Could see the grass move and a few bayonets rise above it. … Their bullets began to fly pretty thick, but they were evidently [as] excited as [we were], as nearly all went over. … They sprang forward with that demonic yell which is peculiar to themselves only, at the same time giving us a deadly volley. Now it was our turn. With a shout we sprang up on our knees, and resting the muskets over the rails, we give them one of the most destructive volleys I ever witnessed. Unlike us, they had nothing to shield them from our fire. … Our line was fast breaking to the left. This inspired them with new courage. … I know they had not so many men in their line as we had. … The stampede became general. … I raised up and they were about 4 rods [66 feet] off. I blazed away for the last time. They were coming at a quick march. I threw down my gun and held up both hands …” Epilogue: In hindsight, the decision to place Lt. Brown’s battery in the open between the Emmitsburg Road and Cemetery Ridge was a poor one. The battery would be in immediate peril if the infantry gave way, as it did. At the same time, the guns could not be safely discharged at close range without endangering friendly troops. Also, no one had apparently considered an escape route for the exposed battery – the stone wall behind them had but one narrow gap. As a result, two guns had to be temporarily abandoned when Wright pressed his attack. Likewise, it is difficult to find sound reasons for sending the 82nd New York and 15th Massachusetts into such an advanced and exposed position. Piecemeal deployments of individual units was often typical of the Federal approach at Gettysburg. In contrast, as was the case elsewhere on the field, the Confederates struck hard with a full brigade, projecting a cohesive and powerful front. Despite their overall numerical inferiority on the battlefield, the Confederates often brought a superior force at the point of attack. As it was, the 15th Massachusetts was able to deliver a telling volley and might have even held had not the 82nd New York been quickly rolled up by a withering flank fire from the 3rd Georgia. One positive result as far as the Federals were concerned was the weakening of Wright’s left well in advance of the main line of Cemetery Ridge. Still, the cost was high, and the outcome could not be assured. Once the defenders were beaten and on the run, they could offer no further resistance. Moreover, the line on the ridge to the rear had to wait critical moments until their fleeing comrades cleared out of the way. The affair was a close run thing. Unfortunately for the Confederates, the partial success achieved by Wright’s brigade would encourage a massive and disastrous effort against the Federal center the following day.