Day 2: Hood's & McLaws' Divisions Prior to the Assault

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

lelliott19

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Mar 15, 2013
Messages
6,190
1564282197893.png

General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack....the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself...

A few days ago, I transcribed an excerpt from McLaws' 1878 paper describing his view of Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/view-of-picketts-charge-maj-gen-lafayette-mclaws-on-july-3.159910/ Since everyone seems to have enjoyed discussing it, I decided to transcribe and post another section of the text. This excerpt details Hood's and McLaws' preparation, prior to the July 2 assault. <NOTE: Spelling and punctuation errors retained from original.>

...General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack, but that from a rapid reconnoisance, he saw that if he made the attack according to orders he should first be compelled to attack and drive off the advanced line of battle, to pass over a very broken, rocky character of country, which would scatter his men very much, and that his division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy, posted on the crest of the high range of which Round Top was the extreme left, and that he would be subjected to a destructive fire in flank and rear, as well as in front.​
As bad as he represents the difficulties to be overcome, if he attempted to carry out his orders, I would have been in a worse position if I had attempted to carry out mine, as the main body of the enemy was directly in my front, and the enemy's numerous batteries were posted in front of me in the peach orchard and to its rear. General Hood says he reported that it was unwise to attack up the Emmettsburg road as ordered and urged that he be allowed to turn Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear, but that General Longstreet returned the answer: "General Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That he shot[?] again, and reported that nothing was to be gained by such an attack, and the answer was: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That during these intervals of time he had continued to use the batteries against the enemy, and it seemed to his more extended reconnoisance that the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself, and that his Adjutant General, whom he sent the last time, returned with the same message: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road," and almost simultaneously Col. Fairfax of Longstreet's staff, rode up and repeated the order.​
While this was going on, an order came from General Longstreet, borne by Major Latrobe, such is my recollection, asking why did I not charge, "as there was no one in my front but a regiment of infantry and a battery of artillery." I told the officer that I would charge so soon as my division was formed for it; that the enemy was in great force in my immediate front, with numerous artillery, and extended far to the right.​
In a very short time after this order was repeated and I informed the officer again that the enemy was so strong in my front that it required careful preparation for the assault, or it necessarily would be a failure; that the opposite artillery was numerous, and it was necessary to break its force by the fire of our artillery; that as soon as it opened, and my men were all up, I would move forward, but requested that he come to the front and see for himself.​
Not long after the order came peremptorily for me to charge, the officer representing that General Lee was with General Longstreet, and joined in the order, and I got on my horse and sent word that in five minutes I would be underway. But while collecting my staff to send the order for a simultaneous move of the whole line, a courier dashed up, with orders for me to wait until Hood got into position. I suppose by this time, Hood's protests against attempting to charge up the Emmettsburg road had been received, and hence the delay.​
I sent to communicate with Hood at once in order to follow his movement. General Longstreet then came up in person and I met him. His first words were, "Why is not a battery placed here?" pointing to the place where the road by which we marched reached the edge of the open space in front.​
I replied, "General, if a battery is placed there it will draw the enemy's artillery right among my lines formed for the charge and will of itself be in the way of my charge, tend to demoralize my men." His reply was only a peremptory order for a battery, and it was sent forward, placed in that position, and its fire at once drew the enemy's fire of artillery upon it, cutting the limbs of the trees in abundance, which fell around my men, and the bursting shells and shot wounded or killed a number whilst in line formed for the advance, producing a natural feeling of uneasiness among them, directing them to lie down, so as to escape as much as possible from the shot and shell which were being rained around us from a very short range.​
All this happened within fifteen or twenty minutes. Under cover of their fire, the enemy were making strong demonstrations of an advance and General Barksdale two or three times came to me and said, "General, let me go; General, let me charge!" But as I was waiting General Longstreet's will I told General Barksdale to wait and let the enemy come half way and then we would meet on more equal terms.​
Hood had been in the meanwhile moving towards the enemy's left, but he never did go far enough to envelop the left, not even partially. It was said at the time, on the field, that he would have done so, but his guides and scouts, who had been around to the enemy's left in the morning, had gotten confused on their return with the division, and missed carrying the head of column far enough to our right, and it became heavily engaged before Hood intended it, and being pressed on his left sent to me for assistance, and the charge of my division was ordered. <end of excerpt>​
Excerpt from [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.]
Image borrowed from @Garandguy 's post https://civilwartalk.com/threads/august-2019-potm-now-accepting-entries.159587/#post-2091383 Thanks @Garandguy :thumbsup: It's a GREAT photo!
 

Garandguy

Private
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
53
lelliot19. Thank you for posting this.
View attachment 318218
General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack....the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself...

A few days ago, I transcribed an excerpt from McLaws' 1878 paper describing his view of Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/view-of-picketts-charge-maj-gen-lafayette-mclaws-on-july-3.159910/ Since everyone seems to have enjoyed discussing it, I decided to transcribe and post another section of the text. This excerpt details Hood's and McLaws' preparation, prior to the July 2 assault. <NOTE: Spelling and punctuation errors retained from original.>

...General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack, but that from a rapid reconnoisance, he saw that if he made the attack according to orders he should first be compelled to attack and drive off the advanced line of battle, to pass over a very broken, rocky character of country, which would scatter his men very much, and that his division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy, posted on the crest of the high range of which Round Top was the extreme left, and that he would be subjected to a destructive fire in flank and rear, as well as in front.​
As bad as he represents the difficulties to be overcome, if he attempted to carry out his orders, I would have been in a worse position if I had attempted to carry out mine, as the main body of the enemy was directly in my front, and the enemy's numerous batteries were posted in front of me in the peach orchard and to its rear. General Hood says he reported that it was unwise to attack up the Emmettsburg road as ordered and urged that he be allowed to turn Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear, but that General Longstreet returned the answer: "General Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That he shot[?] again, and reported that nothing was to be gained by such an attack, and the answer was: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That during these intervals of time he had continued to use the batteries against the enemy, and it seemed to his more extended reconnoisance that the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself, and that his Adjutant General, whom he sent the last time, returned with the same message: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road," and almost simultaneously Col. Fairfax of Longstreet's staff, rode up and repeated the order.​
While this was going on, an order came from General Longstreet, borne by Major Latrobe, such is my recollection, asking why did I not charge, "as there was no one in my front but a regiment of infantry and a battery of artillery." I told the officer that I would charge so soon as my division was formed for it; that the enemy was in great force in my immediate front, with numerous artillery, and extended far to the right.​
In a very short time after this order was repeated and I informed the officer again that the enemy was so strong in my front that it required careful preparation for the assault, or it necessarily would be a failure; that the opposite artillery was numerous, and it was necessary to break its force by the fire of our artillery; that as soon as it opened, and my men were all up, I would move forward, but requested that he come to the front and see for himself.​
Not long after the order came peremptorily for me to charge, the officer representing that General Lee was with General Longstreet, and joined in the order, and I got on my horse and sent word that in five minutes I would be underway. But while collecting my staff to send the order for a simultaneous move of the whole line, a courier dashed up, with orders for me to wait until Hood got into position. I suppose by this time, Hood's protests against attempting to charge up the Emmettsburg road had been received, and hence the delay.​
I sent to communicate with Hood at once in order to follow his movement. General Longstreet then came up in person and I met him. His first words were, "Why is not a battery placed here?" pointing to the place where the road by which we marched reached the edge of the open space in front.​
I replied, "General, if a battery is placed there it will draw the enemy's artillery right among my lines formed for the charge and will of itself be in the way of my charge, tend to demoralize my men." His reply was only a peremptory order for a battery, and it was sent forward, placed in that position, and its fire at once drew the enemy's fire of artillery upon it, cutting the limbs of the trees in abundance, which fell around my men, and the bursting shells and shot wounded or killed a number whilst in line formed for the advance, producing a natural feeling of uneasiness among them, directing them to lie down, so as to escape as much as possible from the shot and shell which were being rained around us from a very short range.​
All this happened within fifteen or twenty minutes. Under cover of their fire, the enemy were making strong demonstrations of an advance and General Barksdale two or three times came to me and said, "General, let me go; General, let me charge!" But as I was waiting General Longstreet's will I told General Barksdale to wait and let the enemy come half way and then we would meet on more equal terms.​
Hood had been in the meanwhile moving towards the enemy's left, but he never did go far enough to envelop the left, not even partially. It was said at the time, on the field, that he would have done so, but his guides and scouts, who had been around to the enemy's left in the morning, had gotten confused on their return with the division, and missed carrying the head of column far enough to our right, and it became heavily engaged before Hood intended it, and being pressed on his left sent to me for assistance, and the charge of my division was ordered. <end of excerpt>​
Excerpt from [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.]
Image borrowed from @Garandguy 's post https://civilwartalk.com/threads/august-2019-potm-now-accepting-entries.159587/#post-2091383 Thanks @Garandguy :thumbsup: It's a GREAT photo!
Yes, this past Sept 2018, I finally realized a lifelong dream, and went and visited many famous, and several not so famous CW battle sites. I got chills, as do all of us here on the Forum, when I came upon the actual place where these events took place. Chills, and maybe a tear rolling down....
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,305
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
Yes, this past Sept 2018, I finally realized a lifelong dream, and went and visited many famous, and several not so famous CW battle sites. I got chills, as do all of us here on the Forum, when I came upon the actual place where these events took place. Chills, and maybe a tear rolling down....
some don't get I do … I had family there on both sides as other battlefields some across from one another and to be there ? OMG no words tears flow now just thinking
 

scone

Sergeant Major
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
2,305
Location
Tennessee - From the "The City Between The Lakes"
Sometime not following orders is better trust me & I know …. if what keeps us above ground … I disregard what Management thinks i should do at times food biz same shift 5-6 days even 7 out the week …. I now what I need to do …. chart is always wrong I see the same on battlefields … If hood went further right who knows ….
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

AndyHall

Colonel
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Messages
13,236
gorman8-480x268.jpg


This situation is condensed -- very effectively -- in the 1993 film Gettysburg where Hood rides over to Longstreet to protest the order to assault Little Round Top. Patrick Gorman, as Hood, even uses this same language -- "they don't even need guns to defend that, all they need to do is roll rocks down on us." That confrontation didn't happen -- it was all done through couriers, not face-to-face -- but it was a very effective bit of screenwriting (as opposed to history writing).
 
Last edited:

FZ11

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
2,075
Location
Dallas
View attachment 318218
General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack....the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself...

A few days ago, I transcribed an excerpt from McLaws' 1878 paper describing his view of Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/view-of-picketts-charge-maj-gen-lafayette-mclaws-on-july-3.159910/ Since everyone seems to have enjoyed discussing it, I decided to transcribe and post another section of the text. This excerpt details Hood's and McLaws' preparation, prior to the July 2 assault. <NOTE: Spelling and punctuation errors retained from original.>

...General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack, but that from a rapid reconnoisance, he saw that if he made the attack according to orders he should first be compelled to attack and drive off the advanced line of battle, to pass over a very broken, rocky character of country, which would scatter his men very much, and that his division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy, posted on the crest of the high range of which Round Top was the extreme left, and that he would be subjected to a destructive fire in flank and rear, as well as in front.​
As bad as he represents the difficulties to be overcome, if he attempted to carry out his orders, I would have been in a worse position if I had attempted to carry out mine, as the main body of the enemy was directly in my front, and the enemy's numerous batteries were posted in front of me in the peach orchard and to its rear. General Hood says he reported that it was unwise to attack up the Emmettsburg road as ordered and urged that he be allowed to turn Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear, but that General Longstreet returned the answer: "General Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That he shot[?] again, and reported that nothing was to be gained by such an attack, and the answer was: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."​
That during these intervals of time he had continued to use the batteries against the enemy, and it seemed to his more extended reconnoisance that the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself, and that his Adjutant General, whom he sent the last time, returned with the same message: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road," and almost simultaneously Col. Fairfax of Longstreet's staff, rode up and repeated the order.​
While this was going on, an order came from General Longstreet, borne by Major Latrobe, such is my recollection, asking why did I not charge, "as there was no one in my front but a regiment of infantry and a battery of artillery." I told the officer that I would charge so soon as my division was formed for it; that the enemy was in great force in my immediate front, with numerous artillery, and extended far to the right.​
In a very short time after this order was repeated and I informed the officer again that the enemy was so strong in my front that it required careful preparation for the assault, or it necessarily would be a failure; that the opposite artillery was numerous, and it was necessary to break its force by the fire of our artillery; that as soon as it opened, and my men were all up, I would move forward, but requested that he come to the front and see for himself.​
Not long after the order came peremptorily for me to charge, the officer representing that General Lee was with General Longstreet, and joined in the order, and I got on my horse and sent word that in five minutes I would be underway. But while collecting my staff to send the order for a simultaneous move of the whole line, a courier dashed up, with orders for me to wait until Hood got into position. I suppose by this time, Hood's protests against attempting to charge up the Emmettsburg road had been received, and hence the delay.​
I sent to communicate with Hood at once in order to follow his movement. General Longstreet then came up in person and I met him. His first words were, "Why is not a battery placed here?" pointing to the place where the road by which we marched reached the edge of the open space in front.​
I replied, "General, if a battery is placed there it will draw the enemy's artillery right among my lines formed for the charge and will of itself be in the way of my charge, tend to demoralize my men." His reply was only a peremptory order for a battery, and it was sent forward, placed in that position, and its fire at once drew the enemy's fire of artillery upon it, cutting the limbs of the trees in abundance, which fell around my men, and the bursting shells and shot wounded or killed a number whilst in line formed for the advance, producing a natural feeling of uneasiness among them, directing them to lie down, so as to escape as much as possible from the shot and shell which were being rained around us from a very short range.​
All this happened within fifteen or twenty minutes. Under cover of their fire, the enemy were making strong demonstrations of an advance and General Barksdale two or three times came to me and said, "General, let me go; General, let me charge!" But as I was waiting General Longstreet's will I told General Barksdale to wait and let the enemy come half way and then we would meet on more equal terms.​
Hood had been in the meanwhile moving towards the enemy's left, but he never did go far enough to envelop the left, not even partially. It was said at the time, on the field, that he would have done so, but his guides and scouts, who had been around to the enemy's left in the morning, had gotten confused on their return with the division, and missed carrying the head of column far enough to our right, and it became heavily engaged before Hood intended it, and being pressed on his left sent to me for assistance, and the charge of my division was ordered. <end of excerpt>​
Excerpt from [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.]
Image borrowed from @Garandguy 's post https://civilwartalk.com/threads/august-2019-potm-now-accepting-entries.159587/#post-2091383 Thanks @Garandguy :thumbsup: It's a GREAT photo!
Great account! Thanks so much.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

DonDurkee

Private
Joined
Jun 20, 2019
Messages
27
Lee's original attack plan on July 2 called for McLaws Division to spearhead the attack up the Emmitsburg road. Hood's Division would then attack en echelon and then have Richard Anderson's Division rolling up the Union left flank.
Due to faulty reconnaissance the previous day, the route which Longstreet chose early on July 2 had to be backtracked which wasted several hours before an attack could be organized.
Hood went to Longstreet at least twice and begged to attack the Roundtops sooner, as he was convinced they could be taken without much resistance, thereby gaining access to the Union left rear. Longstreet sternly repeated Lee's orders twice to Hood: that "General Lee's orders were to attack up the Emmitsburg road".
Hood arranged his assault plan on a 2 Brigade front: Evander Laws Alabamians and Jerome Robertson's Texans with Henry Benning's and George T Anderson"s Georgia brigades in close support. Hood was to strike the Federal left with Robertson's Texas Brigade, while Law swung around the Round Tops.
Hood was wounded by an exploding shell fragment and taken off the field.
Colonel William Oates's 15th Alabama, along with the 4th Alabama, and 4th and 5th Texas regiments met heavy resistance attacking the slopes of Roundtops as they encountered Hobart Ward's 2,200 men in 6 Federal regiments (plus sharpshooters)--4th Maine and 124th NY. The 44th and 48th Alabama threatened to turn the Federal flank by pushing them up Plum Run Valley.
Causalities rose rapidly: 20th Indiana lost half its men, 86th NY lost its commander, Colonel Manning of the 3rd Arkansas fell wounded; many Confederates were picked off by sharpshooters placed behind boulders. Savage fighting occurred between the 124th NY and Hood's Texas regiments assaulting Round Top followed by Benning and Anderson.
Union reinforcements arrived just in time (20th Maine): the result of superior leadership by Col. Strong Vincent and Joshua Chamberlain to repulse (by bayonet charge) Oates' 15th and 47th Alabama regiments just below the crest of Big Roundtop.
 

rpkennedy

Major
Joined
May 18, 2011
Messages
9,911
Location
Carlisle, PA
The thing that I would like to know is what exactly Hood had planned, or if he was just winging it. His division was already beginning to deviate from the plan (such as it was) since Law was already drawing further east than intended which caused Robertson to stretch and eventually split his brigade. Did Hood intend these movements? Was he going to attempt to rein Law in and continue closer to his intended route? But his wounding left no directing hand for his division when it needed it the most.

Ryan
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

MBuehner

Private
Joined
Oct 28, 2014
Messages
60
The nature of the Union position dictated where Hoods troops ended up. It all stems from Lee having a misapprehension of the Union position- when he ordered the attack UP the Emmitsburg Road, he was working off the assumption that there were no union troops on most of Cemetery Ridge (essentially that the main Union line ran East West with only a short line at CH salient extending South). This is because:
- The scouts he sent in morning delivered an inexplicably inaccurate report. The entire III Corp was camped where they reported no troops at all.
-The way the Emmitsburg Road rise masks a dip in the ground behind it when viewed from Seminary Hill hid much of the Union line from direct observation.... and in a dangerously sneaky way. It SEEMS like you can see everything when you cant.

Longstreets orders were essentially impossible to carry out at any hour of the day. Had he advanced and wheeled hard left to march up Emmitsburg Road, he would have exposed his flank and rear to two union corps and over a hundred guns. Once Sickles advanced out of position, the orders became literally impossible to carry out without first dislodging III Corp from the Peach Orchard. Sickles occupied the Road they were ordered to march up.

Hood and McClaws were actually obeying that order as well as possible. If McClaws took the Peach Orchard, in order to comply with the order he would have to wheel left, therefore, the Union force at the Wheatfield directly on his flank also had to be dislodged. In order to reach the Wheatfield, the Rose Woods had to be occupied. In order to assault the Rose Woods, the Devils Den had to be at neutralized. These werent options, they were eventualities if an assault up the Emmitburg Road to take Cemetery Hill in reverse was to happen per orders.

Hoods wounding probably had more to do with Law and part of the Texas brigade wandering over to LRT. There isnt any evidence those were their orders- Law was supposed to be supporting the attack on Devils Den base on his placement behind Robertson. Its not surprising there was so much drift towards LRT in order to flank DD, which became a de facto assault on LRT when it was occupied. Essentially the union line just kept extending which forced the Confederates to keep extending.

At the end of the day, it kind of worked as part of McClaws force did turn north and start the roll up of the union line up cemetery ridge, joined by some of andersons brigades.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top