Lee’s plan for July 2d was for Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell of the Confederate 2nd Corps to attack Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Ridge simultaneously with Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s attack on the Union left. With Longstreet’s delay in moving forward, Ewell was forced to wait as well.
When Longstreet finally started his attack about 4:30 p.m., Ewell’s artillery opened up a barrage on the Federals on Culp’s Hill. The Union guns answered with devastating results.
The union line here was held by units of the 12th Corps but most were pulled from the line to support the fight south at the Peach Orchard leaving only units of General George S. Greene to hold the hill. In a fight that started at 7 PM and was carried into night the Confederates were able to capture some of the lower trenches.
Late that night, the returning 12th Corps troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum found the Confederates occupying the breastworks they had so painstakingly erected. Slocum’s advice to his commanders was succinct: “Drive them out at daylight.”
It was during this engagement that Marylander fought Marylander, with one regiment in Johnson’s division opposing three from Slocum’s corps.
About 4:30 a.m., the Union troops threw themselves into furious battle against the enemy. It started with an artillery barrage that the rebels did not have the guns to answer. Historian Harry W. Pfanz note in his book, “Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill & Cemetery Hill,” that Battery A, 1st Maryland Light Artillery participated in the opening salvo.
“We can wonder if these Marylanders had any friends or relatives in the 1st Maryland Battalion that must have been at the bull’s-eye of their target,” Pfanz writes.
(And ironically enough two of the artillery batteries on Benner’s Hill which had supported the confederates on the previous day’s action were the Chesapeake (Md.) Artillery and the 1st Maryland Artillery.)
Don Troiani’s “Band of Brothers”
The 1st Maryland Battalion Infantry of the Confederate Army attacked within 30 yards of the Union’s 1st Maryland, Potomac Home Brigade.
Goldsborough of the Confederate 1st Maryland Battalion Infantry and which evolved into the 2nd Maryland Regiment), which was part of Brig. Gen. George H. Steuart’s Brigade in Johnson’s Division, described the fight.
“To add to the horrors of the situation a battery or two opened upon the division at short range, and most of their shells fell among the men of Steuart’s Brigade, who were compelled to closely hug the ground behind the breastworks for protection. A more terrible fire men were never subjected to, and it was a miracle that any escaped,” he writes.
Steuart’s Brigade was ordered to charge the Union lines, leaving the protection of the heavily wooded area into open, unsheltered ground. The men of the regiments to the left of the Marylanders, when exposed to the fire, “threw themselves upon the ground, and despite the pleadings and curses of their officers refused to go forward,” Goldsborough writes.
“But the little battalion of Marylanders, now reduced to about 300 men, never wavered nor hesitated, but kept on, closing up its ranks as great gaps were torn through them by the merciless fire of the enemy in front and flank, and many of the brave fellows never stopped until they had passed through the enemy’s first line or had fallen dead or wounded as they reached it.”
“But flesh and blood could not withstand that circle of fire, and the survivors fell back to the line of log breastworks, where they remained several hours, repulsing repeated assaults of the enemy, until ordered by General Johnson to fall back to Rock Creek.
“General Steuart was heartbroken at the disaster, and wringing his hands, great tears stealing down his bronzed and weather-beaten cheeks, he was heard repeatedly to exclaim: ‘My poor boys! My poor boys!’
for another excellent post about this action by Mdiesel go to: http://civilwartalk.com/threads/battle-flag-of-2nd-maryland-infantry-csa.78410/