Well, it’s July 1, and that means Gettysburg, right?
When one visits the Gettysburg battlefield, one tends to see the engagement on July as quite separate from what follows (indeed, the NPS once made it an “optional” trip, taking away from the usual favorites to the south of the town). While for various reasons I remain drawn to July 2’s fighting, I’ve spent a lot of time on the July 1 battlefield, and I’ve come to explore it with some care, including the fighting at Oak Ridge. This is one of the areas most visibly affected by the NPS’s recent efforts to restore the terrain to its appearance in July 1863, and even then the impact of park roadways and the like mean that we’ll never quite get there (the road that runs just to the west of the Oak Ridge tower has flattened out the crest of the ridge, complicating efforts to interpret the deployment of Baxter’s brigade there as it prepared to repulse Iverson’s advance).
That said, one of the major decisions subject to second-guessing is Richard S. Ewell’s decision not to attack Cemetery Hill on the evening of July 1, 1863. Continue reading