Winfield Hancock

Winfield Hancock

From: "Douglas M Macomber" (

Subject: Hancock and Howard

When Hancock arrived around midafternoon, after the eleventh corps had been routed. He went straight to General O.O Howard, some sources say Howard refused Hancocks assumption of command. Yet, other scources say Howard split command with Hancock, dividing command between them. I cannot tell exactly which is right. Since, I am working on that book I was telling you about which is where I am about now, I need an answer to be fairly accurate.


In response to the question of Hancock and Howard. Pfanz in his book Gettysburg: Culps Hill and Cemetary Ridge comments on page 101 that they met near the crest of Cemetary Hill where Howard was putting his men into position where Hancock presented his order from Meade, which Howard did not look at ( H. Osborn, Trials p. 97). Howard wrote later that he told Hancock to take the left of the Pike and he would work the right. Hancock took issue with this later and said he was in full command (W.S. Hancock, Gettysburg, pp. 823-824). After his arrival (Hancock), Howard gave orders to only 11th Corps.

From: (Anita Jackson-Wieck)

Don't for a moment take this as a slap at Hancock, but I think Tucker overstates the impact of his arrival. Buford, the much-maligned Howard and the already-deceased Reynolds deserve more credit than Tucker gives them here. They chose the ground and placed the troops. Certainly Howard had viewed Cemetery Hill as the fall-back position - witness Von Steinwehr, the 2000 troops, and the three batteries of artillery Howard left there before moving the XI Corps forward.

What Hancock found there was not of his doing; what he did with them, perhaps, was. But even then...the whole business of whether Howard or Hancock was in charge at the time of the latter's arrival has at least one thing upon which all seem to agree - there was no disagreement as to how to place the troops.

Further, unless Ewell was psychic, he couldn't have known that Hancock had arrived nor assessed his impact upon the troops on Cemetery Hill. His decision not to attack would have been based on what he saw (artillery and thousands of massed troops) and not who was in charge. Even if he did know who the generals on the scene were, he would have assumed Howard was in command (the senior officer) since he could hardly have known of Meade's orders to Hancock.

Hoping to head off a barrage of "god-like" Hancock posts...

David Wieck

From: "MICHAEL E HARTENSTINE" Subject: general hancock

I just read from historical society encyclopedia of civil war, that General Hancock was sent home to his native home of Norristown Pennsylvania, after receiving his wound at Gettysburg. I thought from common knowledge that he almost died in a field hospital, which he finally recuperated from his wounds. Then given command of II corps again by the end of the year of 1863. Thank You for any help that can be given.

From: Dan Szepesi (

Subject: general hancock (fwd)

I was just in Norristown this past weekend and was given a grand tour of Montgomery Cemetary where Hancock is buried. It is an old cemetary that is no longer maintained by the state or by a church, so it is frequently vandalized and falling into disrepair. The friends of Montgomery cemetary do a great job keeping it up, considering everything, and they recently have saved the cemetary from being plowed over and converted to townhomes !!! I think it is up for sheriffs sale soon...

The friends are planning a large living history / dedication of Hancock's tomb there on Oct. 7 (?). This will include a parade through town, a ceremony at the recently restored tomb, and a living history event there. I have a good friend in my re-enactment unit who is a large fan of 'Hancock the Superb' and I can forward your address & phone number to him if you are interested.

BTW, there are also upwards of 400 cw vets buried in the cemetary, most of them from PA units such as the 51st PA, but there is actually one Confederate buried there as well.