The Armies Gather
The Army of Northern Virginia - Positions on the morning of 29 June
Headquarters - Chambersburg
I Corps (Longstreet) - Chambersburg
II Corps (Ewell)
Early’s Division - York
Johnson’s Division - Carlisle
Rodes’ Division - Carlisle
III Corps (A P Hill) - between Chambersburg and Greenwood
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On the evening of Sunday 28 June 1863, General Robert E Lee discovered that
the Army of the Potomac had moved out of Virginia. Lee learned this from
Longstreet’s spy James Harrison, and although there has been some debate about
when he learned this, it is now accepted that it was on the evening of the
28th. (It has also been suggested - by Douglas Southall Freeman in “Lee” -
that Harrison also informed the General that Hooker had been replaced by
Meade, but this is unlikely. Lee probably learned this a day or so later)
Lee was concerned that the advancing Union army would find his forces
scattered, so decided to concentrate his three corps between Chambersburg and
Lee immediately wrote to Ewell notifying him of Hooker’s move and
Ewell to move his corps to Chambersburg. The next morning he sent another dispatch
saying that the corps instead should gather at Heidlersburg, ten miles north of
Gettysburg. It is probable that he did this to avoid congestion on the Cashtown pike. This indicates that Lee saw Gettysburg as a likely meeting point for the armies.
By the time that Ewell received the second order, Johnson had already
for Chambersburg on the Valley Pike, together with the II Corps wagon train
and part of the II Corps Artillery Reserve. On the night of the 29th they camped
near Shippensburg and on the 30th they stopped about five miles from
Fayetteville. The following day they joined the traffic jam on the Cashtown
Pike. Johnson’s Division eventually joined Ewell on the evening of 1 July.
Lee’s second message to Ewell came soon enough to ensure the Rodes
Heidlersburg, having set off on the morning of the 30th and arriving after a
twenty-two mile march “through rain and mud” that evening.
Early's Division left York on the morning of the 30th and headed
Heidlersburg where he met Ewell.
The result of these movements was that within two days, Lee had concentrated
around 14,000 infantry at a place where they could easily move either ten
miles to Gettysburg or fourteen to Cashtown via Mummasburg.
During these two days, Longstreet’s Corps remained encamped east
Chambersburg. On the 30th , Heth’s and Pender’s Divisions of Hill’s Corps
moved to the east of Cashtown, while Anderson’s Division was located to the west of
Cashtown. On that day, Pettigrew’s Brigade of Heth’s Division approached
Gettysburg and found Union cavalry (Buford’s Division) and possibly infantry
around the town.
Stuart, during this time, was continuing his ride in the area of
and Hanover, where he had an unsuccessful clash with Kilpatrick’s Cavalry Division.
The Army of the Potomac
Positions on the morning of 29 June
Headquarters - Frederick
I Corps (Reynolds) - Frederick
II Corps (Hancock) - Frederick
III Corps (Sickles) - Walkersville
V Corps (Sykes) - Frederick
VI Corps (Sedgwick) - Hyattstown
XI Corps (Howard) - Frederick
XII Corps (Slocum) - Frederick
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At 3 am on Sunday 28 June 1863, Major General George G Meade took over command
of the Army of the Potomac from Major General Joseph Hooker. At the time, his
Fifth Corps was camped outside of Frederick. Meade immediately gave orders to
concentrate his army around Frederick. In this he was aided by the efficient
headquarters staff which had been set in place by Hooker, especially Major
General Dan Butterfield as chief of staff.
By the morning of 29 June, the Third Corps was at Walkersville, about
north of Frederick and all other corps except the Sixth were camped around
Frederick. The Sixth was still at Hyattstown, around ten miles to the
Although the orders to move were issued on the 29th, many men were
the marching up to that point and it was necessary for the provost marshal
general to get cavalry troops to clean stragglers out of the town.
The army was assisted in its march by the number of roads available,
meant that several corps could travel in parallel. Despite this, the
the Third Corps held up the Twelfth Corps which followed, and the morning of
the 30th found the Third Corps at Taneytown and the Twelfth near Middleburg.
Similarly, while the Second Corps made it to its destination of Uniontown, the
following Fifth Corps only made it as far as Liberty, fifteen miles short.
The First Corps, on the other hand made good progress and made Emmitsburg
late afternoon on the 29th, partly because of the good road on which he
traveled. The Eleventh Corps reached Emmitsburg by evening. Meanwhile
Buford's cavalry division was traveling north from Middletown to Fairfield.
To the south, Sedgwick's Sixth Corps made a marathon march from Hyattstown to
On the evening of the 29th, Meade's troops were spread in an arc
miles, with a road network that would enable concentration whenever any of
them found the enemy. Meade made his overnight headquarters at Middleburg.
His intention for the next day was for the army to move to the right,
York. He would make his headquarters at Taneytown and all corps would be
within a ten mile radius of this point.
However, he learned overnight that Longstreet and Hill were at Chambersburg,
heading towards Gettysburg, so he decided to move the Second Corps to
Taneytown and the Third to Emmitsburg to reinforce the First and Eleventh,
the three to
be coordinated by Reynolds.
At Emmitsburg, Buford may have consulted with Reynolds, and in any
went on to Gettysburg, in line with Pleasonton's orders. There he found
alarmed as a result of Pettigrew's advance.
In case he had to withdraw to a defensive position, Meade ordered
a line to be
mapped out near Pipe Creek. In a strong position, he could if necessary hold
off an attack by Lee (if Lee chose to attack, of course). It was a prudent
plan to make, but it did offer Meade's enemies (on the Union side) ammunition
with which to attack him after the battle.
By the night of the 30th, the Second Corps had moved just beyond
the Twelfth was at Littlestown, the Fifth was at Union Mills and the Sixth had
advanced through Westminster to Manchester.
Four of the seven infantry corps were within ten miles of Gettysburg.