Friday, August 17, 2007

Scenes From Gettysburg: The Wheat Field and Sacrifice

The Wheat Field. Cemetary Ridge lies just beyond the trees.

The First Minnesota Monument.

As Lee's attack on the second day moved north, Anderson's Division encountered elements of Dan Sickles corps in the Wheat Field and the Peach Orchard. After a fierce fight which included the critical wounding of Sickles, the Federals were routed from both, leaving nothing protecting Cemetary Ridge.

Noting the situation, General Winfield Scott Hancock observed the only reserve on hand, the 1st Minnesota. Seeing an entire brigade of Confederates charging up the hill towards the gap, Hancock ordered the regimental commander to "take those colors". Although they knew the sacrifice asked, the Minnesotans charged down the hill temporarily staunching the oncoming tide and allowing a full division to be maneuvered in the gap. Of the 262 men who charged down the ridge only 47 returned.

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