East Cavalry Field
“Come On You Wolverines” – East Cavalry Field
Reenactment footage of the 146th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Shown are snippets from “Virginians vs. Wolverines” depicting a part of the East Cavalry field fighting (unfortunately, I could not get decent shots of the cavalry itself), and “Forward of the Round Tops” depicting an engagement between the 6th Corps and the 95th P.V.I. Also included are drummers, and some music by the 2nd South Carolina String Band, a discussion with Union General Grant on the Vicksburg campaign, and a Confederate infantryman’s view on daily life.
Although there were many other significant cavalry actions on the bloody fields of Gettysburg, a large cavalry action three miles east of Gettysburg on July 3rd is one of the most recognized. Today it is known as East Cavalry Field located just north of the Hanover Road. At approximately 2:30 p.m. Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart and Union General David M. Gregg, for a span of three hours, engaged in a series of charges and counter charges that resulted in one of the most ferocious cavalry battles in the annals of American history.
General Stuart and three brigades of cavalry reached the Gettysburg area on the afternoon of July 2 from Carlisle. On July 3, Lee sent Stuart with four brigades to guard the Confederate left and to be in position for the attack on Cemetery Ridge – Pickett’s Charge. While attempting to skirt the Union right flank Stuart meet two brigades of Union cavalry commanded by Brig. General Gregg three miles east of Gettysburg on the Rummel Farm.
The battle opened up with dismounted skirmishing and ended with violent charges and counter charges with intense frontal impact. After several hours of indecisive and intermediate range shooting, Stuart decided that he needed to sweep aside the Federal horsemen if he was to be any help to Lee during the simultaneous Confederate frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge. Confederate cavalry led by Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee and Chambliss charged again and again only to be repulsed by Union cavalry led by Custer, McIntosh and Miller. The southern horsemen were accustomed to Union cavalry normally withdrawing in the face of their mounted charges. That did not happen at Gettysburg. Stuart tried one last time to break through by sending in the bulk of Wade Hampton’s brigade. The cry of ‘Come On You Wolverines” was heard over and over as Custer and Col. Charles H. Town led the 1st Michigan Cavalry into the fray. The well coordinated attacks, flank attacks and strategic execution repeated by the Federal cavalry during this engagement finally convinced Stuart’s brigades to withdraw to Cress Ridge while Gregg’s cavalry remained in possession of the field.
With the conclusion of this engagement one of the largest cavalry battles of the war was considered a draw. Stuart had been thwarted and any attempt to obtain Confederate cavalry assistance from the rear of Cemetery Ridge had been cut off by this valiant action.
On Sunday morning, July 7th thrill to the sight and sounds of this exciting cavalry battle featuring mounted, dismounted and cavalry as well as thundering artillery. The battle of East Cavalry Field will be immediately followed by the always popular Grand Cavalry Review. Viewing these magnificent horses with troops engaged in this epic battle is an experience at the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment you will never forget!