The Federal Retreat from Seminary Ridge
No Retreat From Destiny
Scene from the movie “No Retreat From Destiny” – confederate dismounted cavalry assault on federal lines at Monocacy.
The outnumbered Union Cavalry of John Buford fought through the morning of the First Day to slow the Confederate advance. They fought mounted and dismounted by forming a line, firing, and then pulling back. One of the first Union Infantry units to reach the field in support was Reynold’s 1st Corp, which included the Iron Brigade. The 1st Corps initially defeated Heth’s infantry and drove them back. After an approximately one hour battle, with heavy losses on both sides, the Confederates managed to push the 1st Corps back.
By 3 p.m., the Confederates were attacking along a broad front extending from the Fairfield Road to Oak Hill and beyond. On the Union right toward Oak Hill and Barlow’s Knoll, some units held their ground. Other units retreated and began to run through the streets and alleys of Gettysburg. Actions at Willoughby Run, Herbst Woods, the Railroad Cut, Iverson’s Pits, Oak Hill, Barlow’s Knoll, and the Brickyard would be etched in First Day infamy forever.
By 4 p.m. the entire Union line on Seminary Ridge had collapsed and the Army of Northern Virginia marched into Gettysburg from the west and north. The Union 1st and 11th Corps retreated through town to Cemetery Ridge, which is to the south and east of Gettysburg. They had lost nearly 9,000 men in the First Day’s fighting.
At the end of the First Day’s fighting, total casualties totaled approximately 15,000 with 9,000 Union and 6,000 Confederate. The First Day at Gettysburg ranked as the 23rd largest battle of the Civil War with over 49,000 troops engaged. The First Day was more than just a prelude to the Second and Third days. Experience troops from both sides pouring in the Chambersburg Pike and retreating through the town of Gettysburg during Crossroads of Destiny – The Federal Retreat From Seminary Ridge, on Thursday, July 4 at 6 p.m. at the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment.