On this day in 1863, during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacks General George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at both Culp’s Hill and Little Round Top, but fails to move the Yankees from their positions.
On the north end of the line, or the Union’s right flank, Confederates from General Richard Ewell’s corps struggled up Culp’s Hill, which was steep and heavily wooded, before being turned back by heavy Union fire. But the most significant action was on the south end of the Union line. General James Longstreet’s corps launched an attack against the Yankees, but only after a delay that allowed additional Union troops to arrive and position themselves along Cemetery Ridge. Many people later blamed Longstreet for the Confederates’ eventual defeat. Still, the Confederates had a chance to destroy the Union left flank when General Daniel Sickles moved his corps, against Meade’s orders, from their position on the ridge to open ground around the Peach Orchard. This move separated Sickles’ force from the rest of the Union army, and Longstreet attacked. Although the Confederates were able to take the Peach Orchard, they were repulsed by Yankee opposition at Little Round Top. Some of the fiercest fighting took place on this day, and both armies suffered heavy casualties.
Lee’s army regrouped that evening and planned for one last assault against the Union center on July 3: the infamous Pickett’s Charge.