On to Pipe Creek

Had Stuart done his job and thwarted Buford’s approach, 1 July 1863 would have developed like this: Heth’s division of Hill’s Corps establishes a beachhead where the BALTO PIKE enters Gettysburg. By noon, Pender’s and Anderson’s divisions have joined up and bivouaced along the PIKE to the south of Heth.

By mid-afternoon Rodes and Early of Ewell’s Corps move into position just south of the city in the valley between the Seminary and Cemetery ridges; along the Emmittsburg Road. By nightfall, Johnson’s division is encamped near the Seminary.

There they would rest and wait for Longstreet’s Corps to arrive. First Hood then McLaw’s divisions are just south of Cashtown by noon of 2 July.

Lee’s major decision at this point is whether to wait for Pickett’s division to arrive or to advance south with what he had. He decided to move. He launched Hill’s Corps down the road to Taneytown with Anderson in the lead. Ewell’s Corps is dispatched towards Emmittsburg. Longstreet is to take the longer route thru Fairfield before turning to approach Emmittsburg from the west. This is the only place where Lee knows that there are Union forces so he anticipates contact and wants his force concentrated there.

He shifts Stuart’s cavalry over to the BALTO PIKE. When Pickett arrives at Gettysburg, Stuart will move down the PIKE with Pickett in trail after a much needed rest stop.

Anderson approaches cautiously towards Taneytown arriving there in the early afternoon of 2 July, he sends word to Lee that he has yet to encounter any Union troops. Simultaneously, Rodes enters Emmittsburg finding it too is free of any Union soldiers. The two Corps Commanders are still wary of any Union troop movements from the south. So, Ewell stations Early’s division as a blocking force south of Emmittsburg and turns his two other divisions towards Taneytown. Similarly, Hill places Pender’s division facing west blocking the road from Emmittsburg. Anderson and Heth continue their march south towards Westminster. Late in the afternoon, Stuart’s fast moving cavalry arrives at Littlestown and learns that the Union Sixth Corps had just recently passed through there headed south towards Manchester.

Like Gettysburg, Westminster is a cross-roads and rail hub. It has a direct rail link to Baltimore and will undoubtedly be used by the Army of the Potomac as a supply base. It is larger than Gettysburg and the true jewel of all the towns in the area. Surely Meade had plans to defend it. So he must have formed up his Army between Westminster and Taneytown, but where?

Anderson reports back that he has located the Union force. Lee and Hill join him on a hill beside the road leading from Taneytown to Westminster. Through their field glasses they can see Union troops preparing defensive positions along a series of contiguous hills. They also note that there are two other important terrain features: stone bridges for the two main roads to cross what they will soon learn is Pipe’s Creek.

As evening falls on 2 July, Lee has 5 divisions in the vicinity of Taneytown and three near Emmittsburg, with Stuart in Littlestown and Pickett preparing to march through the night to close on him. Lee had Anderson and Heth deploy to the left of the Taneytown Road facing the Union line with about a mile of open land between them.

On the morning of the 3rd of July, Pender deploys as the Rebel’s left flank. As Pender moves out of his blocking position, Rodes and Johnson shift to occupy the hills to the west of the Taneytown Road, next to Hill’s Corps. Early begins his march to join them and Hood and McLaws turn south out of Emmittsburg towards Westminster. Once again, Lee’s plan is to use a flank attack led by Longstreet as his main thrust once he locates the Union line. A quick glance at the available maps tells him that the Union line he can see must stretch from Manchester on the east (the Union right flank) to Middleburg in the west. Longstreet’s approach will take him near Middleburg by the late evening of the third.

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