Chapter 12

Chapter 12 – This poem, Robert E Lee First Day Gettysburg, focuses on Lee’s actions as Confederate troops move into Gettysburg on July 1st 1863. Lee learns that General Heth has already engaged Union forces.

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

385px-Robert_E_Lee_in_1863 General Robert E. Lee

Chapter 12 – Robert E Lee First Day Gettysburg 


As Lee approached Gettysburg

He continued to hear artillery

Knowing nothing at all

Without Stuart’s cavalry


Finally, he came upon

Corps Commander A.P. Hill

Wasn’t sure what was happening

Trying to figure it out still


Hill was very puzzled

Heth had clear orders

To avoid engagement

When moving forward


Pender was behind Heth

Anderson behind Pender

Coming down from Cashtown 

More fire power to later render


Still Lee began to worry

Both Hill and Ewell were green

New to Corps commanding

Competency yet unseen


Lee gazed across a planted field

Could see a rippling stream

A Lutheran Seminary upon a hill

From which artillery shells did scream


Ewell’s Second Corps was off to the north

Longstreet’s First Corps miles away

“What had Heth gotten into?”

None of the generals or staff could say


At last Henry (“Harry”) Heth reported

Himself somewhat confused

Didn’t mean to bring on an engagement

Now Davis and Archer were quite bruised


Thought it local militia

But was dismounted Cavalry

With breach-loading carbines

Plus they had artillery


“Just about had them Yanks

When they got more support”

Reynolds’ I Corps arrived

The Rebel attack they did thwart


Expecting at most a minor scrap

Henry (“Harry”) Heth now very sorry

Didn’t realize he was tangling with

The advanced wing of the Union Army


Lee didn’t place blame

What good would it do?

The battle had started

They needed now to follow through


Lee gazed upon the Battle seeing

Union blue fast running

Yankee right flank being attacked

Situation improving


Rodes and Early had arrived

Ewell’s Second Corps attacking from the north

Lee ordered A.P. Hill

To call Heth’s two fresh brigades forth


Heth and Pender charged from the west

From the north Rodes and Early attacked

Overwhelming the Union I and XI Corps

Including the Hats of Black


Pender’s brigades advancing

Lee heard massed Rebel yells

Batteries blasting

Raining Confederate shells


Across the field

Perrin and Scales kept streaming

Carolina’s Flags floated through white smoke

Bayonets of steel gleaming


From Early came exciting news

Yanks totally on the run

Retreating to hills south of town

The first battle won


Rebels yelling in the streets

Hats thrown towards the sun

Victory for now

But day far from done


Robert E. Lee knew

If I Corps and XI Corps were here

The rest must not be far behind

Bringing up the rear


Lee mounted his horse Traveler

Rode to Willoughby run

From there he saw

Smoking ridges under the sun


Half a mile lay the town

Buildings boarded white

Beyond lay a high hill

Union cannons began to smite


Lee wanted to take the hill

From which Yankee guns did sound

They must push forward

And seize that high ground


He needed Longstreet’s men

But they wouldn’t arrive today

He needed fresh troops fast

No time now to delay


But Heth’s and Pender’s men

Hill said were now exhaustedly tired

Lee sent word to General R. S. Ewell

Situation dire


“Take that hill south of town

That is high ground tactical

Attack the Yanks there now

If you think it’s practicable”


But Ewell was very cautious

Wanted A. P. Hill’s assistance

He sent no orders to Jubal Early

To overcome enemy resistance


Ewell waited for Johnson’s Division

It was a very long night indeed

More Union Blue arriving

To fight and die and bleed 


Go to Chapter 13

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