Gettysburg - Defense of Seminary Ridge, July 1, 1863 - 4:00 p.m.
Civil War Trust’s map of the Battle of Gettysburg - Defense of Seminary Ridge - 4:00 P.M.
After blunting the Confederate advance on the morning of July 1, the Union Army of the Potomac was straining to stave off the increasing number of Confederates gathering west of Gettysburg. Elements of the First and Eleventh Corps occupied at tenuous position along McPherson’s and Oak Ridges, and had managed to hold those positions since the mid-morning. Federal reinforcements, however, were slow to arrive. The Army of Northern Virginia, by contrast was growing in strength at an almost exponential rate. Arriving from the North the divisions of generals Robert Rodes and Jubal Early threatened the Federals’ exposed left. In the late afternoon, Rodes division smashed into the First corps troops on Oak Ridge. At the same time, Gen. Henry Heth’s division--now reinforced by troops under Gen. Dorsey Pender--pressed the Yankees on McPherson’s Ridge. Without reinforcements, the Union troops were compelled to fall back and reform on the heights south and east of Gettysburg.
While the Confederates assaulted the Union center, Federal cavalry commander Gen. Alfred Pleasonton issued an ambiguous directive to his subordinate on the southern part of the field, Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick, with an order to strike the enemy "at the earliest opportunity," launched a series of piecemeal mounted attacks against the Confederates astride the Emmitsburg Road and at the foot of Big Round Top.