July 2, 1863

The morning of July 2 found the two armies facing each other from two nearly parallel ridges separated by a plain of open farmland. Overnight, Longstreet had arrived with the divisions of McLaws and Hood, bringing the strength of the Confederate Army to 50,000. As of this morning, Pickett's division had not arrived. The Union Army had also received reinforcements during the night, bringing their numbers to over 60,000.

While Meade's attention was directed towards Ewell's corps on Culp's Hill to the north, Lee decided to attack from the south. In the afternoon, Hood's division encountered Federal forces with hand-to-hand combat in an area of rock-strewn confusion of large boulders known as "Devil's Den." The Confederates worked past Devil's Den and for a short time nearly overtook Little Round Top before being repulsed by the 20th Maine regiment. The Confederates withdrew to Devil's Den where sharpshooters kept up a deadly exchange with Federal troops on Little Round Top.

View of Little Round Top taken from Devil's Den.

A little later in the afternoon, McLaw's division overpowered Sickles' Federals with hand- to-hand combat at the Peach Orchard and the adjacent wheat field. However, losses were great and the Confederate push lost momentum at the creek at the base of Little Round Top known as Plum Run.

Next, Anderson made a run on Hancock's center Federal position which had been weakened in an attempt to aid Sickles. The Confederates were successfully pushing towards the Federal's ridge position when Hancock ordered the First Minnesota regiment to counterattack. Although the First Minnesota suffered enormous casualties, they managed to give Hancock enough time to establish a new line of defense. Anderson's men had to withdraw to Confederate positions across the valley.

To the north, Ewell's divisions had some success with late afternoon attacks in and around Culp's Hill. Early's division temporarily broke through Federal lines as darkness fell, but with lack of support and Federal counterattacks, had to withdraw. Lee had come close to success causing Meade to consider a possible retreat. The 2nd of July 1863 became one of the bloodiest days in American military history with each side losing about 10,000 men.

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