Having pushed Hooker back across the Rappahanock, the 35th returned to Camp Gregg near Moss Creek. Here it encamped for nearly a month, while the changes to the command structure, mentioned on the prior page, were being made. Lee inspected his new Army during the last part of May, 1863, in large grand ceremonial reviews.

Pickets again bantered over the river at one another, and traded tobacco for coffee. On one occasion, the Southern sentries hollered over to the Northern side, enquiring why they hadn't taken a shot at the general. Hill, dressed in his normal floppy hat and calico shirt, had brazenly walked his horse into the river, apparently forgetting who was watching him from the other shore. The reply from the Union side was that they had had no idea who he was, and requested he come back for a second look.

On June 6th, Hill's men moved toward Fredericksburg guarding the entire river front. Lee was on the move, and it was Hill's job to keep Hooker in the dark. For the next week, Hill's men skirmished with probing scouts from then Union side. Hooker thought something was up, but he was more concerned about the plan he had submitted to Washington allowing him an all out attack to Richmond. A nervous Lincoln refused, and ten days after Lee had begun to march, Hooker realized he had been hood winked by Lee again. On the night of June 13th he began to withdraw from Fredericksburg and immediately set his forces north in pursuit. Noting this, Hill sent Anderson's division to join Lee's main body, with orders for Heth to break off and march the next day. Pender was ordered to stay at Fredericksburg, until the last of the Federal's had left the opposite shore. Hooker was now in a hurry to put his Army between Lee and Washington DC, and Pender didn't have to wait long, leaving Petersburg the following day. For ten days, Hill's men marched to meet up with Longstreet's Corps. On the morning of the 23rd, Lee announced that they would cross the Potomac into enemy territory that afternoon. Marching straight north, Lee had his entire force reunited when he caught up with Ewell'as Corps on the 25th. On the 26th, Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania for the first time.

George Meade

courtesy General Officers of the Civil War

Understandably shocked at the developments, Lincoln had fired Hooker and replaced him with General George C Meade. Meade had reacted quickly, putting his entire Army of the Potomac in pursuit of Lee. On June 28th, learning of the change in general's and the location of the Union forces, Lee changed his prior plans, and ordered his forces to concentrate on one area.
Pender, in his final letter to his wife, wrote of his troops "I never saw troops march as ours do; they will go 15 or 20 miles a day without leaving a straggler and hoop and yell on all occasion's..". On the 29th, Hill's men moved east on a reconnaissance. Heth's division was sent to Cashtown, Pender was to follow the next day, with Anderson's division to follow. When Pender's men arrived in Cashtown, Heth gave permission to Pettigrew to take his brigade eight miles north to search for supplies, primarily shoes. What would start out as a mission to raid a shoe factory, would turn into the largest and most written about battle in American history. The town was Gettysburg.

Far more knowledgeable and eloquent author's than I, have written volumes of work on this particular battle. I will only attempt to cover the highlight's of the next few days and how they directly affected the 35th Georgia.

Pettigrew's men ran into Union cavalry on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Knowing Lee did not want a general engagement with the enemy until his forces were consolidated, Pettigrew rode back to report to Hill and Heth. Dismissing Pettigrew's concern's, Hill advised his officer's that intelligence reports had Meade's forces far to the south. The next day, Hill sent his two available division's toward Gettysburg, and summoned Anderson to bring his troops to Cashtown. Heth's brigades led the way, with Pender's, an hour behind. Still believing only cavalry was in their front, they had instructions not to bring on a general engagement, should intelligence prove wrong. Unbeknownst to the Confederate Army, the lead elements of Meade's Army of the Potomac was already arriving in Gettysburg. Six cannons welcomed Heth to the outskirts of Gettysburg, and he immediately sent two brigades under Archer and Davis out to locate the cavalry he was facing. On the right flank, the troops moved into woods, where they were stunned when Union soldiers from the Iron brigade greeted them with a volley. Completely taken by surprise, the Southern troops fled, but ran into a bottleneck and many of the troops were captured. Archer, described as mad as a hornet, was amongst those captured. Davis, on the left, attacked the Union forces and pushed them back. Then rushing into a nearby railroad cut, his forces would meet with disaster.

Lee and Hill rushed to the scene to ascertain why there was so much firing. Learning that his intelligence was wrong, and that he was facing element's of the Army of the Potomac, Lee was even more set against a general engagement. Hill put Pender's men in reserve, and all watched as the artillery dueled. Word came to Lee that Union troops north of Gettysburg were falling back, because Ewell's Second Corps had arrived. Confronting the enemy, Ewell had immediately spread his force out to form a right angle with Hill's. Confused, Lee pondered his options. Only two of his three corps were available, and he had no idea of what the enemy's actual strength was. But as he watched, he noticed the Federal's falling back. He decided to attack. Orders were issued immediately and Hill's and Ewell's men pushed forward. Pender's men, with Thomas held in reserve, were committed and began to move forward under heavy enemy artillery fire. Facing Hill was the 1st Union Corps under Major General John Fulton Reynolds. As Ewell advanced, elements of the 11th Corps, under Oliver O. Howard moved in.

Hill's men advanced as far as Seminary Ridge, where the aggressive Hill stopped his beaten troops. As night fell the evening of July 1st, Union reinforcement's poured onto Cemetery Ridge. Before darkness had fallen, two more Union corps were arriving. The first day saw limited action for the 35th., as they were moved forward to support a battery. Their biggest enemy appears to be the artillery fire, which did take a few lives.

The next day, Longstreet's men, having arrived during the early evening, were to attack the Union left flank, while Ewell was to attack the right flank at Culp's Hill. Hill's forces in the middle were broken up. His right division under Anderson would aide Longstreet's attack. Heth's, badly beaten from the day before, was held in reserve behind Seminary Ridge, guarding the supply train and ensuring no Federal troops arrived in the rear. Pender's forces, were on the right of Rode's Division of Ewell's Corps. As Ewell was to attack Culps' Hill, Rhode's Division was to sweep through Gettysburg and strike the Federal's. Pender was ordered to attack in concert with Rode's, on their right flank. If everything had gone accordingly to plan, Pender's men, and the 35th Georgia most likely would have attacked the Union 11th Corps on Cemetery Hill that afternoon. But plans soon fell apart. Rhodes men had difficulty getting through Gettysburg and by the time they had, the attack on Culp's Hill was winding down, and Rhode's called off his part of the attack. Pender, readying his men to move forward off of Seminary Ridge, was struck with artillery and mortally wounded. Lane, taking temporary command, waited for word from Rode's but it never came. Later that evening, Thomas and Perrins' men crept up in the darkness within 300 yards of the enemy. According to some reports, this movement was made as part of a planned night attack with Rode's troops, that was called off at the last minute.

Either way, two of Pender's brigades were now located between the two giant armies. The brigade was lined up from right to left, 45th, 49th, 14th, and finally, the 35th Georgia was lined up to the right of the 1st South Carolina of Perrin's brigade. To their immediate front, and going right, was the entire Federal Army on Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge south to Little Round Top. Heth's men, now under command of Pettigrew, were moving up behind them to Seminary Ridge. Two of Pender's brigades had joined them, Lane and Scales, who were now under the command of General Trimble. To the rear and right, Longstreet's final division was taking its place along Seminary Ridge. All along the rear of Thomas' men and stretching along the front of Seminary Ridge, over a hundred cannon sat silently, while even more were hidden over the ridge to their front; all pointed over their heads. To the immediate left of Thomas' Georgian's sat Perrin's brigade of South Carolinian's. To their left was Rode's Division of Ewell's Corps, who's left flank nearly butted up against the town of Gettysburg. And to the right, sat a huge open field that would become infamous the following day. That night, the men of the Thomas brigade kept a watchful eye, skirmishing with the enemy, while around them thousands of camp fires twinkled, and men of both sides moved about in the darkness. It must have been a grand, yet terrifying scene.

The next morning, Ewell opened the day with an artillery duel and attack on Culp's Hill. Only successful for a short time, he withdrew and the battlefield went silent again. Later in the morning, Union and Confederate troops battled over a house to Thomas' immediate right and front. The house and barn had see-sawed back and forth between the two Armies during the former two days, (Confederate snipers were using it too harass Cemetery Ridge) and the Federal's finally solved the problem of possession, by burning it to the ground the morning of the 3rd. Again, the battlefield went silent.

Lee had a new plan for the day. He would attack across the thousand yards of mostly open field, that separated the two armies, and pierce the Union's center. Attacks on the left and right flank had failed, now he would attack the center. Longstreet, put in command of the operation, hated it. He saw it as a failing proposition and a death trap for his men. Hill, supported the plan, offering to commit his entire division. Since most of his Division was already part of the plan, Lee declined the remaining brigades, stating he needed them for reserve in case the plan failed. Thus the decision was made that would save many men of the 35th Georgia from certain death.

At 1:07 pm, the silent cannon's awoke and what followed was a two hour artillery duel that shook the ground. In the middle of this, with shells from both sides passing overhead, Thomas' Georgian's hugged the ground. At three, the cannons fell silent, and over the Ridge to their rear, marched nearly 15,000 Confederate soldiers. Pickett's Division of Longstreet on the right, and Hill's men on the left under Pettigrew. While their have been more spectacular frontal assaults made during American warfare (Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, or the beaches of Normandy, France for example's) none have been more romanticized in US history. Marching through a murderous artillery, then rifle fire, Lee's final attack was crushed. Entire books could be written on what happened during those few hours, but suffice it to say, the 35th had a front row seat and was not involved directly in Pickett's charge. We do know that on the far left flank of this attack, Brockenbrough's Virginian's, under Col Mayo, moved through the Georgian's, and while there has been some speculation, and various veteran claim's, there is no real evidence that any member of Thomas' Georgian's joined in the assault. However, this is circumstantial evidence.

While no proof exists that Thomas' men were included in this charge, or actively engaged in combat any of the three day's of the battle, the 35th managed to take considerable casualties.

14th Georgia 5 27 32
35th Georgia 6 42 48
45th Georgia .. 35 35
49th Georgia 5 32 37

While the number of fatalities is lower than previous battles, the wounded is comparable and the missing is very high. How this can be explained, for units supposedly never actually engaged with the enemy other than heavy skirmishing, is unknown to me. Karlton Smith of the Gettysburg National Military Park reports in his paper, "Although Thomas reported that his brigade made no movement, the 35th Georgia did advance, perhaps in support of the 14th South Carolina or in support of Pettigrew's and Trimble's withdrawal." The Compendium of Confederate Armies reports the 35th advanced in the charge, but it does not make that claim for the other of Thomas' regiments, who would have been between the 35th and the advance. While the casualties are high, they in no way compare with those units that actually were involved in the charge.

Conflicting reports make it impossible to say for sure. Thomas is said to have yelled "forward" as the advancing Confederates passed, but is also said to have ordered his troops to hold fast. Was he yelling "Forward" as encouragement to the men already advancing, and some of his troops mistakenly take it as an order for them? Did some of the troops advance to attack the Union 8th Ohio that was flanking Brockenbrough? Thomas adds nothing to the argument, and his official report, like all his others, lacked specific detail (see below). Lane's report adds more details to the skirmishes, but does not state Thomas' men joined him in the charge. Brockenbrough's left wing is said to have broken very early in the charge, but after passing Thomas' men. Could this have played a part. Or were all these casualties from artillery, sniper fire, and heavy skirmishes the night of July 2nd and morning of July 3rd? This may be possible, but with this level of casualties, this was some serious "skirmishing". We can determine, that by searching the company rosters, the vast majority of men of the 35th killed , wounded and captured at Gettysburg, met their fate on July 3rd.

It is safe to say, that with Lee's attack strategies seeming to depend on where his brigade's were located in his overall troop formation, Thomas' Georgian's was one of, if not the luckiest brigade, in the entire Army of Virginia during this 3 day battle. It was too far in the rear to be much help on Day 1, too far left to assist Longstreet in the Wheatfield or Little Round Top, too far right to help Ewell on Culp's Hill, and finally, it's position on Day 3 put it into a position to support, but not actively participate in Pickett's Charge. Whatever actually happened with Thomas' Georgian's on that fateful third day may never be known. Suffice it to say, Lee was defeated during the three day battle, and that evening Thomas' men pulled back to Seminary Ridge, and were soon following Lee's defeated army south.

360 degree panoramic photographs of Gettysburg battlefield, various locations (regretfully, none of these give a good picture of the 35th's location on Day 3) Well worth a visit though. Must have Java enabled and may need to reload if image does not move on first load.

Report of Brig Gen Edward L. Thomas,
I have the honor to report that this brigade on July 1 was, by order of Major-General Pender, formed in line of battle on the left of the road leading to Gettysburg, Pa. In this order it advanced to within about 1 mile of Gettysburg, in readiness to support Major-General Heth's division. From this position the brigade moved still farther to the front, and took a position assigned to it by Lieutenant-General Hill. Here we remained until near sunset, when, by General Pender's order, we took position near Gettysburg, on the right of the town, in support of artillery.
This position was occupied until the night of July 2, when, with General McGowan's brigade, it was directed to take position in the open field, about 300 yards in front of the enemy's line, on the right of General Ewell's corps. Here we remained until the night of July 3, when we were ordered to take position in the woods on the right of Gettysburg, near the town, from which place, on the night of July 4, the march was commenced toward Hagerstown, Md.
The brigade lost many valuable men and officers in heavy skirmishing with the enemy. The conduct of men and officers throughout the campaign was highly commendable.

Gen Report of Brig Gen Jim Lane
About sunset (
July 2) I was informed by Capt. Norwood, of Genl. Thomas's Staff, that Genl. Pender had been wounded, & that I must take command of the division & advance, if I saw a good opportunity for doing so. At that time the firing on the right was very desultory - the heavy fighting having ended. I was soon afterwards informed by Major Whiting, of Genl Rodes's Staff, that Genl. Rodes would advance at dark, & that he wished me to protect his flank. I did not give him a definite answer then as I had sent [ ] to notify Genl. Hill of Genl. Pender's fall, & to receive instructions. On being notified, however, by Genl. Ewell, that his whole command would move on the enemy's position that night, commencing with Johnson's division on the left, I told Maj. Whiting that I would act without awaiting instructions from Genl. Hill. I at once ordered forward Thomas's brigade & McGowan's (then commanded by Col. Perrin) to form an obtuse angle with Ransom's brigade which was the right of Rodes's first line, leaving an interval of one hundred paces. I, at the same time, determined to support these two brigades with Scales's & my own, commanded respectively by Colonels Lowrance & Avery, should there be any occasion for it. I subsequently received orders from Genl. Hill, through Capt. Starke, corresponding with what I had already done. Rodes's right advanced but a short distance beyond the road which was held by my skirmishers, when the night attack was abandoned, & Rodes's front line occupied the road - Thomas & Perrin extending the same with their commands, the right of Thomas' brigade resting a short distance from an orchard near a brick dwelling & barn. Next morning the skirmishing was very heavy in front of Thomas & Perrin, requiring, at times, whole regiments to be deployed to resist the enemy & drive them back, which was always most gallantly done... (note - Lane was in Pickett's charge with his men, and does not mention either Thomas or Perrin joining the advance)

AP Hill's report

C. S. A.
14th 35th 45th 49th GEORGIA INFANTRY
July 1 In reserve on Chambersburg Pike on left of the division. At sunset moved to position in McMillan's Woods.
July 2 On duty in support of artillery. At 10 p.m. advancing took position in Long Lane with the left flank in touch with McGowan's Brigade and the right near the Bliss house and barn
July 3 Engaged most of the day in severe skirmishing and exposed to a heavy fire of artillery. After dark retired to this ridge.
July 4 At night withdrew and began the march to Hagerstown.
Present about 1,200 Killed 34 Wounded 179 Missing 57 Total 270

Thanks to Carolyn Moody of Riverview, FL

Gettysburg National Military Park

A wonderful site including battle maps and photo's of Gettysburg

****Letter from my brother also researching the 35th and our ancestor, Thomas K Cook

Had a WONDERFUL time at Antietam and Gettysburg - me and Bruce walked 15 - 20 miles around both of the parks. Found some exciting news on Thomas' role there - Day 2 involved with heavy skirmishing just north of the Bliss Farm, then Day 3 moved next to the Bliss Farm in way of the sunken road where he again was involved in heavy skirmishing until "supporting" the left of Pettigrew during the charge - his involvement in the charge seems likely and very temporary as the regiment next to him suddenly stopped (for various reasons) and tried to reform - then Thomas gave the order to advance - directly behind the 35th by the way but the advance was slowed and stopped by the same reasons as the other regiment (Brokenborough) - Bliss Farm was burning and the 8th Ohio had skirmishers advanced near the barn who held them in check. Bruce bought a book on the Bliss Farm battle which contains a lot of information - also spent our time in the Gettysburg research library and found part of Capt. McElvany's diary - great stuff.

****Letter from my cousin, Bruce, commenting on same trip

I wanted to let you know of a few things we found out at Gettysburg. Tim set us up at the research center. We spent a couple of hours and came across a very helpful park researcher.

The best piece of information was the Diary and Letters of James Thomas McElvany that was published in Virgina Country Magazine, he talks about participating in the July 3 assualt. There was also a file with a copy of Heroes and Martyrs of Georgia. In this book it also reports of the 35th moving forward as Brockenbrough moved forward. The historian explained that Thomas was in back of the 35th at the time and they were able to hear his command. The park historian showed us on a map where Thomas' Brigade had been in the sunken road almost parallel with the Bliss Farm. This was also close to the position where Brockenbrough turned back from the assualt. So the 35th would not have advance very far. I found maps of the 35ths positon. We walked down the street where the 35th's skirmishers would have been (it is now a subdivision). We talked to a guide about the sunken road. We could never find it. He said it was difficult to find, but has heard that it can be see when there is snow on the ground.

I picked up a set up maps that lays out the positions of all the regiments during each day. If you look at the 35th's position you can see why they faced so much skirmishing - they were very close to the Union lines. It appears they were directly across from the 8th Ohio.

35th Georgia Index