Confederate Commanders at Gettysburg
General James Longstreet- The most trusted of Lee's corps commanders, Longstreet's troops would bear the brunt of the fighting on July 2nd and July 3rd at Gettysburg. The general was in charge of the main Southern attack on the last day of the battle, even though he did not believe in its success. Much of the Southern controversy about Gettysburg centers around Longstreet's decisions during the battle, some that would haunt him until the last of his days.
Richard S. Ewell- Commanding the Second Corps that was once "Stonewall" Jackson's, General Ewell was brave in battle and efficient in following orders. At Gettysburg his troops arrived in the right place and attacked at the right time, stampeding Union troops through Gettysburg and capturing hundreds. His decisions later that same day would cause many to wonder what might have occurred had a more aggressive commander been in the general's boots.
Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill- Commanding the Third Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, Hill's troops opened the battle on July 1, 1863. His troops also fought on July 2, and he sent the better part of two divisions into the grand assault on July 3, also known as "Pickett's Charge". Tragically, General Hill did not survive the war. He was killed in Virginia barely a week before the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House.
General Henry Heth- Marching from Cashtown, Pennsylvania on the morning of July 1, 1863, General Heth's troops fired the first southern shots of the battle. At the height of the fighting that day, he was struck in the head by a minie ball and knocked senseless though he was fortunate to recover just in time to lead his command during the retreat back to Virginia. After the war he wrote his memoirs, adding that Lee's army had never been so confident of victory as they were during the Gettysburg Campaign.
General John Bell Hood- An aggressive and brave commander who hailed from Kentucky, General Hood commanded a division under General Longstreet. His troops marched 18 miles on July 2nd and then attacked Union troops on Little Round Top and at Devil's Den. The general was seriously wounded in the arm while leading his troops into battle and though surgeons did not amputate the shattered limb, it would hang useless by his side for the remainder of his life.
General George E. Pickett- One of the more flamboyant of Lee's generals, Pickett worried that his Division of Virginians would fail to see action during the Gettysburg Campaign. As events turned out, his Virginians would reach the "High Water Mark" of the battle and of the Confederacy. His name is forever associated with the third and final day of the battle and the climactic attack against the Union center, known as "Pickett's Charge".
General J.E.B. Stuart- Bold and dashing, "Jeb" Stuart was the "beau ideal" of southern horsemanship. Commanding the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia, he directed a successful raid through Maryland and Pennsylvania that ended in controversy when his arrival at Gettysburg came long after the battle had begun, earning him an embarrassing censure from the army commander. Stuart's horsemen fought a pitched battle three miles east of Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 3rd and he was soundly defeated. Gettysburg was one of Stuart's few defeats during the war.
General John B. Gordon- Commanding a Georgia brigade in Ewell's corps, Gordon was an experienced soldier who had almost lost his life at the Battle of Antietam in 1862. His troops put many of the Union troops to flight on July 1after which he occuppied the town of Gettysburg and was an interested observer at corps headquarters. Gordon survived the conflict and was assigned by General Lee to lead the surrender parade of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House in 1865. After the war, Gordon served several terms as the Governor of Georgia, was an influential leader of The United Confederate Veterans, and in 1904 published his stirring memoir of service, Reminiscences of the Civil War.
Col. Edward P. Alexander- In command of a reserve artillery battalion in Longstreet's Corps, the responsibility of the cannonade prior to Pickett's Charge on July 3rd was placed on his shoulders. It was Alexander who sent the message to General Pickett begging him to advance while his depleted artillery could still support the charge but was frustrated by misplaced ammunition supplies and the overwhelming Union artillery response. After the war, Alexander wrote extensively about his wartime experiences including his role in the artillery fighting at Gettysburg.
Brig. General Lewis Armistead- Commanding a brigade in Pickett's Division, Armistead led his troops on foot across nearly a mile of open field and into the Union line where he was wounded and captured. A career Army officer before the war, many of his closest army acquaintances were serving the Union cause at Gettysburg. He died in a Union field hospital the following day.
Col. William C. Oates- As colonel of the 15th Alabama Infantry, this former lawyer and outspoken newspaperman found himself and his regiment fighting in some of the roughest terrain on the Gettysburg battlefield. In the bitter contest with the 20th Maine Infantry on the boulder-strewn slope of Little Round Top, he would lose almost half of his regiment, including his brother numbered among the slain.
Colonel Eppa Hunton- Leading the 8th Virginia Infantry in Garnett's Brigade, Hunton was painfully wounded during Pickett's Charge and his regiment lost its flag to the 16th Vermont Infantry. A brigadier general by war's end, he afterward became a vocal critic of his former division commander and refused to visit the Gettysburg battlefield where he had lost so many of his closest friends.
Major General Jubal A. Early - West Point graduate and soldier, lawyer, major of Virginia Volunteers in the War with Mexico and member of the Virginia house of delegates, Early commanded a division of troops in Richard Ewell's Corps. His troops were the first to enter Gettysburg on June 26, 1863, where he levied a demand for supplies and money from town officials before moving on toward York, Pennsylvania. His hard marching troops swept away the Union Eleventh Corps on July 1 but could not break the defenses of East Cemetery Hill the next day.
Gen. James J. Pettigrew- This handsome officer led a North Carolina brigade in the desperate fight on July 1st and a division in Pickett's Charge on July 3rd. Eleven days later, while in command was the final defensive line of the army's river crossing on the Potomac River at Williamsport, Pettigrew was mortally wounded by a Union cavalryman, the last general officer lost by Lee in the Gettysburg Campaign.
THE ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA AT GETTYSBURG
Last updated: April 27, 2015