It was in the pre-dawn hours of July 2, 1863, when six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery went into battery in a small, weed choked pasture on Cemetery Ridge. Partially enclosed by a stone wall that turned sharply west and then southward, later to be known as "The Angle", the position was right in the center of the Union's Second Corps line on Cemetery Ridge. Dawn revealed a broad plain of farm fields subdivided by rows of wooden fencing with the Emmitsburg Road, from Emmitsburg, Maryland to Gettysburg, a few hundred feet in front and almost parallel to the ridge. For the men of the battery, it was a perfect field for artillery to defend and with little activity occurring at that early hour, the gunners lounged by the guns.
1st Lt. Alonzo Cushing, 22 years-old and an experienced veteran of numerous battles, commanded Battery A. Born in Wisconsin in 1841, Cushing's family had moved to New York while he was an adolescent. Receiving an appointment to West Point, Cushing found that he loved the discipline of military life and was enamored with artillery. After graduating in the class of 1861, he served in staff positions to various officers until assigned to command the battery in the spring of 1863. Described by men who knew him as a skilled artillerist and devoted to duty, Cushing's battery was manned by men who had served in the army prior to the war and others who had transferred in from infantry regiments. Assigned to the Artillery Brigade of the Second Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, Cushing had thoroughly drilled his battery, preparing them for battle with strict discipline and his personal knowledge of the chaos a battle presented. Though experienced, no one in the battery could have predicted what lay ahead for them at Gettysburg.