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Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Union Collapse at Barlow Knoll

July 1, 1863 - First Day

 
 
Union Collapse at Barlow Knoll Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 28, 2008
1. Union Collapse at Barlow Knoll Marker
Inscription. "P.S. Tell them I was hit face toward them - no Reb saw my back."
Pvt. J. Henry Blakeman, U.S.A.
17th Connecticut Infantry, Eleventh Corps
Battlefield letter to his mother

On July 1, 1863, Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard positioned two divisions of his Union Eleventh Corps across these fields. The 5,200 men formed a line from Oak Ridge on your left, to Barlow Knoll where you are standing, to the Harrisburg Road on your right. Two months earlier at Chancellorsville the Eleventh Corps had run from the enemy. Hence they would be tested again.

About 3:00 p.m., Confederate cannon opened fire on the Union line, followed by a lightning attack from Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon's and George Dole's Georgians who streamed out of the trees in front of you. Several Union regiments broke and fled, while others made valiant stands. Pvt. G. W. Nichols of the 61st Georgia wrote, "We advanced with our accustomed yell, but they stood firm until we got near them."

By 4:15 p.m., the entire Union line here was retreating in confusion through town to Cemetery Hill behind you. There Union officers rallied their men and prepared to make a stand. At the end of the first day, the dead, wounded, and missing of the Eleventh Corps numbered 3,000.

The Barlow-Gordon Story
Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon, whose Georgia soldiers swept
Union Collapse at Barlow Knoll Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 28, 2008
2. Union Collapse at Barlow Knoll Marker
the Federals from this hill, later wrote of a personal encounter here with an enemy general:
"In the midst of the wild disorder in the ranks, and through a storm of bullets, a Union officers was seeking to rally his men for a final stand. He, too, went down, pierced by a minie ball. Riding forward with my rapidly advancing lines, I discovered that brave officer lying on his back, with the July sun pouring its rays into his pale face....

"Quickly dismounting and lifting his head, I gave him water from my canteen, asked his name and the character of his wounds. He was Major-General Fancis C. Barlow, of New York, and of Howard's Corps. The ball had entered his body in front and passed out near the spinal cord, paralizing him in legs and arms. Neither of us had the remotest though that he could possibly survive....

"I summoned several soldiers who were looking after the wounded, and directed them to place him upon a litter and carry him to the shade."


Fifteen years later, Gordon, now a U.S. Senator, was attending a dinner in Washington, D.C., when he learned that a "General Barlow" was also attending. Introducing himself to Barlow, he was stunned to learn it ws the same one he had met at Gettysburg. Each man believed the other had been killed in the war. "Thenceforward," wrote Gordon, "the friendship between us, which was born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg,
Doles' Brigade Advance image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 28, 2008
3. Doles' Brigade Advance
Looking north from Barlow Knoll. Doles' Brigade advanced forward from Blocher's Run. The Confederates moved at somewhat an oblique to the Federal lines, centering the advance between the Carlisle Road and Barlow Knoll. The advance met with fierce resistance from both Barlow's and Schurz's Divisions.
was greatly cherished by both."
 
Erected by Gettysburg National Military Park.
 
Location. 39° 50.735′ N, 77° 13.586′ W. Marker is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is on Howard Avenue mile north of Old Harrisburg Road (Business U.S. 15), on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Located in Gettysburg National Military Park at the Barlow Knoll stop. Marker is in this post office area: Gettysburg PA 17325, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Francis Channing Barlow (a few steps from this marker); Battery G Fourth U.S. Artillery (within shouting distance of this marker); 17th Connecticut Volunteers (within shouting distance of this marker); 153d Pennsylvania Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); 25th and 75th Ohio Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); Gordon's Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker); First Division (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Second Brigade (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gettysburg.
 
More about this marker. At the bottom of the marker are portraits of Generals Barlow and Gordon. In the upper right is a drawing of Battery G, 4th U.S. in action, captioned:
Lt.
Looking East from Barlow Knoll image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 28, 2008
4. Looking East from Barlow Knoll
Gordon's Georgians advanced toward the camera's position from the low ground in front. Their advance had been screened by the trees along Rock Creek. Doles' and Gordon's Brigades hit the Federal lines between 3 and 4 p.m. on July 1st. Their combined efforts drove the Federals off the high ground here, and turned the entire Federal right flank.
Bayard Wilkeson commands Battery G, 4th U.S. Artillery, here on Barlow Knoll on the afternoon of July 1. When the Confederates routed the Union infantry, the cannoneers were forced to withdraw.

Wilkeson, age 19, was mortally wounded here when a cannonball nearly severed his leg. Carried to a nearby almshouse, he amputated the leg with a pocketknife. As his dying act, he gave his last canteen of water to a thirsty comrade.

 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Barlow's Knoll Virtual Tour by Markers
 
Also see . . .
1. Eleventh Corps Line. National Park Service site discussing the Gordon-Barlow incident. (Submitted on September 11, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Another Interpretation of the Gordon-Barlow Incident. Many historians believe Gordon "embellished" his account of the incident to say the least. At a minimum, the prompt action by Confederate surgeons probably saved Barlow's life. If that action was directed by Gordon himself is open for interpretation. (Submitted on September 11, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

3. Union First Lt. Bayard Wilkeson. An account of Wilkeson's part in the action, including his mortal wounding. (Submitted on September 11, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 11, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,302 times since then and 43 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 11, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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