For beginning students, one of the greatest challenges to understanding the Battle of Gettysburg is remembering “who’s who.” The student must know the names and general battlefield locations of more than thirty brigade commanders in two different armies just to understand high-level troop movements for the third day of battle (July 3, 1863). On top of that, we must know the division and corps commander for each brigade.
“Gettysburg July 3 – Master the Basics Quiz” is designed to help you develop enough of a “who’s who” knowledge that you can understand the many monuments and structures on the south half of Gettysburg National Military Park.
At first, trying to learn the brigade commanders for the Union and Confederate armies may feel overwhelming and unnecessary. Although rote memorization of the results of this quiz will not in itself contribute to a meaningful understanding of battlefield events, having this information handy while reading or touring can be very helpful. It can mean the difference between understanding a chapter that you are reading in a book and understanding nothing whatsoever.
Gettysburg July 3 – Master the Basics Quiz
You might be surprised at how quickly you can become familiar with Gettysburg’s brigade commanders simply by playing with the following interactive quizzes.
For help understanding the battle, you may want to refer to two Civil War Cycling web resources:
First, Hal Jespersen’s high-level maps of the Gettysburg Campaign, along with Civil War Cycling’s supplementary text. These are traditional, colorful military maps that will help you to place the names of soldiers onto the Gettysburg battlefield.
Second, Civil War Cycling’s “July 3 Study Notes.” This outline of battlefield events — with maps and photos — contains EVERYTHING that you need to score well on “Gettysburg July 3 – Master the Basics Quiz.”
1. Renewed Fighting on Culp’s Hill (about 8 hours)
Before dawn (roughly 3:30 – 4:30 A.M.), Union Maj. Gen. Alpheus Williams, right flank commander, ordered Union artillery to fire at the Confederate position on the southern slope of Culp’s Hill. (Today, this is the lower half of Slocum Avenue.) About one hour later, Union Brig. Gen. John W. Geary advanced to retake the breastworks lost the prior night, and this marked the beginning of a series of attacks and counter-attacks to win the hill. In the end, the Union repulsed the Confederate 3rd Corps (under Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell) from Culp’s Hill. Fighting on the hill ended by about 10:15 A.M. and the Union right flank line was re-established by 11:00 A.M..
2. Pickett’s Charge to Cemetery Ridge (about 2 hours)
In preparation for Pickett’s Charge, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ordered Confederate artillery on Seminary Ridge to bombard the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Confederate guns opened fire at about 1:00 P.M. and continued for roughly two hours. Then, on the order of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, more than 12,000 Confederates marched east from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge, almost one-mile away. Popularly called “Pickett’s Charge,” soldiers from other divisions (and states) participated in the attack. In the end, only about 250 Confederates crossed the stone wall at the Union line. The attack failed, and many people perished. It was a Union victory.
These quizzes contain “common knowledge” that I drew from several sources; see Civil War Cycling’s Gettysburg Reading List. I relied heavily on two books by Bradley M. Gottfried. One was The Maps of Gettysburg (New York: Savas Beatie, 2010) and the other was Brigades of Gettysburg (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012). All mistakes are mine.
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