success of his army in the fighting on July 1 encouraged Lee to
renew the battle on July 2. An early morning reconnaissance of
the Federal left revealed that their line did not extend as far
south as Little Round Top. Lee directed Longstreet to take two
divisions of I Corps and march south until they reached the flank
of the Federal forces. They would attack from this point, supported
by a division of A.P. Hill's corps - a total force of nearly 20,000
men. While Longstreet carried out the main offensive, Ewell was
ordered to conduct a demonstration against the Federal right.
However, he was given discretion to mount a full-scale attack
should the opportunity present itself.
Federal army was well prepared for Lee's offensive. Six of its
seven corps had arrived on the battlefield, and VI Corps was making
a thirty-six-mile forced march to reach it. Meade had deployed
his army in a fish-hook-shaped formation, with the right on Culp's
Hill and Cemetery Hill, the center along Cemetery Ridge, and the
left on Little Round Top. The left of the Federal line was held
by Major General Daniel Sickles's III Corps. Sickles was dissatisfied
with his assigned position and in the early afternoon, without
orders, he advanced his line nearly half a mile west in order
to take advantage of the high open ground around a nearby peach
after Sickles took up this new position, Longstreet attacked.
Third Corps was hard pressed and Meade sent V Corps and part of
11 Corps to reinforce Sickles in the Peach Orchard. But, after
furious fighting, Longstreet's forces broke through, causing Sickles's
entire line to collapse. The Confederates pursued to the base
of Little Round Top, but Federal reinforcements, including elements
of VI Corps, checked their advance. Farther north, elements of
a division of the Confederate III Corps advanced to the slopes
of Cemetery Ridge before they too were forced to retire.
the Federal right, Ewell did not attack until evening, after Longstreet's
onslaught had subsided. The effort to storm Cemetery Hill was
ultimately unsuccessful. Ewell's attacks were also repulsed at
Culp's Hill, although a foothold was gained near the base of the
second day's fighting had cost each army some 9,000 casualties.
Lee's forces had again gained ground, but had failed to dislodge
the Federal army from its strong position.