June, 1963, a crack Confederate army commanded by Robert E.
Lee sidestepped the Union army defending Washington and marched
deep into Pennsylvania. When the Federals moved north to intercept
the invaders, a collision became inevitable. Fate chose a little
crossroads town for the scene of the bloodiest perhaps most
crucial engagement in American History . . . The Battle of
light of dawn was beginning to outline trees, fences, and scattered
farm houses along the Chambersburg Pike near Willoughby Run,
1 1/2 miles west of the little crossroad town of Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania. The time was shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday, July
of Union Brig. Gen. John Buford's 1st Cavalry Division, Army
of the Potomac, on night picket duty along a wide arc thrown
out north and west of the town the evening of June 30, had been
warned to keep a sharp lookout on the roads from both directions.
Gen. Robert E. Lee's invading Army of Northern Virginia, whose
main body was known to have been in camp near Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, 28 miles west, was reported on the move. Some
Confederate infantrymen had approached to within half a mile
of Gettysburg the preceding afternoon, but had withdrawn when
they saw Federal cavalry.
As the darkness
faded, a Corporal Hodges, 9th New York Cavalry, on picket duty
west of McPherson's Ridge, observed shadowy figures moving down
the road toward him, about 500 yards away. As Hodges moved cautiously
forward for a closer look, the Confederates opened fire! The
Battle of Gettysburg was under way!