As Longstreet's en echelon assault on July 2nd hammered its way further north up the Union Line, Brigadier General
Ambrose Ransom Wright, CSA reached this point on Cemetery Ridge near the soon to be famous copse of trees. General Wright reported,
"We were now within less than 100 yards of the crest of the heights, which were lined with artillery, supported by a strong
body of infantry, under protection of a stone fence. My men, by a well-directed fire, soon drove the cannoneers from their guns, and,
leaping over the fence, charged up to the top of the crest, and drove the enemy's infantry into a rocky gorge on the eastern slope of
the heights, and some 80 or 100 yards in rear of the enemy's batteries. We were now complete masters of the field, having gained the
key, as it were, of the enemy's whole line."
Union Major General George G. Meade, surveying the field from horseback, spied the Butternuts heading for a gap in the Union's
Cemetery Hill line created by the need to send continuously greater numbers of troops to support General Sickles' crumbling line.
As his son later reported, "The General realizes the situation but too well. He straightens himself up in his stirrups as do also
the aids who now ride closer to him, bracing themselves up to meet the crisis. It is in the minds of those who follow him that he is
going to throw himself into the breach." Fortunately for the blue coats, Major General John Newton, the 1st Corps' new commander,
rode up just then offering General Meade his flask. Then calling out "Come on Gentlemen", the Commanding General led Newton's
men into position to assist with blunting the unsupported Confederate advance.
CSA General Wright would add in his official report,
"Unfortunately, just as we had carried the enemy's last and strongest position, it was
discovered that the brigade on our right had not only not advanced across the turnpike, but had actually given way, and was rapidly
falling back to the rear, while on our left we were entirely unprotected, the brigade ordered to our support having failed to
advance. It was now evident, with my ranks so seriously thinned as they had been by this terrible charge, I should not be able to hold my
position unless speedily and strongly re-enforced....The enemy's converging line was rapidly closing upon our rear; a few moments more,
and we would be completely surrounded; still, no support could be seen coming to our assistance, and with painful hearts we abandoned
our captured guns, faced about, and prepared to cut our way through the closing lines in our rear....I have not the slightest doubt but
that I should have been able to have maintained my position on the heights, and secured the captured artillery, if there had been a
protecting force on my left, or if the brigade on my right had not been forced to retire."
Click here for a view of the entire line along Cemetery Ridge reached by
Brigadier General Wright.