JULY 1-3 1863
In mid-morning General John Reynolds' I Corps rushed up the Emmitsburg Road from Maryland to support General John Buford's Cavalry, which was barely holding Confederate General Henry Heth's Infantry at bay on the Chambersburg Road northwest of Gettysburg. The Union column contained 8,000 men and was several miles long. Cutler's Brigade led the column, with Meredith's "Iron Brigade" just behind. As they approached the Codori Farm, they heard gunfire to their northwest and were ordered to move on the double quick across the Codori fields west of the road and up towards McPherson's Ridge.
The Codori Farm was apparently occupied at this time. An officer of Stannard's 2nd Vermont Brigade mentioned an "old man" coming through the gate and requesting that the soldiers "not go through his wheatfield" (which is what they immediately did. heading east to Cemetery Ridge, where they reported to General Abner Doubleday ). This is the only known mention of the Codori Farm on the first day of the battle.
By first light,the main body of the two armies had arranged themselves to the south of town along two ridges known as Seminary Ridge (Confederates) and Cemetery Ridge (Union),the area between being biseated by the Emmitsburg Road. General Robert E. Lee determined that he would attack his enemy on both flanks simultaneously, with Ewell hitting the Union Army at Culp's Hill on the right and Longstreet striking at Little Round Top on the left.Then he would order an en echelon attack up the Emmitsburg Road.
Ewell did nothing until the evening of that day,which was then too little and too late.Longstreet also delayed his attack, saying he would like to wait for Pickett's Division,which had not yet arrived. "Old Pete" initially was also holding out for a defensive strategy, the merits of which he could not convince Lee.
The waiting was difficult for soldiers on both sides, but especially so for Union General Dan Sickles, who remembered all too well having to give up the High ground the previous month at Chancellorsville, with disastrous consequences. Now, studying the terrain at his place at the end of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, he decided there was better position. with higher ground, approximately three fourths of a mile in front of him at the Ernmitsburg Road - and he determined that he would place his III Corps there. After requesting permission from General Meade and receiving no positive reply, Sickles ordered his men forward anyhow, creating a salient in this part of the line. Both of his flanks were now "in the air," with his line beginning at Devil's Den, running through John Sherfy s peach orchard, northward along the road, and ending at the Codori Farm.
Meade found out Sickles's movement forward at the same time that Longstreet's artillery opened on Third Corps batteries in the peach orchard. There was nothing else to do for the moment but to order reinforcements forward from the V Corps and the Artillery Reserve. Many men would die trying to back up Sickles' untenable position.
After a desperate struggle at Little Round Top and in the Wheatfield by Hood's Division. General William Barksdale's ferocious Mississippians of McLaw's Division were sent forward as part of Lee's en echelon attack plan. The objective was to break through the Union line on Cemetery Ridge,the northern part of which was held by the II Corps commanded by General Winfield Scott Hancock. The II Corps was stretched along the crest of the ridge, which also formed the eastern boundary of the Codori Farm. At approximately six o'clock, Barksdale and his men rolled over the Federal troops in the Peach Orchard like a pack of wild animals, unhinging the Union's position from the Wheatfield to the center of their entire line, and ending up in the south end of Codori's property at Plum Run. Here, they where finally stopped by Colonel George Willard's Brigade of New Yorkers (II Corps, 3rd Division, 3rd Brigade; 39th, 11 lth,125th, and 126th regiments), and General Barksdale was mortally wounded.' Willard also fell in this action, killed instantly by a shell.
To the rear and slightly southward from where Willard's New Yorkers were, was the 148th Pennsylvania Infantry. The 148th was sent to reinforce the III Corps at the eastern edge of the Wheatfield. In the evening, after the day's battle had ended. the 148th went in on this segment of the Codori field and brought out the wounded, including Gen. Barksdale, who had been initially taken to the Trostle Farm. And the next day, Julv 3, this regiment was on the Cemetery Ridae. east of the Codori thicket and with a good view of the Sloan/Codori farm.
Now General Cadmus Wilcox and his Alabama Brigade hurried forward. As they did so, they threatened to push through a gap that had opened when Union troops there had moved off to the Wheatfield. Hancock, who was riding up and down the line shoring up any weaknesses, ordered in the men of the small-in-number but seasoned 1st Minnesota. The regiment, with bayonets drawn, quickly moved forward across Codori fields and crashed into the Alabamians near and within the Codori thicket. After twenty minutes of fighting, onlv fortv-seven men of the 1st. Minnesota were left standing, but they had delayed the Rebels long enough for Hancock to send in more reinforcements to stop the rebel advance.
Next, it was General Ambrose Wright's turn to hammer the Union line. Initially, he was successful, his brigade rolling over the Federals near the Codori house after a short fight. The 82nd New York and the 15th Massachusetts had advanced to the road and prepared a defensive position by piling up a barricade of fence rails behind the road, with the l5th just north of the Codori house, and the 82nd's right flank left of the house. The 82nd had orders to burn the Codori buildings if necessary. They never got the chance, however, because they were surprised by the approach of Wright's men, who were hidden from view by tall grass until the last moment. Confusion reigned; Colonel Ward of the 15th was killed as was Colonel Huston of the 82nd, and many men of the l5th were taken prisoners, including Roland E. Bowen, who was captured and later complained that;
It's a notorious fact that during the Battle of Gettysburg I did not hear one single order from any officer. And I must say that in the part of the line where I was, it was a very poorly managed affair so far as officers were concerned.
After dispensing with the 82nd New York and the l5th Massachusetts, Wright's men turned their attention to the six guns of Brown's battery that were positioned on a slight rise behind the Codori house. A desperate and bloody struggle ensued with four of the six guns being dragged back up Cemetery ridge by the Yankees. The Georgians followed and some reports say that they actually breeched the stone wall of Cemetery Ridge at the rear of Codori's property. This triumph was short-lived as Wright now discovered that his brigade was unsupported. Lang had fallen back on his right, most of Posey's Brigade never got much farther than the Bliss farm buildings, and Mahone's and Pender's Brigades never started forward.
As the beleaguered Confederates neared the stone wall, they were charged by the 106th Pennsylvania. who pushed them back down to the Emmitsburg Road near the Codori house, recapturing Browns abandoned two cannon and twenty men. Nearing the barn and house, they found a large force of Confederates from which an officer emerged, waving a handkerchief of truce. This was Captain Snead of the 48th Georgia, who said that his regiment's commander, Colonel William Gibson, was "dangerously wounded and would die for want of attention; that nearly the whole regiment stood bv him" and asked that he be taken to a Union field hospital. Captain Ford said he would be glad to oblige, but he would require that the regiment's officers giveup their swords and surrender all their men. Captain Snead strenuously protested at first, but soon capitulated and handed over himself and approximately 200 soldiers of the 48th, effectively making them all prisoners of war."
At least one soldier took refuge in the Codori farmhouse. Sgt. Magnitsky of the 2Oth Massachusetts received a gunshot wound in the left foot (which later caused two toes to be amputated) and succeded in crawling into the house and hid himself as the enemy were coming.
As this long day drew to a close. the armies were realigned on their respective ridges, and the soldiers steeled themselves for what the next day might bring. General Wright, in his After Action Report to General Lee. complained about the lack of support from Posey, Mahone, and Lang s Brigades and freely stated that had he had that support "I should have been able to maintain my position on the heights. Perhaps this reinforced Lee's resolve to again attack across Codori's fields on July 3.
The Confederate cannonade began about 1 P.M. For nearly two hours,upwards to one hundred and twenty guns battered Cemetery Ridge,answered by over a hundred U.S. pieces. Both sides were hoping to incapacitate or at least weaken their oppent's artillery and in this, the South was more effective. Many rounds went over the crest of the ridge where the Union men lay pressed to the ground, and wrecked havoc on the batteries, horses and equipment behind. Union artillery responded more slowly, with fewerrounds, in order to conserve ammunition. Even so, the human damage done to the Confederate infantry was more costly. Many shells found their mark among the men of Pickett's Division who were waiting in battle order in Pitzer's Woods, just beyond their own artillery line. At the end of the cannonade these Virginia veterans were to begin their three-quarter mile advance across Codori's fields and up Cemetery Ridge. Finally, the time came. Longstreet, feeling that the assault would fail but duty-bound to follow Lee's orders, regretfully ordered Pickett's Divisions forward. (Pettigrew's Division would also assault Cemetery Ridge, north of the Codori Farm.)
There had been Skirmishing between the lines all morning prior to the Confederate assault. Private William Clifford (19th Maine, co. B) wrote to his father about this from Carver Hospital in Washington on August 10, 1863:
The next morning I went to the Reg they were out to the front on my way I picked up a gun and equipments when I got to the co they were just going out as Skirmishers but as I had no cartirdges I stayed behind and supplied mySuif got a better gun and then went out alone I could not see our boys (they were hugging the ground to keep out of sight of the Rebs sharpshooters) so I went strait out first I knew whiz! zip! went a bullet just by my ear and struck in the ground just behind me there was a house and barn* a little distance ahead and to my right I made for the barn on double quick the Johnys fired at me 3 times before I got under into cover I went to the barn and Capt Fabler was there he told me I had better stay there too for my co WITS down on the left of the line so I stayed till some time in the P.NI I was there during the artillery fight the batteries on both sides plaved right over the barn you have no idea of the scene it seemed AS through the air was full of Devils such an unearthly noise and shell bursting all around us ploughing up the ground and some time some crashing into the old barn that was rocking as tho there was an earth quake under it after that was over (it lasted about I hour) I looked out and saw the Reb skirmishers advancing and behind them a large body in solid column soon we had the order to fall back we fell back loading and firing as we went to the line on came the Rebs. . .
The first objective of Pickett's brigades was an "old red barn along the Emmitsburg Road." This probably was the Codori red brick house; several contemporary accounts definitely describe the barn as wooden but not red. As the Division crossed the Emmitsburg Road, they were met with a terrific barrage of shot and shell. In order to achieve their final objective, a copse of trees on the crest of Cemetery Ridge at the rear of the Codori property, Garnett's Brigade passed to the front of the Codori house and Kemper, to the rear. Garnett would be killed near the stone wall.
In order to continue toward the trees, Kemper had to order his regiment to do a left oblique, which exposed his right flank to the waiting soldiers on the ridge. Targeted by the 1,800 men of Stannard's 2nd Verrnont Brigade, Kemper's men were being shot down en masse. Kemper himself went down, wounded, sometime after passing the Codori buildings; conflicting reports make it difficult to determine exactly how far beyond them he went. Following orders from Hancock. Stannard had ordered his men 300 yards forward of the Union line in order to meet the onrush of the assault. Now he ordered them to wheel right and enfilade Kemper's desperate soldiers as they passed by on their way to the copse of trees. Then, they turned to the left and decimated Wilcox's and Lang's Brigades who were coming up in a belated attempt to support Kemper and Garnett.
General Lewis Armistead's Brigade followed Garnett's up to the ridge where Armistead, with his hat stuck on his upraised sword, bridged the stone wall near Cushing's Union Batttery He was shot in the arm and leg, captured, and taken to the Union XI Corps hospital on the Spangler farm where he died of exhaustion on July 5. He had been a close personal friend of Union General Hancock, whose line he had penetrated.
As the assault continued, more and more Confederates were being wounded. Some of them, including two brothers from the 8th Virginia managed to make it to the Codori farmhouse. There, in the cellar, they found a half dozen or more wounded Virginians and about the same number of Yankees, probably skirmishers. An uneasy truce existed while the battle raged on. Here they stayed and listened intently for some evidence that the battle had ended, each man hoping his side would be victorious. Finally, a faint cheer was heard. Major Berkeley of the 8th Virginia thought it sounded like the "Rebel yell," and informed the Yankees that they were now his prisoners. But the Yankees, recognizing the lower pitched Union "huzzah" set him straight: "Not at all. you are ours."
THE CODORI FAMILY AND FARM
Written by PAM NEWHOUSE
FOR THE FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL PARKS AT GETTYSBURG
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