Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell

Richard Ewell
Richard S. "Baldy" Ewell (II Corps, Army of Northern Virginia) was given command of the major part of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's corps in Robert E. Lee's reorganization of the Army after Chancellorsville, while A. P. Hill received the remainder along with Richard H. Anderson's division from James Longstreet's old corps. On the right flank of the Army of Northern Virginia during its northward march in June 1863, Ewell's performance in Pennsylvania, up until 1 July, was exceptional by any standards, even those of Stonewall Jackson.

On 1 July, Ewell's Corps on the Confederate left along with Hill's III Corps, in the center, swept the retreating Union troops under Abner Doubleday (I Corps) and Oliver Howard (XI Corps) through Gettysburg and onto Cemetery and Culp's Hills. Given orders by Lee to take the hills "if practicable", Ewell felt that the Union position was too strong to assault given that his troops had lost unit cohesion in the streets and alleys of Gettysburg, and remained in Gettysburg that evening. He also was told by Lee that he could expect no help from Longstreet, whose troops were not yet up, and very little, if any, from A. P. Hill.

In his official report, Ewell wrote:
On entering the town, I received a message from the commanding general to attack this [Cemetery] hill, if I could do so to advantage. I could not bring artillery to bear on it, and all the troops with me were jaded by twelve hours' marching and fighting, and I was notified that General [Edward] Johnson's division (the only one of my corps that had not been engaged) was close to the town.

Cemetery Hill was not assailable from the town and I determined, with Johnson's division, to take possession of the wooded hill [Culp's Hill] to my left...commanding Cemetery Hill. Before Johnson got up, the enemy was reported moving to outflank our extreme left, and I could see what seemed to be his skirmishers in that direction.

Before this report could be investigated by Lieut. T. T. Turner, aide-de-camp of my staff, and Lieut. Robert D. Early, sent for that purpose, and Johnson placed in position, the night was far advanced....On my return to my headquarters, after 12 o'clock at night, I sent orders to take posession of this [Culp's] hill...General Johnson stated in reply...that...he had sent a reconnoitering party to the hill [which] on nearing the summit, was met by a superior force of the enemy....Day was now breaking, and it was too late....

[Ref.: Report of Lt. General Richard S. Ewell as reprinted in Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg, J. Luvaas and H. W. Nelson, eds. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1994, p. 48.]

On 2 July he was ordered to order an attack on the Federal right in conjunction with Longstreet's assault on the Federal left. Lee had asked Ewell to start this attack in the morning, but his guns on Benner's Hill did not open up until about 4 PM, and the ground attack started after 6:30 PM. Thus, both Ewell's and Longstreet's attacks on the Federal right and left, respectively, although very bloody--the greatest number of casualties in the Battle were to occur on the Second Day--were late in coming and unco÷rdinated.

Back to Little Round Top Back to Cemetery Hill
Photo Credit: The Generals of the American Civil War
Created 26 MAY 1996; Revised 23 JUL 2014