A Study in Maps II

Last night and today, I finished the final map for the four-map piece I discussed below, on Buford’s cavalry at Gettysburg.  This last map (which is actually #3 of the 4) was left for last because I knew it would be the most difficult.  The map is actually a split-map, which shows (on the top half) Col. Devin’s brigade’s actions north of town about 1pm as Rodes’ sharpshooters and skirmishers begin pushing the Federal cavalry over Oak Hill and down the Newville Road.  The bottom half of the map details Col. Gamble’s brigade’s actions near the Schultz house and south of the Fairfield Road about 4pm, which draws off Lane’s Confederate brigade from Pender’s assault against the Federal lines from the Lutheran Seminary.

There have been some basic, rudimentary maps done of the latter action, but not in the detail that I’ve shown.  And usually, most of the few maps of it I’ve seen have Gamble’s 8th Illinois Cavalry regiment in the wrong place.  They were massed, mounted, south of the Fairfield Road just west of the David McMillan house and nearly to Willoughby Run (one of the troopers describes the left of the line in “an orchard” and a position from which they could see the creek).  You’ll finally see the regiment’s proper position on this map.

Of the two actions, however, plotting Devin’s skirmish in the early afternoon of July 1 north of town proved to be the most difficult.  In my 30 years of studying it, in fact, I’ve never seen a map of it at all.  Brad Gottfriend, in his wonderful recent book The Maps of Gettysburg, doesn’t begin his maps in this area until Rodes’ full attack about 2:30pm.  David Martin didn’t map it in his book, and neither did Harry Pfanz.  I can’t blame any of them, because for most students the action here doesn’t get “exciting” until the attacks on the right flank of the Federal I and XI Corps begin.

Devin, however, dismounted nearly his entire brigade (about 1000 troopers when you subtract horseholders) and spread them from north of Oak Hill, across the Newville Road, and across the Harrisburg Pike.  The troopers north of Oak Hill and on the Newville Road confronted the advance of Rodes’ Division, especially his sharpshooters under Blackford.  I’ve had a pretty good handle on Devin’s dispositions over the years, and the past few days I dug deep into every primary source at hand just to map sure I would map it as accurately as possible.

For the first time, it will provide students (especially Day One nerds like me) a map to get a handle on Devin’s delaying action against Rodes (and later against Early as he advances on the Harrisburg Road), before the full-scale infantry fighting takes place north of town.  Devin’s actions here have really gotten overlooked until now.  Had his troopers not put up a decently stubborn fight against Rodes’ advance, the southerners may very well have advanced upon the right of the I Corps earlier than they did, rather than pausing on Oak Hill as Rodes assessed the situation.

It’s been fun (and sometimes a little nerve-wracking!) putting the maps together.  Over the next couple of days cartographer Steve Stanley will be emailing the maps back to me for revisions, etc., and I’ll get to see my scribbling turned into professional work.

Published in: on March 3, 2008 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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