"The Devil's to Pay"


10:00 10:30-11:30 14:30-15:30

(Source: The Battle of Gettysburg, Military History Online)


Early in the morning on July 1st Confederate General Henry Heth moved toward Gettysburg from Cashtown on the Chambersburg Pike in search of supplies.  Heth’s entire division was mustered for the march after one of his brigade’s had returned and reported a sizeable force of Union cavalry near Gettysburg.  After exchanging a few shots with a Union cavalry picket post near Marsh Creek, Heth believed he may be facing some local militia and a small Union force as he approached Herr’s Ridge and Willoughby Run.  This belief was short-lived.  Heth discovered the Rebels were facing General Buford’s dismounted cavalry, which were sent forward at Willoughby Run to stall the Confederate advance.  Colonel William Gamble’s brigade of Buford’s division, supported by Lt. John H. Calef’s U.S. Battery with their breech loading carbines, did a fine job of delaying the Confederate approach.  The Rebels were stalled - but only for a short period. The intense fighting of the First Day was just beginning.

Two brigades commanded by Generals Archer and Davis pressed slowly ahead crossing Willoughby Run.  On Seminary Ridge from the copula of Schmucker Hall, General Buford was watching his men being pushed back from Willoughby Run when General John Reynolds, riding ahead of his First Corps coming up in support, asked Buford to hold out until his troops arrived.  “The devil’s to pay” exclaimed Buford.  Then he simply said “I reckon I can.” At the end of the first day the battle locations west of Gettysburg such as Herr’s Ridge, McPherson’s Woods, Willoughby Run, The Railroad Cut, Iverson’s Pits, Oak Hill, Schmucker Hall and Seminary Ridge would be etched into American history.  The Union forces were eventually driven back through the town, but the First Day’s delaying action gave the Union reinforcements enough time to arrive and secure the strategic advantage on Cemetery Ridge.

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Revised 01/25/2011