High-water mark of the Confederacy
|High-Water Mark of the Confederacy|
|Location||Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg National Military Park|
July 3, 1863
The high-water mark of the Confederacy refers to an area on Cemetery Ridge near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, marking the farthest point reached by Confederate forces during Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. Similar to a high water mark of water, the term is a reference to arguably the Confederate Army's best chance of achieving victory in the war. The line of advance was east of "The Angle" stone wall.
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This designation was invented by government historian John B. Bachelder after the war when the monuments of the Gettysburg Battlefield were being erected. Some historians have argued that the battle was the turning point of the war and that this was the place that represented the Confederacy's last major offensive operation in the Eastern Theater.
On the third day of the battle (July 3, 1863), Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered an attack on the Union center, located on Cemetery Ridge. This offensive maneuver called for almost 12,500 men to march over 1,000 yards (900 m) of dangerously open terrain.
Preceded by a massive but mostly ineffective Confederate artillery barrage, the march across open fields toward the Union lines became known as Pickett's Charge; Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett was one of three division commanders under the command of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, but his name has been popularly associated with the assault. Union guns and infantry on Cemetery Ridge opened fire on the advancing men, inflicting a 50% casualty rate on the Confederate ranks. One of Pickett's brigade commanders was General Lewis Addison Armistead. His men were able to breach the Union lines in just one place, a bend in the wall that has become known as "the Angle". This gap in the Union line was hastily closed, with any Confederate soldiers who had breached it being quickly captured or killed, including Armistead.
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia retreated the next day, leaving Gettysburg for Virginia. Even though the war lasted almost another two years, Lee launched few offensive operations during that time, none of them near the scale of the Gettysburg Campaign.
|Panorama of the High-Water Mark from The Photographic History of the Civil War: In the center of the panorama rises Cemetery Ridge, where the defeated 1st and 11th Federal Corps slept on their arms on the night of July 1st, after having been driven back through the town by the superior forces of Hill and Ewell. The lower eminence to the right of it is Culp's Hill. At the extreme right of the picture stands Round Top.|
Some of the monuments at the high-water mark include:
- The High Water Mark of the Rebellion Monument is a bronze tablet marking the turning point of Pickett's Charge.
- The 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument (1891) is a statuary monument denoting where Union forces (including the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry) beat back Confederate forces engaged in Pickett's Charge.
- The Alonzo Cushing Marker indicates the "spot where Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing was mortally wounded"
- The 1887 Lewis A. Armistead Marker marks the spot where Confederate General Lewis Armistead placed his hand on a Union cannon before collapsing with mortal wounds. Armistead was one of 1500 Confederate Virginians that broke through the Union line at The Angle.
- The New York 1st Independent Artillery Memorial commemorates the Cowan Battery which fired on Pickett's Charge and had a cannon temporarily captured by Armistead's troops.
- Bachelder, John B (1892), High Water Mark of the Rebellion Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, archived from the original (NPS.gov webpage about monument) on 2011-07-21, retrieved 2011-02-11,
rear tablet added 1895 (MN389) listing directors of Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. All 9'H.
- "List of Classified Structures: The Angle Stone Wall, Structure Number WA03". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
Stone wall consists of dry-laid field granite stones and measures 4'0"H x 3'9"H x 1030'. Originally separated the Leister and Small Farm properties from Biggs Farm property.
- Desjardin, Thomas A. These Honored Dead: How the Story of Gettysburg Shaped American Memory. ISBN 0-30681-382-3
- "List of Classified Structures: Alonzo Cushing Marker: MN394". 1887. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
1 of 16 Civil War Monuments of the GBMA Era (1863 - 1895) commerating killed or wounded officers. Indicates spot where Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing was mortally wounded July 3, 1863. Located in the Angle near the Battery marker.
- Butler, John M. (1885). The Battle of Gettysburg: An Historical Account.
Armistead answers the challenge: "Give them the cold steel, boys!" and lays his hand upon a gun. But, at that moment, by the side of Cushing, his young and gallant adversary, intrepid Armistead falls, pierced with balls. They both lie at the foot of the clump of trees, which marks the extreme point reached by the Confederates in this, their supremest effort. Where Cushing and Armistead lie is where the tide of invasion stops. The Confederate cause is buried there: there, beneath the blood of as brave soldiers as ever carried sword or faced the march of death. The men who came forward here, when defeated, did not fall back: there was no one left to return.
- "NPGallery Asset Detail: Lewis A. Armistead Marker". npgallery.nps.gov.
First marker erected to commemorate fallen Confederate commander. Denotes site where Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead was mortally wounded. Located in the Angle area, W of Cushing's Battery. Mn base 2'x2' smooth cut. Shaft designed to simulate opening scroll w/incised inscription in face. Badly eroded. All 4'6"H. Inscription: Brigadier General LEWIS A. ARMISTEAD C.S.A. Fell Here July 3, 1863.
- "It's Again A Tented Field: Sickles And Longstreet At Gettysburg" (PDF). New York Times. July 1, 1888. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
The stone marked the spot where Armistead put his hand on a Union cannon and said, "Gentlemen, this gun is ours." In another moment he was [wounded].
- "A Gettysburg Reunion" (Google News Archive). The Canaseraga Times. July 8, 1887. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
One of the dramatic incidents of the day took place at the bloody angle where 1,500 Virginians broke through the lines held by their hosts, and where the three monuments were dedicated on the 3d [of July, 1887].
- "Monument to the 1st New York Independent Battery at Gettysburg".
- "1st NY Independent Battery Regiment during the Civil War - NY Military Museum and Veterans Research Center". dmna.ny.gov.