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Below are my pictures of hand-to-hand fighting at the Angle on the third day at Gettyburg.

The figures are my kit-based SST 1st Texas and custom 72nd PVI that I have posted before. I was intending to do another diorama and was fooling around with poses with my 1st Texas and this scene popped into my mind.

The battle at the Angle is the high point of Pickett's Charge on the third day of Gettysburg. Shown in Ted Turner's Gettysburg, I've taken some poetic license. The 1st Texas wasn't at the Angle so I removed his kepi and replaced it with the ubiquitous slouch hat. So now he can be part of Armistead's Brigade. The 72nd PVI held the stone wall, but retreated before the Rebs made it too the wall. So my little scene is of a Reb that MIGHT have run ahead of the main line and a stalwart Yank that MIGHT have remained behind. In any event, it makes a nice scene.

Battle at the Angle from the National Park Service

Within the acre of ground surrounding the clump of trees was the famed "Philadelphia Brigade" composed of regiments raised in and around the city of Philadelphia, under the command of Brig. General Alexander Webb. A West Point graduate and former instructor at the school, Webb's primary war experience had been as a staff officer. He had been assigned to command the brigade after the former commander was placed under arrest while on the march north, and was still unfamiliar with many of its officers and men. These veteran Philadelphians had seen nothing to equal the mass of gray-clad humanity charging toward them from the Emmitsburg Road. From behind the low stone wall that still frames the Angle, Webb's men rose and delivered a blast of musketry into the faces of Pickett's men. Private Anthony McDermott of the 69th Pennsylvania saw, "Our first round was fired with deliberation and simultaneously, and threw their front line into confusion, from which they quickly rallied and opened their fire upon us." As if leaning into a windstorm, the Confederates forged ahead, driving toward the Angle. Hundreds more fell from the Union volleys while those in the rear ranks pushed forward. Southerners returned the fire, loading and aiming while they trotted up the slope toward the wall. Lt. Cushing's last two guns blasted canister into the solid mass until Cushing was killed and the guns abandoned. And somewhere in the crowd was General Garnett, still on horseback and encouraging his men forward.

At the wall were two of Webb's larger regiments, the 69th Pennsylvania and eight companies of the 71st Pennsylvania. His last regiment, the 72nd Pennsylvania and two companies of the 106th Pennsylvania Infantry were on the reverse side of Cemetery Ridge. Webb sent orders for these to come forward as Pickett's Confederates swarmed to the Angle. "The enemy advanced steadily to the fence," Webb observed, "driving out a portion of the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteers." The 71st's soldiers raced back and headlong into the 72nd, just then arriving at the crest. The intermingled regiments opened a crash of rifle fire into the Angle, cutting down friend and foe alike in the dense smoke that began to obscure the battle positions. Webb ran to the front of the 72nd in an attempt to order them to charge, but no one could distinguish his commands above the perfect roar of musketry. Moments later, the southerners dashed over the wall. "General Armistead passed over the fence with probably over 100 of his command and several battle flags," Webb reported. "The 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered up to hold the crest and advanced to within forty paces of the enemy's line. The 69th Pennsylvania and most of the 71st Pennsylvania, even after the enemy were in their rear, held their position."

"Pickett's Charge", drawn soon after the battle for a New York newspaper by Alfred Waud.
National Archives
Congregating along the stone wall in front of the Union positions, the Virginians from Garnett's brigade mixed with soldiers from Pettigrew's column had been temporarily blocked by the storm of rifle fire from the Philadelphians. Regiments were hopelessly intermingled and all order was lost. Pushing his way through the crowd with sword and hat still held high, General Lewis Armistead reached the soldiers by the fence. Though everyone was loading and firing at Webb's men, no one had yet crossed over. "We cannot stay here," he roared. "Give them the cold steel, boys!" Armistead leapt the wall, followed by a handful of his soldiers. More followed. Racing through the dense smoke, Armistead placed a hand upon an abandoned cannon where he suddenly fell, pierced through one arm by a minie ball. More southerners braved the fire to crowded around the fallen general and the angle was filled with red battle flags defiantly waving above the abandoned Union guns. Approximately 200 or more Confederates moved into the copse of trees to fire into the back of Union regiments still holding the stone wall. Union troops rushed into the small woods, headlong into the Confederates. Soldiers fired weapons at close range, rifles were swung as clubs, and bayonets thrust at the mass of bodies swirling through the trees, smoke and dust. The crisis of the battle had arrived; it was the "High Water Mark".

The southern troops were soon leaderless as more and more officers were killed or wounded. Crowded at the wall, many looked back for the promised supports though none came. South of the Angle, two regiments from Vermont had swung out in front of the Union line and fired into the flank of the Confederates around the wall. There was no escape from the brutal fire and southerners either ran or fell down to hide from the deadly volleys. In twos and threes, men started back to the Emmitsburg Road through the hail of gunfire. Sensing that the Confederates were about ready to break, the 72nd "Fire Zouaves" suddenly charged into the Angle to retake Cushing's guns. Confederates who could not escape threw down their weapons and raised their hands. The shooting died away as quickly as it had started and suddenly it was over. Pickett's Charge had failed. In the aftermath, Union soldiers rounded up both the living and dying in front the wall. Flags, swords, rifles and pistols were scooped up as prizes. The dead and wounded lay in heaps where canister had done its deadly work. In the Angle, Lt. Cushing's US Battery was a shambles of wrecked carriages with dead horses still strapped into their harnesses. Dead and wounded men lay scattered about the trees and throughout the brush and grass.

All three of Pickett's generals were lost, as well as most of his colonels. Generals Gibbon and Webb were both seriously wounded as was General Hancock, shot while directing the Vermont troops in their attack on Pickett's flank. A bullet passed through the pommel of his saddle and into his groin, carrying a nail with it and ripping open an artery. Quick-thinking aides applied a tourniquet to the general's leg while he dictated a note to General Meade on the Confederate repulse, adding "they must be low on ammunition for I was shot with a 10-penny nail." Hancock would eventually recover from his wound, but it would bother him with re-occuring infections for the remainder of his life

The ferocity of those long minutes spent within the area known as the Angle is difficult to imagine today. Cannon sit on iron carriages to mark the location of Cushing's guns, while at the wall stands monuments to three of Webb's regiments that turned back Garnett's and Armistead's soldiers- mute testaments to the horrors that took place at this site that afternoon.

Well Rumpled
1,014 Posts
Really like the 72 jacket CZ. Hand to hand was no fun in any historic period.
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