Except for the absent windswept strands of golden wheat, the gently rolling fields that today surround the
McPherson Farm barn likely resemble those that greeted the soldiers of the contending armies early on July 1, 1863. During a desperate
early morning struggle, the black-hatted Midwesterners of the Iron Brigade repulsed the attack of the men of Brigadier General
James J. Archer's Confederate Brigade.
To the right or north of the barn, which dates from before the battle, (just out of site in this image) stands one of three
battlefield monuments to Major General John Fulton Reynolds. Earlier in June of 1863, President Lincoln had offered command of
the Army of the Potomac to General Reynolds when the former became disenchanted with then Commander Major General Joseph
"Fighting Joe" Hooker. Reynolds recommended instead his old friend Major General George Gordon Meade and turned down the
promotion because he would not be granted the requested freedom from the dictates of Washington. Ironically, General Reynolds
would now command the Union side of the field as the Battle of Gettysburg surged forward.
modern day Route 30, the Chambersburg Pike in 1863, runs past the McPherson Farm seen above. Just North of the Pike near the Reynolds
monument stands a set of Union guns marking the position of the 2nd Maine Artillery. Captain James Hall, the battery's commander,
wrote a letter to General John L. Hodsdon, also of Maine, which spoke of the ferocity of this days fighting.
"We again bore the brunt of the battle at Gettysburg on the 1st day of July (and the first of the fight). I was the
advance Artillery of the Army of the Potomac and was engaged for more than an hour before any battery came to our assistance.
And you may well know we got badly hurt. 36 horses & 22 men in about one hour and a half - My loss in men was many of them
slightly wounded and several taken prisoner so close was the action. We were so reduced in horses that we were obliged to drag
two guns off by hand. The boys fought like the D-, never better. You may judge when I tell you that many of our horses were not
shot but bayoneted that it was a close and desperate struggle for our guns, two of which they actually had hold of at one time.
I have seen hard fighting before. And been badly smashed up, but I never saw a battery taken from the field and its guns saved
in so bad a state as the Old Second came of that day. On Thursday and Friday we were engaged on Cemetery Hill and suffered only
slightly. - The victory on our part on Friday the 3d was most glorious.
We are in line of battle and momentarily expecting a battle although I think at times Lee has escaped. - As soon as we get into
camp, the monthly return for June will be forth coming.
I have the honor
to be very Respectfully
Your Obt. Servt.
James A. Hall"