A delicate, comforting snow blankets the ground where thousands suffered and died at the edge of what had been
farmer Sherfy's Peach Orchard. Late on July 2nd, 1863, as the summer sun sank closer to the western horizon, CSA Brigadier General
William Barksdale waited with growing impatience in Pitzer's Woods, yearning to take his brigade into the raging battle unfolding
in his front. When Lt. General Longstreet gave the command, Barksdale's rightmost regiment, the 21st Mississippi, would seize the
moment and ferociously surge forward with the other determined Mississippians. As they hit Major General Sickle's collapsing line,
one of the men from the 21st shouted out to a New Jersey Battery, "Halt you Yankee sons of bitches. We want those guns!"
Corporal Samuel Ennis of Battery B, First New Jersey Light replied in like fashion, "Go to hell! We want to use them yet a
Corporal Ennis and the survivors of Battery B would exhaust
their ammunition and withdraw from the field. But, despite 20 casualties and the loss of many of their horses, they would keep their
Union General Sickles' 3rd Corps line is often described as a paper thin and easily overtaken. Perhaps he could have better positioned
his men. Yet, the monument's inscription speaks to the actual intensity of the fighting.
"Fought here from 2 until 7 o'clock,
on July 2, 1863,
firing 1,300 rounds of ammunition.
Losses: Killed 1, Wounded 16, Missing 3."
Colonel Freeman McGilvery, commander of much of the Union artillery sent to support Major General Sickles on this portion
of the field, would later walk over the ground swept by Battery B 1st New Jersey and two Massachusetts batteries. Talking
about the response of Confederate Brigadier General Joseph Kershaw's Brigade to the brutal Federal case, shell, and canister
fire, Colonel McGilvery would write:
"At about 5 o'clock
a heavy column of rebel infantry made its appearance in a grain-field about 850 yards in front, moving at quick time toward the woods
on our left, where the infantry fighting was then going on. A well-directed fire from all the batteries was brought to bear upon them,
which destroyed the order of their march and drove many back into the woods on their right, though the main portion of the column
succeeded in reaching the point for which they started, and sheltered themselves from the artillery fire. In a few minutes another and
larger column appeared at about 750 yards, presenting a slight left flank to our position. I immediately trained the entire line of our
guns upon them, and opened with various kinds of ammunition. The column continued to move on at double-quick until its head reached a
barn and farm-house immediately in front of my left battery, about 450 yards distant, when it came to a halt. I gave them canister and
solid shot with such good effect that I am sure that several hundred were put hors de combat in a short space of time. The column was
broken-part fled in the direction from whence it came; part pushed on into the woods on our left; the remainder endeavored to shelter
themselves in masses around the house and barn. After the battle, I visited the position where this column in its confusion massed up
around the house and barn heretofore mentioned, and found 120 odd dead, belonging to three South Carolina regiments. This mortality was
no doubt from the effect of the artillery fire."