As the month of June 1863 came to a close, the Southern Army of Northern Virginia continued their advance into what
they considered Union territory. With a string of major victories under their belts, confidence remained high that the men in gray and
butternut could defeat the Federal Army yet again, this time on Northern soil. On June 29, 1863, Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell
Hill's Confederate 3rd Corps reached Cashtown, eight miles west of the town of Gettysburg. As General Lee's forces moved further into
Pennsylvania, gathering supplies from the prosperous farms of the lush countryside, the three Corps remained outside of easy
supporting distance, believing that the Federal Army yet remained in Virginia. Only the perceived distance between the two contending
armies rendered safe the distance between Lee's scattered forces.
With Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart unusually silent, both his whereabouts and that of the Federal Army remained unknown
to Lee. One day before Hill's arrival in Cashtown, the same day that President Lincoln ordered Major General George Gordon
Meade to assume command of the Army of the Potomac, General Lee received startling news compelling him to bring his dispersed
Corps together quickly. In his official report, General Lee noted the reasoning behind the sudden need to concentrate his forces.
A few days earlier, a Confederate spy offered what
General JEB Stuart
had not. The Union Army had moved closer than previously thought. "Preparations were now made to advance upon Harrisburg; but,
on the night of the 28th, information was received from a scout that the Federal Army, having crossed the Potomac, was advancing
northward, and that the head of the column had reached the South Mountain. As our communications with the Potomac were thus
menaced, it was resolved to prevent his farther progress in that direction by concentrating our army on the east side of the
mountains. Accordingly, Longstreet and Hill were directed to proceed from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, to which point General
Ewell was also instructed to march from Carlisle.
…By the route he (General Stuart) pursued, the Federal Army was interposed between his command and our main body,
preventing any communication with him until his arrival at Carlisle. The march toward Gettysburg was conducted more slowly than
it would have been had the movements of the Federal Army been known."
On the night of the 30th, Lt. General Longstreet's Corps camped at Greenwood, Pennsylvania, 17 miles west of Gettysburg. As
noted, Lt. General A. P. Hill's 3rd Corps bivouacked at Cashtown. Lt. General Richard S. Ewell's three Divisions had spread
themselves farther still. Major General Robert Rodes' Division of Ewell's Corps was at Heidlersburg, about 11 miles northeast
of Gettysburg and perhaps 24 miles from Longstreet. Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Division, also of
Ewell's Corps was at Green Village, some 24 miles northwest of Gettysburg. Major General Jubal Early moved his Division away
from the area of York towards South Mountain on June 30th, ending his march three miles outside of Heidlersburg. Despite
believing that they were as yet safe from the blue coats, General Lee's orders, to not bring on a general engagement should they
make contact with the enemy, remained in effect.
General Hill then noted on the 30th, "On arriving at Cashtown, General Heth, who had sent forward Pettigrew's brigade to
Gettysburg, reported that Pettigrew had encountered the enemy at Gettysburg (principally cavalry), but in what force he could
not determine. A courier was then dispatched with this information to the general commanding, and with orders to start Anderson
early; also to General Ewell, informing him, and that I intended to advance the next morning and discover what was in my
And so, on July 1, 1863, General Heth would find the Union Cavalry of Brigadier General John Buford positioned northwest of
the town. With the initial fatal shots that morning, the Battle of Gettysburg would begin.