Gettysburg National Military Park | EAST CAVALRY BATTLEFIELD SITE

East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park

East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park

On July 3, 1863, while the Confederate infantry was making a disastrous charge against the Army of the Potomac on Cemetery Ridge, Confederate and Union cavalry units were fighting each other on the Lott and Rummel farms four miles east of the main battlefield. On the morning of the 3rd, Confederate Cavalry Division commander Major General J. E. B. Stuart maneuvered his estimated 5,000 men around the right flank of the Union with plans to attack its position on Cemetery Ridge from the rear, should the infantry charge be successful. Standing in his way along Hanover and Lower Dutch roads on what is now known as East Cavalry Battlefield was one brigade of Brigadier General David Gregg’s cavalry division and the Michigan Cavalry Brigade commanded by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer, the same man who was later killed at Little Big Horn in June 1876. Union troops numbered around 4,500.

Custer Avenue at the East Cavalry Battlefield in Gettysburg

Custer Avenue at the East Cavalry Battlefield in Gettysburg

Fighting began around 2 PM and lasted about two hours. The Union cavalry was able to repulse multiple charges by Stuart’s cavalry and even mounted its own attack on three sides of the Confederate line in heavy hand-to-hand combat. Stuart eventually retreated back to Cress Ridge and remained their until nightfall. There was no decisive winner, but Stuart did fail in his attempt to reach Cemetery Ridge. The Confederates suffered 181 casualties and the Union 254.

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

The East Cavalry Battlefield site is part of Gettysburg National Military Park, though very few people make the journey to visit it. There are no facilities or trails on the battlefield, just monuments and some artillery exhibits. I didn’t see another person when I was there in mid-August, a marked contrast to the thousands of people I left behind at the main battlefield.

The roads through East Cavalry Battlefield—United States Cavalry Avenue, Gregg Avenue, and Confederate Cavalry Avenue—are only wide enough for one vehicle, and they are not one-way roads. That ought to tell you that the National Park Service isn’t too worried about multiple vehicles coming in opposite directions that often. In such circumstances, one vehicle must pull over onto the grass. The three roads connect together, so there is only one way through the battlefield—enter one end and exit the other.

Cannon along United States Cavalry Avenue at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg

Cannon along United States Cavalry Avenue at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg

One unique monument at East Cavalry Battlefield is the Gregg Cavalry Shaft that was dedicated in 1884. It is the only monument at Gettysburg that honors both Union and Confederate cavalry. Three sides of the base are inscribed with the names of all units that participated in the fighting at the Lott and Rummel farms.

Gregg Cavalry Shaft (1884), East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg

Gregg Cavalry Shaft (1884), East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg

The following are photos of some of the other monuments at East Cavalry Battlefield (dedication dates are in parenthesis).

Michigan Cavalry Brigade Monument (1889) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

Michigan Cavalry Brigade Monument (1889) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

Maryland Cavalry, Company A, Purnell Legion Monument (1890) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

Maryland Cavalry, Company A, Purnell Legion Monument (1890) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

1st New Jersey Cavalry Monument (1888) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

1st New Jersey Cavalry Monument (1888) at East Cavalry Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park

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Last updated on September 5, 2022
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