American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Gettysburg - The Peach Orchard
Having caught the Federals off guard, Gen. Robert E. Lee determined to attack the Army of the Potomac on July 2. Gen. James Longstreet's newly arrived corps of infantry was marched south and attacked the Union's exposed left flank on Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet, who disagreed with Lee's plan, did not get his troops into position until mid-afternoon. As Longstreet's attack column was getting in place, Union Third corps chief, Gen. Daniel Sickles advanced his troops off of Cemetery Ridge to take advantage of what he deemed to be ground better suited for defense.
While Gen. John B. Hood's men toiled in the Devil's Den and on Little Round Top, Gen. Lafayette McLaws' division was rushing toward the salient of Sickles' position—a peach orchard on the east side of the Emmitsburg Road. With Gen. William Barksdale's brigade of Mississippians in the van, the Southerners smashed into Sickles' anemic battleline, causing the Yankees to bolt for the rear. Sickles attempted to stem the tide by feeding his regiments into the fray piecemeal—with disastrous results. With Sickles' men in full retreat, the confident Confederates drove on toward Cemetery Ridge.