American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Gettysburg - Pickett’s Charge
As the Confederate infantry approached, II Corps regiments along the front line took cover behind stone walls and fence rails, while I Corps reinforcements under John Newton hugged the ground along the east slope of the ridge. Nearly 20,000 Union soldiers were near the Confederate point of attack.
As the Confederates approached the Emmitsburg Road, they came under deadly musket fire from infantry and canister fire from artillery batteries. The stout post-and-rail fences on both sides of the road slowed the men down as they were forced to break ranks to climb over the obstacles. As the southerners reformed, Vermont regiments under George Stannard moved forward and flanked the attackers from the south, while the 8th Ohio and other regiments did the same from the north.
Garnett was killed and Kemper wounded on the slope of Cemetery Ridge. Fired on from three sides, most of Pickett’s men went down in front of John Gibbon’s division, while Pettigrew and Trimble’s men fell in front of the division of Alexander Hays. Only about 200 men pierced the Union line where it bent at an angle along a low stone wall, where Armistead was mortally wounded. Terrible, ferocious hand-to-hand fighting ensued inside the Union line. Although their line was briefly broken, Federal reinforcements proved to be too much for the Confederates to overcome, and the Union soldiers cheered as their unsuccessful foes fell back. When it ended, 6,000 Confederates, about half the attacking force, were killed, wounded or captured, and the survivors slowly fell back to Seminary Ridge.