American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Gettysburg - South Calvary Field
While the Confederates assaulted the Union center, Federal cavalry commander Gen. Alfred Pleasonton issued an ambiguous directive to his subordinate on the southern part of the field, Gen. Hugh Judson Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick, with an order to strike the enemy “at the earliest opportunity,” launched a series of piecemeal mounted attacks against the Confederates astride the Emmitsburg Road and at the foot of Big Round Top.
West of the road, Gen. Wesley Merritt’s brigade met Georgians of Gen. George “Tige” Anderson’s brigade who, despite their blood-letting in Devil’s Den and the Wheatfield the day before, were able to parry Merritt’s thrust. Further to the East, one of Kilpatrick’s brigadiers, Gen. Elon Farnsworth, despaired at having to make a mounted charge against infantry over terrain broken by boulders and stone walls. Farnsworth’s charge was met by Alabamians and Texans of Hood’s division, who made quick work of repulsing the Federal horsemen. Among the casualties of Kilpatrick’s ill-conceived attack was Farnsworth himself.