July 2, 1863 - Second Day
"...horses were plunging and laying all around.... The enemy were yelling like demons, yet my men kept up a rapid fire...."
Capt. John Bigelow, U.S.A.
9th Massachusetts Artillery
Here at the farm of Abraham Trostle on the afternoon of July 2, Capt. John Bigelow positioned the six cannon of his 9th Massachusetts Battery. Attacking Confederates who had driven Bigelow back from the Peach Orchard had him backed up against the stone wall to your right.
As Bigelow prepared to "limber up" and retreat again, his superior, Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery, rode up with the order to hold the position "at all hazards" until a Union line could be established in the rear (to your right). Bigelow's gunners would have to face the Confederate onslaught without infantry support.
The cannoneers piled ammunition beside the guns for rapid loading. Soon Mississippians and South Carolinians crowded right up to the muzzles of the Union guns, only to be "blown away." When Confederate marksmen reached the farm buildings and began shooting cannoneers and their horses, Bigelow's men made their escape. The Confederates captured four cannon, but Bigelow had bought valuable time.
Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles
, controversial commander of the Union Third Corps, established his headquarters beside the Trostle barn here. As Sickles' line began to collapse on the afternoon of July 2, a Confederate cannonball struck the general's right leg. A stretcher-bearer slowed the bleeding with a saddle-strap tourniquet. Army surgeons amputated the leg that night.
Although many believe Sickles nearly lost
Gettysburg for the Union, he helped to save
it in 1895 by introducing legislation establishing Gettysburg National Military Park.