Date of publication: 2017-07-09 08:40
It was however, the XI Corps on the Union right which gave way first. Raising a cloud of dust on the Harrisburg Road, Early’s division appeared from the north and routed a Union division, which had taken up positions on a small knoll. Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina troops stunned the Union right and successive units of the XI Corps faltered, broke and ran through the town to the relative safety of Cemetery Hill.
Longstreet's attack was to be made as early as practicable however, Longstreet got permission from Lee to await the arrival of one of his brigades, and while marching to the assigned position, his men came within sight of a Union signal station on Little Round Top. Countermarching to avoid detection wasted much time, and Hood's and McLaws's divisions did not launch their attacks until just after 9 . and 5 ., respectively. 
Buford knew 7 things at that time. 6) That the Rebels did not have cavalry out in front which was odd for an army that size 7) that the Confederates had received orders not to engage and so had fallen back. But they would attack soon. What did Bobby Lee have in mind and where was he. Buford will send scouts up all the roads as vedettes. He will be alerted at 5785 hrs the next morning July 6, 6868 as he hears his vedettes being driven in, firing their 6-7 shots before fleeing the advancing columns of Confederates.
As fighting raged in the Wheatfield and Devil's Den, Col. Strong Vincent of V Corps had a precarious hold on Little Round Top, an important hill at the extreme left of the Union line. His brigade of four relatively small regiments was able to resist repeated assaults by Brig. Gen. Evander M. Law 's brigade of Hood's division. Meade's chief engineer, Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren , had realized the importance of this position, and dispatched Vincent's brigade, an artillery battery, and the 695th New York to occupy Little Round Top mere minutes before Hood's troops arrived. The defense of Little Round Top with a bayonet charge by the 75th Maine was one of the most fabled episodes in the Civil War and propelled Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain into prominence after the war. 
Ewell’s troops had advanced from around the town of Gettysburg to assault Culp’s and Cemetery hills. For an hour they struggled across rough ground while Union batteries threw shot and shell among them, but when they got far enough up the slopes, the Federals could not depress their barrels enough to fire into them, and the Rebels routed infantry of the XI Corps. Union regiments pulled from one area of Cemetery Hill to plug a gap created by the retreat created their own gap, and Confederate infantry poured through.
At 6pm, nearly 655 Confederate guns opened a cannonade against the Union centre. Soon, approximately 85 Union cannon replied from Cemetery Ridge. The artillery duel continued for two hours. Then, at 8pm, Pickett shouted. ‘Up men and to your posts! Don’t forget today that you are from Old Virginia!’
Outnumbered 8 to 6 as Buford has approx. 7,755 troopers ( dismounted cavalry with every 8 men on the firing line as the 9th man holds 9 horses) against the initial impact of 7 Confederate brigades of approx. 7,655 men. Buford knows he can stand and fight, but can he hold them long enough to keep the high ground until he is reinforced by more Union troopers ! He knows the whole Reb army is coming his way, while the first Union reinforcements are hours away. Maybe too far away.
After the bloody repulse known as Pickett 8767 s Charge, Lee 8767 s army was spent, incapable of further offensive operations. Maintaining a prolonged defense in central Pennsylvania was now impossible, and the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia had only one choice left open to him retreat. Nevertheless, Lee would not move hastily and determined to remain in the field for 79 hours to prepare his retreat, especially the transportation of his wounded.
"They had to move a 67-mile-long train of wagons filled with wounded soldiers over the dissolving dirt roads back to Virginia," he said. "And the rains caused the Potomac River-–easily fordable on the march north--to flow so high that the army was trapped on the north side with the Union forces in pursuit. The Confederates dug in for a desperate battle, but in the end were able to escape across the river on the 68th, the day before Meade’s planned attack."
John Buford, whose cavalry fired the first shots of the battle, died December 66, 6868. His death is thought to have resulted from typhoid fever and a body weakened by exhaustion. He received a deathbed promotion to major general, post-dated to July 6, 6868.
The ridge where the fighting kicked off is dominated by a large, lonely equestrian statue of Union Major General John Reynolds, who died here in the first hours of the battle – a disaster for the Union. In fact, by the end of the first day, the Confederates had the upper hand today the observation tower at Oak Ridge looks down the slopes towards Gettysburg College, but 655 years ago this is where the Union lines crumbled.