The monument to the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia is southwest of Gettysburg on West Confederate Avenue. The 1st Corps Headquarters marker is nearby. (West Confederate Avenue – Part 5 tour map)
The corps was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Lieutenant General James Longstreet (USMA ’42), the next senior Confederate officer at Gettysburg to Robert E. Lee. He had commanded the First Corps since it was established in the fall of 1862 and was the only experienced Confederate corps commander at Gettysburg, both Ewell and Hill having been promoted just a month before the battle.
The controversy of Longstreet’s role at Gettysburg has not diminished since the battle. He made no secret that he disapporved of Lee’s plans to attack the Federal lines on both July 2nd and 3rd, and his foot-dragging bordered on insubordination.
Nevertheless, the attack launched by his First Corps on July 2nd rocked the Army of the Potomac back on its heels and came close to acheiving its goals. The attack on July 3rd, of which only a third of the men (Pickett’s Division) belonged to the First Corps, was not as effective as the previous day but was still a dangerous blow.
For all his faults, Longstreet was always viewed by Lee as “his warhorse” and his right hand man. And the First Corps would always be the sledgehammer of the Army of Northern Virginia.
From the monument:
Army of Northern Virginia
First Army Corps
Lieutenant General James Longstreet
McLaws’s Division Major General Lafayette McLaws
Pickett’s Division Major General George E. Pickett
Hood’s Division Major General John B. Hood
Brigadier General E. M. Law
Artillery Reserve Ten Batteries
Colonel J. B. Walton
July 1. McLaws’ Division encamped about four miles from Gettysburg a little after dark. Hood’s Division reached the same distance about 12 P. M.Law’s Brigade on picket at New Guilford. Pickett’s Division guarding trains at Chambersburg.
July 2. Moved that portion of the command which was up to gain the Emmitsburg Road on Union left. Delayed attack until 3.30 P. M. when Law’s Brigadejoined from New Guilford. McLaws’ Division in position facing Union left. About 4 P. M. Hood’s Division moved further to the right and took position partially enveloping Union left. The batteries opened about 4 P. M. upon Union troops on Emmitsburg Road Hood’s Division pressing on left and McLaws’ in front the Union troops were dislodged. The engagement lasted until nearly night with heavy losses. The ground gained on the front was held. The left was withdrawn to first Union position at Peach Orchard.
July 3. Pickett’s Division reached the field at 9 A. M. Pickett’s Heth’s and part of Pender’s Divisionswere ordered to form column of assault on Union centre on Cemetery Hill. The batteries opened about 1 P. M. About 3 P. M. Pickett advanced in good order under a severe fire and was repulsed at the stone wall losing heavily McLaws’ and Hood’s Divisions were not seriously engaged during the day and night.
July 4. The Corps took up the line of march during the night.
Casualties Killed 910 Wounded 4339 Captured or Missing 2290 Total 7539
From the Headquarters Marker:
Army of Northern Virginia
1st Corps Headquarters
Major Genl. Lafayette McLaws
Major Genl. George E. Pickett
Major Genl. John B. Hood
July 1, 2 ,3 ,4, 5, 1863
These headquarters were located at a
school-house 900 yards westerly