In July of 1863 the Western Maryland Railroad connected Gettysburg to the east, and an unfinished extension paralleled Chambersburg Pike (now US 30) on the west side of town. Although rails had not yet been laid, the roadbed was finished, including a series of three cuts through the north-south ridges. On the afternoon of July 1st these served as protection to Confederate units advancing on the field, but became a fatal trap when Union troops attacked the cut. The railroad was completed after the war and is still in daily use today.
Troops from Confederate Brigadier General Joseph R. Davis’s Brigade – the 2nd Mississippi, 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina – took shelter in the middle cut as the Union 6th Wisconsin, joined by the 84th and 95th New York, attacked from the south. The 6th’s Lieutenant Colonel Rufus Dawes reported that around 160 out of the 450 men of his regiment fell in the charge. But when they reached the cut Confederate troops found it almost impossible to return fire due to the steep sides of the embankment. Many Confederates were killed and over two hundred captured.