The First Division was commanded at Gettysburg by Brigadier General John C. Caldwell, who had been principal of an academy in Maine before the war.
On the afternoon of July 2nd he was ordered to take his division south from its position on Cemetery Ridge to the Wheatfield to counterattack the Confederate’s assault against Sickles’ Third Corps. Caldwell’s attack was hurried and poorly coordinated but cleared the Wheatfield and drove into the Rose Woods. But the division was quickly outflanked, and Caldwell was forced to withdraw in some confusion with heavy losses.
After dark the division returned to its original position on Cemetery Ridge. On July 3rd it sat out the bombardment preceding Pickett’s Charge with few casualties, then remained spectators as the Confederate attack struck the rest of the Second Corps just to the north.
From the monument:
Army of the Potomac
Brig. General John C. Caldwell
July 2. Arrived about 7 a.m. and went into position on the right of the Third Corps on the line between the Cemetery and Round Top. The Second Division on the right. Between 5 and 6 p.m. went to the Wheatfield subject to orders of Gen. Sykes in support of Third line. The line previously occupied byThird Brigade First Division Third Corps. Was engaged with Anderson’s Brigade Hood’s Division until sunset with heavy losses including Col. Cross and Gen. Zook killed early in the engagement. Returned to former position in Second Corps line.
July 3. The Division formed in single line threw up breastworks and remained in position until close of the battle.
Casualties Killed 18 Officers 169 Men Wounded 82 Officers 798 Men Captured or Missing 6 Officers 202 Men Total 1275