(Click to enlarge the photo for better viewing of the details)
Elements of Albert Jenkins’ brigade of Confederate mounted infantry from (west) Virginia form dismounted skirmish battle lines on Cress Ridge (right center) during the Battle of Gettysburg. In the foreground is Col. John R. Chambliss’s mounted brigade on Hoffman Ridge. Photo of a game presented at Historicon a few years ago by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.
In the center of the above photograph is the Rummel farm, which changed hands several times during the often savage encounter. To the upper left along the Stallsmith farm lane is the Virginia brigade of FitzHugh Lee, which will later launch a major mounted attack that will be met by a pair of Michigan regiments. At the right center, dismounted Federals of George Armstrong Custer’s 6th Michigan skirmish with Jenkins’ men, now commanded by Lt. Col. Vincent Witcher. In the distance (top right corner) is John McIntosh’s Union brigade, which includes the 3rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry.
The fight at the East Cavalry Field is often ignored by the casual Gettysburg battlefield tourist, who often does not have the interest or knowledge to take the short drive from downtown Gettysburg out PA Route 116 to the ECF site. My daughter, as a high school junior, practiced her driving skills on the narrow park service roads, as I knew there would be very little traffic visiting this somewhat out-of-the-way location. In general, only hard core Gettysburgphiles frequent East Cavalry Field.
Recently, the July 3, 1863, fight at East Cavalry Field has become much more popular among modern scholars and writers, with recent books by Eric J. Wittenberg (excellent!), Tom Carhartt (inaccurate and not recommended), and others (including a good overview by Brent Nosworthy in his new book Roll Call to Destiny: The Soldier’s Eye View of Civil War Battles) taking quite opposing views on what transpired in these now hallowed fields and woodlots. George Rummel III’s book, Cavalry on the Road to Hanover and Hunterstown offers some nice perspective on earlier engagements during the Gettysburg Campaign.
The modern East Cavalry Field is split, with a large portion protected and part of the Gettysburg National Military Park, and other large tracts in private hands, including a very ugly trailer park along the Hanover Road (State Route 116). The bulk of East Cavalry Field is well preserved, thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service, as well as a local resident who lives in the Rummel house and actively farms much of the old battlefield. His collection of relics from the field is diverse and interesting, as well as historically significant.
Wargamers who may wish to recreate this battle in miniature are directed to my regimental-level scenario for East Cavalry Field (and more photos!) that appeared in Volume 2 of Enduring Valor: Gettysburg in Miniature, produced and published by Ivor Janci of Marek/Janci Design. This scenario (written for the Johnny Reb 3 gaming rules) has been played dozens of times, and the results are always unpredictable.