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New photo gallery | June 30, 1863: Union cavalry poised to scrap with rebels in Gettysburg

Jun. 30, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  

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Re-enactors portraying Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's men begin an attack from their base of Little Round Top as part of the Blue Gray Alliance events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on June 29. (Rob Curtis/Staff)

New Photos from the Re-enactment Staff photographer Rob Curtis is at Gettysburg, Pa., covering events on the 150th anniversary of the battle. Above are photos from June 29. Click here for a gallery of photos from June 28.

Riding atop a white stallion named “Grey Eagle,” Union Cavalry commander Brig. Gen. John Buford arrived at this crossroads college town late this afternoon looking for a fight

As it turns out, Confederate units were on their way to Gettysburg today, as well, but they were hunting for something else: shoes.

The blister-toed, supply-starved rebel Army of Northern Virginia has had to forage for food and gear while making its long trek deep into Union territory. Drawn by reports that a stockpile of shoes and other supplies were stashed here, a contingent of Confederate troops were dispatched to see what they could find.

Top leaders on both sides are expecting to major battle somewhere in the area in the coming days.

With the rest of the rebel Army still converging from the north and west, however, the scouting party was under strict orders to avoid contact with Federal troops. That’s probably why, at the sight of Buford’s blue jackets near Gettysburg, the Confederate contingent turned back.

“General Buford sat on his horse in the street in front of me, entirely alone, facing to the west and in profound thought,” said Dan Skelly, a Gettysburg boy, who watched the cav commander near the intersection of Washington and Chambersburg Streets, apparently arriving at an important decision.

Buford said he is convinced the Confederates will return in force tomorrow. And he’ll be waiting.

That’s a bold move for a light-armed cavalry contingent. But with a division of infantry led by Maj. Gen. John Reynolds less than a day’s march away, Buford said he will fight and try to hold the high ground just south of Gettysburg until reinforcements arrive.

“By daylight I had gained positive information of the enemy’s position and movements, and my arrangements were made for entertaining him until General Reynolds could reach the scene,” Buford told Military Times, “we having the advantage of position, he of numbers.”

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