On Thursday evening, Aug. 25, the Civil War Round Table of Gettysburg met at Benner’s Hill, just west of town on Hanover Road. The ground had been planted with corn in July 1863 and so it was this evening, as Licensed Battlefield Guide (LBG) Therese Orr spoke to Confederate movements on the far left flank of Lee’s army at Gettysburg. Born in the Midwest, Therese served 30 years with the United States Navy, retired as a Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist in 2007 and was licensed as an LBG in 2016. She also serves as coordinator of our Round Table Book Committee, which awards an annual prize for best book on the Gettysburg Campaign. Therese is a treasure.
In 1863, Benner’s Hill served as a rebel artillery platform, albeit not a very good one. The Battle of Gettysburg was all about the high ground. The highest ground on the Confederate left was Culp’s Hill. Robert E. Lee’s plans for July 2 had Major General Edward Johnson’s Division of 2nd Corps infantry attacking Culp’s Hill from the east. Any chance of success depended on artillery support. The guns on that side of the field were commanded by “Boy Major” Joseph Latimer. When the war started, the young man of the Old Dominion was a 17-year-old cadet at the Virginia Military Institute. Counting it his duty to fight for his home state, Latimer left school to take a commission with the Southern artillery and so impressed his superiors that one would call him “The Young Napoleon.”