July 2, 1863, day two of the fighting at Gettysburg, found the corps of Lieutenant General James Longstreet launching an attack against the left of the Federal position. The resultant hard fighting produced many casualties among the roughly 94,000 Federal troops of Major General George Meade, and the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee – a force of almost 72,000 soldiers. The various battles of the day introduced new place names into the American lexicon – Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, The Peach Orchard, and The Wheatfield. The action in the Wheatfield involved several of more than 40 Georgia units engaged at Gettysburg; however, none would suffer as greatly as the 11th Georgia Infantry Regiment, part of Brigadier General George “Tige” Anderson’s brigade in Major General John Bell Hood’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps.
As the late afternoon of brutal fighting unfolded, the brave men of the 11th Georgia, along with other Georgians, South Carolinians, Texans, and Arkansans struggled to drive the Federal troops from the Wheatfield. Anderson’s brigade became the first Southern element to reach the Wheatfield. Once there, they confronted Colonel Regis de Trobriand’s brigade, specifically the soldiers of the 17th Maine positioned on their left. A stonewall dividing the Wheatfield from the surrounding countryside marked a coveted position on the field, and the Georgians twice crossed the barrier only to face a withering fire, which forced them to withdraw. Sometime after 5:30 p.m., Anderson fell wounded, and command of the brigade transferred to the 11th Georgia’s Colonel Francis Little. Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman took charge of the 11th until he too received a wound, leaving the Georgians to continue the fight under yet another new officer – twenty-six-year-old Major Henry McDaniel. McDaniel would survive the carnage of Gettysburg and the balance of the war’s engagements to become Georgia’s governor in 1883. Many of McDaniel’s men did not escape the arena of death in the Wheatfield. A Georgia officer participating in the attack noted, “We rallied the men and charged the third time almost into the mouths of their cannons…I could hear bones crash like glass in a hailstorm.” Three hundred nine soldiers of the 11th entered the battle of July 2; at the day’s end, the number of dead, wounded, or missing totaled 201, for a 65 percent casualty rate – among the highest in Lee’s entire army during the three days of fighting at Gettysburg.
 J. Keith Jones, Georgia Remembers Gettysburg: A Collection of First-Hand Accounts Written by Georgia Soldiers (Gettysburg, PA: Ten Roads Publishing, 2013), 21.
 J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley, The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9-July 14, 1863 (El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2012), 124.
Michael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center. He is a Civil War historian, author, and newspaper columnist, and a member of the Society of Civil War Historians. He serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and assists the Friends of Camp McDonald as a Civil War consultant.