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"The Wheatfield"
Image Size 12" x 22"
Release Date: April 2002
Edition size 400: 40 A/P: 20 P/P
Price: $200.00 each


“The Wheatfield” was created especially as a book cover for Jay Jorgensen's soon to be released "Gettysburg's Bloody Wheatfield". This book will be the first full length minute by minute account of the relentless fighting that occurred in George Weikart’s Wheatfield during the second day's battle of Gettysburg.

Late in the afternoon, on July 2, the fighting in the Wheatfield was characterized by desperate Federal efforts to reinforce Sickle’s rapidly collapsing “Peach Orchard line”. Parts of General George Sykes’ 5th Corps were rushed in to the Wheatfield to stem the Confederate advance along that front. Two brigades of Major General James Barnes' First Division, including the 17th Maine, took position along a stone wall in the southwest corner of the field. They were attacked by General George Anderson’s Georgia Brigade. The Union troops held their own until J. B. Kershaw’s Brigade joined the fight, forcing Barnes’ two brigades to fall back. General Hancock was ordered by Meade to send Caldwell’s division in support of Sykes’ faltering 5th Corps.

Under the fluttering waves of the National Colors and the green regimental flags of The Irish Brigade, Caldwell’s division advanced through the Wheatfield towards its Southwest corner toward the Stony Hill. The division was at first uncontested, but then marched into the right flank of the 7th South Carolina of Kershaw’s Brigade. At least one volley was exchanged and then the men rushed into the tree line and up the hill.

Gradually the 7th SC line bent back and gave way, retreating back to the Rose Farm. The brunt of Caldwell’s attack then fell upon Kershaw’s 3rd South Carolina. At this point Kelly’s and Zook’s Brigades slightly overlapped and became intermingled. Kershaw’s 2nd and 3rd SC had partial protection from the top of the hill. The battle became fierce, a confused mass of men in close quarters fighting desperately, sometimes hand to hand with both sides taking heavy casualties. The remnants of Kershaw’s Brigade were eventually driven off the Stony Hill and back toward the Rose Farm.

Caldwell’s Division had cleared the wheatfield and reestablished Sykes’ original line as ordered. However, Caldwell’s two flanks were dangling with no support at either side. As Caldwell was scrambling for reinforcements to rectify that situation, Woffard’s Brigade of Georgians rushed down the Wheatfield road and struck unexpectedly against the right flank of his Division. Along with Anderson’s assault on the Division’s left and renewed attacks against the center by Kershaw’s reorganized men, the division began to be forced back. Ultimately the entire division was forced to retreat through the Wheatfield towards Cemetery Ridge. More casualties ensued as this overwhelming attack swept them back across the trampled and bloodied wheat.

The Confederate counterattack soon lost momentum when new Union reinforcements arrived. Meade was sending in every unit he could to secure his left flank. General Crawford’s 3rd Division, PA reserves of the 5th Corps were sent forward. Through the Valley of Death, to the eastern edge of the Wheatfield, these fresh troops were finally enough to halt the battered and exhausted Confederates of Longstreet’s Corps.

Caldwell’s Division had been in action for nearly two hours. Col. Kelly was the only Brigade commander in Caldwell’s Division not wounded or killed during the engagement. General Brooke was severely wounded in the ankle. General Zook and Col. Cross both died within days of the mortal wounds they received.
As darkness settled across the second days’ battlefield, nearly 4,000 casualties lay dead or wounded, strewn across the small area of the Wheatfield. The Union line remained intact along Cemetery Ridge and fresh units were available to defend the position once more the following day.

The drawing was created by referring to the official records and first person accounts of the fighting that occurred there. Newly discovered descriptions in unpublished sources that make up the bulk of Jay's book were also used as reference along with careful analization of period maps. Several site visits with the author and Gettysburg NPS Historian Eric Campbell yielded the vantage point represented in the artwork and confirmed the placement of the rail fence and other terrain features. Working closely with Jay and Eric, we tried to accurately recreate the historical and geographical landscape of the Wheatfield of July 2, 1863. Wheat has not been planted in Gettysburg’s wheatfield since the end of the 1800’s. Other wheatfields were sketched and photo referenced for the proper look of summer wheat.

The wheat and the split rail fence line suggest how the Wheatfield must have appeared at the time of the battle. The 115th Pennsylvania, 17th Maine and the other monuments represent the Wheatfield as it looks today. Like most of the bloody fields of Gettysburg, the peaceful quality of the park today belies the confusion and horror that took place there 140 years ago. By combining these two time periods into one drawing, I hoped to illicit a feeling of displaced time for the viewer by creating an imaginative and dramatic "then and now" vision of the Wheatfield.

Paul R. Martin III
April, 2001

To Purchase the book "Gettysburg"s Bloody Wheatfield" by Jay Jorgensen, contact whitemane publishing co. at

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