Wednesday, July 1, 1863
After resting one day at Uniontown the Second Corps was rushed to Taneytown, Maryland, where they heard the news of the wounding of Union General John Reynolds, commander of the First Corps, at Gettysburg. General George Meade dispatched Second Corps Commander Winfield Scott Hancock to Gettysburg and placed General John Gibbon in temporary command of the Second Corps. As the Twentieth Massachusetts approached Gettysburg they heard artillery fire and knew that a fierce battle was in progress. The Second Corps formed a close marching column and no one was allowed to fall out of rank for any reason. By nightfall the Second Corps arrived at Gettysburg, where the men learned of the events of the day. General John Reynolds had been killed just west of Gettysburg in the morning as he led the Iron Brigade of the First Corps into battle. The First and Eleventh Corps fought desperately until the afternoon, when the Union line collapsed and the Confederates rushed into Gettysburg. General Winfield Scott Hancock rushed to the newly-formed Union line on Cemetery Hill and ordered the men to hold this line at all costs. The Confederates rushed Cemetery Hill but were beaten back by the Union forces. Although the day was viewed as a Confederate victory the Union forces held the high ground around Gettysburg and were in a superior position for a renewed contest. 1
1George A. Bruce, The Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1861 - 1865 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Riverside Press, 1906), 268-73.