July 1, 1863, had gone poorly for the Union army's XI Corps. Shattered in battle north of the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, the battered and embarrassed unit ended the day hunkered at the crest of a cemetery-topped hill south of the village. Reinforcements fortified the position, which extended eastward to include another key piece of high ground, Culp's Hill. The Federal line also extended southward down Cemetery Ridge, forming what eventually became a long fishhook.July 2 saw a massive Confederate attack against the southernmost part of the line. As the Southern juggernaut rolled inexorably northward, Federal troops shifted away from Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill to meet the threat. Just then, the Army of Northern Virginia's vaunted Second Corps launched itself at the weakened Federal right. The very men who, just the day before, broke the Union army resolved to break it once again.The ensuing struggle-every bit as desperate and with stakes every bit as high as the more-famous fight at Little Round Top on the far end of the line-left the entire Union position in the balance. "Stay and fight it out," one Union general counseled.Confederates were all too willing to oblige.
Authors Chris Mackowski, Kristopher D. White, and Daniel T. Davis started their Gettysburg account in Don't Give an Inch: The Second Day at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863-from Little Round Top to Cemetery Ridge. Picking up on the heels of its companion volume, Stay and Fight It Out: The Second Day at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863-Culp's Hill and the Northern End of the Battlefield they recount the often-overlooked fight that secured the Union position and set the stage for the battle's fateful final day.