On this day in the Civil War, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War begins at Gettysburg, Pa. Union cavalry under General John Buford withstands several attacks from Confederate troops east of town. Federal reinforcements arrive on the field, under the command of General John Reynolds. During the engagement General Reynolds is killed. Confederate forces overwhelm the Union troops, who retreat through the town and set up a defensive position on Cemetery Hill. The first day’s battle ends with Confederate troops occupying the town and Seminary Ridge.

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