Cemetery Hill 1

Cemetery Hill is a key terrain feature in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the northernmost extent of Cemetery Ridge. Cemetery Hill was originally named Raffensperger's Hill, after farmer Peter Raffensperger, who owned over 6 acres on the eastern slope.

Before the Civil War, it was the site of Evergreen Cemetery, a civilian burial ground established in 1854. It played prominent roles in all three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1 to July 3, 1863.

During the battle, Cemetery Hill was a critical part of the Union army defensive line, the curved portion of what is described as the 'fish-hook' line. There were three important characteristics to the hill. First, its gentle slope made it excellent defensive ground against the infantry tactics of the era. Second, it was an outstanding artillery platform with good fields of fire (unlike the neighboring Culp's Hill, which was heavily wooded), dominating wide swaths of the town and other parts of the battlefield. Third, and most importantly, it was a concentration point for three major roads that led south: Emmitsburg Road, Taneytown Road, and the Baltimore Pike. These roads were critical for keeping the Union army supplied and for blocking any Confederate advance on Baltimore or Washington, D. C.

It was joined afterwards by the adjacent Gettysburg National Cemetery, which was dedicated in November 1863. President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address on Cemetery Hill on November 19, 1863.

Panorama by Alan Chaffee Photography