"The Bullets Flew Like Hail": Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg, from McPherson’s Ridge to Culp’s Hill

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James L. McLean, Jr.
Pub Date:
July 2023
Hardcover, 6 x 9
55 images, 40 maps, 288 pp
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About the Book

On July 1, 1863, Brigadier General Lysander Cutler commanded the first Union infantry to relieve Brigadier General John Buford’s hard-pressed cavalry on the western outskirts of Gettysburg. The brigade’s stubborn defense along McPherson’s Ridge and the arrival of the famous Iron Brigade stopped the Confederate advance on the town and set the tone for the three-day battle. All of this is laid out in “The Bullets Flew Like Hail:” Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg, from McPherson’s Ridge to Culp’s Hill by James L. McLean, Jr.

Early in the fight, two of the brigade’s regiments, the 14th Brooklyn and the 95th New York, along with the Iron Brigade’s 6th Wisconsin, participated in one of the most famous assaults of the war. The three regiments simultaneously charged across open ground, repulsed the attack of Brigadier General Joseph Davis’s Rebel brigade, and captured a large number of Mississippi and North Carolina troops protected by an unfinished railroad cut.

By the end of July 1, Cutler’s brigade had fought against Confederate brigades led by James Archer, Joseph Davis, Alfred Iverson, Junius Daniels, and Alfred Scales. The brigade was one of the last to leave the field of battle and successfully reformed on Cemetery Hill.

On July 2 the brigade was sent to Culp’s Hill. During the evening of July 2 and the early morning hours of July 3, Cutler’s men assisted Brigadier General George Greene’s 12th Corps brigade in repulsing spirited Southern attacks against the Union right flank. In doing so, Cutler’s veterans held the distinction of being among the few Union troops who fought all three days of the battle.

The performance of the brigade at Gettysburg came at a great cost. In the battle, only five Union and Confederate brigades sustained 1,000 or more casualties. Cutler’s brigade was one of them. This brigade deserves to be recognized for its heroic performance throughout the fight. Accompanying the text in “The Bullets Flew Like Hail” are 39 detailed maps depicting troop movements throughout each phase of the battle. A photographic supplement provides a look at the battlefield’s terrain and the major personalities discussed within the book.


Advance Praise


“The Savas Beatie revised edition of Jim McLean’s long out-of-print Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg is one of those important Civil War small-unit accounts. It is chock full of new and overlooked primary sources of the brigade and its component pieces. Informative and occasionally controversial, it adds much to the story of the first day at Gettysburg. Simply first-rate.” — Lance J. Herdegen, author of Those Damned Black Hats: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign


“Cutler’s Brigade at Gettysburg was one of the best unit studies of its kind when it first appeared decades ago. This completely revised and updated edition is even better. Good writing, good scholarship, and outstanding presentation.” — John Michael Priest, author of “Stand to It and Give Them Hell”: Gettysburg as the Soldiers Experienced It from Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, July 2, 1863


“Jim McLean has spent decades researching and writing on Lysander Cutler’s brigade of New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, and Indianans at the battle of Gettysburg. This revised edition is marked by more meticulous research, more perceptive characterizations, and more gripping detail in a flowing narrative. This unit history deserves a rightful place among the vast literature on the three-day struggle at Gettysburg.” — Jeffry D. Wert, author of The Heart of Hell: The Soldiers’ Struggle for Spotsylvania’s Bloody Angle



James L. McLean, Jr. graduated from Towson University with a major in history and a minor in mathematics. He later earned a Master’s degree in education. He taught mathematics for thirty years and a large majority of his Calculus students passed the Advance Placement exam. Along with his wife, Judy, he co-owned Butternut and Blue, a Civil War book business, from 1983-2016. Together, they sold new, used, and rare books and also published nearly 100 titles. Two of their publications received the General Basil Duke Award for best reprint of a Confederate volume. McLean has been fascinated with Gettysburg since childhood. He has visited the battlefield on more than 100 occasions and has spent decades studying the engagement. He has had articles published in the Lincoln Herald, The General, and The Gettysburg Magazine. Currently McLean is researching and writing a multi-volume work on the 14th New York State Militia (the 14th Brooklyn) in the war. He and his wife also spend time spoiling their three grandsons.