On July 1, 1863, when the Federal 1st and 11th Corps were routed on the fields north and west of Gettysburg, the defeated soldiers hurriedly fled towards the citadel of Cemetery Hill. They passed through the town via Baltimore, Washington and Stratton streets, with Confederates in hot pursuit. Fighting occurred in the streets and alleys. Opposing sharpshooters positioned themselves in houses and other structures in the southern end of town.
The Wagon Hotel, located at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Emmitsburg Road, served as the center of the Federal skirmish line along the north face of Cemetery Hill. From this site, Union soldiers dueled with Confederate sharpshooters in the town, firing from the hotel's windows and through holes bored in the roof. William Ker, 73rd PA., recalled a brick house to the left of this place," where several "Confederate soldiers were killed in one window."