Clement Anselm Evans.

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tunately, on the 30th, while Longstreet was still west
of the mountains, at Greenwood, and before even Hill's
corps was closed up, Pettigrew's brigade, of Heth's
division, was allowed to march over the eight miles from
Cashtown to Gettysburg in search of shoes. In the
vicinity of that town it came in collision with Buford's
Federal cavalry, and the great battle of Gettysburg was
thus unwittingly and unordered begun, though but in a
skirmish. Pettigrew hastened back to Cashtown, late in
the day, and on the morning of July ist, at 5 a. m.,
A. P. Hill, always ready and anxious for a fight, but so
far as known without orders from General Lee, sent the
divisions of Heth and Pender toward Gettysburg, as Hill
says in his report, "to discover what was in my front."
He soon found out; for when he advanced his skirmishers
to near Gettysburg, expecting to find only Buford's Fed-
eral cavalry, he brought on an engagement with two
corps of Meade's army, which Buford had called to his
aid the evening before, when he found that infantry was
in his front.

In the fierce combat which Hill brought on, just to the
west of Gettysburg, on the ist of July, he soon got the
worst of it, as the power of numbers was arrayed against
him ; so he sent messengers to Ewell, who was, in obedi-
ence to orders, approaching Cashtown from the east,
asking for help. Giving heed to this urgent call, Ewell
turned toward Gettysburg, and on arriving in its vicinity
on the north, he promptly moved into line of battle,
nearly at right angles to the pending combat between
Hill and the Federals under Reynolds ; fell upon the right
flank of the latter and well-nigh demolished his com-
mand, killing the leader with many of his men, captur-
ing numerous prisoners, and driving the remainder of the
two corps in confusion through the streets of Gettysburg,
to the southward, toward Meade's main army.

On this same ist day of July, Lee, with Longstreet,
crossed the South mountain, and heard with amazement
the noise of the battle that Hill had begun at Gettysburg


at sunrise, for his express orders had been, both to Hill
and to Ewell, that they should not bring on a general
engagement until after the concentration of his army at
Cashtown ; and now Hill was engaged, at the very begin-
ning of the day, in hot contention, eight miles away from
Lee's selected defensive position, where the "strength
of the hills" would have been his, in the open country
about Gettysburg, where mere numbers would have
greatly the advantage in an engagement. General
Anderson, of Longstreet's command, reports that Lee
was listening intently, as he rode along, to the sound of
Hill's guns, miles away to the eastward, and then saying:
"I cannot think what has become of Stuart; I ought to
have heard from him long before now. He may have met
with disaster, but I hope not. In the absence of reports
from him, I am in ignorance as to what we have in front
of us here. It may be the whole Federal army, or it may
be only a detachment. If it is the whole Federal force
we must fight a battle here ; if we do not gain a victory,
these defiles and gorges through which we were passing
this morning will shelter us from disaster. ' '

Reaching Cashtown by the middle of the forenoon,
Lee anxiously awaited information from the front. This
he soon had, in a call from Hill for assistance, when at
once he gave orders to Longstreet to close up his com-
mand, and rode rapidly to the scene of action, where he
arrived in time to witness the grand advance of his Sec-
ond corps through Gettysburg, between 4 and 5 in
the afternoon, by which 5,000 or more Federal prisoners
were captured; four Confederate divisions having
snatched victory from the five Federal ones that had
defeated Hill, and not only fought bravely, but held
tenaciously the field of combat and inflicted severe losses
on the victors. The old fighting spirit of Jackson's men
was fully aroused by the great success they had again
won over the Federal corps that they had so recently
routed at Chancellorsville, and they were eager to follow
in pursuit of the 6,000 Federals remaining of the 20,000
that had been engaged, in refuge behind the stone walls
and outcropping rocks of the Gettysburg ridge, or Ceme-
tery hill. Lee himself was fired by a like desire, and
through Adjt.-Gen. Walter H. Taylor he sent an order to
Ewell: "Press those people and secure the hill if pos-


At that hour, big with promise, the Confederates had
also possession of the chief point of vantage, for their
advance was entirely through the town of Gettysburg
and beyond its southern border, up to the very gates of
the now famous cemetery, and Early, also flushed with
victory, the credit for which was in large part due to his
division, was forming two of his brigades to the east of
the town, and requesting Hill to join his right with a
division from Seminary ridge, to move forward and dis-
possess the small Federal force that still heroically held
on to Cemetery hill and covered the roads by which
Meade must advance from the southward. At this same
time, about 5 in the afternoon. General Ewell sent
Capt. J. P. Smith to General Lee, asking that the for-
ward movement he was preparing might be supported by
Hill or Longstreet. Lee was found on Seminary ridge,
accompanied by Longstreet, and Hill was near at hand.
The latter was reluctant to send to Ewell his two divi-
sions, which so recently had been hotly engaged. Lee
then urged Longstreet to hurry forward McLaws and
Hood, who were advancing from Cashtown to join
Ewell's advance, and sent word to the latter, by Captain
Smith, that he would support his advance on his right as
soon as he could, concluding: "I wish him to use what-
ever opportunity he has to advance and hold the ground
in his front. ' '

As Ewell was holding his men in check, impatient to
advance as soon as they were reformed, to the south of
Gettysburg, a young staff officer came riding rapidly
from the rear, with a message to General Early from
Brig. -Gen. William Smith, who had recently been sent to
the army to take command of Early's old brigade, which
Early had left as a rear guard on the road to York, north
of Gettysburg, as he advanced, distrusting the manage-
ment of its leader in an engagement. Smith's message
was that a Federal force was advancing upon his rear,
from the direction of York. Instead of paying no atten-
tion to this report, which he well knew could have no
foundation. Early halted his advance movement and
countermarched one of his best brigades, under Gordon,
to assist Smith in meeting this imagined Federal move-
ment on his rear. The delay caused by this episode
chilled in Ewell the ardor of pursuit, and he refused the
appeal of Early and Rodes for an immediate assault upon


the Federals, who still showed a bold front by a constant
firing of infantry and artillery, desiring to have Gordon
again in place and to have Johnson's division, which had
been marching forward from Cashtown, in advance of
Longstreet, to extend his line to the eastward, that he
might scale Gulp's hill and turn the Federal right at the
same time that he made attack in front. The reinforce-
ments from Longstreet did not appear, but Johnson
arrived upon the field after sundown and then halted
north of the town, in the vicinity of Pennsylvania college.
This lack of energy and failure of concerted action by
Lee's corps commanders lost to the Confederates the great
advantages they had gained during the day, which, if
followed up in "Stonewall's way, " would, in so far as one
can forecast events, have resulted in crushing the Federal
army in detail, as it was stretched along the road for
miles to the southward from Gettysburg, marching in
wearied columns and encumbered with its great army

The plan of pushing the attack abandoned, Lee met
Early, Ewell and Rodes in conference after dark, to the
north of Gettysburg, near the road leading to Carlisle.
He now had information of the arrival of more Federal
troops upon the scene of action ; that Hancock was in
command, and had 8,600 men, under Slocum, inline of
battle to the south of Gettysburg, holding the crests of
Cemetery ridge and Gulp's hill, and thus fully protect-
ing Meade's advance. Lee, in this conference with his
subordinates, expressed an earnest desire to attack the
Federals at daylight the next day, July 2d, if at all prac-
ticable, asking Ewell if he could not, with his corps,
attack the enemy's right on the morrow. These Second
corps leaders called General Lee's attention to the
rugged hilltops already occupied by Federal troops, that
loomed before them in the late twilight of a midsummer
day, and argued that gradual approach to the Federal
position from the westward was more favorable for an
attack by the Confederate right. It is reported, by one
of these officers, that Lee's next question was, "Perhaps
I had better draw you around toward my right, as the
line will be very long and thin if you remain here, and
the enemy may come down and break through it."
Early reports that Ewell then asserted that he could not
only hold the ground already in his possession, but that


lie could capture Gulp's hill and threaten the Federal
right; an offer he would have hardly made had he
known the formidable character of the rocky ascent to
that hill. After this, writes Early, Lee said: "Well, if
I attack upon my right, Longstreet will have to make
the attack." Then pausing, with head bowed in reflec-
tion, he looked up and added: "Longstreet is a very
good fighter when he gets in position and gets every-
thing ready, but he is so slow. ' '

After his conference with Ewell, Lee formed his plans
for the 2d of July. It was his intention to strike with
his right at daylight, or as soon as practicable after that
time ; this to be followed by. Ewell on his left. Return-
ing to his headquarters, Lee met Hill and Longstreet.
The latter urged that he withdraw his army from before
Gettysburg and place it between Meade and Washington,
and thus force the Federal commander to offensive bat-
tle. This was but an extension of Lee's second sugges-
tion to Ewell about a concentration on his right. Trust-
ing to Swell's promise as to what he could do the next
day, Lee adhered to' the plan he had already adopted, of
an assault by both his wings ; hoping that by so doing he
■could defeat the Federal advance before its rear could
close up, and bring about its defeat in detail. He then
ordered Longstreet to move McLaws and Hood to open
the battle on his right, while Hill engaged the center,
and repeated his order to Ewell for attacking Gulp's hill
on the left, but not until he should hear Longstreet's guns
and thus be sure of a simultaneous movement and attack.

The divisions of Hood and McLaws, of the First corps,
left their camps at Fayetteville in the valley west of
the South mountain, on the morning of July ist, and
reached the valley of Willoughby run, northwest of Get-
tysburg, by midnight of that day, having been retarded
by Ewell's wagon train, in charge of Johnson's division,
which was on the road in their front. The leading bri-
gade, under Kershaw, bivouacked within two miles of
Gettysburg. Pickett's division was left at Ghambers-
burg, in charge of the reserve trains, and Law's bri-
•gade at New Guilford. During the night of the ist
Longstreet ordered McLaws to march forward at 4 a. m.
of the 2d, but later this was changed to "early in the
morning. " The same night he ordered Law and Pickett
±0 march to Gettysburg on the 2d.


Lee's official report sets forth the state of affairs con-
fronting him, and his reasons for making battle, in these
words :

It had not ;been intended to deliver a general battle so far from
our base of supplies unless attacked, but coming unexpectedly upon
the whole Federal army, to withdraw through the mountains with
our extensive trains would have been difficult and dangerous. At
the same time we were unable to await an attack, as the country
was not favorable for collecting supplies in the presence of the
enemy, who could restrain our foraging parties by holding the
mountain passes with local and other troops. A battle had, there-
fore, become in a measure unavoidable, and a success already
gained gave hope of a favorable issue.

At sunrise of July zd, less than 10,000 men of the First
and Second corps of Meade's army held Cemetery hill,
with 8,600, under Slocum, on their right and left, and
9,000 of the Third corps, under Birney and Humphreys,
in supporting distance. If Lee had attacked at the ris-
ing of the sun, at about half-past 4, as he had expected to
do; or at any time before 7 o'clock, he would have found
but 27,000 Federals to oppose his assault; but at 7
the Second Federal corps and two divisions of the Fifth
reached the field; by 8 another brigade of the Fifth
arrived; by 9 two brigades of the Third appeared;
and by half -past 10 Meade's strong reserve artillery was
in place on Cemetery ridge. By midday another division
of the Fifth corps came, while Sedgwick, still far from
the field, was at that hour urging forward the 15,000
men of the Sixth corps; arrivals that could have been
successively met and defeated in detail, had Ewell fol-
lowed up the advantages of the day before, at the
moment of victory, without taking "counsel of his fears,"
and relying on the enthusiasm of his well-tried and reli-
able veterans to "press forward" after a retreating foe.

Lee dispatched his breakfast and was in the saddle
before daylight of the 2d, eager to grasp victory from the
opportunity that he knew he then had, of falling upon
but a portion of the Federal army while the larger part
of it was still miles away and but wearily advancing to
the field of battle. Before the sun was up, he had an
officer on Round Top, looking along the Emmitsburg
and Taneytown roads to see whether Federal reinforce-
ments were advancing, and as the morning fully dawned,
he swept with his fine glasses, from the Seminary ridge, the
Federal lines on Culp's and Cemetery hills, in the mean-


time anxiously watching for the coming of Longstreet's
two divisions, those of McLaws and Hood, and for that
of Anderson's of Hill's corps, that he might begia the
battle on his right at the hour appointed with Ewell.
But Anderson did not move until 7, and not until
8 did his skirmishers, under Wilcox, drive in those
of the Federal center, and it was 9 before Hill's line
of battle, on Seminary ridge, with its right resting on
the Emmitsburg road, was ready to advance. Long-
street's movements were still tardier than Hill's. His
two divisions did not leave their Willoughby run bivouac
until after sunrise, and it was 8 o'clock when his first
brigade, Kershaw's of McLaws' division, reached Semi-
nary ridge, where Lee was impatiently waiting — seated
on the trunk of a fallen tree consulting a map, writes
McLaws — with Longstreet "walking up and down a lit-
tle way off, apparently in an impatient humor."

Hood's division followed McLaws, but that intrepid
leader had ridden to the front, and joined Lee at his post
of observation soon after daylight. Hood thus describes
what he saw and heard: "General Lee, with coat but-
toned up to the throat, saber belt around his waist, and
field glass pending at his side, walked up and down in
the shade of large trees near us, halting now and then to
observe the enemy. He seemed full of hope, yet at
times buried in deep thought." Lee said to Hood: "The
enemy is here, and if we do not whip him, he will whip us. ' '

Longstreet had joined Lee in the early morning, but
hours passed before any of his men appeared, and vic-
tory, which the fighting ancients pictured with wings,
took her flight to the ridge held by the army of the Poto-
mac. Longstreet importuned Lee to move around to the
right, but when the latter would not agree to change his
plan, Longstreet asked that the attack on the right be
delayed until the arrival of Pickett's division. It was
characteristic of Longstreet, as of most stubborn men,
that he always desired to follow a plan of his own sug-
gestion, rather than that of his commander-in-chief, and
so, with dogged persistence, he continued to urge his
own plan upon Lee, but without avail, as he had deter-
mined to attack as soon as Longstreet's men should
arrive. His advance appeared at about 8 o'clock, having
consumed three hours of the day in a march of from two
to four miles. The head of his column was at once


turned southward, behind Hill's corps posted on Semi-
nary ridge, and halted near the Black Horse tavern,
where the Hagerstown road crosses Marsh creek. Hill
did not get into his assigned position until about 9.

The most opportune time for the assault had passed,
but there was yet time to rout Meade's left, if the attack
were promptly made. The Federals had not yet occu-
pied the two commanding heights of Round Top and
Little Round Top, that dominated their left on the south,
and Meade's army in hand was held within a narrow
compass on the Cemetery and Gulp hills. Lee pointed
out to McLaws, on the map, the position on the Emmits-
burg road, at right angles to that near the peach orchard,
that he desired him to occupy, telling him to gain that,
if possible, without being seen by the enemy. Long-
street interposed, directing McLaws to place his line
parallel to the turnpike. Lee promptly made reply:
"No, General, no; I want his position perpendicular to
the Emmitsburg road, ' ' thus clearly indicating his design
to move squarely upon the Federal left. Shortly after
9, Lee informed Hill that Longstreet would thus take
position, nearly perpendicular to Hill's line, and drive
the enemy toward Gettysburg. After having given
these orders for immediate attack by Longstreet and
Hill, Lee rode to Ewell's position, on his left, finding the
latter still confident that he could turn the Federal right
on Gulp's hill with Johnson, while Early, who had been
waiting in line since 2 o'clock in the morning, was ready
to advance on Gemetery hill, from the streets of Gettys-
burg. After waiting impatiently, with Ewell, for Long-
street to begin the attack, Lee rode back, at about noon,
to Seminary ridge, to ascertain what had detained Long-
street. The latter, in his official report, after stating
the orders he had received from Lee to attack, adds:
"Fearing that my force was too weak to venture to make
an attack, I delayed until General Law's brigade joined
its division (Hood's)." Law arrived about noon, after a
march of 24 miles in the preceding half day, and at
1 o'clock Longstreet began his forward movement. Two
hours were consumed in marches and countermarches, in
a vain effort to conceal the movement from the Federal
signal station on Round Top, and it was about 4 in the
afternoon before the corps was in position for beginning
the attack.


At an early hour on this same July 2d, Meade directed
the preparation of an order for the retreat of his army,
and his corps commanders were in council considering
this, when Longstreet's guns, in the mid-afternoon,
called them to their posts of duty and the defense of their
left. Just at that time Sickles, of his own motion, pushed
his corps forward on the Emmitsburg road and took
position between the peach orchard and Little Round
Top, thus facing Longstreet's movement under McLaws.
Hood, farther to the right, was expected to fall on the
left flank of the Federal line and force it toward Gettys-

Meade's lines at this time extended from his left, near
Round Top, almost due north along the western side of
the Taneytown road to Cemetery hill, then curved to the
eastward around the front of that hill and the crest of
Gulp's hill, with his extreme right turned in reverse to
the westward. One corps was on his left, the Second
under Hancock in the center, and the Twelfth and the
fragments of the First and Eleventh held the right on
the Gemetery and Gulp hills. The Fifth was in reserve
in the valley of Rock creek, on the road leading south-
east toward Baltimore. Longstreet and Sickles now con-
fronted each other, each with about 12,000 men.

Law ascertained, as he advanced, that the Federal left
flank was unprotected, and he and Hood urged Long-
street to move farther to the right and occupy Round
Top, and thus turn the Federal left, rather than advance
along the Emmitsburg road, which was commanded by
the Federal artillery, while its infantry was well protected
by the stone fences and outcropping rocks along its posi-
tion. Longstreet's reply to the thrice-repeated request
and protest was, "General Lee's orders are to attack up
the Emmitsburg road. ' ' So the advance began, against
a furious cannonade in which Hood was wounded,
attacking Sickles' left in the rocky and brush-tangled
point known as the Devil's Den. Law took his assigned
place, and pressing boldly forward drove the Federal bri-
gades from their position, which they held with great
tenacity, and captured three pieces of cannon. His
right then crossed the northern slope of Round Top and
advanced toward Little Round Top, while his center
rushed to gain that important point in the field of con-
-test ; but Warren promptly led a brigade and a battery.


from the Fifth corps, and gaining the summit of this lit-
tle mountain before Law, drove him back to the shelter
of Devil's Den.

Longstreet's chief of artillery. Col. E. P. Alexander,
got the better of the Federal artillery in the peach
orchard, and McLaws pressed rapidly forward, as soon as
Longstreet would let him go, took issue with Sickles, and
drove his men back, over the stone fences at the peach
orchard, in a fierce contest. Alexander joined in the
charge with six batteries. Three Federal divisions,
numbering 13,000 men, were then sent in quick succes-
sion to the aid of Sickles ; but these were all forced back
with the loss of half their numbers by Longstreet's coura-
geous men, now flushed with success. It was 6 o'clock
when the brigades on Hill's right moved up the Emmits-
burg road, fell upon Sickles' right and drove it in retreat
toward Cemetery ridge. By 7, Meade's left was
completely driven back in defeat, and Longstreet's men
were pressing forward to a new position at the base of
the two little mountains. Three of Hill's brigades were
at the same time advancing against Meade's center, but
these failed to support, although one of them, under Wil-
cox, advanced to the very foot of Cemetery ridge and cap-
tured eight guns, while another, under Wright, in steady
order ascended the long slope, crossing stone fences, and
took the very crest of the ridge a little distance south of
the Cemetery, where for a short time they were in
possession of twenty Federal cannon. Meade's line
was cut in two, and had Wright been supported it must
have been forced to retreat. Even the brigades that
started with him failed to support him, and Hill held
his other divisions in line a mile to the rear. Long-
street's bold fight had, undoubtedly, won the day, if
Hill's corps had, in its entirety, performed its assigned
duty. The writer witnessed, from Seminary ridge, the
hurried movement of troops, from Meade's right on
Culp's hill and the Cemetery, toward his broken center
and left. Fortunately for the Federal commander, just
then his Sixth cot'ps, under Sedgwick, arrived upon the
field and joined in driving back Wright's advance and
checking the tide of defeat which had already set in.

Just before sunset, but after Longstreet's battle was
ended and the Federal left re-established, Ewell began
his tardy and long-delayed attack, which should have


■been a simultaneous one, on the Federal right; and
Stonewall Jackson's old division, under Edward John-
son, assaulted Gulp's hill, fought its way up its
rocky and brushy slope, and captured the first line of
Federal intrenchments. Early also advanced, on Ewell's
right, under a withering fire of infantry and artillery,
overran the Eleventh corps and established himself in
the Federal works on the summit of Cemetery hill ; but
Rodes, on his right, failed to advance, and so rendered
no assistance to Early and held back Hill's left, which
was to move in concert with Rodes. The Federal right
was now reinforced by Hancock, from its center, and

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 40 of 153)