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til 2 P.M. of the 2d.

As soon as it was light Meade inspected the position.
It is posted on cem- Slocum was postcd ou the extreme right, on

eteryEidge. q^j^,^ jj-^j^ ^^^ ^^^,^ ^£ ^^^ fish-hook. Ou

his left was Wadsworth ; on his left, at the bend, was
Howard ; and in successive order followed, along the stem
of the hook, Hancock, Sickles, Sykes. When Sedgwick ar-
rived, he was to be placed on the extreme left, behind the
Round Tops. Reynolds's corps, commanded by Newton,
was in reserve. The whole army was thus concentrated


on an area of about three square miles. The reserve was
within thirty minutes' march of any part of the line. Bat-
teries were placed along the crest of the ridge, and signal-
flags set on points overlooking the scene. Rock-ledges on
the slope in the rear gave shelter to the soldiers, who also
quickly improvised breast-works and stone walls. From
Cemetery Hill the line, therefore, extended southward to
the Round Tops. In the other direction it stretched across
the Baltimore Road to the woodlands bordering on Rock
Creek and the ravines of Wolf's Hill.

While Meade was thus employed — at the same hour, 5
Lee posts his aimy A.M. — Lee, Hill, Longstrect, and Hood were in
on Seminary Eidge, consultatiou on Seminary Ridge, the two lat-
ter aiding their thoughts by the whittling of sticks. The
hills of that ridge were covered with oaks and pines at the
tops, and generally on their west slopes. These woods af-
forded concealment to the troops. Along their eastern
edges the Confederate artillery confronted the national
batteries. Lee's army was arranged along Seminary Ridge,
and round to the east of Gettysburg, in the form of a vast
crescent, five miles in length, its concavity facing his an-
tagonist. Longstreet, who had the character among the
soldiers of being the best fighter in the whole army, was
on their j-ight, Hill in the centre, Ewell on the left. Be-
tween Ewell's right and Hill's left there was a break of
nearly a mile. The armies were of equal strength, their
force being about 80,000 ; but, while all portions of Meade's
line were in easy intercommunication, Lee's were compelled
to make long detours. Down in the valley which parted
the combatants were fields of ripening wheat, and here and
there, unconscious of the impending tempest, cattle quietly

At first it was not Lee's intention to fight a battle here-:
but does not design Fredericksburg had shown him significantly
to bring on a att e. y^-j^^^ ^^y. "[^g expectcd iu au assault on in-
trenched lines ; but, lured by the success of the preceding


clay, whicli had produced mucli enthusiasm in his army,
though Pickett's division, the best of Longstreet's corps,
and Stuart's cavalry, w^ere absent, he resolved to attack,
and consummate the victory which he thought already
more than half achieved. He did not knov? that in the
darkness of the night 80,000 men had concentrated behind
the rocky ridge in his front.

Meade, in the posting of his troops, had intended to oc-
cupy the ridge continuously from Cemetery
tionbeyondMeade's Hill to the Rouud Tops, but Sicklcs, finding
<^ depression at the point designated for him,
advanced three fourths of a mile to the lower ridge in front.
He posted his troops along the Emmettsburg Road, but
was constrained to refuse his left toward the Round Tops,
his position thus forming a salient beginning in the wet
pasturages of Plum Run, its apex being in the peach or-
chard. This line, instead of being continuous with Han-
cock's, was in a general manner at an angle of forty-five
degrees to it. The front was held by Humphreys's and
Graham's brigades, the refused left by two brigades of Bir-
ney's division. There was a gap of from a quarter to half
a mile between him and Hancock.

About 3 P.M., Meade, visiting this part of the line, saw
The battle of Gettys- the peril iu which Sickles was placed, and
bnrg-Becondday. ^^^ ^^ ^-^^ ^^^ ^^ discussiug with him the

propriety of withdrawing, when the enemy, quick to detect
a weak point, opened upon him. Troops Avere now hurried
up to support or extricate him. As Sykes was in the act
of doing this, Warren recognized the importance of Little
Round Top, and saw with surprise that it was unoccupied ;
he therefore sent Vincent with his brigade to secure it.
This was hot a moment too soon, for it had so happened
that, in the posting of the troops, Hood's division, on the
Confederate right, overlapped the national left. Hood was
advancing with the intention of seizing Little Round Top.
It was the key of Meade's position ; it could enfilade his


whole line along Cemetery Kidge. "If the enemy had

gained it," says Meade, " I could not have held my line."

They had already commenced climbing it Avhen Vincent

had reached its top. A desperate conflict for

piace°)lfLittie^^ Its posscssion CHSued, in "which Vincent lost

Hound Top. t • t- /• -i i/~(f>n ti

his life, but the Coniederates were repulsed.
In the mean time Longstreet had attacked Sickles's
salient in the peach orchard, and his artillery

Sickles is forced -, . . -i r»i t • i • j i •

hcLck fiom his ad- liaving gained an ennlading position, tne m-

vanced position, t i t '

fantry advanced under its cover, and the or-
chard was carried. Sickles was severely wounded, losing
his leg. Birney's troops were thus driven back to the
main line on Cemetery Ridge, and Humphreys's division,
with Graham's brigade, were left alone on the Emmetts-
burg Road. They were in the utmost peril. "With great
difficulty, but with great skill and resolution, Humphreys
made good his passage to the ridge, losing almost half his
command in so doing. There, aided by Hancock, he arrest-
ed the Confederate attack.

After Birney was driven back, the Confederates made
bnt Meade holds rcuewed and desperate exertions to gain the

LittleEoundTop. ^.^^j^ -^^^^^^^ rp^p . ^^^ ^^^^^ -^ ^^^^ ^^-^^ .^^

force, and, after a bloody but vain struggle, they retired to
the wheat-field. Hood had lost an arm. The advantages
gained by Longstreet were apparent rather than real ; the
line originally intended for Sickles was finally occupied by
the national troops, and held to the end of the battle.

Soon after the cannonade had fairly begun, there Avas a
dense smoke for sjx miles, and little wind to drive it away.
The air was alive with shells. Lee had gone over to Hill's
position, and remained there nearly all the time, watching
the engagement through his field -glass. For the most
part he sat, inactive and alone, on the stump of -a tree.
During the firing he sent only one message and received
only one report.

Such were the events on the national left. On the right,

Chap.LXX]. battle of GETTYSBURG— second day. I45

hSd on SI'?"'" *^® ^'^^'<^® *^f Slocum, on Gulp's Hill, had been
"^'"- greatly weakened by detachments that had

been sent to the critical point on Little Round Top ; and
Ewell, late in the afternoon, making a very vigorous at-
tack, succeeded in getticg a foothold within the exterior

To an eye-Avitness who stood on Cemetery Hill on the
The events of foreuoou of tMs day, there was visible " a long
the day. |-j^g ^£ natioual skirmishers stretching far

away from the centre to the left, well advanced, and firing
as they lay flat on the ground in the meadows and corn-
fields. The streak of curling smoke that rose from their
guns faded away in a thin vapor that marked the course
of their lines down the left. With a glass the Confeder-
ates could be distinctly seen, every man with his blanket
strapped over his shoulder. The afternoon opened with a
calm and cloudless sky; it was quiet every where. The
men were stretched lazily on the ground in line of battle ;
horses attached to the caissons, batteries unlimbered, the
gunners resting on their guns. When night came there
had been a battle of nearly four hours. Meade had been
forced back on both flanks. What losses the Confederates
had met with could only be conjectured from the piles of
, dead that the last rays of the sun showed along the front."
It was true, indeed, that the losses had been heavy ; they
amounted on the national side to 10,000. Of these, three
fifths belonged to Sickles, who had lost half his numbers ;
on the Confederate side they had been still greater. It
was also true that Lee had apparently succeeded on both
flanks of the national army, but that success was to him
a dire deception. At Round Top he had brought Meade's
line into the position which it was Meade's intention it
should hold ; at Culp's Hill the advantage was only ephem-
eral, due to the transient withdrawal of troops ; the lost
ground was recovered in the morning.

Lee himself was deceived in the interpretation he gave
HI.— K


Lee is deceived as to these Gvents, aiid was beckoned on by Fate.

to the result, ' , , ^ ^

He had formed no plan for the battle — indeed,
owing to the absence of his cavalry, he knew so little of the
enemy before him that he could form none: he was guided
simply by the circumstances of <the moment. He saw
Sickles isolated, and thought he could destroy him, gaining
thereby an advantageous position. Ewell, feeling at Gulp's
Hill, found it weakly defended. The Confederates inter-
preted these events as constituting a true success. Lee says,
" In front of General Longstreet the enemy (Sickles) held a
position from which, if he could be driven, it was thought
that our army could be used to advantage in assailing the
more elevated ground beyond, and thus enable us to reach
the crest of the ridge. After a severe struggle, Longstreet
succeeded in getting possession of and holding the desired
ground. Ewell also carried some of the strong positions
he assailed, and the result was such as to lead to the be-
lief that he would ultimately be able to dislodge the ene-
and determines to ^J- Thcsc partial successcs determined me
renew the battle. ^^ contluue the assault the next day."

On Friday, the 3d of July — a day ever memorable in
The battle of Get- American history — the morning sky was cov-
tysbarg-thirdday. ^^^^ ^-^j^ broken clouds, here and there at

intervals the sunbeams fitfully gleaming between them.
Pickett's .division and Stuart's cavalry had joined Lee, who
was busily engaged on Seminary Ridge preparing to con-
tinue the assault of the preceding day ; intending, how-
ever, to direct it, not against Little Eound Top, which was
now too strong, but against the low ridge just north of it,
at the national left centre, commanded by Hancock. He
concentrated against this point 145 guns.

At early dawn, Geary's division of the 12th Corps hav-
ing returned to Gulp's Hill during the night, the enemy
was attacked, and, after some hours of desperate fighting,
the position he had gained was reoccupied. With this ex-
ception, the quiet of the line was undisturbed until 1 P.M.

chap.lxx.] the cannonade. 147

Just before that hour the clouds broke away, the air
It is ushered in by was Still and sultry. Longstreet had com-
a cannonade. pleted his dispositions ; his troops were de-
ployed in the woods ; he had then sought a few moments'
sleep. Along the whole Confederate line signal flags were
giving intelligence. At length the shrill report of a Whit-
worth gun broke the silence, and the Confederate batteries
opened. Longstreet, on whom the weight of the battle
was about to fall, sat on the top of a fence by the edge of
the woods, anxiously watching the fire.

Though Meade's position was very strong, it had the
imperfection of being so rugged that out of 300 guns he
could reply with only 80. Until 3 o'clock there was an
incessant cannonade. As the national artillerymen ex-
hausted their ammunition, more was brought up from the
rear. Disabled guns were replaced. The troops screened
themselves from the enemy's fire in the best way they
could. " We lay behind a slight rise of ground just suffi-
cient to hide us from the view of the rebels. It was aw-
fully hot. The sun smote down upon us, and we were so
close to the ground that not a breath of air could reach us."

After an artillery duel of two hours. Hunt, Meade's chief
of artillery, ordered the national fire to be gradually slack-
ened, to have sufficient ammunition on hand to meet the
impending assault. Warren, from the Round Tops, per-
ceived that it was inexpedient to fill the valley Avith a
screen of smoke. Lee's fire now became more and more
violent; Dismounted guns, exploding caissons, and the
fierce neighing of wounded artillery horses, proclaimed
how great the destruction had been. On Seminary Ridge
the cannon were forming a dense cloud that hovered above
the dark woods. Lee thought that he had silenced all his
enemy's guns except six or eight in a clump of woods.

The cannonade lulled. A thrill of generous admira-
The charge of Pick- tiou ran dowu the national line as the Con-
position. ' federate columns of attack, at 3 P.M., with a


front more than a mile in extent, emerged from the woods
on Seminary Ridge, and descended their slope of the valley.
They were preceded by a line of skirmishers of double or
triple the -usual, strength ; next a line of battle for the
charge; then another, equally strong, in reserve. They
had additional lines, or wings, to prevent the main force
being flanked. On the right, as they marched, was Pick-
ett's division ; on the left, two or three hundred yards in
the rear, was Heth's, commanded by Pettigrew. In strength
they were about 18,000 men. In Pickett's charge Kemper
led the right, Garnett the left, with Armistead in support.
The distance to be passed was more than half a mile, and
the ground sloping up to the national position.
' In a few moments the question was to be settled wheth-
er Slavery or Freedom should be master on this continent.

" Why don't the guns support them ?" was anxiously
asked on the Confederate side, and with intense curiosity
on the national. " I had intended it," subsequently said
Lee, " but the protracted cannonade had nearly exhausted
the ammunition. This fact was unknown to me when the
assault took place."

Not only was Lee not informed of the exhaustion of his
ammunition — he did not know of Ewell's dislodgment
from the foot of Gulp's Hill.

Unprotected, but unflinching, Pickett's column came over
the valley, slippery with the last night's rain. They M^ere
veteran Virginians, and moved silently, without those yells
of defiance that characterize the troops from the Gulf
Almost a hundred guns, from Cemetery Hill to the Round
Tops, quiveringly awaited the word. It was given, and
they tore vast gaps in the advancing ranks. Fredericks-
burg had already shown what an awful thing it is to pass
through the hail of rifled musketry and the cannonade of
modern artillery.

The charge was first directed toward Doubleday's lines,
but the fire from Round Top made the assaulting array


it^fa^'l^oowebb's "bend toward its left, and brought the attack
more on Hancock's position. Two regiments
of Stannard's brigade, who were in a grove in front of
Hancock's left, at an angle with the main line, gave to
the charging force an appalling flanking fire, while it was
subjected to the artillery in front ; this caused it to bear
still more to the left, and brought the weight of the at-
tack upon Webb. When the column had come within
300 yards it received the fire of the divisions of Hays and
Gibbon. That fire it returned. In front of Hays it broke,
and he took 15 colors and 2000 prisoners. The right
of that portion of the enemy before Gibbon was at the
same time checked. It doubled in toward its left, thus re-
enforcing the centre, and throwing the point of contact in
full force on Webb's brigade. The Virginians were now
in the very focus of the fire. -

Webb's brigade was posted in two lines, two of its regi-
and is totally de- meuts being behind a stone wall and breast-
feated. work, the third behind the crest, sixty paces

in the rear, so disposed as to be able to fire over those in
front. As the smoke enveloped the attacking mass, the
last glimpses that were caught showed that it was reeling
and breaking into fragments ; but, though its organization
was lost, the Virginians individually rushed forward. Com-
ing out of the cloud that inclosed them, headed by Armi-
stead, they touched at last the stone wall. The two regi-
ments holding the wall fell back to the regiment in the
rear ; there they were re-formed by the personal efi'orts of
Webb and his officers. Encouraged by this apparent re-
treat, the Virginians planted their battle-flags on the "wall,
and pushed over the breast- works. A despei'ate hand to
hand conflict now ensued : the clothes of the men were
actually burned by the powder of the exploding cart-
ridges ; the national cannoneers were clubbed and bayo-
neted at' their guns. Ee-enforcements were coming to
Webb from all sides. Men and officers were all fighting


together. The assailants were literally crushed. Of fifteen
field officers, but one was unhurt ; of the three brigade com-
manders, Garnett was killed, Armistead mortally wounded
and left on the field, and Kemjjer carried away to die.
Companies and regiments threw down their arms, rushing
forward to be taken prisoners out of the horrible fire.
Gibbon's division took 12 colors and 2500 prisoners. The
wreck of the mass fled back toward Seminary Ridge, di-
minished every instant by the remorseless cannonade that
Avas still directed upon it. ,

Such was the fate of the grand assault by the right Con-
pettigrew's coiQnrn federate column. That on their left, under
IS driven back. Pettigrew, was by no means so resolutely
made. Pickett's men Avere, for the most part, veteran Vir-
ginians ; PettigreAv's, neAV recruits. Almost as soon as the
latter advanced they began to waver, but Avhen they came
toAvard the enfilading fire of the national guns they hesi-
tated. Perceiving that their enemy Avas moAnng round
them strong flanking bodies, they Avere panic-stricken ; their
lines dissolved, they Avere huddled into knots. They fled
in confusion to the rear, Avith the loss of hundreds taken
prisoners. All but one of their field oflicers had been kill-
ed or wounded ; they fell back under command of a major.
PettigreAv's brigade had mustered 2800 strong on the morn-
ing of the 1st of July; at roll-call on the 4th only 835 an-
SAvered to their names.

The battle of Gettysburg Avas noAV substantially over.
Nevertheless, Wilcox, Avho had not advanced in support of
Pickett, as had been originally intended, made a demon-
stration of moving forAvard, as if to reneAV the assault, but
returned in confusion.

On the other hand, Sykes forced back Hood's division
a mile, taking 300 prisoners and many small-arms. At-
tacks were made by McLaAvs on the right and Ewell on
the left, but they were mere feints to cover the main one
on the centre.

Chap.lxx.] losses of the battle. 151

In a military point of view, Gettysburg must yield the
palm to the battle of Chattanooa;a. On nei-

battle of Gettys- thcr side was there great generalship display-
ed; there were no combinations. The profuse
use of ammunition by the Confederates in their appalling
cannonade showed that they were staking every thing on
that battle ; their reckless assaults, that they were deter-
mined to carry the day, cost what it might, by main force.

Lee stated to an English oiEcer soon after the battle
Causes which in- *^^^) ^^^ ^^ becu aware that Meade had been
against'LongslreeVs ^blc to couceutrate his whole army, he cer-
opmion. tainly should not have attacked him ; indeed,

it had not been his interest or his intention to bring on a
great battle at all. He was led away partly by the suc-
cess of the first day, believing that Meade had brought
up only a portion of his army, and, seeing the enthusiasm
of his own troops, he had thought that a successful battle
would cut the knot so easily and satisfactorily that he had
determined to risk it. His want of knowledge of the ene-
my's movements he attributed to Stuart's being too far
away from him Avith the cavalry.

On his part Stuart had been disappointed. He had expect-
ed to rendezvous with the main army on the Susquehanna,
not anticipating Lee's delay at Chambersburg for so many
days. It was against the judgment of Longstreet that the
assault was made. Strong though the position was in front,
Lee could have turned it on its left, and compelled its in-
stant evacuation without the loss of a man. He might
have interposed his army between it and Washington.
Nor is it true that he would necessarily have had to scatter
his forces in doing this, as being on, the outer circle. In vain
Longstreet interceded with Lee to take this wiser course.

The national loss at Gettysburg was 23,210, of whom
,,^ ^ ^„ 2834 were killed, 13,733 wounded, 6643 miss-

Losses of the battle. , /i /• -i i

mg. The Confederate loss reached the awful
aggregate of 36,000, of whom 5000 were killed, 23,000



wounded. " All this has been my fault," said Lee to Wil-
cox ; " it is I who have lost this battle." The dream of
the passage of the Susquehanna was at an end ; there was
nothing now for the Confederates but a retreat to the
Rappahannock. Freedom was master on the continent.

A few months subsequently (Nov. 19, 1863), a great con-
consecration of coursB of Americaus assembled at Gettysburg
thebattie-fleid. ^^ clcdicate a portion of the battle-field as a
cemetery for the remains of those national soldiers who
had fallen. Hither, among others, came Abraham Lincoln,
attended by many great officers of state. When the ap-
pointed funereal oration was completed, a low murmur ran
through the audience, and the care-worn President, rising,
bent reverently forward, and uupremeditatedly and sol-
emnly said :

" It is intimated to me that this assemblage expects me
Mr. Lincoln's to Say somcthiug on this occasion. We are
address. j^g^ j^g^,g ^^ ^ great battle-field of the war.

We have come to dedicate a portion of this field as a final
resting-place for those who here gave their lives that our
nation might live. It is fitting that we should do this.
But in a larger sense we can not dedicate, we can not con-
secrate this ground. The brave men, living and dead,
who fought here, have hallowed it far beyond any thing
that we can do. The world will little regard what we say
here, but it will never forget what they did here. It is for
us, the living, rather to dedicate ourselves to the unfinish-
ed work which they who fought here have thus far so
nobly advanced ; to consecrate ourselves to the great task
remaining, and to gather from the graves of these honored
dead increased devotion to that cause for which they gave
their lives. Here let us resolve that they shall not have
died in vain ; that this nation shall, under God, have a new
birth of freedom ; and that government of the people, hy
the people, and/o?' the people shall not perish forever from
the earth."



The Confederate army abandoned the field of Gettysburg, and in a painful retreat
fell back to the Potomac, the national army following it slowly.

The Confederate army, unmolested, recrossed the river, and successfully regained the
position beyond the Rappahannock from which it had set out on the sortie.

A NORTH wind, blowing gently as the battle of Gettys-
The field of l>urg closed, drifted the smoke from the field
Gettysburg, ^qt^j^ {^^iq ^jjg valloy of the Monocacy, un-
veiling the dark blue Alleghanies in the west. It revealed,
too, the awful destruction that had been occasioned by Lee's
ill-judged attack. Seen from Cemetery Ridge, the track
of Pickett's charge was marked with corpses, and wounded
men writhing in agony — a spectacle even more appalling
than that of Malvern Hill.

As a weapon of offense, to be used in the Free States,
Lee's army was totally ruined. All night long that gen-
eral ruminated on the dreadful disasters that had befallen
the Confederate cause, yet even he did not know their full
extent. At the very moment that Pickett's charge was
being repulsed — 4 o'clock at Gettysburg, 3 o'clock at Vicks-
burg, seven hundred miles to the southwest, Pemberton,
reduced to the direst straits, was sitting with Grant under

Online LibraryJohn William DraperHistory of the American Civil War → online text (page 11 of 57)