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other, his very rank as yet casually omitted from the draft, the order came to march at once to Taneytown. By the hour the corps reached that place all thoughts of a general order had vanished. The time had arrived for action, not words. Great news had come—news which in the telling made rhetoric and argument alike trivial. The left wing of the Army of the Potomac, consisting of the First and Eleventh Corps, with Buford's division of cavalry, the Third Corps following, all under command of Major-General John F. Reynolds, had been pushed up to Gettysburg—name then little known —to see if haply anywhere might be found the main body of the enemy, thus far hidden away amid clouds of raiding parties which covered no small part of the fair State of Pennsylvania. Here at Gettysburg the intrepid, vigilant, enterprising Buford, searching every avenue by which the enemy might approach, suddenly experienced the onset of Heth, coming in from Chambersburg upon his left, the first of Lee's widely scattered divisions to arrive in a general movement of concentration at that point ordered on the 29th of June, in ignorance of Meade's advance northward. Hastily sending word to Reynolds, Buford prepared to hold the enemy back until the Union infantry could come up. Twelve months earlier a Confederate division would have driven the Union cavalry before them like chaff; but the
mounted service had now reached the same degree of hardiness, tenacity, and endurance which the infantry acquired a year earlier. Posting his men along the banks of Willoughby Run, a mile or more to the northwest of Gettysburg, Buford, with the utmost courage and address, holds back the advancing Confederates until the head of the infantry corps, under Reynolds in person, comes rapidly up to the sound of the firing. What shall be done in view of the fast-proceeding concentration of the enemy P Lee has, in ignorance of Meade's whereabouts, pitched upon Gettysburg; and this fortunate choice has given him a full twenty-four hours' start in a contest for that position. Shall the Army of the Potomac, thus put at disadvantage in point of time, relinquish Gettysburg and fall back upon Pipe Creek, which down to this moment has mainly been in view by the headquarters staff as the true defensive line 2 This is the question Reynolds is called to decide. The decision costs him his life but wins for him an immortality of glory. Without hesitation he orders up his foremost division (Wadsworth's) and throws it into action, to contest the advance of the Confederates and give time for the rest of his own troops and Howard's to come up. Here within a brief space he falls dead, paying with his life the price of holding Gettysburg for the Union arms. It needs not to tell of the fight which for hours raged along Willoughby Run and Seminary Ridge, as the divisions of the First Corps successively arriving, and the Eleventh Corps following, sought to beat back the Confederate columns now fast coming upon the field from the northwest, from the north, and finally from the northeast. At last, in spite of the most gallant resistance, our troops are swept from the field in overwhelming numbers; Seminary Ridge is lost; the enemy, closing in, capture thousands in the streets of Gettysburg; the feeble remnants of the Union corps are obliged to retreat to Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge. Of the sixteen thousand taken into action, scarce five thousand remain with the colors; the rest have been left üpon the field, killed or wounded, or prisoners in the hands of the Confederates, or are scattered over the hills and plains, panic-stricken, broken, and in flight. Return we now to Taneytown. Thither had been borne the news of the first engagement of the morning: conflicting news of gain and loss, and, at last, the tidings that Reynolds had fallen. Whether killed or only severely wounded was not yet known. Thus inauspiciously had the battle opened. The enemy, so eagerly sought, had been found only too well. General Meade had grave reason to believe that his left wing was in dire peril. The point where the collision had taken place intimated strongly that the Confederates were already there in vastly superior force. He could not himself go to the front, for he must remain in communication with the more distant corps. Reynolds he had trusted as a man trusts his brother; but in neither of the two ranking officers left at Gettysburg–Doubleday, commanding the First Corps after Reynolds's death, Howard, commanding the Eleventh Corps, and also now by seniority the whole column—had he the confidence he would wish to have in an emergency like this, so suddenly developed. What should he do The Second Corps was now arriving at Taneytown, at its head an officer who only three weeks before had been a division commander. But he was one whose reputation for high tactical skill, for single-minded obedience to orders, for desperate resolution, whether in attack or in defense, for almost magical power over men, had steadily risen with each succeeding day of service. He was a man who, wherever he appeared, at once, as by a great wave of moral force, lifted the hearts of his soldiers through his own intrepid bearing and joyous courage. Moreover, not having been engaged in the struggle of the earlier day, he would carry to Gettysburg not only a fresh force of mind and will, but a judgment calmer than could possibly be those of officers who had long been disputing that field against heavy odds. They might shrink from retreat before the enemy as a personal disgrace; he could have no other thought than what was best to be done in the situation created by the unexpected collision. Moved by these considerations, General Meade issued the following
“HEADQUARTERs, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
“Commanding Officer, Second Corps : “The Major General Commanding has just been informed that General Reynolds has been killed or badly wounded. He directs that you turn over the command of your corps to General Gibbon, that you proceed to the front, and by virtue of this order, in case of the truth of General Reynolds's death, you assume command of the corps there assembled— viz., the Eleventh, First, and Third, at Emmittsburg.” If you think the ground and position there a better one on which to fight a battle under existing circumstances, you will so advise the general, and he will order all the troops up. You know the general's views, and General Warren, who is fully aware of them, has gone out to see General Rey
nolds. - “Later, 1.15 P. M.
“Reynolds has possession of Gettysburg, and the enemy are reported as falling back from the front of Gettysburg. Hold your column ready to move. “Very respectfully, “Your obedient servant, “D. BUTTERFIELD, “Major-General and Chief of Staff.”
* This means that the Third Corps was at Emmittsburg.