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can not fail to be of interest. Colonel Veazey had, on the night of the 2d, been on duty as the Field Officer of the Day for Stannard's brigade, and had established the picket line of that command over a portion of the ground afterward swept by the great charge of the 3d. Owing to the exigencies of the service, the men on picket had not been relieved in the morning, but were still kept out as skirmishers, closely engaged with the enemy's sharpshooters. About one o'clock Colonel Veazey rode back to report the exhausted condition of his men and see if he could not obtain an order for their relief. The following are his words:
"The general said he had had them in mind all day and would have sent out reliefs but that he was afraid it could not be done without considerable loss; but, as it was quiet on the front at that time, he would order a relief and have them report to me at his headquarters, and asked me to remain there with him until they came up. I had served in the same division with him since the organization of the Potomac army until after the Peninsula campaign. I saw him when he turned the rebel left flank with his brigade at Williamsburg, had seen him in other battles of that campaign, and had often been thrilled by his proud and fearless bearing in action. But I had never seen him when he looked every inch the magnificent, ideal soldier so truly as on this occasion. I knew from every word and look that General Hancock had correctly divined the determination of the men who lay along the crest to the right and left to stay there and never be driven therefrom. He knew that they as well as he appreciated the consequences of defeat. They knew him; and believed that whatever tactical skill and courage could attain he would accomplish. Leader and men were never better suited to each other. As he repeatedly examined his line with a field glass, I could see the expression of satisfaction, confidence, and impatience. But he had not long to wait, for, just as the first detail he had ordered was approaching, the signal gun from the opposite crest was fired, followed in a minute by one hundred and forty others."
The great battle of the third day had begun. To prepare the way for his daring and resolute infantry, Lee had organized one of the mightiest cannonades in the history of war. Nearly a hundred and fifty guns had been brought into action along Seminary Ridge and now turned their grim muzzles upon the crest which Longstreet's column was to assault. Owing to the nature of the Union position, only eighty guns could be brought to bear in reply, while, from the same cause, the rear of our line was peculiarly subject to the effects of the hostile fire. The whole space behind Cemetery Ridge was in a moment rendered uninhabitable. General headquarters were broken up; the supply and re
serve ammunition trains were driven out; motley hordes of camp followers poured down the Baltimore pike or spread over the fields to the rear. Upon every side caissons exploded; horses were struck down by hundreds; the air was filled with flying missiles; shells tore up the ground and then bounded for another and perhaps more deadly flight, or burst above the crouching troops and sent their ragged fragments down in deadly showers. Never had a storm so dreadful burst upon mortal men. As soon as the cannonade opened, Hancock mounted his horse, and with his staff behind him and his corps flag flying, rode slowly along the front of his line that every man might see that his general was with him in the storm. Thousands of soldiers, crouching close to the ground under the bitter hail, looked up at that calm, stately form, that handsome, proud face, that pennon bearing the well-known trefoil; and found courage longer to endure the pelting of the pitiless gale. Only once was the cavalcade interrupted; so furious was the fire, his favorite black charger became unmanageable, and Hancock was obliged to dismount and borrow the horse of an aid to complete the circuit of his line.
For nearly two hours the cannonade lasted. Long before it died down, the batteries of the corps to the right and of the corps to the left had ceased to respond, reserving their ammunition for what was to follow; but Hancock knew well where the coming assault was to fall, and by his direction the batteries of the Second Corps continued firing to the last, for he would not allow his troops to be disheartened by the silence of their own guns.* And now, at nearly three o'clock, the fire of the Confederate artillery slackens; and across the plain, upon Seminary Ridge, the hostile columns are seen forming. Braver men never trod the earth than form the fourteen brigades which are to be launched against our Lines. Pettigrew's five constitute the left. Pickett's three, the flower of Virginia chivalry, are on the right. Thomas and McGowan are to cover the flank of Pettigrew; Wilcox and Perry, the flank of Pickett; while Lane and Scales are to support the attacking column.
But Longstreet hesitates. Too well he knows the courage and endurance of the army he is to encounter. For a moment, and again for a moment, he delays to give the order to advance. He has to be reminded that precious time is passing, and that the giant cannonade must be promptly followed up or its effect will be lost. At last the word is given, whether by him or by a staff officer; and the gallant troops he has marshaled move down the slopes of Seminary Ridge. At once the Union batteries on Cemetery Hill and about Little Round Top open fire. The plain between the two lines once more shrieks with flying missiles. A fairer mark was never offered; better artillerists never served their guns. In front of every regiment in the long Confederate line bursts the deadly shrapnel, sending its whistling bullets on into the living mass. But the ranks are closed without a tremor, and steadily and swiftly the divisions of Pettigrew and Pickett move forward to their great enterprise.
* In the Century Company's War Book, vol. iii, pp. 385-387, may be found the discussion between General Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, and myself as to the expediency of Hancock's course in this matter.
And now the guns of the Second Corps, which have thus far, from want of shell and shrapnel, been silent during the Confederate advance, open once more; and the ranks of Pettigrew and Pickett are torn with canister from the guns of Woodruff, Arnold, Cushing, Rorty, and Cowan. These gallant officers serve their batteries as coolly as if they were not looking into the faces of ten thousand rapidly advancing foemen. "No. 1, Fire! No. 2, Fire !" resounds monotonously from right to left of each battery, while the hot guns belch their flame and smoke and leaden hail into the very faces of the enemy. At last the infantry of Hays and Gibbon open the fire they have spontaneously reserved for the critical moment. Before the blazing muzzles of those thousands of veteran rifles the Confederate lines for a moment stagger and reel; the ground is strewn with dead and dying. But the blood of Virginia and North Carolina is up; the colors that have