heavy loss, and struggling desperately to seize Round Top at his left.

Meade regarded this hill as vital to the maintenance of our position, and had already ordered Sykes to advance the 5th corps with all possible haste to Bave and hold it. A fierce and bloody struggle ensued; for the enemy had nearly carried the hill before Sykes reached it; while Humphreys, who, with one of Sykes's divisions, had been posted in the morning on Sickles's right, was in

* The Riclimond Enquirer has the following account of this fight by an eye-witness on the Rebel side, writing from Hagcrstown on tho 8th:

"About the middle of the afternoon, orders were issued to the different commanders to propare for a general attack upon the enemy's center and left. Longstreet was to commence the movement, which was to be followed up on his left in quick succession by the respective divisions of Hill's corps. As Anderson's division, or at least a portion of it, took a conspicuou.i part in this movement, I have ascertained, and now givo you, tho order of its different brigades: On tho extreme right of Anderson's division, connecting with McLaws's left, was Wilcox's brigado, then Perry's, Wright's, Posoy's, and Mahono's. At half-past 5 o'clock, Longstreet commenced tho attack, and Wilcox followed it up by promptly moving forward; Perry's brigado quickly followed, and Wright moved simultaneously with him. Tho two divisions of Longstreet's corps soon encountered the enemy posted a little in roar of the Emmitsburg turnpike, which winds along tho slope of the range upon which the enemy's main forco was concentrated. After a short but spirited engagement, the enemy was driven back upon the main line upon the crest of tho hill McLaws's and Hood's divisions made a dosperato assault upon their main line; but, owing to the precipitate and very rugged character of the slope, were unable to reach the summit. The enemy's loss on this part of tho line was very heavy. I have heard several officers say that they have never seen tho enemy's dead cover the ground so thickly, not even at tho first Fredericksburg fight, as they did on that portion of the field over which McLaws's troops fought. While the fight was raging on our right, Wilcox and Wright, of Anderson's division, were pressing the enemy's center. Wilcox pushed forward for nearly a mile, driving tho enemy before him and up to his very guns, over and beyond his batteries, several guns of which he captured, and nearly up to the summit of the hill. Wright had swept over tho valley, under a terrific fire from the

turn assailed in front and flank, and driven back, with a loss of 2,000 out of5,000 men. Ultimately, as Sickles's corps fell back-in disorder to the ground from which he should not have advanced, Hancock closed in from the right, while parts of the 1st, of the 6th, and a division of the 12th corps, were thrown in on the enemy's front, and they in turn were repelled with loss; falling back to the ridge to which Sickles had advanced, and leaving our line where Meade had intended to place it."

enemy's batteries, posted upon McPherson's heights, had encountered the enemy's advance line, and had driven him across tho Emmitsburg pike to a position behind a stono wall or fence, which runs parallel with tho pike, and about GO or 80 yards in front of the batteries on the hoights, and immediately under them. Here, this gallant brigado had a most desperate engagement for fifteen or twenty minutes; but charging rapidly up the almost perpendicular side of the mountain, they rushed upon the enemy's infantry, Iwhind the stone wall, and drove them from it at the point of the bayonet. Now concentrating their fire upon the heavy batteries (20 guns) of the enemy on the crest of the hoights, they soon silenced them, and, rushing forward with a shout, soon gained the summit of the heights, capturing all the enemy's guns, and driving their infantry in great disorder and confusion into the woods beyond.

"Wo now had the koy to the enemy's stronghold, and, apparently, tho victory was won. McLaws and Hood had pushed their line well up the slopoon the right; Wilcox had kept well up on his portion of tho lino; Wright had pierced tho enemy's main lino on tho summit of McPherson's heights, capturing his heavy batteries, thus breaking tho connection between their right and left wings. I said that, apparently, we had won tho victory. It romains to be stated why our successes were not crowned with the important results which Bhould have followed such heroic daring and indomitable bravery. Although the order was peremptory that all of Anderson's division should move into action simultaneously, Brig.-Gen. Posey, commanding a Mississippi brigade, and Brig.-Gen. Mahone, commanding a Virginia brigade, failed to advance. This failure of these two brigades to advance is assigned, as I learn upon inquiry, as the reason why Pender's division, of Hill's corps, did not advance—the order being, that the advance was to commence from tho right, and be taken up along our whole line. Pender's failure to advance caused the division on his left—Heth's—to remain inactive. Here we have two whole divisions, and two brigades of another, standing idlo spectators of one of the THE REBEL GRAND CH

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Meanwhile, the withdrawal of a division from Slocum had enabled Ewell to assail our right wing in superior force, crowding part of it back considerably, and seizing some of its rifle-pits. Hence, just at dark, the enemy assailed the right of Howard's shattered 11th corps, holding the right face of Cemetery hill; but gained no essential advantage.

Night closed the 2d day of July and of the battle, with the Rebels decidedly encouraged and confident. Of the seven corps composing our army, three had been severely handled, and at least half their effective strength demolished. Reynolds, commanding the 1st, and Brig.-Gen. Zook, of Sickles's corps, had been killed; Sickles, of the 3d, had had his leg shattered by a cannon-ball, and was out of the fight; our total losses up to this hour were searcely fewer than 20,000 men; and none were arriving to replace them. The ground whereon Reynolds had fought and fallen so gallantly was about the center of their army; they held that also on which Howard had been cut up, and that from which Sickles had been hurled in disorder. True, they also had lost heavily; but they had reason for their hope that the mor

most desperate and important assaults that has ever been made on this continent—15,000 or 20,000 armed men resting on their arms, in plain view of a terrible battlo, witnessing the mighty efforts of two little brigades (Wright's and Wilcox's; for Perry had fallen back overpowered), contending with the heavy masses of Yankee infantry, and subjected to a moat doadly Are from the enemy's heavy artillery, without a single effort to aid them in the assault, or to assist them when tho heights wero carried. Perry's brigade, which was between Wilcox and Wright, soon aftor its first advance, was pressed so heavily as to be forced to retire. This left an interval in tho line between Wright and Wilcox, and which tho enemy perceiving, he threw a heavy column into tho gap then made, deploying a portion of it on Wilcox's left flank, while a large force was thrown in roar of Wright's right flank.

row's triumph would richly repay all their losses."

The battlo opened next day" on our right; where Slocum—his division having returned from the left— pushed forward to retake his lost rifle-pits, and did it, after a sharp conflict, reestablishing his line, and resting upon it. Meantime, Lee had reenforced Longstreet with three fresh brigades, under Pickett, which arrived from Chambersburg an hour or two before Sedgwick came up on our side, a division from Ewell, and two detached from Hill; and the Rebel left was firmly established and its batteries planted on tho ridge whence Sickles had been driven.

There was a pause of anxious expectation, fitfully broken by spits of firing here and there, while the Rebels were making their dispositions and posting their batteries for the supreme effort which was to decide this momentous contest. At length, at 1 P. M., the signal was given, and 115 heavy guns from Hill's and Longstreet's front crossed their fire on Cemetery hill, the center and key of our position. Here, a little behind the crest, was Meade's headquarters; though the hill had been plowed by Rebel balls during the fierce fighting

The failure of Posey and Mahono to advance upon Wright's left enabled the enemy to throw forward a strong force on that flank, and to push it well to his rear along the Emmiteburg pike. It was now apparent that the day was lost— lost after it had been won—lost, not because our army fought badly, but becauso a large portion of it did not fight at all."

"Leo, in his official report, says:

"After a severe struggle, Longstreet succeeded in getting possession of and holding the desired ground. Ewell also carried some of the strong positions which he assailed; and the result was such as to lead to the belief that he would ultimately be able to dislodge the enemy. The battle ceased at dark. These partial successes determined me to continue the assault next day." "Friday, July 3.

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


battle, three or four miles long, preceded by a cloud of skirmishers and supported by a line of reserves, moving swiftly to the charge upon Cemetery hill, and Hancock's corps more especially, but upon the entire front westward to Round Top. Let the Rebel correspondent of The Richmond, Enquirer describe this grand assault, as follows:

"Now the storming party was moved up: Pickett's division in advance, supported on the right by Wilcox's brigade and on the left by Heth's division, commanded by Pettigrew. The left of Pickett's division occupied the same ground over which Wright had passed the day before. I stood upon an eminence and watched this advance with great interest; I had seen brave men pass over tlat fated valley the day before; Iliad witnessed their death-struggle with the foe on the opposite heights; I had observed their return with shattered ranks, a bleeding mass, but with unstained banners. Now I saw their valiant comrades prepare for the same bloody trial, and already felt that their efforts would be vain unless their supports should be as true as steel and brave as lions. Now they move forward; with steady, measured tread, they advance upon the foe. Their banners float defiantly in the breeze, as onward in beautiful order they press across the plain. I have never seen since the war began (and I have been in all the great fights of this army) troops enter a fight in such splendid order as did this splendid division of Pickett's. Now Pettigrew's command emerge from the woods upon Pickett's left, and sweep down the slope of the hill to the valley beneath, and some two or three hundred yards in rear of Pickett. I saw by the wavering of this line as they entered the conflict that they wanted the firmness of nerve and steadiness of tread which so characterized Pickett's men, and I felt that these men would not, could not stand the tremendous ordeal to which they would soon be subjected. These were mostly raw troops, who had been recently brought from the South, and who had, perhaps, never been under fire—who certainly had never been in any very severe fight—and I trembled for their conduct. Just as Pickett was getting well under the enemy's fire, our batteries

"It is simple justice to bravo foes to note that this imputation on Pettigrew's brigade has been proved unjust. They fought as well and held a-; tenaciously as any of their comrades, having all

Vol. ii.—23

ceased firing. This was a fearful moment for Pickett and his brave command. Why do not our guns reopen their fire f is the inquiry that rises upon every lip. Still, our batteries are silent as death! But on press Pickett's brave Virginians; and now the enemy open upon them, from more than fifty guns, a terrible fire of grape, shell, and canister. On, on they move in unbroken line, delivering a deadly fire as they advance. Now they have reached the Einmitsburg road; and here they meet a severe fire from the heavy masses of the enemy's infantry, posted behind the stone fence; while their artillery, now free from the annoyance of our artillery, turn their whole fire upon this devoted band. Still, they remain firm. Now again they advance; they storm the stone fence; the Yankees fly. The enemy's batteries are, one by one, silenced in quick succession as Pickett's men deliver their fire at the gunners and drive them from their pieces. I see Kemper and Armistead plant their banner in the enemy's works. I hear their glad shout of victory! 1 "Let us look after Pettigrew's division. Where are they now? While the victorious shout of the gallant Virginians is still ringing in my ears, I turn my eyes to the left, and there, all over the plain, in utmost confusion, is scattered this strong division. Their line is broken; they are flying, apparently panic-stricken, to the rear. Tiio gallant Pettigrew is wounded; but he still retains command, and is vainly striving to rally his men. Still, the moving mass rush pell-mell to the rear; M and Pickett is left alone to contend with the hordes of the enemy now pouring in upon him on every side. Garnett falls, killed by a Minio ball; and Kemper, the brave and chivalrous, reels under a mortal wound, and is taken to the rear. Now the enemy move around strong flanking bodies of infantry, and are rapidly gaining Pickett's rear. The order is given to fall backy and our men commence the movement, doggedly contending for every inch of ground. The enemy press heavily our retreating line, and many noble spirits who had passed safely through the fiery ordeal of the advance and charge now fall on the right and on the left. Armistead is wounded and left in the enemy's hands. At this critical moment, the shattered remnant of Wright's Georgia brigade is moved forward to cover their retreat, and the fight closes here. Our loss in this charge was very severe; and the Yankee prisoners taken acknowledge that theirs was immense."

but one of their field officers killed or wounded; falling back under command of a Major. They mustered 2,800 strong on the morning of the 1 st of July: at roll-call on tho 4t!i, they numbered SUO.

Now let us hear ' Agate,' from our side, describe that last, determined effort of the Rebellion to maintain a foothold on the free soil of the North:

"The great, desperate, final charge came at 4. The Rebels seemed to have gathered up nil their strength and desperation for one fierce, convulsive effort, that shonld sweep over and wash out our obstinate resistance. They swept up as before: the flower of their army to the front, victory staked upon the issue. 'In some places, they literally lifted up and pushed back our lines; but, that terrible 'position' of ours!—wherever they entered it, enfilading fires from half a score of crests swept away their columns like merest chaff. Broken and hurled back, they easily fell into our hands; and, on the center and left, the last half-hour brought more prisoners than all the rest.

"So it was along the whole line; but it was on the 2d corps that the flower of the Rebel army was concentrated; it was there that the heaviest shock bent upon,and shook, and even sometimes crumbled, our line.

"We had some shallow rifle-pits, with barricades of rails from the fences. The Rebel line, stretching away miles to the left, in magnificent array, but strongest here—Pickett's splendid division of Longstreet's corps in front, the best of A. P. Hill's veterans in support—came steadily, and as it seemed resistlessly. sweeping up. Our skirmishers retired slowly from the Enimitsburg road, holding their ground tenaciously to the last. The Rebels reserved their fire till they reached this same Emmitsburg road, then opened with a terrific crash. From a hundred iron throats, meantime, their artillery had been thunderingon our barricades."

"Hancock was wounded; Gibbon succeeded to the command—approved soldier, and ready for the crisis. As the tempest of fire approached its height, he walked along the line, and renewed his orders to the men to reserve their fire. The Rebels—three lines deep—came steadily up. They were in point-blank range.

"At last, the order came! From thrice six thousand guns, there came a sheet of smoky flame, a crash, a rush of leaden death. The line literally melted away; but there came the second, resistless still. It had been our supreme etfort—on the instant, we were not equal to another.

"Up to the rifle-pits, across them, over the barricades—the momentum of their charge, the mere machine strength of their combined action—swept them on. Our thin line could fight, but it had not weight enougli to oppose to this momentum. It

was pushed behind the guns. Right on came the Rebels. They were upon the gunswere bayoneting the gunners—were waving their flags above our pieces.

"But they had penetrated to the fatal point. A storm of grape and canister tore its way from man to man, and marked its track with corpses straight down their line! They had exposed themselves to the enfilading fire of the guns on the western slope of Cemetery hill; that exposure sealed their fate.

"The line reeled back—disjointed already —in an instant in fragments. Our men were just behind the guns. They leaped forward upon the disordered mass; but there was little need for fighting now. A regiment threw down its arms, and, with colors at its head, rushed over and surrendered. All along the field, smaller detachments did the same. Webb's brigade brought in 800: taken in as little time as it requires to write the simple sentence that tells it. Gibbon's old division took 15 stand of colors.

"Over the fields, the escaped fragments of the charging line fell back—the battle thero was over. A single brigade, Harrow's (of which the Ttli Michigan is part), came out with 54 less officers, 793 less men. than it took in! So the whole corps fought —so too they fought farther down the line.

"It was fruitless sacrifice. They gathered up their broken fragments, formed their lines, and slowly marched away. It was not a rout, it wata. bitter, crushing defeat. For once, the Army of the Potomac hail won a clean, honest, acknowledged victory."

Gen. Doubleday, testifying before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, says:

"Abont 2 r. M., a tremendous cannonade was opened on us from at least 125 guns. They had our exact range, and the destruction was fearful. Horses were killed in every direction; I lost two horses myself, while almost every officer lost one or more, and quite a large number of caissons were blown up. I knew this was the prelude to a grand infantry charge, as artillery is generally massed in this way, to disorganize the opposing command, for the infantry to charge in the interval. I told my men to shelter themselves in every way behind the rocks, or little elevations of gronnd, while the artillery-firing took place, and to spring to their feet and hold their ground as soon as the charge came.

"When the enemy finally charged, they came on in three lines, with additional lines called, in military language, wings: the object of the wings being to prevent the

« 上一頁繼續 »