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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 that fated valley the day before ; I had 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 firinness 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 brave foes to note that this imputation on Pettigrew's brigade has been proved unjust. They fought as well and held as tenaciously as any of their comrades, having all vol. II.-25
ceased firing. This was a fearful moment for Pickett and his brave command. Why do not our guns réopen their fire? 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 Emmitsburg 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 ! “Let us look after Pettigrew's division. Where are they now 7 While the victorious shout of the gallant Virginians is still ringing in my ears, I turn in y 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. The gallant Pettigrew is wounded; but he still retains command, and is vainly striving to rally his men. Still, the moving mass rush pell-inell to the rear: * and I’ickett is left alone to contend with the hordes of the enemy now pouring in upon him on every side. Garnett falls, killed by a Minié 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 back, 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 1st of July: at roll-call on the 4th, they numbered 835.
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 all their strength and desperation for one fierce, convulsive effort, that should 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 beat 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 Emmitsburg 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 thundering on 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 effort—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 enough to oppose to this momentum. It
was pushed behind the guns. Right on came the Rebels. They were upon the guns— were bayoneting the gunners—were waying 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
there was over. A single brigade, Harrow's (of which the 7th 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 was a bitter, crushing defeat. For once, the Army of the Potomac had won a clean, honest, acknowledged victory.”
Gen. Doubleday, testifying before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, says:
“About 2 P. 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 ground, 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
main force from being flanked. This charge was first directed toward my lines; but, seeing that they were quite strong, five lines deep, and well strengthened with rails and stones, behind which the men lay, the enemy changed his mind, and concluded to make the attack on the division of the 2d corps, on my right, where there were but two lines. He marched by his right flank, and then marched to his front. In doing this, the wing apparently did not understand the movement, but kept straight on. The consequence was, that there was a wide gap between the wing and the main charging force, which enabled my men on the right, the brigade of Gen. Stannard, to form immediately on the flank of the charging column, while the enemy were subjected to an awful fire of artillery in front. It is said some few of them laid their hands on our guns. The prisoners state that what ruined them was Stannard's brigade on their flank, as they found it impossible to contend with it in that position; and they drew off, all in a huddle, to get away from it. I sent two regiments to charge then in front at the same time. While this was going on, the enemy were subjected to a terrific artillery-fire at short range; and the result was that they retreated with frightful loss. “Some five minutes after the charge was broken up and they began to retreat, a large number of batteries and regiments of infantry reported to me, as I sat on horseback, for orders to repulse the attack. I posted them, with the approval of the corps commander, though they were a little too late to be of essential service. “I would state that the wing of the ene
my which got astray was also met by part of Stannard's brigade, which also formed on its flank, and it also retreated. Thus the day was won, and the country saved.”
The battle was over; and it was won ; but that was all. Our guns were nearly out of cartridges; the
reserve ammunition had been drawn
ing Round Top on our left, at 5 P. M. advanced McCandless's brigade, by Meade's order, driving back a battery which confronted him without support, and, pushing forward a mile, took 260 prisoners (Georgians), of Anderson's division, and recovering a 12-pounder, three caissons, 7,000 small arms, and all our wounded who had fallen in Sickles's repulse, after they had lain 24 hours uncared for within the enemy's lines. It was manifest that the Rebel force had mainly been withdrawn from this wing to strengthen the grand assault nearer the center, and did not return; as Crawford held the ground thus gained without objection. He could see no reason why a decided advance on this wing of the 5th and the still comparatively fresh 6th corps might not then have been made without meeting serious opposition.
Gen. Meade has been reproached as timid and over-cautious; but it is plain that his strategy, though not daring, was able and wise. Isad he allowed his hot-heads to dash their commands at the outset against the Rebel batteries on Seminary ridge, as they would gladly have done, he would have fought a magnificent battle and probably been magnificently beaten. Between two great armies, equally brave, equally reso
upon; a single brigade, standing at | lute, and equal in numbers and in ef. ease in the rear, composed the entire | fectiveness of weapons, the choice of reserve of the Army of the Potomac. position naturally decides the fortune All beside had been brought forward of the day. It is not with these as
and put in, on one point or another, to brace up the front for that stern ordeal. There was very little fighting after this decisive repulse, save that Gen. Crawford, of Sykes's division, hold
with armed mobs, where the assailant often triumphs by the mere audacity of his assault—the assailed concluding that those who are charging them will not fly, so they must. Had Lee assailed Burnside on the heights of Falmouth, he would have been beaten most disastrously. And, though Meade's position at Gettysburg does not compare in strength with Lee's on the Fredericksburg heights, it was probably worth a rèenforcement of 10,000 men. Nor is Meade justly blamable for not pushing forward at once, on the heels of his beaten foes. Around him lay nearly or quite one-fourth of his army, killed or wounded; he knew that his own ammunition was running low; he did not know that Lee's was even more completely exhausted. If he had ordered a general advance, and been repelled from Seminary ridge by such a fire as had met and crushed the Rebel assailants of Cemetery hill, he would have been reproached as rash and fool-hardy by many who have deemed him defi, cient in courage or in heartiness be: cause he did not make the Union a Fourth-of-July present of the remnant of Lee's army. IIis real and grave error dated several days back of this. IIe had, on assuming command, been authorized to do as he judged best with French's force on Maryland IIeights, and Couch's in central Pennsylvania. Had he, on deciding to fight Lee so Soon as circumstances favored, ordered both these to join him at the earliest moment, he would now have been consciously master of the situation, and might have blocked Lee's return to Virginia. But he gave no such order to Couch; and having, at Butterfield's urgent suggestion, with
drawn French's 11,000 men from Maryland Heights, he left 7,000 of them standing idle at Frederick, sending the residue as train-guards to Washington, and actually apologized to Halleck, on meeting him, for having moved them at all! Had Gettysburg been lost for want of these 11,000 men, his would have been a fearful responsibility. Couch’s militia were pronounced worthless by worthless officers, who forget what Washington, Gates, and Jackson, severally did with militia; but, though they had been only held in reserve, or set to guarding trains, their presence would have had a wholesome moral effect. And now, if they had been at hand to set on the track of the beaten, flying Rebels, they might have done more, and could not have done less, than Sedgwick did when sent on that same errand.
Meade states our losses in this series of battles around Gettysburg at 2,834 killed, 13,709 wounded, and 6,643 missing (mainly taken prisoners on the 1st): total, 23,186.” He only claims 3 guns as captured this side of the Potomac, with 41 flags and 13,621 prisoners—many of them. wounded, of course. He adds that 24,978 small arms were collected on the field; but part of them may have been previously our own.
Lee gives no return of his losses; but they were probably not materially greater nor less than ours"—our men fighting on the defensive, somewhat protected by breastworks, and
* Among our killed, not already mentioned, were Brig.-Gens. S. II. Weed, N. Y., and E. J. Farnsworth, Mich.; Cols. Vincent and Willard (commanding brigades), Cross, 5th N. H., O'Rorke, 140th N. Y., Revere, 20th Mass., and Taylor, Pa. “Bucktails.' Among our wounded
were Brig.-Gens. Gibbon, Barlow, Stannard, Webb, and Paul.
* Pollard rather candidly says:
“On our side, Pickett's division had been engaged in the hottest work of the day, and the havoc in its ranks was appalling. Its losses on