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fallen are lifted again and waved defiantly in air; the still advancing lines bend themselves against the storm of lead as a man leans forward to breast a furious gale; they are so near that a few minutes must decide whether Gettysburg is lost or won.
Now three things occur which must be narrated in succession, though they happen, if not all at once, then with inappreciable intervals: (i) Of the five brigades of Pettigrew, that on the extreme left, Brockenborough's Virginians, enfiladed by the guns from Cemetery Hill, breaks and goes to the rear; the remaining brigades, partly under the influence of the same cause, partly recoiling from the steady fire of Hays's line, draw in upon Pickett's troops, heaping up on the center, as one has seen in so many Confederate assaults, while Lane's and Scales's brigades close up from the rear: (2) Stannard's Vermont brigade, away down on the left, is thrown forward upon the Confederate right, driving the brigade of Kemper before it; (3) at "the clump of trees," which hours before had been designated as the point of attack, the more daring of the assailants, led by Armistead, Hancock's old companion in arms, force back the line of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania, kill Cushing and his gunners among their pieces, and wave the Stars and Bars in the very center of the Union position.
Where, in this crisis of the action, is Hancock? He has marked the recoil of the Confederates from Hays's front; he sees the enemy swarming up against the stone wall. Directing upon the head of their column Devereux's Nineteenth Massachusetts and Mallon's Forty-second New York, he gallops to the left, calling to Gibbon as he goes to advance his troops against the head of the assaulting column; then dashes down to the Vermont brigade, which lies in advance of the general line, covered by brush and by the irregularity of the ground, and orders them to change-front-forward to the right and advance against the Confederate flank. Already the Vermonters are up, probably to execute that very manoeuvre by the command of their gallant leader, General Stannard. It is a place where no mounted man has been seen for hours, where no mounted man can possibly live for five minutes. Hardly has Hancock reached Stannard's side, and with word and gesture seeks to convey his command amid the roar of battle, when a bullet strikes him near the groin and he falls out of his saddle into the arms of Benedict and Hooker, of Stannard's staff. Randall's Thirteenth Vermont, followed close by Veazey's Sixteenth, swing themselves forward and wheel into line to the right, opening fire upon the Confederate flank, which cringes and curls under the stroke. Yet still lying there, his wound spouting blood, Hancock raises himself upon his elbow to watch the progress of the fight; and as Veazey passes by with his gallant regiment, calls him to himself, clasps his hand as in the old days, and, in a voice still martial and stirring, cries, "Go in, Colonel, and give it to them on the flank." And soon, rising to a roar that extends from Cemetery Hill to the Round Tops, a shout along the Union line tells that the great attack has been repulsed. The wall of fire which Hancock, Gibbon, and Hays had drawn around the head of the Confederate column as it lay within the Union lines had been too much for the endurance of the men of Pickett and Pettigrew. Armistead had gone down, and with him the bravest of the adventurous few who crossed the stone wall; many a flag had dropped to earth never again to be lifted save as a trophy. Hunt, chief of artillery; Mitchell and Haskell, of the staff; Webb, commanding the brigade on which the attack fell, had displayed prodigies of valor in bringing up troops to meet the enemy; and at last, with one great spontaneous surge, the men of the Second Corps went forward, gathering in "prisoners by thousands and battle flags in sheaves " *—and Gettysburg was won.
It was not until the repulse was complete that Hancock allowed himself to sink to the ground and gave himself up to the good corps surgeon, Dougherty, whom the news had brought to his side. The wound was an ugly one and ghastly to see. An onlooker has compared it to the stab of a butcher's
* General Charles Devens, Oration on Meade, 1873.
knife. A few minutes of field surgery sufficed to stop the flowing blood, and made it safe to lift him into the ambulance which was to bear him from the corps he had commanded one short month, yet at the head of which he had won immortal honor.
The battle of Gettysburg had been as costly as glorious to the Second Corps. The corps had taken into the fight fewer than ten thousand muskets; it had lost four thousand three hundred and fifty men, of whom three hundred and forty-nine were commissioned officers. The corps commander had been severely wounded, as had General Gibbon who succeeded to the command when Hancock assumed his larger charge. Both of these high officers had fallen on the very line of battle or in front of it. The heroic General Zook had been killed, and twelve of as brave colonels and lieutenant colonels as the army knew: Cross, of New Hampshire; Willard, Sherrill, Huston, and Thoman, of New York; Roberts, O'Kane, and Tschudy, of Pennsylvania; Ward and Revere, of Massachusetts; Merwin, of Connecticut; and Steele, of Michigan. In its artillery brigade two hundred and fifty horses had been killed; of its five battery commanders, all had been wounded, four of them mortally. But the corps had trophies to show for these tremendous losses. It had captured twentyseven Confederate battle flags and as many prisoners as it had men remaining in its own ranks when the fight was over. To it had come the honor of holding the central point upon which the great assault of the third day had been directed; and all the world knows how bravely, faithfully, and skillfully it repulsed the supreme effort of the army of the Confederacy. There, at "the clump of trees," the tide of rebellion rose to its greatest height; and thence it was beaten back by the dauntless valor of the soldiers of fifteen States who that day along Cemetery Ridge upheld the banner of the Union.
In every great career, whether civil or military, there is some one day which is peculiarly memorable; which, by reason in part of favorable opportunities or especially conspicuous position—in part, also, through some rare inspiration quickening the genius of the statesman or the warrior—becomes and to the end remains the crown of that career; the day which that leader's name instinctively suggests; the day to which, in disappointment or retirement, his own thoughts go back as the—for him —day of days. Such to Hancock was Gettysburg. From the hour when, by his resolution, force of character and power over men, he checked the rout of the first afternoon, restored order and confidence and formed the new lines which were to be held unbroken to the last, down to. the moment when the divisions of Gibbon and Hays, leaping the stone wall and rail fences which had partially sheltered them during the cannonade and the great charge, gathered in nearly thirty Confederate colors and four