previous next
[436]

Pursuit “pell-mell” is sometimes justified in a mere retreat. It is the accepted principle of action in a rout. General Early, in his report of this day's work, says “the enemy had been routed.” He should, therefore, have been followed by everything that could have been thrown upon his heels, not so much to gain the heights, which were recognized as the rallying point, but to prevent his rallying at all in time to form lines for another battle. If the enemy had been routed, this could and should have been done. In the “Military annals of Louisiana” (Napier Bartlett, Esq.), in the account of this rout, he says: “Hays had received orders, through Early, from General Ewell (though Lee's general instructions were subsequently the reverse) to halt at Gettysburg, and advance no further in case he should succeed in capturing that place. But Hays now saw that the enemy were coming around by what is known as the Baltimore road, and were making for the heights — the Cemetery Ridge. This ridge meant life or death, and for the possession of it the battles of the 2d and 3d were fought. * * * Owing to the long detour the enemy was compelled to make, it was obvious that he could not get his artillery in position on the heights for one or two hours. The immediate occupation of the heights by the Confederates, who were in position to get them at the time referred to, was a matter of vital importance. Hays recognized it as such, and presently sent for Early. The latter thought as Hays, but declined to disobey orders. At the urgent request of General Hays, however, he sent for General Ewell. When the latter arrived, many precious moments had been lost. But the enemy, who did not see its value until the arrival of Hancock, had not yet appeared in force.” General Hays told me, ten years after the battle, that he “could have seized the heights without the loss of ten men.” Here we see General Early adhering to orders when his own conviction told him he should not do so, and refusing to allow General Hays to seize a point recognized by him as of vast importance, because of technical authority, at a moment when he admitted and knew that disregard of the order would only have made more secure the point at issue when the order was given.

Before closing this article, I desire to settle finally and fully one point, concerning which there has been much discussion, viz.: The alleged delay in the attack upon the 2d. I am moved to this task, not so much by an ambition to dissolve the cloud of personal misrepresentation that has settled about my head, as by a sense of duty which leads me to determine a point that will be of value to the historian. It was asserted by General Pendleton, with whom the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Hays (7)
Robert Early (4)
Ewell (2)
W. N. Pendleton (1)
Fitzhugh Lee (1)
Hancock (1)
Napier Bartlett (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: