previous next
[531] impetuosity of these gallant fellows, after two weeks of hard marching and hard fighting on short rations, was not only extraordinary, but irresistible. The enemy's masses vanished before them like grain before the scythe, and that regiment elicited the admiration of every beholder, and eclipsed the many laurels already won by its gallant veterans. Their impetuosity carried them too far, and the charge being very much prolonged, their horses, already jaded by hard marching, failed under it. Their movement was too rapid to be stopped by couriers, and the enemy perceiving it, were turning upon them with fresh horses. The First North Carolina Cavalry and Jeff Davis Legion were sent to their support, and gradually this hand-to-hand fighting involved the greater portion of the command, till the enemy was driven from the field, which was now raked by their artillery, posted about three-quarters of a mile off, our officers and men behaving with the greatest heroism throughout.

Our own artillery commanding the same ground, no more hand-to-hand fighting occurred, but the wounded were removed and the prisoners (a large number) taken to the rear. The enemy's loss was unmistakably heavy-numbers not known. Many of his killed and wounded fell into our hands. That brave and distinguished officer, Brigadier General Hampton, was seriously wounded twice in this engagement. Among the killed was Major Connor, a gallant and efficient officer of the Jeff Davis Legion. Several officers and many valuable men were killed and wounded, whose names it is not now in my power to furnish, but which, it is hoped, will be ultimately furnished in the reports of regimental and brigade commanders.

Notwithstanding the favorable results obtained, I would have preferred a different method of attack, as already indicated, but I soon saw that entanglement, by the force of circumstances narrated, was unavoidable, and determined to make the best fight possible. General Fitz Lee was always in the right place, and contributed his usual conspicuous share to the success of the day. Both he and the gallant First Virginia begged me, after the hot encounter, to allow them to take the enemy's battery, but I doubted the practicability of the ground for such a purpose.

During this day's operations I held such a position as not only to render Ewell's left entirely secure, where the firing of my command, mistaken for that of the enemy, caused some apprehension, but commanded a view of the routes leading to the enemy's rear. Had the enemy's main body been dislodged, as was confidently hoped and expected, I was in precisely the right position to discover it, and improve the opportunity. I watched keenly and anxiously the indications in his rear for that purpose; while in the attack which I intended, (which was forestalled by our troops being exposed to view,) his cavalry would have separated from the main body, and gave promise of solid results and advantages. After dark I directed a withdrawal to the York road, as our position was so far advanced as to make it hazardous at night, on account of the proximity of the enemy's infantry.

During the night of the 3d of July, the commanding general withdrew the main body to the ridges west of Gettysburg, and sent word to me to that effect, but his messenger missed me. I repaired to his headquarters during the latter part of the night, and received instructions as to the new line, and sent, in compliance therewith, a brigade (Fitz Lee's) to Cashtown to protect our trains congregated there. My cavalry and artillery were somewhat jeopardized before I got back to my command by the enemy's having occupied our late ground before my command could be notified of the change. None, however, were either lost or captured.

During the 4th, which was quite rainy, written instructions were received from the commanding general as to the order of march back to the Potomac.

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.
Fitz Lee (2)
Wade Hampton (1)
Ewell (1)
Connor (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: