select some ground having a general reference to the existing position of the army, which he might occupy by rapid movement of concentration, and thus give battle on his own terms, in case the enemy should advance across the South Mountain
The general line of Pipe Clay creek was selected, and a preliminary order of instructions issued to the corps commanders, informing them of this fact, and explaining how they might move their corps and concentrate in a good position along this line.
This measure was made the ground of an accusation that General Meade
had ordered a retreat.
The mere statement of the nature of the order is of itself a sufficient refutation of the charge.
, one of the ablest officers in our army, in speaking on this subject, says: “These instructions stated, ‘Developments may cause the commanding general
to assume the offensive from his present positions.’
Not many hours after, new developments did cause him to change his plans, but these instructions evince that foresight which proves his (Meade
's) ability to command an army.
In similar circumstances, the agreement between Wellington
to concentrate their two armies-nearly double the number of Napoleon-far to the rear, in the vicinity of Waterloo
, has been esteemed a proof of their great ability.”
On June 30th, General Meade
had sent General Reynolds
, who commanded the left wing of our army, to Gettysburg
, with orders to report to him concerning the character of the ground there, at the same time ordering General Humphreys
to examine the ground in the vicinity of Emmetsburg
But while thus active in his endeavors to ascertain the nature of the several positions where he could fight Lee
, he, at the same time, continued to press forward his army, and concentrate it so that he could with ease move it toward any point.
On the morning of July 1st, our advance, consisting of the First and Eleventh Corps, under General Reynolds
, arrived at Gettysburg
, and there found Buford
's Division of cavalry already engaged with the enemy.
, with that quickness of perception, which was one of his most marked characteristics, saw at a glance that here was the ground on which the great contest must be fought out. In the language of General Meade
: “He immediately moved around the town of Gettysburg
, and advanced on the Cashtown
road, and, without a moment's hesitation
, deployed his advanced division, and attacked the enemy, at the same time sending orders for the Eleventh Corps, General Howard
, to advance as promptly as possible.” . Then it was that Reynolds
fell, the greatest soldier the Army of the Potomac ever lost in battle.
We have seen, with regret, a statement recently made that General Meade
had failed to