when General Humphreys
) was ordered to withdraw his troops from the charge, he thought there was some mistake, and retired to a captured battery, near the swale between the two ridges, where he halted, and, when ordered to retire to the new line a second time, he did so under protest.1
Our men had no thought of retreat.
They broke every line they encountered When the order to withdraw was given, a courier was sent to General Lee
, informing him of the result of the day's work.
Before pursuing this narrative further, I shall say a word or two concerning this assault.
I am satisfied that my force, numbering hardly thirteen thousand men, encountered during that three and a half hours of bloody work not less than sixty-five thousand of the Federals
, and yet their charge was not checked nor their line broken until we ordered them to withdraw.
Mr. Whitelaw Reid
, writing a most excellent account of this charge to the Cincinnati Gazette
, says: “It was believed, from the terrific attack, that the whole rebel army, Ewell
's Corps included, was massed on our centre and left, and so a single brigade was left to hold the rifle-pits on the right, and the rest hurried across the little neck of land to strengthen our weakening lines.”
He describes, too, the haste with which corps after corps was hurried forward to the left to check the advance of my two-thirds of one corps. General Meade
himself testifies (see his official report) that the Third, the Second, the Fifth, the Sixth, and the Eleventh Corps, all of the Twelfth, except one brigade, and part of the First Corps, engaged my handful of heroes during that glorious but disastrous afternoon.
I found that night that four thousand five hundred and twenty-nine of my men, more than one-third of their total number, had been left on the field.
History records no parallel to the fight made by these two divisions on the 2d of July at Gettysburg
I cannot refrain from inserting just here an account of the battle of the 2d, taken from a graphic account in the New York World
It will be seen that the correspondent treats the charge of my thirteen thousand men, as if it were the charge of the whole army.
The account is as follows:
He then began a heavy fire on Cemetery Hill.
It must not be thought that this wrathful fire was unanswered.
Our artillery began to play within a few moments, and hurled back defiance and like destruction upon the rebel lines.