and being, beside, an officer of unusual promptness, sagacity, and intelligence, was given charge of the artillery.
The arrangements were completed about one o'clock. General Alexander
had arranged that a battery of seven eleven-pound howitzers, with fresh horses and full caissons, were to charge with Pickett
, at the head of his line, but General Pendleton
, from whom the guns had been borrowed, recalled them just before the charge was made, and thus deranged this wise plan.
Never was I so depressed as upon that day. I felt that my men were to be sacrificed, and that I should have to order them to make a hopeless charge.
I had instructed General Alexander
, being unwilling to trust myself with the entire responsibility, to carefully observe the effect of the fire upon the enemy, and when it began to tell to notify Pickett
to begin the assault.
I was so much impressed with the hopelessness of the charge, that I wrote the following note to General Alexander
: “If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy or greatly demoralize him, so as to make our efforts pretty certain, I would prefer that you should not advise General Pickett
to make the charge.
I shall rely a great deal on your judgment to determine the matter, and shall expect you to let Pickett
know when the moment offers.”
To my note the General
replied as follows: “I will only be able to judge the effect of our fire upon the enemy by his return fire, for his infantry is but little exposed to view, and the smoke will obscure the whole field.
If, as I infer from your note, there is an alternative to this attack, it should be carefully considered before opening our fire, for it will take all of the artillery ammunition we have left to test this one thoroughly; and, if the result is unfavorable, we will have none left for another effort; and, even if this is entirely successful, it can only be so at a very bloody cost.”
I still desired to save my men, and felt that if the artillery did not produce the desired effect, I would be justified in holding Pickett
off. I wrote this note to Colonel Walton
at exactly 1.30 P. M.: “Let the batteries open.
Order great precision in firing.
If the batteries at the peach orchard cannot be used against the point we intend attacking, let them open on the enemy at Rocky Hill
The cannonading which opened along both lines was grand.
In a few moments a courier brought a note to General Pickett
(who was standing near me) from Alexander
, which, after reading, he handed to me. It was as follows: “If you are coming at all, you must come at once, or I cannot give you proper support; but the enemy's fire has not slackened at all; at least eighteen guns are still firing from the cemetery itself.”
After I had read the note, Pickett
said to me: “General, shall I advance?”
My feelings had so overcome me that