should be carefully considered before opening our fire, for it will take all 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. Very respectfully, &c.,
E. P. Alexander, Colonel Artillery.
To this note I soon received the following reply — the original still in my possession:
Headquarters, July 3rd, 1863.The intention is to advance the infantry if the artillery has the desired effect of driving the enemy's off, or having other effect such as to warrant us in making the attack. When that moment arrives advise General P., and of course advance such artillery as you can use in aiding the attack. Respectfully,
This letter again placed the responsibility upon me, and I felt it very deeply, for the day was rapidly advancing (it was about 12 M., or a little later), and whatever was to be done was to be done soon. Meanwhile I had been anxiously discussing the attack with General A. R. Wright, who said that the difficulty was not so much in reaching Cemetery Hill, or taking it — that his brigade had carried it the afternoon before-but that the trouble was to hold it, for the whole Federal army was massed in a sort of horse-shoe shape and could rapidly reinforce the point to any extent, while our long, enveloping line could not give prompt enough support. This somewhat reassured me, as I had heard it said that morning that General Lee had ordered “every brigade in the army to charge Cemetery Hill,” and it was at least certain that the question of supports had had his careful attention. Before answering, however, I rode back to converse with General Pickett, whose line was now formed or forming in the wood, and without telling him of the question I had to decide, I found out that he was entirely sanguine of success in the charge, and was only congratulating himself on the opportunity. I was convinced that to make