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[62]

I was at Gettysburg and participated in the first day's action — in fact, it was the arrival of my division, at an opportune moment, that made the defeat of the enemy so signal. This fight was not anticipated by General Lee, who had ordered the concentration of his army at the eastern base of the South mountain. The fight was brought on by the movement of two of A. P. Hill's divisions towards Gettysburg, for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the enemy's force reported to be there, which was supposed to consist entirely of. cavalry. Hill's divisions having become engaged, Ewell went to his assistance with his two divisions that were in reach, and the result was a brilliant success for our arms.

General Lee reached the part of the field where Hill was about the close of the action. Upon ascertaining the facts, and seeing a brilliant and decisive victory within his grasp, as all of us thought, he determined to give battle at that point. To have withdrawn without fighting would have been exceedingly dispiriting to the troops that had been engaged; and I venture to affirm that not a man of the entire force present lay down that night with any other expectation than that the next day would witness a crushing defeat of Meade's army. It was Gen. Lee's purpose to begin the battle at a very early hour next morning; but, by some untoward management on the part of the commander of the troops that were to open the attack, it did not begin until very late in the afternoon. It is very manifest to my mind, that if the attack from our right flank had been made at an early hour on the morning of the 2d, or, in fact, at any time in the forenoon of that day, we would have achieved the anticipated victory, for Meade's whole army had not then arrived, and the position on his left, which was assailed at 4 P. Mi., was not occupied by his troops until about 3 P. M. Nevertheless we gained advantages which produced the conviction that, by concerted action next day, we could still win the victory, and General Lee determined to make the attempt. There was good reason at the time to anticipate success from the proposed attack, if made at the time and in the manner designed.


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