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 me to take and hold for his artillery, was the Third corps of the Federals, commanded by General Sickles. My men charged with great spirit and dislodged the Federals from the peach orchard with but little delay, though they fought stubbornly. We were then on the crest of Seminary Ridge. The artillery was brought forward and put into position at the peach orchard. The infantry swept down the slope and soon reached the marshy ground that lay between Seminary and Cementery Ridges, fighting their way over every foot of ground and against overwhelming odds; at every step we found that reinforcements were pouring into the Federals from every side. Nothing could stop my men, however, and they commenced their heroic charge up the side of Cemetery Ridge. Our attack was to progress in the general direction of the Emmetsburg road, but the Federal troops, as they were forced from point to point, availing themselves of the stone fences and boulders near the mountain as rallying points, so annoyed our right flank that General Hood's division was obliged to make a partial change of front so as to relieve itself of this galling flank fire. This drew General McLaws a little further to the right than General Lee had anticipated, so that the defensive advantages of the ground had enabled the Federals to delay our purposes until they could occupy Little Round-Top, which they just then discovered was the key to their position. The force thrown upon this point was so strong as to seize our right, as it were, in a vise. Still the battle on our main line continued to progress. The situation was a critical one. My corps had been fighting over an hour, having encountered and driven back line after line of the enemy. In front of them was a high and rugged ridge, on its crest the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, numbering six to one, and securely resting behind strong positions. My brave fellows never hesitated, however. Their duty was in front of them and they met it. They charged up the hill in splendid style, sweeping everything before them, dislodging the enemy in the face of a withering fire. When they had fairly started up the second ridge, I discovered that they were suffering terribly from a fire that swept over their right and left flanks. I also found that my left flank was not protected by the brigades that were to move en echelon with it. McLaws' line was consequently spread out to the left to protect its flank, and Hood's line was extended to the right to protect its flank from the sweeping fire of the large bodies of troops that were posted on Round Top.1 These
1 The importance of Round Top as a point d'appui was not appreciated until alter my attack. General Meade seems to have alluded to it as a point to be occupied “if practicable,” but in such slighting manner as to show that he did not deem it of great importance. So it was occupied by an inadequate force. As our battle progressed, pushing the Federals back from point to point, subordinate officers and soldiers, seeking shelter, as birds flying to cover in a tempest, found behind the large boulders of its rock-bound sides not only protection, but rallying points. These reinforcements to the troops already there, checked our advance on the right, and some superior officer arriving just then, divined from effect the cause, and threw a force into Round Top that transformed it, as if by magic, into a Gibraltar.
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