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[74] official report. He says: “The enemy had fallen back to a commanding position that was known to us as Cemetery Hill, south of Gettysburg, and quickly showed a formidable front there. On entering the town I received a message from the Commanding-General to attack the hill, if I could do so to advantage. I could not bring artillery to bear on it; all the troops with me were jaded by twelve hours marching and fighting, and I was notified that General Johnson was close to the town with his division, the only one of my corps that had not been engaged, Anderson's division of the Third corps, having been halted to let them pass. Cemetery Hill was not assailable from the town, and I determined with Johnson's division to take possession of a wooded hill to my left, on a line with and commanding Cemetery Hill. Before Johnson got up the Federals were reported moving to our left flank-our extreme left-and I could see what seemed to be his skirmishers in that direction. Before this report could be investigated by Lieutenant T. T. Turner, of my staff, and Lieutenant Robert Early, sent to investigate it, and Johnson placed in position, the night was far advanced.” General Lee explains his failure to send positive orders to Ewell to follow up the flying enemy as follows: “The attack was not pressed that afternoon, the enemy's force being unknown and it being considered advisable to await the arrival of the rest of our troops. Orders were sent back to hasten their march, and in the meantime every effort was made to ascertain the numbers and positions of the enemy and find the most favorable point to attack.”

Pursuit “pell-mell” is sometimes justified in a mere retreat. It is the accepted principle of action in a rout. General Early, in his report of this day's work, says “the enemy had been routed.” He should, therefore, have been followed by everything that could have been thrown upon his heels, not so much to gain the heights, which were recognized as the rallying point, but to prevent his rallying at all in time to form lines for another battle. If the enemy had been routed this could and should have been done. In the Military Annals of Louisiana, (Napier Bartlett, Esq.,) in the account of this rout, he says: “Hays had received orders through Early from General Ewell (though Lee's general instructions were subsequently the reverse) to halt at Gettysburg and advance no further in case he should succeed in capturing that place. But Hays now saw that the enemy were coming around by what is known as the Baltimore road, and were making for the heights — the Cemetery Ridge. This ridge meant life or death, and for the possession of it the battles of the 2d and 3d were fought. ... Owing to the long detour the enemy was compelled to make, it was obvious that he could not get his artillery in position on the heights for one or two hours. The immediate occupation of the heights by the Confederates, who were in position to get them at the time referred to, was a matter of vital importance. ”

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