troops that had been on the extreme right of the Federal
army until 2 o'clock P. M., about which time they were ordered to the left, and who were barely able to reach the Round Top
in time to save it from the assaulting column.
Had the movement begun even two hours sooner, that point, which Meade
says was the key-point to his whole position, and the possession of which by us would have prevented him from holding any of the ground, would have fallen into the possession of Hood
's men with little or no contest; for Sykes
' troops, that saved that point from capture, had not then started from the enemy's right.
Even the muses, which it is presumed General Longstreet
cite, could not have speeded them enough to secure their arrival at the Round Top
in time, if the assault on it had begun when they were two or three miles away.
The attempt to show that the same result that did happen would have followed an attack at sunrise or at any other hour in the forenoon, is an utter failure.
It is sought to sustain it by the testimony of Federal officers, by detaching scraps of their testimony from the context, in order to give them a different meaning from that intended by the parties testifying.
Here is what is said on that head in the article:
Let us briefly review the situation on the morning of the 2d.
During the night of the 1st General Sickles rested with the Third corps upon the ground lying between General Hancock's left and Round Top, General Geary's division of the Twelfth corps occupying part of the same line.
General Meade had given General Sickles orders to occupy Round Top if it were practicable; and in reply to his question as to what sort of position it was, General Sickles had answered, “There is no position there.”
At the first signs of activity in our ranks on the 2d, General Sickles became apprehensive that we were about to attack him, and so reported to General Meade.
As our move progressed his apprehensions were confirmed, and being uneasy at the position in which his troops had been left, and certain that he was about to receive battle, he determined to seize the vantage ground in front of the peach orchard.
Without awaiting for orders, he pushed forward and took the position desired.
Meanwhile the reports made to General Meade drew his attention to our part of the field, and finally he rode out just in time to see the battle open.
It will be seen, therefore, that General Sickles' move, and all the movements of the Federal left, were simply sequents of mine.
They would have followed my movements inevitably, no matter when they had been made.
Had the attack been made earlier, or later, we should have seen the Federals move just as they did, and with the same results-except that if I had attacked earlier I should have had Geary's division of the Twelfth corps in my immediate front in addition to the Third corps.
This would certainly have been the effect of “a sunrise attack.”
In his testimony, General Sickles
At a very early hour on Thursday morning I received a notification that General Meade's headquarters had been established at Gettysburg, and I was directed by him to relieve a division of the Twelfth corps, (General Geary's division, I think,) which was massed a little to my left, and which had taken position there during the night, I did so, reporting, however, to General Meade that that division was not in position, but was merely massed in my vicinity; the tenor of his order seemed to indicate a supposition on his part that the division was in position. ...
Not having received any orders in reference to my position, and observing from the enemy's movements on the left, what I thought to be conclusive