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[90] of smoke rises and fades from some high window; a faint report comes up, and perhaps the hiss of a Minie is heard; the houses are not wholly without occupants.

We are standing on Cemetery Hill, the key to the whole position the enemy occupies, the centre of our line and the most exposed point for a concentration of the rebel fire. To our right, and a little back, is the hill on which we have just left General Wadsworth; still farther back, and sweeping away from the cemetery almost like the side of a horse-shoe from the toe, is a succession of other hills, some covered with timber and undergrowth, others yellow in the morning sunlight, and waving with luxuriant wheat; all crowned with batteries that are soon to reap other than a wheaten harvest. To the left, our positions are not so distinctly visible; though we can make out our line stretching off in another horse-shoe bend, behind a stone fence near the cemetery — unprotected, farther on; affording far fewer advantageous positions for batteries, and manifestly a weaker line than our right. An officer of General Howard's staff pointed out the positions to me, and I could not help hazarding the prediction that there on our left wing would come the rebel attack we were awaiting.

General Howard's headquarters were on this very Cemetery Hill — the most exposed position on the whole field. He had now returned and was good enough, during the lull that still lasted, while we awaited the anticipated attack, to explain the action of yesterday as he saw it.

The battle of Wednesday.

I have now conversed with four of the most prominent generals employed in that action, and with any number of subordinates. I am a poor hand to describe battles I do not see, but in this case I must endeavor to weave their statements into a connected narrative. The ground of the action is still in the enemy's hands, and I have no knowledge of it save from the descriptions of others, and the distant view one gets from Cemetery Hill.

We had been advancing toward York. It was discovered that the rebels were moving for a concentration farther south,and we suddenly changed our own line of march. The First corps, Major-General Reynolds, had the advance; next came the unfortunate Eleventh corps, with a new record to make that should wipe out Chancellorsville, and ready to do it.

Saturday they had been at Boonesboro, twelve or fifteen miles to the north-west of Frederick; by Tuesday night, the First corps lay encamped on Marsh Creek, within easy striking distance of Gettysburgh. The Eleventh corps was ten or twelve miles farther back. Both were simply moving under general marching orders, and the enemy was hardly expected yet for a day or two.

At an early hour in the forenoon the First corps was filing down around Cemetery Hill in solid column, and entering the streets of Gettysburgh. In the town our skirmishers had met pickets or scouts from the enemy and had driven them pell-mell back. The news fired the column, and General Reynolds, with little or no reconnoissance, marched impetuously forward. Unfortunate haste of a hero, gone now to the hero's reward!

It was fifteen minutes past ten o'clock. The fire of the rebel skirmishers rattled along the front, but, shaking it off as they had the dew from their night's bivouac, the men pushed hotly on.

Meantime General Reynolds, on receiving his first notice an hour ago from Buford's cavalry, that the rebels were in the vicinity of Gettysburgh, had promptly sent word back to General Howard, and asked him, as a prudential measure, to bring up the Eleventh corps as rapidly as possible. The Eleventh had been coming up on the Emmetsburgh road. Finding it crowded with the train of the First, they had started off on a byway, leading into the Taneytown road, some distance ahead; and were still on this by-way eleven miles from Gettysburgh, when Reynolds's messenger reached them. The fine fellows, with stinging memories of not wholly merited disgrace at Chancellorsville, started briskly forward, and a little after one their advance brigade was filing through the town to the music of the fire above. General Reynolds's corps consists of three divisions — Wadsworth's, Doubleday's, and Robinson's. Wadsworth's (composed of Meredith's and Cutler's brigades — both mainly Western troops) had the advance, with Cutler on the right and Meredith on the left. Arriving at the Theological Seminary, above the town, the near presence of the enemy became manifest, and they placed a battery in position to feel him out, and gradually moved forward.

An engagement, of more or less magnitude, was evidently imminent. General Reynolds rode forward to select a position for a line of battle. Unfortunate — sadly unfortunate again — alike for him, with all a gallant soldier's possibilities ahead of him, and for the country, that so sorely needed his well-tried services. He fell, almost instantly, pierced by a ball from a sharp-shooter's rifle, and was borne, dying or dead, to the rear. General Doubleday was next in command.

The enemy were seen ready. There was no time to wait for orders from the new corps commander; instantly, right and left, Cutler and Meredith wheeled into line of battle on the double-quick. Well-tried troops, those; no fear of their flinching; veterans of a score of battles — in the war some of them from the very start; with the first at Philippi, Laurel Hill, Carrick's Ford, Cheat Mountain and all the Western Virginia campaign; trusted of Shields at Winchester, and of Lander at Romney and Bloomery Gap; through the campaign of the Shenandoah Valley, and with the army of the Potomac in every march to the red slaughter sowing that still had brought no harvest of victory. Meredith's old Iron Brigade was the Nineteenth Indiana, Twenty-fourth Michigan, Sixth and Seventh Wisconsin--veterans all, and well mated with the brave New-Yorkers whom Wadsworth also led.

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