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[99] were to bear the last, fiercest shock, that, staunchly met, should leave the exhausted rebel army drifting back from its supreme effort, a defeated host. Longstreet and A. P. Hill were to support and follow up the artillery attack, and the reserves were with them.

Soon, from the Cemetery hill, (I did not see this, but tell it as actors in it told me,) could be seen the forming columns of Hill's corps. Their batteries had already opened in almost a semicircle of fire on that scarred hill-front. Three cross-fires thus came in upon it, and to-day the tracks of shells ploughing the ground in as many directions may be seen everywhere among the graves. Howard never moved his headquarters an inch. There was his Eleventh corps, and there he meant to stay, and make them do their duty if he could. They did it well.

When the fierce cannonade had, as they supposed, sufficiently prepared the way, down came the rebel lines, “dressed to the right” as if for a parade before some grand master of reviews. To the front they had a line of skirmishers, double or treble the usual strength, next the line of battle for the charge, next another equally strong in reserve, if the fierce fire they might meet should melt away the first.

Howard sent orders for his men to lie down, and for a little our batteries ceased firing. The rebels thought they had silenced us, and charged. They were well up to our front when that whole corps of concealed Germans sprang up and poured out their sheet of flame and smoke, and swiftly-flying death; the batteries opened — the solid lines broke, and crisped up into little fragments, and were beaten wildly back. Our men charged; company after company, once at least a whole regiment, threw down their arms and rushed over to be taken prisoners and carried out of this fearful fire.

Simultaneously, similar scenes were enacting along the front of the Second, Third, and Fifth corps. Everywhere the rebel attack was beaten back, and the cannonade on both sides continued at its highest pitch.

When this broke out, I had been coming over from the neighborhood of Pleasanton's headquarters. Ascending the high hill to the rear of Slocum's headquarters, I saw such a sight as few men may ever hope to see twice in a lifetime. Around our centre and left, the rebel line must have been from four to five miles long, and over that whole length there rolled up the smoke from their two hundred and fifty guns. The roar, the bursting bombs, the impression of magnificent power, “all the glory visible, all the horror of the fearful field concealed,” a nation's existence trembling as the clangor of those iron monsters swayed the balance — it was a sensation for a century!

About two the fire slackened a little, then broke out deadlier than ever, till, beaten out against our impenetrable sides, it ebbed away, and closed in broken, spasmodic dashes.

The great, desperate, final charge came at four. The rebels seemed to have gathered up all their strength and desperation for one fierce, convulsive effort, that should sweep over and wash out our obstinate resistance. They swept up as before, the flower of their army to the front, victory staked upon the issue. In some places they literally lifted up and pushed back our lines, but, that terrible “position” of ours!--wherever they entered it, enfilading fires from half a score of crests swept away their columns like merest chaff. Broken and hurled back, they easily fell into our hands, and on the centre and left the last half-hour brought more prisoners than all the rest.

So it was along the whole line; but it was on the Second corps that the flower of the rebel army was concentrated; it was there that the heaviest shock beat upon and shook and even sometimes crumbled our line.

We had some shallow rifle-pits, with barricades of rails from the fences. The rebel line, stretching away miles to the left, in magnificent array, but strongest here — Pickett's splendid division of Longstreet's corps in front, the best of A. P. Hill's veterans in support — came steadily and as it seemed resistlessly sweeping up. Our skirmishers retired slowly from the Emmetsburgh road, holding their ground tenaciously to the last. The rebels reserved their fire till they reached this same Emmetsburgh road, then opened with a terrific crash. From a hundred iron throats, meantime, their artillery had been thundering on our barricades.

Hancock was wounded; Gibbons succeeded to the command — approved soldier, and ready for the crisis. As the tempest of fire approached its height, he walked along the line, and renewed his orders to the men to reserve their fire. The rebels--three lines deep — came steadily up. They were in point-blank range.

At last the order came! From thrice six thousand guns there came a sheet of smoky flame, a crash, a rush of leaden death. The line literally melted away; but there came the second, resistless still. It had been our supreme effort — on the instant we were not equal to another.

Up to the rifle-pits, across them, over the barricades — the momentum of their charge, the mere machine strength of their combined action swept them on. Our thin line could fight, but it had not weight enough to oppose to this momentum. It was pushed behind the guns. Right on came the rebels. They were upon the guns, were bayoneting the gunners, were waving their flags above our pieces.

But they had penetrated to the fatal point. A storm of grape and canister tore its way from man to man and marked its track with corpses straight down their line! They had exposed themselves to the enfilading fire of the guns on the western slope of Cemetery Hill; that exposure sealed their fate.

The line reeled back — disjointed already — in an instant in fragments. Our men were just behind the guns. They leaped forward upon the disordered mass; but there was little need for fighting now. A regiment threw down its arms, and, with colors at its head, rushed over and surrendered. All along the field smaller detachments

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