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[387] main force from being flanked. This charge was first directed toward my lines; but, seeing that they were quite strong, five lines deep, and well strengthened with rails and stones, behind which the men lay, the enemy changed his mind, and concluded to make the attack on the division of the 2d corps, on my right, where there were but two lines. He marched by his right flank, and then marched to his front. In doing this, the wing apparently did not understand the movement, but kept straight on. The consequence was, that there was a wide gap between the wing and the main charging force, which enabled my men on the right, the brigade of Gen. Stannard, to form immediately on the flank of the charging column, while the enemy were subjected to an awful fire of artillery in front. It is said some few of them laid their hands on our guns. The prisoners state that what ruined them was Stannard's brigade on their flank, as they found it impossible to contend with it in that position; and they drew off, all in a huddle, to get away from it. I sent two regiments to charge them in front at the same time. While this was going on, the enemy were subjected to a terrific artillery-fire at short range; and the result was that they retreated with frightful loss.

Some five minutes after the charge was broken up and they began to retreat, a large number of batteries and regiments of infantry reported to me, as I sat on horseback, for orders to repulse the attack. I posted them, with the approval of the corps commander, though they were a little too late to be of essential service.

I would state that the wing of the enemy which got astray was also met by part of Stannard's brigade, which also formed on its flank, and it also retreated. Thus the day was won, and the country saved.

The battle was over; and it was won; but that was all. Our guns were nearly out of cartridges; the reserve ammunition had been drawn upon; a single brigade, standing at ease in the rear, composed the entire reserve of the Army of the Potomac. All beside had been brought forward and put in, on one point or another, to brace up the front for that stern ordeal.

There was very little fighting after this decisive repulse, save that Gen. Crawford, of Sykes's division, holding Round Top on our left, at 5 P. M. advanced McCandless's brigade, by Meade's order, driving back a battery which confronted him without support, and, pushing forward a mile, took 260 prisoners (Georgians), of Anderson's division, and recovering a 12-pounder, three caissons, 7,000 small arms, and all our wounded who had fallen in Sickles's repulse, after they had lain 24 hours uncared for within the enemy's lines. It was manifest that the Rebel force had mainly been withdrawn from this wing to strengthen the grand assault nearer the center, and did not return; as Crawford held the ground thus gained without objection. He could see no reason wily a decided advance on this wing of the 5th and the still comparatively fresh 6th corps night not then have been made without meeting serious opposition.

Gen. Meade has been reproached as timid and over-cautious; but it is plain that his strategy, though not daring, was able and wise. Had he allowed his hot-heads to dash their commands at the outset against the Rebel batteries on Seminary ridge, as they would gladly have done, he would have fought a magnificent battle and probably been magnificent beaten. Between two great armies, equally brave, equally resolute, and equal in numbers and in effectiveness of weapons, the choice of position naturally decides the fortune of the day. It is not with these as with armed mobs, where the assailant often triumphs by the mere audacity of his assault — the assailed concluding that those who are charging them will not fly, so they must. Had Lee assailed Burnside on the

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Stannard (3)
George G. Meade (2)
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