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[230] which enabled them to contest so fiercely the subsequent battlefields of June, July, and October.

Passing by without comment the splendid stand of Buford's dismounted troops covering the approaches to the town of Gettysburg, in which less than three thousand cavalrymen and Calef's battery made possible the occupation by the delayed Union army of the dominating position along Cemetery Ridge and the Round Tops, the desperate battles of the cavalry on the right and left flanks at Gettysburg, are history.

On the Union left flank, Pleasonton had ordered Kilpatrick to move from Emmittsburg with his entire force to prevent a Confederate turning movement on the Round Tops, and, if practicable, to attack the Confederate flank and rear. Late on July 3, 1863, the reserve cavalry Brigade under Merritt moved up and took position to the left of Kilpatrick. Custer's brigade had been detached to report to Gregg on the Union right. The fight which ensued on this third and last day of the great battle, was severe in the extreme.

Merritt's position on the left caused the Confederate general, Law, to detach a large force from his main line to protect his flank and rear. This so weakened the Confederate line in front of General Farnsworth, that Kilpatrick ordered the latter to charge the center of Law's line of infantry. The ground was most unfavorable for a mounted charge, being broken, covered with stone, and intersected by fences and stone walls.

Writing of this charge in “Battles and leaders of the Civil War,” Captain H. C. Parsons of the First Vermont Cavalry, says:

I was near Kilpatrick when he impetuously gave the order to Farnsworth to make the last charge. Farnsworth spoke with emotion: “General, do you mean it? Shall I throw my handful of men over rough ground, through timber, against a brigade of infantry? The First Vermont has already been fought half to pieces; these are too good men to kill.” Kilpatrick said: “Do you refuse to obey my orders? If you are afraid to lead this charge, I will lead it.”

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