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[549] Cemetery Hill with my two brigades that were in position, as soon as Johnson's division, which was on my left, should become engaged at the wooded hill [Culp's] in its front on which it was about to advance, information being given me that the advance would be general, and that Rodes's division on my right and Hill's divisions on his right would unite in it. Accordingly, as soon as Johnson became fully engaged, which was about or a little before dusk, I ordered Hays and Avery to advance and carry the works on the heights in their front. Their troops advanced in gallant style to the attack, passing over the ridge in front of them under a heavy fire of artillery, then crossing a hollow between that and Cemetery Hill, and moving up the rugged elope of this hill in the face of at least two lines of infantry posted behind stone and plank fences, but these were driven from their positions, and passing over all obstacles the two brigades reached the crest of the hill and entered the enemy's breast-works crowning it, getting possession of one or two batteries; but no attack was made on their immediate right, and not meeting with the expected support from that quarter, these brigades, whose ranks were very much depleted, could not hold the position they had gained, because a very heavy force of the enemy was turned against them from that part of the line which the divisions on the right were to have attacked, and they had therefore to fall back, which they did with comparatively slight loss, considering the nature of the ground over which they had to pass and the immense odds opposed to them. Hays's brigade, however, on this occasion brought off four captured colors from the top of Cemetery Hill. At the time these brigades advanced, Gordon's brigade moved forward to support them, and advanced to the position from which they had moved, but was halted there because it was ascertained that no advance was being made on the right, and it was evident that the crest of the hill could not be held by the three brigades without other assistance, and that the attempt would be attended with a useless sacrifice of life.1

1 The position attacked by my brigades was held by the Eleventh corps under Howard; and General Gibbons, U. S. A., in his testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, in speaking of the attack by Longstreet on their left says:--“After we had repulsed one attack there was heavy firing over on the right of Cemetery Hill. I received a message from General Howard, commanding the Eleventh corps, asking for reinforcements. Just about the same time General, Hancock became alarmed at the continued firing and desired me to send a brigade, designating Colonel Carroll's, and afterwards three other regiments from my division, to the assistance of our right centre. Colonel Carroll moved off promptly and as reported to me arrived on the right of Cemetery Hill to find the enemy actually in our batteries and fighting with the cannoniers for their possession. He gallantly moved forward with his command, drove the enemy back, retook the position, and held it till the next day.” --Report of the Committee, 2d series, vol. 1, pp. 440-1.

At the same time Johnson was making excellent progress in capturing the works on Culp's Hill when the part of the Twelth corps that had been sent to meet Longstreet's attack on their left, returned and arrested his progress. Had Rodes's division on my immediate right and one of Hill's divisions on his right advanced simultaneously with my two brigades, we would have attained such a lodgment on Cemetery Hill, while Johnson would have been enabled to gain Culp's Hill, that the enemy must have been forced to retire from his position in great disorder; but there was such a misconception of orders or delay in carrying them out, that this most promising movement was thwarted just as it was on the point of proving a grand success.

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Cemetery Hill (Pennsylvania, United States) (6)
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Elliott Johnson (4)
R. E. Rodes (2)
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Wingfield S. Hancock (1)
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