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 him will question, preparations for a general engagement were unfortunately delayed until the afternoon, instead of being made at sunrise; then troops had been concentrated, and ‘Round Top,’ the commanding position, unoccupied in the morning, had received the force which inflicted such disaster on our assaulting columns. The question as to the responsibility for this delay has been so fully discussed in the Southern Historical Society papers as to relieve me from the necessity of entering into it. The position at Gettysburg was not the choice of either side. South from the town an irregular, interrupted line of hills runs, which is sometimes called the ‘Gettysburg Ridge.’ This ridge, at the town, turns eastward and then southward. At the turn eastward is Cemetery Hill and at the turn southward Culps's Hill. From Cemetery Hill the line runs southward about three miles in a well-defined ridge, since the battle called Cemetery Ridge, and terminates in a high-rocky-and wooded peak named Round Top, which was the key of the enemy's position, as it flanked their line. The less elevated portion, near where the crest rises into Round Top, is termed ‘Little Round Top,’ a rough and bold spur of the former. Thus, while Cemetery and Culp's Hills require the formation of a line of battle to face northward, the direction of Cemetery Ridge requires the line to face westward. The crest has a good slope to the rear, while to the west it falls off in a cultivated and undulating valley, which it commands. About a mile distant is a parallel crest, known as Seminary Ridge, and which our forces occupied during the battle. Longstreet, with the divisions of Hood and McLaws, faced Round Top and a good part of Cemetery Ridge; Hill's three divisions continued the line from the left of Longstreet, fronting the remainder of Cemetery Ridge, while Ewell, with his three divisions, held a line through the town, and, sweeping round the base of Cemetery Hill, terminated the left in front of Culps's Hill. These were the positions of the three corps after the arrival of General Longstreet's troops. The main purpose of the movement across the Potomac was to free Virginia from the presence of the enemy. If this could be done by manoeuvering merely, a most important result would be cheaply obtained. The contingency of a battle was of course deemed probable, and, with any fair opportunity, the Army of Northern Virginia was considered sure to win a victory. It had not been intended to fight a general battle at such a distance as Gettysburg from our base, unless attacked; being unexpectedly confronted by the opposing army, however, it became a matter of difficulty
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