but looking back upon the affair from the viewpoint of the present, it is not to be wondered at that the Government
could not risk the destiny of the country, in so grave a danger as was involved in the battle of Gettysburg
, to a commander who had so signally failed in the crisis of the previous battle, and the event proved that the change was wisely made.
The battle of Gettysburg
decided the issue of the war, and ought to have ended it. The repulse of Pickett
's charge was virtually the downfall of the Confederacy
and insured its failure.
the 121st occupied an advanced position under cover of a narrow strip of woods, along which were scattered a number of large rocks.
Behind these the men were comparatively safe from the fire of the enemy, and its only loss was two men wounded by stray bullets.
“The next day little fighting was done on the left of the line but the culmination of the battle in the charge and repulse of General Pickett
was watched eagerly by the regiment as by all the unengaged part of the army; and with infinite relief they saw the charging force, shattered and torn by shot and shell, fall back in confusion.”
The next day, the 4th of July, was dark and cloudy and the smoke of the previous day's battle settled down upon the field so as to hide the movements of the enemy, and the retreat of Lee
's army was not observed.
But on the 5th the Sixth Corps began the pursuit, the First Division having the lead, marching by the Fairfield
The rear guard of the enemy was soon encountered and brisk skirmishing ensued, but no general attack was made.
decided to attempt to cut off the crossing of the Potomac
by the enemy, by a flank movement over South Mountain
and led the Corps
by a steep and rugged pass