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[126]

Our infantry, with loaded guns, awaited the charge. At three o'clock the cannonade lulled; from among the rocks and the stunted woods of Seminary Hill arose an interminable, hideous yell. The tried soldiers upon the opposite ridge knew well what would be its sequel. In every portion of the line cannon were directed toward the valley in front of the cemetery. Down from Seminary Ridge swept the Confederate double battle line, over a mile long, skirmishers in front, the spectacle provoking the admiration of their foes. The yell had ceased. Silently and with military precision, 18,000 men moved through the valley toward the slope of the opposite ridge.

Now, a hundred guns tore gaps in their front. Volleys were poured into them, breaking their line. Yet on they came. Grape, canister, and spherical case fell thick among them. Still they pushed forward. They planted their battle-flags on the outer line of works. Thousands of Confederates rushed across, into the works and up to the cemetery. They were shouting and screaming. The Confederate shells flew over the field upon the Union gunners on the hill, and the latter directed all their fire upon the surging mass of desperate assailants. Every available piece upon Cemetery Hill, and every gun to the right and to the left, poured shot and shell into the valley. Still the indefatigable foe pushed up the hill. They fought hand to hand with the Federal infantry. The contest was terrible —so close that the exploding powder scorched their clothes. One moment the Confederates would beat the railings of the cemetery, then a Federal rally and rush would send them back to the base of the hill; then with a yell they would return, and there would be a fierce battle among the tombstones. Now upon this surging mass, the Union troops closed from every point. Here was the hardest fight of the day. Hundreds were slain there. Out of that terrible fire a swarm of prisoners rushed into our lines. The Confederate repulse was complete, absolute. They retired upon their own hill.

...

Now Gen. Meade determined to drive the Confederates out of the seminary. His troops were marshalled. They charged down the hill, into the town, through the streets, and ascended the hill toward the seminary, under a heavy fire from that quarter. This

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