previous next

[339] the Union force had fully occupied the heights, it was resolved not to attack until the arrival of Longstreet, two of whose divisions, those of Hood and McLaws, had encamped within three miles of Gettysburg. Hill's remaining division under Anderson reached the ground soon after the close of the engagement.

Nevertheless, to neither of the opposing chiefs could the situation, as it presented itself on their arrival that night, be either encouraging or satisfactory. General Meade found affairs pressing to a culmination, and the rolls of the First and Eleventh corps showed as the result of an encounter which in its general relations was but a reconnoissance in force, the formidable loss of near ten thousand men! He did not know but that Lee had his whole force massed in front of him, while his own army was much scattered, and a part distant by a full day's march.1 Yet the position seemed favorable, and above all it secured to him the advantage of the defensive, forcing upon his antagonist all the perils of attack.2 Dropping at once, therefore, as now obsolete, all previous contingent plans looking to other lines of defence, he had the moment he learnt the nature of the position given orders for the rapid concentration of the whole army at Gettysburg.

To Lee, on the other hand, though the action of the 1st had been on the whole favorable, yet the situation in which he found himself was very different from what he desired. It must be borne in mind that Lee's sudden movement to the east side of the South Mountain range, just at the moment he was heading his columns to cross the Susquehanna and advance

1 The two corps furthest off were the Fifth and Sixth, the former of which was distant twenty-three, and the latter upwards of thirty miles.

2 General Meade makes no secret of his strong desire, at the time, to secure the advantage of the defensive. ‘It was my desire,’ says he in his testimony before the War Committee (Report, p. 439), ‘to fight a defensive rather than an offensive battle, for the reason that I was satisfied my chances of success were greater in a defensive battle than in an offensive one; and I knew the momentous consequences dependent upon the result of that.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. H. F. Lee (3)
G. G. Meade (2)
McLaws (1)
Longstreet (1)
Hood (1)
A. P. Hill (1)
R. H. Anderson (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: