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[343] Burnside dash itself to pieces, in high but impotent valor. But the excited condition of his army, in which he still shared, would not allow him to pause. He therefore proceeded with his dispositions for attack; yet it was four o'clock in the afternoon before these were completed. The Union troops, meanwhile, made good use of the time, and improvised for themselves cover behind breastworks and stone walls. Early in the morning, Ewell's deployment of his left around the base of Culps' Hill attracted attention, and raised the belief that the enemy would attack that point. General Meade therefore proposed to assume the initiative there, allowing General Slocum to attack with his own and two additional corps; but that officer having reported the ground very unfavorable, the purpose was given up.1 About two o'clock the Sixth Corps, under General Sedgwick, arrived, having made a march of thirty-five miles in twenty hours. On the arrival of Sedgwick, General Meade directed Sykes' corps (Fifth), that had been in reserve on the right, to move over and be in reserve on the left.

The result of the Confederate reconnoissances was to fix upon the ground opposite Longstreet—that is, the left and left centre, held by Sickles' corps—as the most practicable point of attack. That portion of the Union front was placed in a very anomalous position; and this fact, which presently became the pivotal fact of the Confederate attack, was the result of a train of events that befell in this wise.

In the original ordainment of the line of battle, Sickles' corps (Third) had been instructed to take position on the left of Hancock, on the same general line, which would draw it along the prolongation of Cemetery Ridge towards the Round Top. Now, the ridge is, at this point, not very well defined;

1 The attack was designed to be made by Slocum's own corps and the Fifth Corps, together with the Sixth, as soon as it should arrive. But at ten, orders were sent to attack without the Sixth Corps; and it was then that General Slocum reported adversely to it. General Warren, chief-engineer, who at the time went to examine the position, also reported an attack from the right unadvisable.—Report on the Conduct of the War, second series, vol. i., p. 438.

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