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[96]

In the forced marches which preceded the battle of Gettysburg, Abbott displayed the greatest efficiency in checking the evil of straggling. It was largely owing to his exertions that his regiment arrived on the field without the loss of a single man. In the bitter fighting which followed, he was of the faithful few who first checked and finally repulsed the fierce onslaught of Pickett's division of Longstreet's corps. The artillery of the enemy was massed in front of the Second Corps, and the concentrated fire of more than one hundred guns was poured upon it for two hours. Then came the majestic advance of their infantry. Regardless of the gaps made in their ranks by the fire of our artillery, they moved steadily forward. The fire of our infantry was reserved till the faces of the enemy could be distinctly seen. Then Lieutenant-Colonel Macy, commanding the Twentieth, opened a fire which was so rapid and well-directed that the enemy in front broke and scattered. They rallied to the right of the position of the Twentieth, and there the collected masses, looking like an acre of men, made a desperate rush, and effected a partial lodgement in the line. Then came the very tug of war. Troops from the right and left, the Twentieth among the latter, hurried to the spot, and formed a half-circle round the gap into which the enemy was pushing. The colors of the Northern regiments and the battle-flags of the Southern troops waved thickly in this valley of death. Northern and Southern soldiers fought gallantly and fell thickly here, and the victory was with us. Few of the Southern troops who charged our lines got safely back. Of those who were not killed, the majority threw down their arms, hopeless of retreating safely under our fire.

In a letter written in the following September by Abbott to Captain Mason, one of the best officers of the Twentieth, who was disabled by a wound received in this engagement, the following passage occurs:—

In the midst of the execution of the order to form line to the right, I looked round and saw several companies on the centre and left going to the rear. I immediately suspected the truth, that the order had been misunderstood to be one to go to the rear, with the

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Henry Livermore Abbott (2)
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