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[408]

Lee's official report sets forth the state of affairs confronting him, and his reasons for making battle, in these words:

It had not been intended to deliver a general battle so far from our base of supplies unless attacked, but coming unexpectedly upon the whole Federal army, to withdraw through the mountains with our extensive trains would have been difficult and dangerous. At the same time we were unable to await an attack, as the country was not favorable for collecting supplies in the presence of the enemy, who could restrain our foraging parties by holding the mountain passes with local and other troops. A battle had, therefore, become in a measure unavoidable, and a success already gained gave hope of a favorable issue.

At sunrise of July 2d, less than 10,000 men of the First and Second corps of Meade's army held Cemetery hill, with 8,600, under Slocum, on their right and left, and 9,000 of the Third corps, under Birney and Humphreys, in supporting distance. If Lee had attacked at the rising of the sun, at about half-past 4, as he had expected to do; or at any time before 7 o'clock, he would have found but 27,000 Federals to oppose his assault; but at 7 the Second Federal corps and two divisions of the Fifth reached the field; by 8 another brigade of the Fifth arrived; by 9 two brigades of the Third appeared; and by half-past 10 Meade's strong reserve artillery was in place on Cemetery ridge. By midday another division of the Fifth corps came, while Sedgwick, still far from the field, was at that hour urging forward the 15,000 men of the Sixth corps; arrivals that could have been successively met and defeated in detail, had Ewell followed up the advantages of the day before, at the moment of victory, without taking ‘counsel of his fears,’ and relying on the enthusiasm of his well-tried and reliable veterans to ‘press forward’ after a retreating foe.

Lee dispatched his breakfast and was in the saddle before daylight of the 2d, eager to grasp victory from the opportunity that he knew he then had, of falling upon but a portion of the Federal army while the larger part of it was still miles away and but wearily advancing to the field of battle. Before the sun was up, he had an officer on Round Top, looking along the Emmitsburg and Taneytown roads to see whether Federal reinforcements were advancing, and as the morning fully dawned, he swept with his fine glasses, from the Seminary ridge, the Federal lines on Culp's and Cemetery hills, in the meantime

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