artillery, having reached the field dusty and tired, were ordered to take position at the Peach orchard
, whence Federal General Sickles
had been driven.
Before daylight of the 2d Eshleman
's battalion was in position; Captain Miller
and Lieutenants Hero
with four Napoleons; two Napoleons of the Fourth under Captain Norcum
and Lieutenant Battles
, and two Napoleons of the Second under Captain Richardson
and Lieutenant Hawes
The howitzers were in reserve under Lieutenant Apps
With some changes in position at daylight, they were engaged ‘moderately’ during the forenoon, under a fire which disabled the gallant Norcum
now had 75 guns posted in one great battery, menacing Cemetery hill
, and 63 more were massed before Hill
's corps, including the Donaldsonville boys, to the north.
Toward noon there was an outburst of Hill
's guns, but it soon subsided and, says Colonel Alexander
, ‘the whole field became as silent as a churchyard until 1 o'clock.’
The enemy waited for what Lee
might do, and Lee
was making ready for the last assault on Cemetery hill
It had been arranged that when the column was ready General Longstreet
should order two guns fired by Captain Eshleman
At 1:30 a message came to Walton
: ‘Let the batteries open.’
‘In a moment,’ says Col. William Miller Owen
of the Washington artillery, ‘the report of the first gun rang out upon the still summer air (fired by Miller
's battery). There was a moment's delay with the second gun, a friction-primer having failed to explode.
It was but a little space of time, but 100,000 men were listening.
Finally a puff of smoke was seen at the Peach orchard
, then came a roar and a flash, and 138 pieces of Confederate artillery opened upon the enemy's position.’
From the opposing heights came back a thundering Federal answer, and the most terrific artillery battle of the war was on. The roar was deafening, stupendous—