and that it would be an unnecessary waste of life to attack the part still held by the enemy.
The orders to make the attack were countermanded by General Lee
This countermanding order reached General Field
in time, but did not reach General Pickett
until his troops were already involved in the attack under his orders.
sent a message to General Gregg
, of the Texas
brigade, of Fields
's division, which was next to his right, urging him to go in and protect his flank.
consented at once, but could not wisely move until he had sent a like message to the troops on his right, as the interval between the line held by our troops and that held by the enemy widened much from left to right in front of Fields
At this moment, however, Pickett
's advancing lines opened fire, and in an instant the men of the brigades of Fields
's division, on General Gregg
's right (first squads of men and officers, then the standards, and then whole regiments), leaped over our entrenchments and started in the charge without orders, and General Gregg
and his Texans rushed forward with them, and in a few moments the line was ours.
It was a gallant sight to see, and a striking evidence of the high spirit and splendid élan
of troops who had now been fighting more than forty days, in one continuous strain of bloody battles.
It was a hazardous movement, as the position attacked was a very strong one, but it was found to be held by a mere handful of the enemy, and our loss was very slight.
I have been thus particular in the details of this incident, of which I was an eye-witness, as General Lee
, who was at the Clay House
, was not acquainted with all the facts when he sent the well-known message to General Anderson
, mentioning only Pickett
On the next day, June 18th, General Lee
marched to Petersburg
with the van of his army, Kershaw
's division, with which he at once reinforced Beauregard
's troops in the line of defence.
Both generals were on the field that day, when the assault along the whole line was made by the Federal
corps, which met with such a complete and bloody repulse.
During the action a young artillery officer fell by General Lee
's side, shot through the body.
The attack made no impression whatever on our lines.
The easy repulse of the Federal
corps on this occasion, and the result of the attack made by Hill
with a part of Wilcox
's and Mahone
's divisions on the Second and Sixth corps, near the Jerusalem plank road, on the 21st, when sixteen hundred prisoners and four pieces of artillery were captured by Mahone
, made it plain that the opportunity had arrived for a decisive blow.
So, on the night of the 22d General Lee
sent for General Alexander