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‘We must fight them.’

I was riding with my colonel, Robert M. Mayo, and with Colonel Brockenbrough, commanding brigade, and had reached a point one mile east of Cashtown, when a staff officer of General H. Heth's— I think it was Captain Stockton Heth, the General's brother—rode up to our two colonels, and talked a few moments as we marched along the road. I heard him say: ‘General Heth is ordered to move on Gettysburg, and fight or not as he wishes.’ When he rode away I remember Colonel Brockenbrough and Colonel Mayo saying: ‘We must fight them; no division general will turn back with such orders.’ We had proceeded very slowly, giving time for the whole division to form in the road and march, and had, at 9 o'clock A. M., reached only about one and a half or two miles east from Cashtown, when we passed over a long ridge and down into a broad, clean, open valley, with the pike leading gradually by open fields upwards to another long ridge, where some oak woods covered a large part of the crest on both sides of the road. We had begun to ascend this slope, when I noticed Archer's Brigade file to the right of the road and march by column of fours, or marching order, at right angles to the road. In a few moments Brockenbrough's Brigade filed out on the right about four to five hundred yards in rear of Archer's. While still marching, and without time to face into battle line, with guns unloaded, Archer's Brigade of 1,000 men were suddenly charged upon by Buford's Federal Cavalry, 2,500 strong, from the cover of the woods on the ridge. The attack was so sudden in front and both flanks that in a few moments I saw General Archer and two-thirds of his brigade captured with only a few pistol shots from the cavalry. One-third of the brigade fled back upon the line being formed by Brockenbrough's Virginians, and rallied behind them. Brockenbrough, also in marching order, ordered ‘left-face, load;’ then, unable to fire because of the flying Tennesseans, he back-stepped the brigade until in line with Davis' Brigade, then forming battle line on the left or north side of the Cashtown pike. [185] Buford's Cavalry withdrew with some six or seven hundred prisoners behind the wooded crest. General Heth now brought up Pettigrew's Brigade, and advanced the whole division to attack the crest. When we reached the crest the cavalry were gone, and seen a mile away withdrawing to the summit of another ridge. General Heth moved in battle line slowly but steadily across this valley, charged and drove back this cavalry, now supported by infantry. This must have been only a brigade of the Federal infantry corps, for it fell back on the ridge just west of Gettysburg and overlooking the town. This was a high, commanding ridge, with many open farms and but little woods, and stretching northeast and southwest across the roads from Cashtown, Carlisle, and overlooked the valley through which led the road from York. I remember how thankful I felt as Heth's Division moved forward about 1 o'clock P. M. to attack this ridge, which was crowned with long lines of waiting infantry and from which came a steady artillery fire, when, on looking to the left of our line, I saw a Confederate division (Rodes') come off the Carlisle road and form battle line to aid us, while looking back I saw Pender's Division coming up the pike in our rear. Heth's Division had suffered the loss of two-thirds of Archer's Brigade and some loss in sweeping back the Federal infantry from the last ridge, but now held the centre of attack on the right and left of the Cashtown pike. Here for two hours the fight was hot and steady. The Federal corps held its ground stubbornly, ebbing and flowing. Here I saw the Virginians of Brockenbrough's Brigade—22d Virginia, Colonel E. PoinsettTayloe; 40th Virginia, Col. J. W. Brockenbrough, commanding brigade; 47th Virginia, Colonel R. M. Mayo; and 55th Virginia Regiments—driving the enemy in hand to hand fighting out of houses and barns of which they made forts. Here General Heth was wounded; here fell the brave Colonel Burgwin, of North Carolina, and here I buried next day, on the highest point, under a lone tree, with the Church's solemn services, Captain Brockenbrough, brother and aid of our brigade commander. By 3 o'clock the Federals fled from the ridge, across the valley and through Gettysburg to the Cemetery Heights. Soon after, or about 3 o'clock, I rode to the left where a few pieces of artillery were still replying to the artillery on Cemetery Heights, and there met a long and large force of Federal prisoners marching back on the Cashtown road westward. The guard told me that General Early threw a skirmish line around these and captured them as they were flying in disorder before [186] Rodes', Heth's and Pender's Divisions. There were about 5,000 prisoners.

I looked down and saw a level valley in which Gettysburg lay and could distinguish Early's Division forming line and resting across the road from York. This road was in rear of the position held by the Federal Corps during the battle. No doubt the appearance of Early's Division, coming up in their rear, completed their defeat. There was no more fighting after 3 o'clock. I was busy attending to the wounded and hardly noticed the forming of the long battle-line around Cemetery Heights.

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