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[128] Then hundreds of cannon opened upon each other from the confronting heights. What a roar—how incessant! The earth trembled under the mighty resound of cannon. The air is darkened with sulphurous clouds. The whole valley is enveloped: The sun, lately so glaring, is itself obscured. Nothing can be seen but the flashing light leaping from the cannon's mouth amidst the surrounding smoke. The air which was so silent and serene is now full of exploding and screaming shells and shot, as if the earth had opened and let out the very furies of Avernus. The hurtling and death-dealing missiles are plowing amidst batteries, artillery and lines of infantry, crushing, mangling and killing until the groans of the men mingle with the tempest's sound. The storm of battle rages. It is appalling, terrific, yet grandly exciting. It recalls the imagery of Byron's night-storm amidst the Alps:

The sky is changed, and such a change! * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * Far along
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers from her misty shroud
Back to the joyous Alps who call to her aloud.

After two hours of incessant firing the storm at last subsides. It has been a grand and fit prelude to what is now to follow. All is again silent. Well knowing what is shortly to follow, all watch in strained expectancy. The waiting is short. Only time for Pickett to report to his lieutenant-general his readiness and to receive the word of command. Pickett said: ‘General, shall I advance?’ Longstreet turned away his face and did not speak. Pickett repeated the question. Longstreet, without opening his lips, bowed in answer. Pickett, in a determined voice, said: ‘Sir, I shall lead my division forward,’ and galloped back and gave the order, ‘Forward march!’ The order ran down through brigade, regimental and company officers to the men. The men with alacrity and cheerfulness fell into line. Kemper's brigade on the right, Garnett's on his left, with Heth's division on the left of Garnett, formed the first line. Armistead's brigade moved in rear of Garnett's, and Lane's and Scales' brigades of Pender's

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George E. Pickett (4)
Richard B. Garnett (3)
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Pender (1)
Lane (1)
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Heth (1)
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Lewis A. Armistead (1)
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