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[136] the ability of the Confederate batteries to overcome the fire of their opponents and carry confusion into the ranks of the infantry, and the initial effort as it turned out was a failure.

When the signal was given, the Confederate cannoneers sprang to their guns, and began a rain of fire upon the hill in front.

Alexander of the first corps had posted a number of guns in advance of the assaulting column and these fired rapidly and effectively. Other guns to the right and left at greater distances opened fire at the same time. The challenge was instantly taken up by the opposing batteries, and in a moment over two hundred guns were belching forth volumes of flame and smoke, and the air became thick with flying missiles and bursting shells. Rifts of smoke floated over the landscape amidst which the occasional explosion of a caisson or limber chest lit up the scene, and added to the terror of the battle.

No such cannonade had been experienced before by either army, and it required all the staying qualities of those under fire to resist its effects. After a time the fire of the Federal batteries slackened and it was believed they had been partially disabled and silenced.

Pickett was waiting the signal for him to move, and the supreme moment had now arrived when the order was to be given. When Alexander, in charge of the advance artillery, and who was to give the signal, informed Longstreet that his ammunition was nearly exhausted, the latter advised him to stop Pickett until his ammunition was replenished, to which Alexander replied there was no ammunition with which to replenish, and that if the assault was to be made, it should be made at once.

General Longstreet says, ‘That he then saw there was no help for it, and that Pickett must advance under his orders.’

The impression that any very serious effect had been produced upon the enemy's lines by the artillery fire proved to be a delusion; the aim of the Confederate gunners was accurate, and they did their work as well as could be, but the distance was too great to produce the results which they sanguinely hoped for. Previous experience should have taught them better. It is not a little surprising that General Lee should have reckoned so largely upon the result. Both sides had been pretty well taught

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