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[146]

Thus far have we followed his career. Born of a noble stock, a Virginian to his heart's core, linked by ties of blood with many of our best, the son of a soldier, familiar from childhood with tales of war, trained at West Point, tested by years of service in Florida, in Texas, in Mexico, in Virginia, obedient to duty, demanding in turn obedience from others, resolute, unyielding, with courage tempered in the flame of battle, he waited only for a fit opportunity to prove himself the hero he was, to write his name high on the roll of fame and win the plaudits of the world.

That opportunity came at Gettysburg. Of the charge made by Pettigrew and Pickett on Cemetery Ridge, I do not propose to speak at length. On the controversies which have raged around it, I shall not touch. But in order to appreciate the heroism of Armistead we must picture in few words the part played by Pickett's Division.

During the artillery duel which preceded the charge we lay quiet and (some of us) hugged the ground. When the cannonade subsided we fell in at the word of command and moved in line of battle over the wooded ridge in front, past our artillery, and down the slope to the edge of the woods. Here, for the first time, we caught sight of the field of battle. A thousand yards away lay Cemetery Ridge, curving around on the left to Culp's Hill, and off to our right stood Round-Top and little Round-Top, crowned with artillery. Beyond that ridge and on its crest lay eighty thousand men, every breastwork finished, every reserve posted, every gun in position, awaiting our assault. Between us and Cemetery Ridge was a field as open as this floor, not a tree, not a stone to shelter one man from the storm of battle. The scene which met the eyes of Armistead's men as we descended the slope was splendid. Before us, one hundred and fifty yards away, moving on like waves of the sea, marched Garnett and Kemper, their battle-flags flashing in the sunlight. The regiments of Armistead, marching in perfect order, with disciplined tread, followed where they led.

Soon the heavy guns on Round-Top were trained upon us, and howling shells burst around us or crashed through our ranks. The further we advanced the more tremendous was the cannonade. Our own artillery on the heights behind thundered

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Lewis A. Armistead (3)
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Pettigrew (1)
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