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[348] corps, to reenforce Ward's brigade, but he declined to move without orders from his own corps commander, Sykes; but Captain Moore, of Sickles's staff, at length overcame his scruples, and he reached the disputed point just in time to prevent its falling into the enemy's hands. Considering our force unequal to the exigency, Sickles called on the heroic troops of the Second corps for support, and they gave it with a will. The struggle now became deadly. The columns of Longstreet charged with reckless fury upon our troops; but they were met with a valor and stern fortitude that defied their utmost efforts. An alarming incident, however, occurred. Barnes's division, of the Fifth corps, suddenly gave way; and Sickles, seeing this, put a battery in position to check the enemy if he broke through this gap on our front, and General Birney was sent to order Barnes back into line. “No,” he said; “impossible. It is too hot. My men cannot stand it.” Remonstrance was unavailing, and Sickles despatched his aids to bring up any troops they met to fill this blank. Major Tremaine, of his staff, fell in with General Zook, at the head of his brigade, (Second corps,) and this gallant officer instantly volunteered to take Barnes's place. When they reached the ground, Barnes's disordered troops impeded the advance of the brigade. “If you can't get out of the way,” cried Zook, “lie down and I will march over you.” Barnes ordered his men to lie down, and the chivalric Zook and his splendid brigade, under the personal direction of General Birney, did march over them right into the breach. Alas! poor Zook soon fell, mortally wounded, and half of his brigade perished with him. It was about this time — near seven P. M.--that Sickles was struck by a cannon-ball that tore off his right leg, and he was borne from the field.

It was now pretty clear that General Meade had awakened to the fact which he treated with such indifference when pressed on him by Sickles in the morning — that our left was the assailable point, if not the key to our position; for he began to pour in reenforcements whose presence in the beginning of the action would have saved thousands of lives. “Perceiving great exertions on the part of the enemy,” says Meade's report, “the Sixth corps (Sedgwick's) and part of the First corps, (Newton's,) Lockwood's Maryland brigade, together with detachments from the Second corps, were all brought up at different periods, and succeeded, together with the gallant resistance of the Fifth corps, in checking and finally repulsing the assault of the enemy, who retired in confusion and disorder about sunset, and ceased any further efforts.” If this remarkable concentration of troops was necessary, at last, to save the left of our army, it is almost incredible that the single corps of General Sickles was able to withstand the impetuous onset of Longstreet's legions for nearly an hour before any succor reached it.

On Friday, July third, the enemy renewed their efforts to carry out the original design of Lee by overthrowing our left wing, and Longstreet was reenforced by Pickett's three brigades, and further supported by one division and two brigades from Hill's corps.

In addition to this heavy mass of infantry, the entire artillery of the rebel army was concentrated against our left. After his oversight of the day before, it may be supposed that General Meade was better prepared to defend his left, and had made adequate preparations. About one P. M. the enemy opened a furious cannonade upon our left and left centre, which continued some two hours, with occasional responses from us. At about three P. M., the enemy moved forward in column, and once more essayed to carry our position on the left. It was during this conflict that General Hancock, commander of the Second corps, a gallant soldier and accomplished officer, was wounded by a musket-ball and obliged to retire. He contributed greatly by his energy and valor to the success of the day. Meanwhile our artillery opened with vigor and inflicted great damage. After a severe and prolonged struggle, the enemy at length fell back and abandoned the contest. “Owing to the strength of the enemy's position,” says Lee's report, “and the reduction of our ammunition, a renewal of the engagement could not be hazarded.” Hence it is plain that our good fortune in preserving our position on the left gave us the victory at Gettysburgh; and yet General Meade, not having sufficiently examined the ground before the battle, disregarded the repeated warnings of that sagacious officer, General Sickles, as well as the report of his own Chief of Artillery, General Hunt, who concurred in all the suggestions of the commander of the Third corps. Without meaning to do injustice to General Meade, it must be admitted that his report of this great battle is at such variance with all the statements which have appeared in the press, that it is due not only to history, but to the indomitable prowess of our heroic army, that every fact sustained by concurrent testimony should be given in order to fully establish the truth. I reserve for any suitable occasion abundant documentary evidence to support the facts furnished.

On Saturday, July fourth, both armies continued to face each other during the entire day; without either manifesting a disposition to attack. “The enemy” says Meade, “drew back his left flank, but maintained his position in front of our left,” as if always conscious that our vulnerable point was there, and they were loth to retire from it. On the night of the fourth, Lee, finding his ammunition exhausted, and his subsistence imperilled, decided to withdraw, and he began his retreat toward Williamsport, with four thousand of our prisoners, and all his immense trains. On the morning of the fifth, this event became known, and General Meade despatched the Sixth corps in pursuit, together with some squadrons of cavalry. “The fifth and sixth of July were employed,” says Meade's report, “in succoring the wounded and burying the dead.” The enemy made good use of all this precious time in pushing on toward Williamsport as rapidly as possible; and it was fortunate for them that


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