Chapter 18: Gettysburg: third day
- The plan of the day.
-- Johnson Reenforced.
-- Johnson's battle.
-- Lee joins Longstreet.
-- a discussion.
-- the decision.
-- the neglected opportunity.
-- posting the guns.
-- artillery of other corps.
-- infantry formation.
-- Hill's cannonade.
-- the Nine howitzers.
-- note from Longstreet.
-- talk with Wright.
-- cannonade Opens.
-- Pickett called for.
-- Pickett and Longstreet.
-- Pickett appears.
-- the repulse.
-- Lee on the field.
-- the afternoon.
-- Nelson's enfilade.
-- advances from Peach Orchard.
In his official report Lee
‘The result of the (second) day's operations induced the belief that with proper concert of action, and with the increased support that the positions gained on the right would enable the artillery to render the columns, we should ultimately succeed, and it was accordingly determined to continue the attack.
The general plan was unchanged.
Longstreet, reenforced by Pickett's three brigades, was to attack the next morning, and Ewell was ordered to assault the enemy's right at the same time.
The latter during the night reenforced Johnson with two brigades from Rodes's and one from Early's division.’
This statement shows that the strongest features of the enemy's position were not yet apprehended.
These were the ability of the enemy to concentrate their whole force upon any point attacked; and the impregnable character of the two Federal flanks.
The two brigades sent from Rodes
to reenforce Johnson
were taken from the new position discovered by him early in the evening and already referred to, not only as the most favorable, but as practically the only position from which the Federal
line could have been attacked with any hope of success.
The brigade sent from Early
was sent from a force which could have effectively cooperated with an attack by Rodes
The effect of sending the three brigades was to emasculate the centre of our line and to concentrate seven brigades where they were utterly
Before proceeding, however, we may best here give briefly the outcome of Johnson
He had been ordered by Ewell
to attack at daylight, under the impression that Longstreet
would attack at the same hour.
In fact, however, Longstreet
received no orders during the night, and the troops required for his attack could not be gotten into their positions before noon. Johnson
, however, was himself attacked by the enemy at daylight at a point where he was still holding the trenches he had found abandoned the night before.
He repulsed the Federal
assault and attempted to follow the fugitives, but was repulsed.
Heavy firing was kept up from behind rocks, trees, and parapets until near noon. Rumors of movements of the enemy upon his left, which afterward proved to be false, then led him to withdraw to the base of the hill where he remained unmolested until night, when he was at last recalled to the west of the town.
His losses were about 1873, showing that the fighting was severe.
's headquarters were beyond the Chambersburg pike
, about four miles by road from the scene of battle on our right.
During the night the Washington artillery was brought up and disposed with the rest of Longstreet
's guns about the Peach Orchard
, with the intention of resuming the battle in the morning.
During the night Longstreet
had sent scouts in search of a way by which he might turn the enemy's left and believed he had found one with some promise of success.
Soon after sunrise, while Longstreet
awaited the arrival of Pickett
's division with Dearing
's battalion of artillery, intending then to extend his right, Lee
joined him and proposed an assault upon the enemy's left centre by Longstreet
's three divisions.
demurred, and, as had occurred on the day before, some time was spent in discussion and examination.
Although the opposing lines were in full view and easy range of each other, neither seemed anxious to begin an action.
The enemy's guns were generally behind breastworks on the high hills and ridges with ample covering in rear for their horses and caissons.
Ours, posted before daylight, stood exposed on gently rolling ground about the Peach Orchard
The enemy fired occasional shots, but not enough to force us to reply, and we were
but too glad to be able to reserve our ammunition for more important work.
pointed out to Lee
the enemy's position on the Round Tops
and the danger of withdrawing Hood
from our right flank, which would be necessary if they were to take part in the attack upon the enemy's left centre.
recognized the necessity and substituted six brigades from Hill
His report says: —
‘Longstreet was delayed by a force occupying the high rocky hills on the enemy's extreme left, from which his troops could be attacked in reverse as they advanced.
His operations had been embarrassed the day previous from the same cause and he now deemed it necessary to defend his flank and rear by the divisions of Hood and McLaws.
He was, therefore, reenforced by Heth's division and two of Pender's brigades to the command of which Trimble was assigned.’1
further objected that the enemy's artillery on the ‘high rocky hills’ would enfilade the lines assaulting the left centre.
, of Lee
's staff, in his Memoirs of Lee,
‘This objection was answered by Col. Long who said that the guns on Round Top could be suppressed by our batteries.
This point being settled, the attack was ordered and Longstreet was directed to carry it out.’
, in his Manassas to Appomattox,
describing the same conversation, gives further detail as follows: —
‘I asked the strength of the column.
He (Lee) stated, 15,000.
Opinion was then expressed that the 15,000 men who could make successful assault over that field had never been arrayed for battle; but he was impatient of listening and tired of talking, and nothing was left but to proceed.’
It seems remarkable that the assumption of Col. Long
so easily passed unchallenged that Confederate guns in open and inferior positions could ‘suppress’ Federal artillery fortified upon commanding ridges.
Our artillery equipment was usually admitted to be inferior to the enemy's in numbers, calibres and quality of ammunition.
Moreover, here, the point selected and the method of the attack would certainly have been chosen for us by the enemy had they had the choice.
weakest portion of their line was Cemetery Hill
, and the point of greatest interest in connection with this battle is the story of our entire failure to recognize this fact.
The narrative may therefore pause while this neglected opportunity is pointed out.
There was one single advantage conferred by our exterior lines, and but one, in exchange for many disadvantages.
They gave us the opportunity to select positions for our guns which could enfilade the opposing lines of the enemy.
Enfilading fire is so effective that no troops can submit to it long.
Illustrations of this fact were not wanting in the events of this day. What has been called the shank of the Federal
fish-hook, extending south from the bend at Cemetery Hill
toward Little Round Top
, was subject to enfilade fire from the town and its flanks and suburbs.
That liability should have caused special examination by our staff and artillery officers, to discover other conditions which might favor an assault.
There were and are others still easily recognizable on the ground.
The salient angle is acute and weak, and within about 500 yards of its west face is the sheltered position occupied by Rodes
the night of July 2d, which has already been mentioned.
From nowhere else was there so short and unobstructed an approach to the Federal
line, and one so free from flank fire.
On the northeast, at but little greater distance, was the position whence Early
's two brigades the evening before had successfully carried the east face of the same salient.
Within the edge of the town between these two positions was abundant opportunity to accumulate troops and to establish guns at close ranges.
As long as Gettysburg
stands and the contour of its hills remains unchanged, students of the battle-field must decide that Lee
's most promising attack from first to last was upon Cemetery Hill
, by concentrated artillery fire from the north and assaults from the nearest sheltered ground between the west and northeast.
That this was not realized at the time is doubtless partly due to the scarcity of trained staff and reconnoitring officers, and partly to the fact that Ewell
had discontinued and withdrawn the pursuit on the afternoon of the 1st, when it was about to
undertake this position.
Hence the enemy's pickets were not driven closely into their lines, and the vicinity was not carefully examined.
Not a single gun was established within a thousand yards, nor was a position selected which enfiladed the lines in question.
Quite by accident, during the cannonade preceding Pickett
's charge, Nelson
's battalion of Ewell
's corps fired a few rounds from a position which did enfilade with great effect part of the 11th corps upon Cemetery Hill
, but the fire ceased on being sharply replied to. Briefly the one weak spot of the enemy's line and the one advantage possessed by ours were never apprehended.
In addition to the six brigades of Hill
's corps assigned to Longstreet
for his column of assault, one more, Wilcox
's division, was later added, making ten brigades in all, of which only three were Longstreet
's and seven were Hill
's. I was directed by Longstreet
to post all of his artillery for a preliminary cannonade, and then to take a position whence I could best observe the effect of our fire, and determine the proper moment to give the signal to Pickett
The signal for the opening of the cannonade would be given by Longstreet
himself after the infantry brigades were all in position.
A clump of trees in the enemy's line was pointed out to me as the proposed point of our attack, which I was incorrectly told was the cemetery of the town, and about 9 A. M. I began to revise our line and post it for the cannonade.
The enemy very strangely interfered with only an occasional cannon-shot, to none of which did we now reply, for it was easily in their power to drive us to cover or to exhaust our ammunition before our column could be formed.
I can only account for their allowing our visible preparations to be completed by supposing that they appreciated in what a trap we would find ourselves.
's 83 guns, 8 were left on our extreme right to cover our flank, and the remaining 75 were posted in an irregular line about 1300 yards long, beginning in the Peach Orchard
and ending near the northeast corner of the Spangler wood.
While so engaged, Gen. Pendleton
offered me the use of nine 12-Pr.
howitzers of Hill
's corps, saying that that corps could not use guns of such short range.
I gladly accepted and went to
receive the guns under command of Maj. Richardson
I placed them under cover close in rear of the forming column with orders to remain until sent for, intending to take them with the column when it advanced.
A few hundred yards to left and rear of my line began the artillery of the 3d corps under Col. Walker
It comprised 60 guns, extending on Seminary Ridge
as far as the Hagerstown
road, and two Whitworth rifles located nearly a mile farther north on the same ridge.
In this interval were located 20 rifle guns of the 2d corps under Col. Carter
. Four more rifles of the same corps under Capt. Graham
were located about one and a half miles northeast of Cemetery Hill
These 24 guns of the 2d corps were ordered to fire only solid shot as their fuses were unreliable.
There remained unemployed of the 2d corps 25 rifles and 16 Napoleons, and of the 3d corps, fifteen 12-Pr.
howitzers. It is notable that of the 84 guns of the 2d and 3d corps to be engaged, 80 were in the same line parallel to the position of the enemy and
56 guns stood idle
. It was a phenomenal oversight not to place these guns, and many beside, in and near the town to enfilade the ‘shank of the fish-hook’ and cross fire with the guns from the west.
The Federal guns in position on their lines at the commencement of the cannonade were 166, and during it 10 batteries were brought up from their reserves, raising the number engaged to 220 against 172 used upon our side during the same time.
The formation of our infantry lines consumed a long time, and the formation used was not one suited for such a heavy task.
Six brigades, say 10,000 men, were in the first line.
Three brigades only were in the second line —very much shorter on the left.
It followed about 200 yards in rear of the first.
The remaining brigade, Wilcox
's, posted in rear of the right of the column, was not put in motion with the column, and being ordered forward 20 minutes or more later, was much too late to be of any assistance whatever.
Both flanks of the assaulting column were in the air and the left without any support in the rear.
It was sure to crumble away rapidly under fire.
The arrangement may be represented thus: —
Brockenbrough, Davis, McGowan, Archer, Garnett, Kemper,
Lane, Scales, Armistead,
No formation, however, could have been successful and the light one doubtless suffered fewer casualties than one more compact and deeper would have had.
A little before noon there sprung up upon our left a violent cannonade which was prolonged for fully a half-hour, and has often been supposed to be a part of that ordered to precede Pickett
It began between skirmishers in front of Hill
's corps over the occupation of a house.
's artillery first took part in it, it was said, by his order.
It was most unwise, as it consumed uselessly a large amount of his ammunition, the lack of which was much felt in the subsequent fighting.
Not a single gun of our corps fired a shot, nor did the enemy in our front.
When the firing died out, entire quiet settled upon the field, extending even to the skirmishers in front, and also to the enemy's rear; whence behind their lines opposing us we had heard all the morning the noise of Johnson
My 75 guns had all been carefully located and made ready for an hour, while the infantry brigades were still not yet in their proper positions, and I was waiting for the signal to come from Longstreet
, when it occurred to me to send for the nine howitzers under Richardson
, that they might lead in the advance for a few hundred yards before coming into action.
Only after the cannonade had opened did I learn that the guns had been removed and could not be found.
It afterward appeared that Pendleton
had withdrawn four of the guns, and that Richardson
with the other five, finding himself in the line of the Federal
fire during Hill
's cannonade, had moved off to find cover.
I made no complaint, believing that had these guns gone forward with the infantry they must have been left upon the field and perhaps have attracted a counter-stroke after the repulse of Pickett
Meanwhile, some half-hour or more before the cannonade began, I was startled by the receipt of a note from Longstreet
as follows: —
‘Colonel: If the artillery fire does not have the effect to drive off the enemy or greatly demoralize him, so as to make our effort pretty certain, I would prefer that you should not advise Pickett to make the charge.
I shall rely a great deal upon your judgment to determine the matter and shall expect you to let Gen. Pickett know when the moment offers.’
Until that moment, though I fully recognized the strength of the enemy's position, I had not doubted that we would carry it, in my confidence that Lee
was ordering it. But here was a proposition that I
should decide the question.
Overwhelming reasons against the assault at once seemed to stare me in the face.
's division was standing with me. I showed him the letter and expressed my views.
He advised me to write them to Longstreet
, which I did as follows:—
‘General: I will only be able to judge of the effect of our fire on the enemy by his return fire, as his infantry is little exposed to view and the smoke will obscure the field.
If, as I infer from your note, there is any alternative to this attack, it should be carefully considered before opening our fire, for it will take all the artillery ammunition we have left to test this one, and if result is unfavorable we will have none left for another effort.
And even if this is entirely successful, it can only be so at a very bloody cost.’
To this note, Longstreet
soon replied as follows: —
‘Colonel: The intention is to advance the infantry if the artillery has the desired effect of driving the enemy's off, or having other effect such as to warrant us in making the attack.
When that moment arrives advise Gen. Pickett and of course advance such artillery as you can use in aiding the attack.’
Evidently the cannonade was to be allowed to begin.
Then the responsibility would be upon me to decide whether or not Pickett
If not, we must return to Va. to replenish ammunition, and the campaign would be a failure.
I knew that our guns could not drive off the enemy, but I had a vague hope that with Ewell
's and Hill
's cooperation something might happen, though I knew little either of their positions, their opportunities, or their orders.
I asked Wright
: ‘What do you think of it?
Is it as hard to get there as it looks?’
He answered: ‘The trouble is not in
I went there with my brigade yesterday.
There is a place where you can get breath and re-form.
The trouble is to stay there after you get there, for the whole Yankee army is there in a bunch.’
I failed to fully appreciate all that this might mean.
The question seemed merely one of support, which was peculiarly the province of Gen. Lee
I had seen several of Hill
's brigades forming to support Pickett
, and had heard a rumor that Lee
had spoken of a united attack by the whole army.
I determined to see Pickett
and get an idea of his feelings.
I did so, and finding him both cheerful and sanguine, I felt that if the artillery fire opened, Pickett
must make the charge; but that Longstreet
should know my views, so I wrote him as follows: —
‘General: When our fire is at its best, I will advise Gen. Pickett to advance.’
It must have been with bitter disappointment that Longstreet
saw the failure of his hope to avert a useless slaughter, for he was fully convinced of its hopelessness.
Yet even he could have scarcely realized, until the event showed, how entirely unprepared were Hill
to render aid to his assault and to take prompt advantage of even temporary success.
None of their guns had been posted with a view to cooperative fire, nor to follow the charge, and much of their ammunition had been prematurely wasted.
And although Pickett
's assault, when made, actually carried the enemy's guns, nowhere was there the slightest preparation to come to his assistance.
The burden of the whole task fell upon the 10 brigades employed.
The other 27 brigades and 56 fresh guns were but widely scattered spectators.
It was just 1 P. M. by my watch when the signal guns were fired and the cannonade opened.
The enemy replied rather slowly at first, though soon with increasing rapidity.
Having determined that Pickett
should charge, I felt impatient to launch him as soon as I could see that our fire was accomplishing anything.
I guessed that a half-hour would elapse between my sending him the order and his column reaching close quarters.
I dared not presume on using more ammunition than one hour's
firing would consume, for we were far from supplies and had already fought for two days. So I determined to send Pickett
the order at the very first favorable sign and not later than after 30 minutes firing.
At the end of 20 minutes no favorable development had occurred.
More guns had been added to the Federal
line than at the beginning, and its whole length, about two miles, was blazing like a volcano.
It seemed madness to order a column in the middle of a hot July day to undertake an advance of three-fourths of a mile over open ground against the centre of that line.
But something had to be done.
I wrote the following note and despatched it to Pickett
‘General: If you are to advance at all, you must come at once or we will not be able to support you as we ought.
But the enemy's fire has not slackened materially and there are still 18 guns firing from the cemetery.’
I had hardly sent this note when there was a decided falling off in the enemy's fire, and as I watched I saw other guns limbered up and withdrawn.
We frequently withdrew from fighting Federal guns in order to save our ammunition for their infantry.
The enemy had never heretofore practised such economy.
After waiting a few minutes and seeing that no fresh guns replaced those withdrawn, I felt sure that the enemy was feeling the punishment, and at 1.40 I sent a note to Pickett
‘For God's sake come quick.
The 18 guns have gone.
Come quick or my ammunition will not let me support you properly.’
This was followed by two verbal messages to the same effect by an officer and sergeant from the nearest guns.
The 18 guns had occupied the point at which our charge was to be directed.
I had been incorrectly told it was the cemetery.
Soon only a few scattered Federal guns were in action, and still Pickett
's line had not come forward, though scarcely 300 yards behind my guns.
I afterward learned what had followed the sending of my first note.
It reached Pickett
He read it and handed it to Longstreet
read and stood silent.
said, ‘General, shall I advance?’
knew that it must be done, but was unwilling to speak the words.
turned in his saddle and looked away.
saluted and said, ‘I am going to move forward, sir,’ and galloped off.
, leaving his staff, rode out alone and joined me on the left flank of the guns.
It was doubtless 1.50 or later, but I did not look at my watch again.
I had grown very impatient to see Pickett
, fearing ammunition would run short, when Longstreet
joined me. I explained the situation.
He spoke sharply,— ‘Go and stop Pickett
where he is and replenish your ammunition.’
I answered: ‘We can't do that, sir. The train has but little.
It would take an hour to distribute it, and meanwhile the enemy would improve the time.’
seemed to stand irresolute (we were both dismounted) and then spoke slowly and with great emotion: ‘I do not want to make this charge.
I do not see how it can succeed.
I would not make it now but that Gen. Lee
has ordered it and is expecting it.’
I felt that he was inviting a word of acquiescence on my part and that if given he would again order, ‘Stop Pickett
where he is.’
But I was too conscious of my own youth and inexperience to express any opinion not directly asked.
So I remained silent while Longstreet
fought his battle out alone and obeyed his orders.
The suspense was brief and was ended by the emergence from the wood behind us of Garnett
riding in front of his brigade.
I had served on the Plains
with him and Armistead
in 1858, and I now met him for the first time since Longstreet
's Suffolk campaign.
He saluted and I mounted and rode with him while his brigade swept through our guns.
Then I rode down the line of guns, asking what each gun had left.
Many had canister only.
These and all having but few shell were ordered to stand fast.
Those with a moderate amount of suitable ammunition were ordered to limber up and advance.
During the cannonade the reserve ordnance train had been moved from the position first occupied, and caissons sent to it had not returned.
Only about one gun in four could be ordered forward from the centre, but from the right Maj. Haskell
took five from Garden
's and Flanner
's batteries, and Maj. Eshleman
, of the Washington artillery, sent four somewhat to Haskell
Returning to the centre I joined the few guns advancing from the batteries there, and moved forward to a swell of ground just west of the Emmitsburg
road, whence we opened upon troops advancing to attack the right flank of Pickett
to the left front of the Peach Orchard
soon also opened fire.
The charging brigades were now close in front of the Federal
lines and the musketry was heavy.
As we watched, we saw them close in upon the enemy in smoke and dust, and we ceased firing and waited the result.
It was soon manifest in a gradual diminution of the fire and in a stream of fugitives coming to the rear pursued by some fire but not as much, it seemed to me, as might have been expected.
After perhaps 20 minutes, during which the firing had about ceased, to my surprise there came forward from the rear Wilcox
's fine Ala. brigade, which had been with us at Chancellorsville
, and, just 60 days before, had won the affair at Salem Church.
It had been sent to reenforce Pickett
, but was not in the column
. Now, when all was over, the single brigade was moving forward alone, and there was no one there with authority to halt it. They were about 1200 strong and on their left were about 250, the remnant of Perry
's Fla. brigade.
It was at once both absurd and tragic.
They advanced several hundred yards beyond our guns, under a sharp fire.
Then they halted and opened fire from some undergrowth and brushwood along a small ravine.
Federal infantry soon moved out to attack their left, when Perry
fell back past our guns; Wilcox
moved by his right flank and making a circuit regained our lines at the Peach Orchard
His loss in this charge was 204 killed and wounded. Perry
's loss was about proportional, with some prisoners in addition.
's brigade was making its charge, Gen. Lee
rode up and joined me. He was entirely alone, which could scarcely have happened except by design on his part.
We were not firing, but holding position to prevent pursuit by the enemy.
I have no doubt that Lee
was apprehensive of this, and had come to the front to help rally the fugitives if that happened.
He remained with us perhaps an hour and spoke to nearly every man who passed, using expressions such as: ‘Don't be discouraged.’
‘It was my fault this time.’
‘Form your ranks
again when you get under cover.’
‘All good men must hold together now.’
I had with me as an aid, Lt. Colston
, ordnance officer of my battalion.
At one time loud cheering was heard in the Federal
lines and Lee
to ride to the front and find out the cause.
's horse was unused to the spur and, balking, Colston
had a stick handed him and used it. Lee
said: ‘Oh, don't do that.
I once had a foolish horse and I found gentle measures so much the best.’
presently reported that the Federals
were cheering an officer riding along their line.
remarked that he had thought it possible that Johnson
's division in the Federal
rear might have gained some success.
Evidently he was not yet informed that Johnson
, about noon, had withdrawn to a defensive position.
was brought by on a litter.
rode up and said, ‘General, I hope you are not badly hurt.’
replied, ‘Yes, General, I'm afraid they have got me this time.’
pressed his hand, saying: ‘I trust not!
I trust not.’
, of her Majesty's Coldstream Guards, had also joined the party.
We sat on horseback on the slope behind the guns where we could see over the crest, but the group of horses was not visible to the enemy.
When all the fugitives had passed and there was still no sign of counter-stroke, Lee
rode off. I continued to hold my line of guns with few changes until after dark.
There were some advances by Federal skirmish lines, which we kept in check with our guns, sometimes having to use canister sharply.
But the Federal
guns did not interfere, for which we were duly grateful.
During the afternoon I quietly withdrew guns, one at a time, sending them to be refitted, and by 10 o'clock our whole line had been retired about to the position from which the attack began on the 2d.
Now that we have reached the turning-point of our campaign, we may revert to some incidents of note in the progress of the battle.
In speaking of our neglect to enfilade the Federal
lines, it was stated that quite by accident a few rounds were fired during
the cannonade which happened to enfilade a part of Cemetery Hill
In the Philadelphia Weekly Times
of May 31, 1877, Col. Osborne
, Chief of Artillery
, 11th corps, describes the cannonade, in which he commanded ‘a little over 60 guns,’ and mentions this incident as follows: —
The fire from our west front had progressed 15 to 20 minutes when several guns opened on us from the ridge beyond East Cemetery Hill.
The line of fire from these last batteries, and the line of fire from the batteries on our west front, were such as to leave the town between the two lines of fire.
These last guns opened directly on the right flank of my line of batteries.
The gunners got our range at almost the first shot.
Passing low over Wainwright's guns they caught us square in flank and with the elevation perfect.
It was admirable shooting.
They raked the whole line of batteries, killed and wounded the men and horses, and blew up the caissons rapidly.
I saw one shell go through six horses standing broadside.
To meet this new fire I drew from the batteries facing west the 20-lb.
Parrott battery of Capt. Taft, and wheeling it half round to the right brought it to bear on them.
I also drew from the reserve one battery and placed it in position on Taft's right. . . .
‘Fortunately for us these batteries, placed in the new line, at once secured the exact range of their immediate adversaries.
In a few minutes the enemy's fire almost ceased, and when it again opened, and while the fire was progressing, it was irregular and wild.
They did not again get our range as they had it before we replied.’
in the Atlantic Monthly
, July, 1876, writing of this occasion, says, ‘One regiment of Steinwehr
's was fearfully cut to pieces with a shell.’
It doubtless received an enfilading shot from the firing here described.
The official reports enable us to identify this firing as done at a range of 2500 yards by three rifled guns of Milledge
's battery of Nelson
's battalion of Ewell
's reserve artillery.
had three batteries carrying 13 guns, and the 48 rounds fired by Milledge
were the only shots fired by the battalion during the campaign.
It was not, however, Nelson
's fault, but his superior's. His report says: —
‘About 12 M. I was ordered to draw the attention of the enemy's batteries from our infantry, in connection with Capt. Graham, commanding Rockbridge artillery, and fired about 20 or 25 rounds from a point to the left and somewhat in advance of Capt. Graham's position.
On Friday night I encamped about one-half mile in rear of my position on that day.’
The Ordnance report of the 2d corps identifies the guns and gives the rounds fired as 48.
Mention has been made of the five guns advanced by Maj. Haskell
from the Peach Orchard
, and the four from the Washington artillery a little to their left.
These guns moved so far outside of Pickett
's charge that they were able to fire obliquely upon the Federals
opposing it. Haskell on the extreme right was even able to enfilade portions of the Federal
reenforcements The fighting here was almost hand to hand.
The following account is given by Col. Rice
of the 19th Mass. :2
The men in gray were doing all that was possible to keep off the mixed bodies of men, who were moving upon them swiftly and without hesitation, keeping up so close and continuous a fire that at last its effects became terrible. . . . The grove was fairly jammed with Pickett's men, in all positions, lying and kneeling.
Back from the edge were many standing and firing over those in front.
By the side of several who were firing, lying down or kneeling, were others with their hands up in token of surrender.
In particular I noticed two men, not a musket length away, one aiming so that I could look into his musket barrel; the other, lying on his back, coolly ramming home a cartridge.
A little farther on was one on his knees waving something white in both hands.
Every foot of ground was occupied by men engaged in mortal combat who were in every possible position which can be taken while under arms or lying wounded or dead.
‘A Confederate battery near the Peach Orchard commenced firing.
A cannon-shot tore a horrible passage through the dense crowd of men in blue, who were gathering outside the trees.
Instantly another shot followed and fairly cut a road through the mass. . . .’
The official report of Col. Abbott
of the 20th Mass. thus describes the same scene:—
‘The enemy poured in a severe musketry fire, and at the clump of trees they burst also several shells, so that our loss was very heavy, more than half the enlisted men of the regiment being killed or disabled, while there remained but three out of 13 officers. . . .’
The enfilading shots described by Col. Rice
doubtless came from the batteries under command of Maj. Haskell
No official report was made, but I quote from a personal letter of Maj. Haskell
some years later:—
‘Just before Pickett's division charged, you rode up and after inquiring what ammunition I had, you ordered me to move forward with five guns, part of which were taken from each battery.
We advanced about 300 to 500 yards when I saw a large mass of infantry to our left front beginning to deploy, apparently to strike the right flank of Pickett's division.
I at once opened fire on this infantry, which almost immediately scattered or withdrew, unmasking a large number of guns.
Gen. Hunt told me after the war there were over 20.
In a very few minutes these guns had disabled several of mine, killing and wounding quite a number of men and horses.
Our ammunition being exhausted, I ordered such guns as could be moved to withdraw, ordering Garden and Flanner to return as quickly as possible with litters for the wounded, and teams and limbers for the disabled guns.
This they did, getting everything out.’
The four guns under Capt. Miller
and Lt. Battle
fared nearly as badly.
, seeing that they were being rapidly cut up, withdrew them; but two of the guns, three of the teams, a Lt., and several men were put hors de combat
in the movement.
But one official report from Pickett
's division has been published, that of Garnett
's brigade, by Maj. C. S. Peyton
, 19th Va., who was the only field officer of the division not killed or wounded.
wrote a report which reflected unjustly upon the brigades of Hill
's corps, among which the break first occurred.
returned the report, asking Pickett
to modify it, which Pickett
delayed and finally neglected to do. I quote from Peyton
's report, dated July 9, as follows:—
Notwithstanding the long and severe marches made by the troops of this brigade, they reached the field about 9 A. M. in high spirits and in good condition.
At about 12 M. we were ordered to take position behind the crest of the hill, on which the artillery under Col. Alexander was planted, where we lay during the most terrific cannonading, which opened at 1.30 P. M., and was kept up without intermission for one hour.
During the shelling we lost about 20 killed and wounded. Among the killed was Lt.-Col. Ellis of the 19th Va. . . . At 2.30 P. M. the artillery fire having to some extent abated, the order to advance was given, first by Gen. Pickett in person, and repeated by Gen. Garnett with promptness, apparent cheerfulness, and alacrity.
The brigade moved forward at quick time.
The ground was open, but little broken, and from 800 to 1000 yards from the crest whence we started to the enemy's line.
The brigade moved in good order, keeping up its line almost perfectly, notwithstanding it had to climb three high post and rail fences, behind the last of which the enemy's skirmishers were first met, and immediately driven
in. Moving on, we soon met the advanced line of the enemy, lying concealed in the grass on the slope about 100 yards in front of his second line, which consisted of a stone wall, about breast high, running nearly parallel to and about 30 paces from the crest of the hill which was lined with their artillery.
The first line referred to above, after offering some resistance, was completely routed, and driven in confusion back to the stone wall.
Here we captured some prisoners, which were ordered to the rear without a guard.
Having routed the enemy here, Gen. Garnett ordered the brigade forward, which it promptly obeyed, loading and firing as it advanced.
Up to this time we had suffered but little from the enemy's batteries, which apparently had been much crippled previous to our advance, with the exception of one posted on the mountain, about one mile to our right, which enfiladed nearly our entire line with fearful effect, sometimes as many as 10 men being killed and wounded by the bursting of a single shell.
From the point it had first routed the enemy, the brigade moved rapidly toward the stone wall, under a galling fire both from artillery and infantry, the artillery using grape and canister.
We were now within about 75 paces of the wall, unsupported on the right and left.
Gen. Kemper being some 50 or 60 yards behind and to the right, and Gen. Armistead coming up in our rear.
Gen. Kemper's line was discovered to be lapping on ours, when, deeming it advisable to have the line extended on the right, to prevent being flanked, a staff officer rode back to the general to request him to incline to the right.
Gen. Kemper not being present (perhaps wounded at the time), Capt. Fry of his staff immediately began his exertions to carry out the request, but in consequence of the eagerness of the men in pressing forward, it was impossible to have the order carried out.
Our line, much shattered, still kept up the advance until within about 20 paces of the wall, when, for a moment, it recoiled under the terrific fire that poured into our ranks both from their batteries and from their sheltered infantry.
At this moment Gen. Kemper came up on the right and Gen. Armistead in rear, when the three lines, joining in concert, rushed forward with unyielding determination and an apparent spirit of laudable rivalry to plant the Southern banner on the walls of the enemy.
His strongest and last lines were instantly gained; the Confederate battle flag waved over his defences, and the fighting over the wall became hand to hand and of the most desperate character; but, more than half having already fallen, our line was found too weak to rout the enemy.
We hoped for a support on the left (which had started simultaneously with ourselves), but hoped in vain.
Yet a small remnant remained in desperate struggle, receiving a fire in front, on the right and on the left, many even climbing over the wall, and fighting the enemy in his own trenches until entirely surrounded; and those who were not killed or wounded were captured, with the exception of about 300 who came off
slowly, but greatly scattered, the identity of every regiment being entirely lost, and every regimental commander killed or wounded.
The brigade went into action with 1287 men and about 140 officers, as shown by the report of the previous evening, and sustained a loss, as the list of casualties will show, of 941 killed, wounded, and missing, and it is feared, from all the information received, that the majority (those reported missing) are either killed or wounded. . . .
There was scarcely an officer or man in the command whose attention was not attracted by the cool and handsome bearing of Gen. Garnett, who, totally devoid of excitement or rashness, rode immediately in rear of his advancing line, endeavoring by his personal efforts, and by the aid of his staff, to keep his line well closed and dressed.
He was shot from his horse while near the centre of the brigade, within about 25 paces of the stone wall. . . .
‘The conduct of Capt. M. P. Spessard of the 28th Va. was particularly conspicuous.
His son fell mortally wounded at his side; he stopped but for a moment to look on his dying son, gave him his canteen of water, and pressed on, with his company, to the wall, which he climbed, and fought the enemy with his sword in their own trenches until his sword was wrested from his hands by two Yankees; he finally made his escape in safety.’
All accounts of the charge agree that its failure began when the advance had covered about half the distance to the Federal
At that point the left flank of Pettigrew
began to crumble away and the crumbling extended along the line to the right as they continued to advance until two-thirds of the line was gone, before the remainder, beginning at Fry
's brigade, was finally absorbed in the collision with the enemy.
That result was inevitable.
Under the conditions it should have been foreseen.
The Federal line on our left overlapped our line by nearly a half-mile. It was crowded with guns, and their oblique fire upon the unsupported left could be endured but for a short period, particularly, as several fences crossed their line of advance, causing constant disturbance of their ranks.
The artillery of the 3d corps, firing from Seminary Ridge
, which had been vainly expected to silence this portion of the enemy's line, was now itself practically silent, on account of its imprudent expenditure in the duel about 11 A. M. Lee
's report says:—
‘Our artillery, having nearly exhausted their ammunition in the protracted cannonade that preceded the advance of the infantry, were unable to reply or render the necessary support to the attacking party.
Owing to this fact, which was unknown to me when the assault took place, the enemy was enabled to throw a strong force of infantry against our left, already wavering under a concentrated fire of artillery from the ridge in front and from Cemetery Hill on the left.
It finally gave way, and the right, after penetrating the enemy's lines, entering his advanced works and capturing some of his artillery, was attacked simultaneously in front and on both flanks, and driven back with heavy loss.’
Evidently the reliance for the support of our left flank had been the fire of the 82 guns from Seminary Ridge
It was as oversanguine as that expressed by Col. Long
in the morning conference on the right, and it failed to note that the enemy might hold guns in reserve.
This was done on the present occasion.
, the Federal chief of artillery
, had withdrawn many guns to await the charge which he knew was coming.
The crumbling away of Pettigrew
's left precipitated the advance of Wilcox
, who was riding with his staff in rear of his division, saw that the brigades on the left were breaking and sent two aides to endeavor to rally them, which they were unable to do. A third was sent at the same moment to Longstreet
to say that the position in front would be taken, but that reenforcements would be required to hold it. Longstreet
, in reply, directed Pickett
to order up Wilcox
, and Pickett
sent three messengers in succession to be sure that the order was promptly acted upon.
As the fugitives from Pettigrew
's division came back, Wright
's brigade of Anderson
's division was moved forward a few hundred yards to cover their retreat.
Later, after Wilcox
had fallen back, by Lee
's order, Wright
was moved across to the rear in support of Wilcox
, in case the enemy should make an advance, which at times seemed probable during the entire afternoon.
It must be ever held a colossal mistake that Meade
did not organize a counter-stroke as soon as he discovered that the Confederate
attack had been repulsed.
He lost here an opportunity as great as McClellan
lost at Sharpsburg
Our ammunition was so low, and our diminished forces were, at the moment, so widely dispersed along our unwisely extended line, that an advance by a single fresh corps, the 6th, for instance, could have cut us in two.
might at least have felt that he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the effort.
felt that the lines held by Hood
were unwisely advanced for the changed conditions, and, during the afternoon, he quietly withdrew these divisions to the rear of the Emmitsburg
During the process of the withdrawal, the enemy advanced McCandless
's brigade of the 5th corps into the neutral ground between the lines, where it accidentally encountered the 15th Ga. of Benning
This by mistake had been marched to the front, when it was intended to be moved to the rear.
The regiment, though only numbering about 250, took a position and opened fire, expecting reenforcements.
It was quickly outflanked and only with difficulty and by severe fighting did it extricate itself, losing 101 men.
During the morning there were cavalry affairs upon each of our flanks.
Upon our left, Stuart
advanced, and a severe combat ensued with Gregg
's division and Custer
The result was a draw, each side claiming what it held at the close as a victory.
Upon our right, Kilpatrick
reports that at 8 A. M. he received orders, —
‘to move to the left of the Federal line and attack the enemy's right and rear with his whole command [Custer's and Farnsworth's brigades], and the regular brigade [Merritt's].’
By some mistake, surely a fortunate one for the Confederates
's brigade had already been sent to Gregg
's division, on the other flank.
Our right was at first merely picketed by 100 cavalry on the extreme flank, while, nearer the position of our infantry, was a strong line of skirmishers with Bachman
's and Reilly
's batteries in support.
come with three brigades upon our right flank, he could not have failed to discover an immense opportunity open to him. Behind the mask of our videttes were wide fields stretching along the valleys of Willoughby Run
and Marsh Creek
for miles to the north and west, containing all our trains practically unguarded.
The bulk of our cavalry was engaging Gregg
's division about two miles east of Gettysburg
Once through our skirmish line, Kilpatrick
would have had great scope before any adequate force could be brought against him. As it was, we had a narrow escape.
's dismounted men had
found the flank of our videttes, and were driving them rapidly to the rear, when Anderson
's brigade was brought to the rescue, and Merritt
was driven back.
had ordered Farnsworth
to charge through our long line of infantry pickets extending from the Emmitsburg
road to the right flank of our infantry line on the lower slope of Big Round Top. Farnsworth at first remonstrated, but then made the charge gallantly, with about 300 men of the 1st W. Va. and the 1st Vt. They rode through the Texan
skirmish line, but found themselves surrounded with no escape but to make a circuit and return, broken into squads by the fire of infantry and artillery, and by the natural obstacles of the ground.
fell with five mortal wounds.
The total killed and wounded in the charge were 65.3
The report of the Federal
chief of artillery gives interesting details.
The supply of ammunition carried with that army was 270 rounds per gun. The Confederate army carried for the campaign about 150 rounds per gun.
reports an expenditure in action of 32,781 rounds, an average of 106 per gun for 310 guns, excluding the cavalry.
's corps reports 5851 rounds expended, and Hill
's corps 7112 rounds.
No report was made of Longstreet
's ammunition, but his 83 guns were all engaged, while Ewell
each engaged only 65.
averaged about 90 rounds per gun engaged, and Hill
's 83 guns doubtless averaged as much as Hill
's, which would make about 9000 for the battle.
This gives an aggregate for the army of about 22,000, or 103 rounds per gun for 213 guns engaged, excluding cavalry.
The killed and wounded (not including the missing) in the Federal
reserve artillery, 108 guns all engaged, numbered 230, an average per gun of 2.1.
's corps the total was 271, for 83 guns, an average per gun of 2.6.
's the total was 132, and average per gun engaged 2.
's the total was 128 and average per gun engaged 2.
The destruction of artillery horses was very great, but figures are given only for Hill
This reported 190 killed in action, 80 captured, 187 abandoned on the road, and 200 condemned as broken down; a total of 627 lost in the campaign, with 77 guns.
Serving the 26 guns of Alexander
's battalion, 138 men and 116 horses, or over 5 men and 4 horses per gun, were killed or wounded.
The greater part of this loss was from artillery fire, and its severity shows that the ground occupied was unfavorable and afforded little shelter.
An anxious inventory of the ammunition left on hand was made during that afternoon, and much relief was felt that ‘enough for one day's fight’ was found.
During the afternoon of the 3d, Lee
determined upon immediate retreat to Va. Such an end to our invasion had, indeed, been inevitable from its beginning, but the difficulties were now greatly increased.
was not in aggressive mood, and Lee
decided to give his trains one day's start of his troops.
Many Federal writers have sought to excuse Meade
's failures to improve the opportunities offered him, one after the other, on the 3d, 4th, and 5th, and 11th, 12th, and 13th of July.
It is needless to balance pros and cons.
An axiom of the game of war is to attack whenever a large stake may be won by success, and but small loss incurred by repulse.
Then the game is worth the candle, and the game must be played.
It is the hardest of all games to a general new to the responsibility of chief command.
Under cover of the night, Lee
took a defensive line upon Seminary Ridge
with its right flank retired to Willoughby Run
Here he stood all day of the 4th, apparently inviting attack, but fortunate in remaining unmolested.
's cavalry had joined him on the 3d, 2100 strong, with a six-gun battery.
During the night of the 3d, Imboden
had been directed to organize most of our vehicles into a single train, and to conduct it without a halt to Williamsport
Here it would stop only to feed, and would then ford the Potomac
and move without a halt to Winchester
's force, with a
few more guns, would guard the front and flanks of the column, which would be about 17 miles long.
A brigade of Stuart
's cavalry, with a battery, would guard the rear.
's medical director was charged to see that all the wounded who could bear the journey were carried in the empty wagons and ambulances.
What this journey was to mean to the wounded, none seem to have imagined before starting, or they would have greatly preferred to become prisoners.
Every vehicle appeared to be loaded to its capacity.
It was about 4 P. M. on the 4th before the head of the train was put in motion from Cashtown
Meanwhile, what would have seemed a visitation of the wrath of God had come upon us, had we not preferred the theory which has been previously referred to, that storms may be generated by heavy firings.
Now there came suddenly, out of the clear sky of the day before, one of the heaviest rainfalls I have ever seen.
Probably four inches of water fell within 12 hours, and it was sure to make the Potomac
unfordable for a week.
, in Battles and leaders,
gives the following description: —
‘Shortly after noon on the 4th, the very windows of heaven seemed to have opened.
The rain fell in blinding sheets, the meadows were soon overflowed, and fences gave way before the raging streams.
During the storm, wagons, ambulances, and artillery carriages by hundreds — nay, by thousands —were assembling in the fields along the road from Gettysburg to Cashtown in one confused and apparently inextricable mass.
As the afternoon wore on, there was no abatement of the storm.
Canvas was no protection against its fury, and the wounded men, lying upon the naked boards of the wagon-bodies were drenched, horses and mules were blinded and maddened by the wind and water, and became almost unmanageable.’
My personal recollections of the occasion are vivid.
About 5 P. M., my somewhat battered battalion drew into a meadow adjoining the Fairfield Pike
with orders to watch the passing column of troops and take its place in the column immediately behind the 3d corps, when it passed.
This might be, we were told, in an hour or two.
There was good grass in the meadow and the horses needed food, but the need to move promptly when the time came prevented unhitching.
By good fortune, four of us got possession of an old door, upon which we could sit,
laying it flat on a knoll some 50 yards from the road.
On that door we sat or lay in the rain all night, every half-hour taking turns in walking out to the road to see what command was passing.
At daylight the rain ceased to fall, but the sky remained threatening.
About 6 A. M., we took our place in the column, and marched 19 hours until 1 A. M. that night.
Then we bivouacked until four near Monterey Springs on the Blue Ridge
We then marched again for 14 hours, and bivouacked about 6 P. M. two or three miles beyond Hagerstown
's corps, moving behind ours, did not leave the vicinity of Gettysburg
until about noon on the 5th.
The wagon-train under Imboden
moved on roads to our right, via Greenwood
It made better speed than our column of infantry and artillery, but at a cost of human suffering which it is terrible to contemplate.
Some of the wounded were taken from the wagons dead at Williamsport
, and many who were expected to recover died from the effects of the journey.
Among these, it was said, were Gens. Pender
, neither of whom had been thought mortally wounded.
gives a harrowing account of the movement of the train, as follows:—
‘After dark I set out from Cashtown to gain the head of the column during the night.
My orders had been peremptory that there should be no halt for any cause whatever.
If an accident should happen to any vehicle, it was immediately to be put out of the road and abandoned.
The column moved rapidly, considering the rough roads and the darkness, and from almost every wagon issued heart-rending wails of agony.
For four hours I hurried forward on my way to the front, and in all that time I was never out of hearing of the groans and cries of the wounded and dying.
Scarcely one in a hundred had received adequate surgical aid, owing to the demands on the hard-working surgeons from still worse cases which had to be left behind.
Many of the wounded in the wagons had been without food for 36 hours. Their torn and bloody clothing, matted and hardened, was rasping the tender, inflamed, and still oozing wounds.
Very few of the wagons had even a layer of straw in them and all were without springs.
The road was rough and rocky from the heavy washings of the preceding day. The jolting was enough to have killed strong men if long exposed to it.’
From nearly every wagon as the teams trotted on, urged by whip and shout, came such cries and shrieks as these: —
Why can't I die!”
Will no one have mercy and kill me!”
“Stop! Oh! for God's sake stop just for one minute; take me out and leave me to die by the roadside.”
“I am dying!
I am dying!
My poor wife, my dear children I What will become of you?” . . .
‘No help could be rendered to any of the sufferers.
No heed could be given to any of their appeals.
Mercy and duty to the many forbade the loss of a moment in the vain effort then and there to comply with the prayers of the few. On!
On! We must move on. The storm continued, and the darkness was appalling.
There was no time to fill even a canteen of water for a dying man, for, except the drivers and the guards, all were wounded and utterly helpless in that vast procession of misery.’
When daylight came, the head of the column had reached Greencastle
, having traversed about 30 miles, and it still had 15 to go to reach Williamsport
Here began a succession of small attacks of the long train by citizens, and small detachments of Federal cavalry, scouting in the country.
At one point some citizens cut the spokes of a dozen wagons, but a guard sent back, arrested and took them off as prisoners of war. At another point about a hundred wagons were captured.
The head of the column reached Williamsport
in the afternoon and during the night the balance came up. Here it met two regiments of Johnson
's division, returning from Staunton
, where they had escorted the prisoners taken at Winchester
on the advance.
required every family in the town to cook provisions for the wounded, under pain of having its kitchen occupied.
The river was in flood and impassable except by two small ferry-boats.
Next morning he learned of the approach of five Federal brigades of cavalry — about 7000 men, with 18 guns.
The flanks of the city fortunately rested upon creeks, leaving only the north front to be defended.
He armed about 800 teamsters and convalescents, and with the two regiments of infantry and his dismounted cavalry he marched about so as to create the impression of a large force.
He put in the line all of his guns and brought over come ammunition in the ferry-boats.
A sharp fight ensued, the teamsters acquitting themselves handsomely.
The enemy was driven back and held off until the approach of Stuart
's cavalry in the afternoon caused the Federal
cavalry to withdraw.
As a precaution against such freshets, Lee
had maintained a pontoon bridge at Falling Waters
But it was weakly guarded, and on June 5, a small raiding party, sent by French from Frederick
, had broken it, and destroyed some of its boats, fortunately not all. The retreat of the army was, therefore, brought to a standstill just when 48 hours more would have placed it beyond pursuit.
We were already nearly out of provisions, and now the army was about to be penned upon the river bank, and subjected to an attack at his leisure by Meade
All diligence was used to relieve the situation.
The ferryboats were in use by day and by night carrying over, first, our wounded, and next 5000 Federal prisoners brought from Gettysburg
These were safely escorted on to Staunton
with a single regiment of infantry.
Warehouses upon the canal were torn down, and from the timber new pontoon boats were being built to repair the bridge at Falling Waters
Meanwhile, the engineers selected and fortified a line of battle upon which we would make a last stand.
A fairly good line was found with its right flank on the Potomac
, passing by St. James College and resting its left on the Conococheague.
's corps held its right flank, Hill
the centre, and Ewell
On the 10th, Meade
was approaching rapidly, driving in our advanced guards.
An unfortunate affair occurred at Funkstown
, where Anderson
's Ga. brigade, called upon to assist our cavalry, was so badly directed by them that a Federal battery enfiladed the line, and a battery of our own horse artillery by mistake also fired into it. The brigade suffered 126 casualties.
On the 11th, the army was ordered into position upon the selected line, Lee
in person overlooking the placing of Longstreet
I never before, and never afterward, saw him as I thought visibly anxious over an approaching action; but I did upon this occasion.
No one can say what might have been the result of a Federal attack, for, although our supply of ammunition was low, we were on the defensive, and
the temper of the troops was excellent for a desperate resistance.
's report indicates easy acquiescence in our retreat from Gettysburg
While the 6th corps followed us to the vicinity of Fairfield
on the 5th, picking up stragglers, the rest of the army remained on the battle-field for two days, ‘employed in succoring the wounded and burying the dead.’
A third day was lost ‘halting a day at Middletown
to procure necessary supplies and to bring up the trains.’
Under ordinary circumstances Lee
might now have been across the Potomac
, but there were further rains on the 7th and 8th, and Lee
's escape was exceedingly narrow.
On the 13th, both his bridge and the ford near Williamsport
were passable, and orders were issued to make the crossing during that night.
The river had fallen to a stage barely permitting infantry to ford, but about dark it again began to rise.
's corps was ordered to cross by the ford.
, followed by Hill
, was to cross by the pontoon bridge.
Caissons were ordered to start from the lines at 5 P. M., the infantry and artillery at dark.
might have attacked on the 12th but contented himself with reconnoissance.
As a result of the reconnoissance of the 12th, he assembled his corps commanders and proposed a demonstration in force on the 13th by the whole army, to be converted into an attack if any opening was found.
The opinion of a majority of his leading officers was so adverse to the proposition that Meade
allowed himself to be persuaded, thus giving Lee
the last (lay needed.
Later in the day he repented and issued orders for a general advance on the 14th.
It was made just a day too late.
had left only two guns stalled in the mud, and a few hundred stragglers broken down by the night march, short in distance, but rarely equalled for its discomfort and fatigue.
Another rain-storm had set in before dusk, and it kept up nearly all night.
It was the dark period of the moon and the blackness of the night was phenomenal.
The route to the bridge was over small farm roads, rough, narrow, and hilly.
Already from the incessant rains they were in bad condition, and now,
under the long procession of heavy wheels, churning in the mud, they became canals of slush in which many vehicles were hopelessly stalled.
My command, between sunset and sunrise, was only able to cover about three miles — seldom moving more than a few yards at a time.
Large bonfires on the banks were kept up to light the entrance upon the bridge, but in spite of them a wagon loaded with wounded ran off into the river.
After daylight the weather cleared and better progress was made, the last of Hill
's corps crossing about 1 P. M. During the morning it was followed by the enemy who skirmished with our rear-guard and picked up stragglers.
In one of these skirmishes, a small body of Federal cavalry was allowed to approach within 200 yards of Heth
's division under Pettigrew
, who supposed them to be our own cavalry bringing up the rear.
These, however, had passed without giving notice that they were the last.
A Maj. Weber
, of the 6th Mich. Cav., seeing but a small portion of the Confederate
line, charged it with about 40 men. Weber
was killed and nine-tenths of his command shot down, but one of a few pistol-shots which they fired gave a mortal wound to Gen. Pettigrew
He had been wounded in the hand on the 3d, and was unable to manage his horse, which reared and fell with him. In the act of rising, the fatal shot struck him.
's corps reached Williamsport
by the Hagerstown turnpike
and commenced fording the river by midnight.
The artillery with an escort of one brigade was sent to cross the pontoon bridge.
's report describes the fording of the Potomac
, as follows:—
My division waded the river just above the aqueduct over the mouth of the Conococheague; the operation was a perilous one.
It was very dark, raining, and excessively muddy.
The men had to wade through the aqueduct, down the steep bank of soft and slippery mud, in which numbers lost their shoes and down in which many fell.
The water was cold, deep, and rising, the lights on either side of the river were dim, just affording enough light to mark the places of entrance and exit.
The cartridge boxes of the men had to be placed around their necks; some small men had to be carried over by their comrades; the water was up to the armpits of a full-sized man.
All the circumstances attending this crossing combined to make it an affair, not only involving great hardship, but one of great danger to the men and company officers; but be it said to the honor of these brave fellows, they encountered it not only promptly but actually with cheers and laughter.
‘We crossed without loss except of some 25,000 or 30,000 rounds of ammunition unavoidably wetted and spoiled.
After crossing, I marched a short distance beyond Falling Waters and then bivouacked; and there ended the Pa. campaign.’
It is not necessary to follow the march of the army from the Potomac
via Front Royal
to the line of the Rapidan
, which it finally occupied.
It is notable that Lee
had not proposed to entirely withdraw from an aggressive attitude when he crossed the Potomac
His report states that he intended to cross the Blue Ridge
into Loudon Co.
, where he might oppose Meade
's crossing into Va.
, but that the Shenandoah
was found to be impassable.
While waiting for it to subside, the enemy crossed below and seized the passes he had designed to use.
Not only this, but Meade
also moved along the eastern slope, threatening to cut Lee
off from Gordonsville
and the railroad.
was pushed ahead and barely succeeded in crossing the Shenandoah
in time to prevent the enemy from occupying Manassas and Chester gaps
, through which Longstreet
moved to Culpeper
by July 24.
's corps soon followed, and Ewell
, moving farther up the valley, crossed at Thornton's Gap.
All were finally united behind the Rapidan
on Aug. 4, while the cavalry, under Stuart
, held Culpeper
, and the enemy held the line of the Rappahannock
The following tables of casualties furnish the best comparative indications of the amount of fighting which fell to the lot of different organizations.
It is notable that six Confederate brigades were not severely engaged, and the 6th Federal corps was scarcely engaged at all. The totals given are from the official returns of both armies, but the Confederate
returns are known to be very incomplete.
The best estimate of actual Confederate losses has been made by Livermore
in Numbers and losses in the civil War.
It is about 50 per cent greater for the killed and wounded, and is attached hereto.
Gettysburg. Approximate by brigades
|Anderson, G. T.||105||512||54||671|
|Aggregate 1st Corps||910||4,339||2,290||7,539|
Gettysburg. Approximate by brigades
Gettysburg. Approximate by brigades
|Lee, W. H. F.||2||26||13||41|
Gettysburg by divisions
Gettysburg by divisions