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Chapter 15:


The spring had gone and summer had opened in Virginia, when, seeing no indications of aggressive movement on the part of the Federal army lying opposite him on the Rappahannock, General Lee determined to draw it from his Fredericksburg base and compel it to follow his movements or attack him in position. General Lee's plan involved the movement of his army by its left to Orange and Culpeper, the crossing of the Blue ridge into the Shenandoah valley, the crossing of the Potomac, and the march of his whole force directly on Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.

The army of Northern Virginia was now organized in three corps, commanded by Lieutenant-Generals Longstreet, Ewell and A. P. Hill. Longstreet's division commanders were McLaws, Pickett and Hood; Ewell's, Early, Rodes and Johnson; A. P. Hill's, Anderson, Heth and Pender. Still in the division of the gallant McLaws, under Longstreet, associated with Barksdale's Mississippians and Semmes' and Wofford's Georgians, was the South Carolina brigade of Gen. J. B. Kershaw. Also in the First corps were the batteries of Capt. Hugh R. Garden (Palmetto) and Captain Bachman's German artillery, with Hood's division, and the Brooks (Rhett's) battery, Lieut. S. C. Gilbert, in Alexander's battalion of Walton's reserve artillery. Gen. Micah Jenkins' South Carolina brigade, of Pickett's division, Longstreet's corps, was detached for special duty on the Blackwater, in southeast Virginia, under Maj.-Gen. D. H. Hill. In [258] the Third army corps (A. P. Hill's), South Carolina was represented by McGowan's brigade, Hill's light division —North Carolinians, South Carolinians and Georgians—now being commanded by Pender, and the South Carolina brigade by Col. Abner Perrin. Maj. C. W. McCreary commanded the First regiment, Capt. W. M. Hadden the First rifles, Capt. J. L. Miller the Twelfth, Lieut.-Col. B. T. Brockman the Thirteenth, and Lieut.-Col. J. N. Brown the Fourteenth. With the Third corps also was the Pee Dee artillery, Lieut. W. E. Zimmerman. In the cavalry corps of Maj.-Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, Brig.-Gen. Wade Hampton commanded his brigade, including the First and Second South Carolina cavalry, and Capt. J. F. Hart's South Carolina battery was part of the horse artillery under Major Beckham.

Thus it will be seen that there were two infantry brigades, five batteries, and two cavalry regiments of South Carolina troops in the army of General Lee on this march into Pennsylvania. Evans' and Gist's brigades were in Mississippi with General Johnston, and Manigault's brigade was with General Bragg's army at Chattanooga. Attached to those commands or serving in the West, were the batteries of Captains Ferguson, Culpeper, Waties and Macbeth. Most of the South Carolina troops of all arms were engaged in the defense of Charleston and the coast of the State, then being attacked by a powerful fleet and a Federal army.

On June 7th the corps of Longstreet and Ewell, with the main body of the cavalry under Stuart, were encamped around Culpeper Court House; Hill's corps being in position at Fredericksburg in front of General Hooker. The latter, vaguely aware of a campaign at hand, sent his cavalry, under General Pleasanton, up the Rappahannock to gain information. Pleasanton crossed his cavalry, supported by infantry and artillery, at Kelly's and Beverly fords, and advanced upon Brandy Station, one column approaching that railroad station from the [259] northeast (Beverly ford), the other from the southeast (Kelly's ford). The road from Beverly ford, before reaching the station, passes over a high ridge on which is the hamlet of Fleetwood. On the morning of June 9th, Jones' cavalry brigade was covering Beverly ford, and Robertson's, Kelly's ford. The Federal columns drove off the pickets at the two fords and marched directly to the attack. Before Robertson's brigade had assembled, General Stuart sent the First South Carolina, Col. John L. Black, down the Kelly's Ford road to check the advance until Robertson could take position. This duty was well done by the First, until relieved by Robertson, when the regiment went into battle on the Beverly road with Hampton. As soon as the firing in front was heard, General Hampton mounted his brigade and moved from his camp rapidly through the station and over the Fleetwood ridge to support Jones on the Beverly Fordroad, leaving the Second South Carolina, Col. M. C. Butler, to guard the station. Throwing his brigade immediately into action on the right of General Jones, and in support, the division, after severe fighting, drove the column of attack back. At this juncture the Federal force which moved up the Kelly's Ford road had reached the railroad and was taking possession of the Fleetwood ridge in rear of the engagement on the Beverly Ford road. General Stuart promptly ordered his brigades to concentrate upon this, the main attacking force, and the battle followed for the possession of the ridge. The brigades of Hampton, Jones and W. H. F. Lee by repeated charges, front and flank, swept the hill, captured the artillery which had been placed on its summit, and drove the enemy in full retreat for the river. His strong infantry and artillery support checked the pursuit and covered his crossing. The First South Carolina lost 3 killed and 9 wounded, among the latter the gallant Captains Robin Ap C. Jones and J. R. P. Fox.

Meanwhile the Second South Carolina had been fighting, [260] single-handed, an unequal battle on the road running from the station to Stevensburg, 5 or 6 miles south, and beyond that place on the road leading to Kelly's ford. A column of cavalry, with artillery, had advanced from Kelly's toward Stevensburg with the evident intention of moving up from that place to the support of the attack at Fleetwood, and if it had reached the field of battle in the rear of Stuart, might have turned the day in Pleasanton's favor. But, being advised of this menacing movement, General Stuart sent. Colonel Butler's regiment, 220 strong, down the Stevensburg road to meet and check it. Leading the advance of Butler's regiment, Lieut.-Col. Frank Hampton met and drove back the Federal advance beyond Stevensburg. Then Butler formed his command across and to the left of the road at Doggett's house, about 1 1/2 miles beyond Stevensburg, and stood ready to dispute the advance of the main body of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Hampton was charged with the defense of the road, with a few sharpshooters and one company, Capt. T. H. Clark's. Here he held the right for a half hour, while Butler and Major Lipscomb resisted the attack in the center and on the left, the line of defense being nearly a mile in length.

Massing his squadrons, the enemy charged the right, and to break the force of the onset, Lieutenant-Colonel Hampton, with 36 men, dashed forward at the head of his column. He fell mortally wounded, and the onrushing squadrons scattered his little band. Butler retired his center and left up the Brandy Station road and took post on an eminence at Beckham's house, where his command was reinforced by a squadron from the Fourth Virginia, sent by General Stuart and led by Capt. W. D. Farley of his staff. While holding this position a shell from one of the enemy's batteries passed through Colonel Butler's horse, shattered his leg below the knee, and mortally wounded the gallant Farley. The artillery fire was sweeping the road and the hill, and the Federal [261] squadrons were forming to charge, when the men offered to bear Farley off. Smiling, with grateful thanks, he told them to stand to their rifles, and to carry Butler out of the fire. Then, with expressions of resignation to his fate and devotion to his country, he expired on the field. Major Lipscomb took command and drew off slowly toward Brandy Station. But the battle had been won for the Confederates at Fleetwood, and Lipscomb soon had opportunity to advance and drive the Federals before him in the general retreat, until he posted his pickets at the river. In this famous cavalry battle Stuart captured 375 prisoners, 3 pieces of artillery and several colors.

A few days later, being satisfied that General Lee was beyond his right flank in force, Hooker began moving his army to keep between Lee and Washington. Meanwhile Ewell marched upon Milroy at Winchester in the Valley, attacked and captured 4,000 prisoners and 28 pieces of artillery, and cleared the Valley for Lee's advance.

General Lee now ordered up A. P. Hill's corps to join in the march for the Potomac. Kershaw's brigade, with McLaws, marched to Sperryville on the 16th, thence to Ashby's gap, where Rice's battalion rejoined the command, crossed the Shenandoah at Berry's ford on the 20th, recrossed and formed line of battle to meet a threatened attack on the 21st, and then continuing, crossed the Potomac on the 26th and encamped near Williamsport. Reaching Chambersburg, Pa., on the 28th of June, they remained there until the 30th, then marching to Fayetteville. McGowan's brigade, with A. P. Hill, also occupied a position near Fayetteville on the 29th. Stuart's cavalry, moving on Longstreet's right flank, left General Hampton on the Rappahannock to watch the enemy. On the 17th, Fitzhugh Lee's brigade made a splendid fight at Aldie, but Pleasanton occupied that place with a large force, and Stuart called Hampton and his other scattered commands together at Middleburg. Here he was attacked [262] by cavalry, infantry and artillery on the 21st. Hampton and Jones received the attack gallantly, but were compelled to retire. Here, said General Stuart in his report, ‘one of the pieces of Captain Hart's battery of horse artillery had the axle broken by one of the enemy's shot, and the piece had to be abandoned, which is the first piece of my horse artillery that has ever fallen into the enemy's hands. Its full value was paid in the slaughter it made in the enemy's ranks, and it was well sold.’ The fight was renewed at Upperville, before Ashby's gap, and there, said Stuart, ‘General Hampton's brigade participated largely and in a brilliant manner.’ On the night of the 24th, Stuart's brigades rendezvoused secretly neat Salem Depot, and started toward Washington, encountering Hancock's corps marching north, at Gum Spring. When Hancock had passed they moved to Fairfax Station, where Hampton's advance had a brisk fight on the 27th. Stuart was now between the Federal army and Washington, and Hampton, in advance, crossed the Potomac near Dranesville, and on the 28th started northward. At Rockville a Federal army train, about 8 miles long, was captured, and the subsequent movements of the cavalry were embarrassed by the attempt to convoy the train to Lee's army.

Ewell, meanwhile, taking a more easterly route than Longstreet and Hill, on the 27th camped at Carlisle, Early's division of his corps marching to York, and menacing the Pennsylvania capital. General Hooker did not cross the Potomac until the 25th and 26th, and on the 28th General Meade was placed in command of the Federal army.

On the 28th, General Lee learned from a scout that the Federal army was marching to Frederick and was in part located at the base of South mountain, and he changed his design of marching up the valley to Harrisburg and ordered Hill eastward toward Gettysburg. Heth took the lead, and the South Carolinians, with Pender, reached [263] Cashtown, 8 miles from Gettysburg, on the last day of June.

On that day both Meade and Lee were marching unconsciously to the point at which they were to fight the great and decisive battle of the year, if not of the war. It is interesting to note that the Southern general was concentrating from the north and the Northern general from the south. Ewell's corps was approaching the battlefield from Carlisle and York, and Hill's from Chambersburg. Before the close of the day Hill learned that Pettigrew's North Carolinians, of Heth's division, in advance near Gettysburg, had met a strong cavalry force, before which they withdrew without battle.

Early on the morning of July 1st, General Hill pushed Heth's division forward, followed closely by Pender's. With Heth was the Pee Dee artillery, in Pegram's battalion; with Pender, the battalion of McIntosh. About 10 a. m. Heth met Buford's Federal cavalry and drove it back across Willoughby run, where the cavalry was promptly supported by the First corps of Meade's army, three divisions, under General Reynolds. General Hill deployed Heth's division on the right and left of the road, Pender's in support, and the battle became severe.

Pushing his battle forward, Hill was checked at the wooded ridge known as Seminary hill, where the First corps with artillery was strongly posted. Putting his artillery in position Heth gallantly charged the heights with his four brigades, and made so strong a battle that General Howard, with part of the Eleventh corps, reinforced the line of the First. At this juncture Ewell's two divisions came in on Hill's left, and the latter ordered Pender forward to relieve Heth. Ewell's line was at right angles to that of Hill's, and both lines now swept onward with irresistible force. Pender's advance was with Thomas' Georgians on the left of the road, and Lane, Scales and Perrin (McGowan's brigade) on the right. The combined assault of Pender and Ewell's [264] divisions swept the hill and routed the two Federal corps, driving them through the streets, capturing 5,000 prisoners, exclusive of the wounded, several colors and 3 pieces of artillery.

Reporting the advance of Pender, General Hill said: ‘The rout of the enemy was complete, Perrin's brigade taking position after position of the enemy and driving him through the town of Gettysburg.’ This special mention by the corps commander of McGowan's veterans, under Perrin, was well deserved. Never was a brigade better handled in battle, and never did regiments respond more steadily to every order for advance in direct charge, or change of front under fire. The Fourteenth, under Lieut.-Col. J. N. Brown and Maj. Edward Croft, and the First, under Maj. C. W. McCreary, on the right of the brigade; and the Twelfth, under Col. J. L. Miller, and the Thirteenth, under Lieut.-Col. B. T. Brockman, on the left, stormed the stone fences on either side of the Lutheran college on Seminary hill and routed their foe from this strong position, capturing hundreds of prisoners, 2 field pieces and a number of caissons, and following the routed columns through the town of Gettysburg. The colors of the First South Carolina were the first Confederate standard raised in the town as Hill's troops were entering it. Late in the afternoon, when Perrin drew up his brigade for rest on the south of the town, a battery which had been driven before Perrin took position on Cemetery hill and fired the first shot from that memorable eminence at the South Carolina brigade. Colonel Perrin reported this fact, and stated that he had watched the battery on its retreat as it was pursued through the town, and saw it take position on the hill. But the loss of the brigade did not fall short of 500. Every one of the color sergeants taken into the fight was killed in front of his regiment.

Perrin was in position in front of Cemetery hill on the 2d, the Federal sharpshooters in his front on the Emmitsburg [265] road. In the afternoon he was ordered by General Pender to push his skirmishers to the road. Capt. William T. Haskell, of the First regiment, commanding a select battalion of sharpshooters, was intrusted with this duty, and Major McCreary led the First regiment, now only about 100 strong, in Haskell's support. The gallant Haskell threw his sharpshooters against the Federal skirmishers, captured the road and drove his opponents up the slope and under their guns. While putting his men in favorable positions on the road, Haskell received a mortal wound and expired on the field. His fall was felt to be a serious loss to the whole brigade. South Carolina gave no better, purer, nobler man as a sacrifice to the cause of Southern independence at Gettysburg.

Perrin held the skirmish line Haskell had won, and on the 3d threw forward the Fourteenth to maintain it against a strong attack. His sharpshooters from the road commanded the cannoneers on the hill, and a desperate effort was made to drive them off the road. In the fight of the Fourteenth regiment to sustain the sharpshooters, Lieutenant-Colonel Brown and Major Croft were severely wounded. The skirmish line was held until the massing of artillery and infantry on the crest made it no longer tenable.

The total loss in McGowan's brigade at Gettysburg was 100 killed and 477 wounded. Including the loss on the retreat, the total was 654. Orr's Rifles, left to guard the trains, did not participate in the battle of the 1st, or the affairs of the 2d and 3d, and lost but few men. The heaviest casualties fell on the Fourteenth, two-thirds of its men being killed or wounded in the three days engagements. Colonel Perrin mentioned particularly the conduct of the following officers: Major Croft, of the Fourteenth; Maj. I. F. Hunt, of the Thirteenth; Maj. E. F. Bookter, of the Twelfth; Capts. W. P. Shooter, [266] T. P. Alston and A. P. Butler, of the First; Capts. James Boatwright and E. Cowan, of the Fourteenth, and Capt. Frank Clyburn, of the Twelfth.

Among the gallant dead were Lieut. A. W. Poag, of the Twelfth; Capt. W. P. Conner and Lieuts. W. C. Mc-Ninch and D. M. Leitzsey, of the Thirteenth; and Lieutenant Crooker, of the Fourteenth. Lieut. J. F. J. Caldwell, of the First, whose graphic and instructive history of the brigade has aided the writer materially, was among a host of wounded line officers.

The break of day on the 2d revealed the army of General Meade in line of battle on the heights south of Gettysburg, running north and south with the Emmitsburg road in his front. General Lee thus described his position: ‘The enemy occupied a strong position, with his right upon two commanding elevations adjacent to each other, one southeast (Culp's hill), and the other (Cemetery hill) immediately south of the town which lay at its base. His line extended thence upon the high ground along the Emmitsburg road, with a steep ridge in rear, which was also occupied. This ridge was difficult of ascent, particularly the two hills above mentioned as forming its northern extremity, and a third at the other end (Little Round Top) on which the enemy's left rested. Numerous stone and rail fences along the slope served to afford protection to his troops and impede our advance. In his front the ground was undulating and generally open for about three-quarters of a mile.’

Immediately south of the Federal left, as described by General Lee, was a still higher hill, known as Round Top, which commanded the whole left of the Federal position, and was not occupied early on the morning of the 2d. To attack a superior force in a position so strong presented a difficult problem for solution, and gave the Confederate general serious pause. He had Ewell's corps on his left, confronting Culp's and Cemetery hills, and facing southwest and south; and Hill's corps on the [267] right facing east. McLaws' and Hood's divisions of Longstreet's corps camped within 4 miles of the battlefield on the night of the 1st, left camp at sunrise on the 2d, and marched to the right of Hill's corps. The Third division of Longstreet's corps (Pickett's) was left to guard the trains at Chambersburg, and did not reach the vicinity of Gettysburg until the afternoon of the 2d. General Longstreet received his definite orders for position and attack about 11 o'clock, and by 3:30 p. m. Mc-Laws was in position opposite the enemy's advanced position at the peach orchard, with Hood on his right facing the Round Tops. General Lee's order of attack directed that his right (Hood and McLaws), strongly supported by artillery, should envelop and drive in the Federal left; that simultaneously with this attack against the Federal left, the Confederate left should storm Culp's and Cemetery hills; and the Confederate center at the same time should so threaten the Federal center as to prevent reinforcements to either Federal wing. General Lee's plan of battle contemplated prompt movement, and concert of action along his entire line. If these conditions, essential to the success of the plan, had been given in its execution, the writer believes that the battle of Gettysburg would have been won by General Lee on July 2d by a victory as complete as Chancellorsville. They were not given and the plan failed.

The actual fighting of the separate assaults was gallant and heroic, and the resistance both steady and aggressive; the Federal position along his main line being unmoved by the assaults. On the Confederate right two divisions of Longstreet's corps made the advance at 4 p. m. (Hood's and McLaws'), supported by four of the five brigades of Anderson's division from the center. Hood on the extreme right, next McLaws, and then Anderson, were fighting forward and struggling to storm the last [268] position of the Federal army on the heights, but these divisions were fighting it out without the simultaneous battle which Lee had ordered on the left.

They had carried the stone walls and numerous hills and woods, the peach orchard, the great wheat-field and rocky bluffs in their front, and were on the slopes of the Round Tops and the heights north of them, but still the battle had not opened on the left. There was not a man to reinforce Longstreet's line, and the enemy in his front was reinforced by both infantry and artillery. Hours passed (General Lee said two, General Longstreet four and Gen. Edward Johnson said it was dark) before General Ewell's left division moved to the attack on Culp's hill, which, after some time, perhaps another hour, was followed by the attack on the north face of Cemetery hill. Edward Johnson's division made the attack on Culp's hill and Early's division on Cemetery hill. The Third division of Ewell's corps (Rodes') did not attack at all. Anderson's (of Hill's corps) was the only one of the three center divisions that attacked from the center.

It is evident from these statements, which are made from a careful study of the official reports, that the prime conditions of success, concert of action and simultaneous movement, were not given the plan of the commanding general. Edward Johnson's three brigades did not begin the actual attack on Culp's hill until dusk, according to his own and General Ewell's statements. General Early, with two of his four brigades, Hays' and Hoke's, attacked Cemetery hill still later. These two brigades carried the height and actually took the enemy's batteries, but were unable without support to hold what they had gained. It is in the report of Rodes, who did not advance at all, on account of darkness, that particular mention is made of his having observed the enemy on Cemetery hill, during the afternoon, withdrawing artillery and infantry to reinforce against the attack then in progress on the Confederate right. The troops of the Federal army in position [269] at Culp's and Cemetery hills were those beaten and routed on the 1st, and considering the success gained by the brigades of Hays and Avery, there can be no reasonable doubt that with the immediate support of Rodes, the attack being made at the earlier hour ordered, Cemetery hill would have fallen, and with its fall the Confederate left and center would have driven the Federal right in confusion and Gettysburg would have been added to the long list of General Lee's great victories. The Comte de Paris, in his review of Gettysburg, has truly said, that ‘the way in which the fights of the 2d of July were directed does not show the same co-ordination which insured the success of the Southern arms at Gaines' Mill and Chancellorsville.’

But it is time that our attention was directed to the South Carolina brigade, under Kershaw, operating with McLaws, in Longstreet's attack, and the batteries of Bachman and Garden, operating with Hood, on the extreme right of Longstreet's battle.

Kershaw formed the right of McLaws' division and Barksdale his left, Semmes behind Kershaw and Wofford behind Barksdale. In front of Barksdale was the peach orchard, 500 yards distant and in front of Kershaw and on a line with the orchard a stone house, stone barn and stone fence. The peach orchard was on an eminence, and was held by infantry and a battery. Beyond the stone house was another eminence, defended by a battery, and beyond this battery a stony hill, wooded and rough. This stony hill was in front of Kershaw's center, and beyond the hill opened the great wheat-field which spread forward to the slopes of the Federal main position. Barksdale moved against the orchard and Kershaw against the stony hill and the battery in front of it. Before moving General Kershaw had detached the Fifteenth South Carolina, Colonel De Saussure, to support a battery between his right and Hood's left.

Marching forward under the fire of canister from the [270] battery in his front, and the infantry fire from the south side of the peach orchard, the Carolina brigade swept past the battery and reached the hill, Barksdale clearing the orchard and its battery on Kershaw's left. Taking possession of the rocky hill, the enemy at once advanced upon it over the wheat-field in two lines of battle.

As the brigade stood on the rocky hill to receive the advance, the regiments were ranged, from right to left: The Seventh, Colonel Aiken; Third, Maj. R. C. Maffett; Second, Colonel Kennedy; Third battalion, Lieut.-Col. W. G. Rice; Eighth, Colonel Henagan. The Fifteenth, Colonel DeSaussure, was still in battle in support of artillery between Kershaw and Hood. Here, at the rocky hill, was the battle ground of the brigade. The Eighth, Third battalion and Second held their ground and beat back the attacks coming again and again against them. Moving around Kershaw's right, before Semmes could come to his support, a large force assaulted the Seventh and pushed back its right. The Third held its ground until the Seventh was crowded back at right angles, and then changed its front to support the Seventh. A part of Semmes' brigade came up, but the enemy were so far in rear of Kershaw's right as to cut off the support. Surrounding his right, the attacking force drove back the Seventh, and the battle on Kershaw's right was with the Third and Seventh and one of Semmes' regiments at close quarters among the rocks and trees of the hill-crest and sides.

Meanwhile the left was holding fast. On came Wofford toward the conflict, and on the right Semmes' other regiments and the Fifteenth South Carolina. Sweeping up to the battle everything gave way before the charge, and joining Wofford and Semmes, Kershaw's line moved forward, the advance sweeping the whole wheat-field and beyond to the foot of the mountain. Night came on, and the brigades of McLaws were put on the hill along the positions gained by the battle. [271]

General Kershaw's losses were severe and grievous. The brave and able Colonel De Saussure, of the Fifteenth, and Major McLeod, of the Eighth, gallant in fight and estimable in life, had both fallen; Colonel De Saussure killed on the field and Major McLeod mortally wounded. Among the wounded were Colonel Kennedy of the Second, Lieut.-Col. Elbert Bland of the Seventh, and Maj. D. B. Miller of the Third battalion. The writer regrets that he can find no list of the line officers killed and wounded in the brigade at Gettysburg. The brigade lost 115 killed, 483 wounded and 32 missing, making a total of 630. Bachman's and Garden's batteries with Hood's right, and Rhett's battery, under Lieutenant Gilbert, were in action during the day, but there are no reports at hand of their casualties.

If the problem presented to the mind of General Lee on the morning of the 2d, as he saw his army, inferior in numbers and equipment, confronted by the army of General Meade on the heights of Gettysburg, was one which gave him the deepest concern, how much more serious was the situation on the morning of the 3d! General Longstreet's battle on the right had driven the Federal left to the crests, and the Confederate infantry and artillery of that wing were occupying the positions which the Federal forces had held on the morning of the 2d. But now the Federal army was intrenched on those heights, with the Round Tops bristling with artillery and Cemetery hill and Culp's hill crowned by batteries, seven corps behind breastworks of stone or earth, and the slopes in front guarded by advanced lines lying behind fences or covered in the woods.

There is no record of a council of war. Longstreet, second in command, continued to favor a movement around the Federal left; but General Lee disapproved, and resolutely determined to attack the Federal citadel, confident that the men who had swept Hooker's army from the heights of Chancellorsville, if properly supported, [272] could carry victory to the heights of Gettysburg.

He selected the Federal left center as the point of attack; ordered, as on the 2d, concert of action from both wings of his army, and organized his assaulting column of 15,000 men. Stuart's cavalry had come up on his left and confronted the main body of Meade's cavalry. The situation on his extreme right was more serious than the Confederate general realized. This is evident from the reports. The Round Tops were unassailable by the force at Longstreet's command, and a division of cavalry, Farnsworth's and Merritt's brigades, was in position on the right rear, confronted by a single regiment, the First South Carolina cavalry, Bachman's South Carolina battery, and three regiments of Anderson's Georgia brigade. Anderson's regiments were at right angles to Longstreet's line, and Colonel Black's cavalry was on Anderson's right flank. Black had only about 100 men in his regiment. In Longstreet's immediate front the situation was such that there was nothing to do but stand on the defensive. He was weaker in numbers on the 3d than he was on the morning of the 2d, and his enemy was stronger by reinforcements and the occupation of the greater of the two Round Tops. If, however, the assaulting column of 15,000 could break the center, the wings of General Meade's army would be so shaken that both Longstreet and Ewell could attack with good hope of success, and Lee was fixed in his purpose.

The column of attack was made up of the divisions of Pickett and Pettigrew (Heth's), to be supported by Wilcox and the brigades of Lane and Scales under Trimble.

All the available artillery of Hill's and Longstreet's corps was put in position by Col. E. P. Alexander, and at 1 o'clock General Longstreet ordered the batteries to open. For two hours more than 200 cannon were in action across the plain against Federal and Confederate. At 3 the assaulting column moved out from cover and down toward the Emmitsburg road, which ran between [273] the two armies, and at the point of attack was held by the Federal pickets. The Confederate batteries had ceased firing and could give no more support, for their ammunition was nearly exhausted, no supply near at hand, and it was essential to reserve the supply in the chests.

All the reports of the advance concur in the statement that the troops moved over the field and into the fire of the enemy's batteries in beautiful order. Coming under the canister fire of the batteries on the crest, the ranks began rapidly to thin and officers to fall, but the advance was steady. General Trimble, riding with his line, then 100 yards in rear of Pettigrew, said: ‘Notwithstanding the losses as we advanced, the men marched with the deliberation and accuracy of men on drill. I observed the same in Pettigrew's line.’

The enemy's batteries were on the crest. Below them 30 or 40 yards on the slope, and running almost parallel with the crest, was a stone wall, breast high. Behind this wall lay the Federal first line. Below this line, some hundred yards, concealed in the undergrowth, lay his advance line. Beyond it, at the road, ran his picket line. Meeting the pickets, they were immediately driven in, and Garnett and Kemper marched against the advance line in the undergrowth. The resistance was slight, prisoners were made, and the attack so vigorous and dashing that the Federal line was driven in rout. But the enemy's batteries opened with redoubled activity, and the fire from the stone wall was galling. A battery on Little Round Top, enfilading the front of the stone wall, and another from Cemetery hill, plunged their shell into the ranks of Kemper and Garnett and raked the advancing line of Armistead as it moved up in support.

Garnett led his brigade forward against the stone wall and got in advance, and arrived, within 50 yards, where the fire was so severe that it checked his onset and he sent back to hurry up Kemper and Armistead. Both [274] these brigades were struggling through the withering fire, and in a few moments were abreast with Garnett. At 25 yards from the wall Garnett was shot from his horse. Kemper had fallen and Armistead had been killed, but officers and men rushed for the wall and planted their standards. The fighting at this line was desperate, and hand to hand. But the conflict was too unequal to avail the gallant survivors of Garnett and Kemper and Armistead. Of the three brigades scarcely a picket line was left to grapple with the battle array of their foe. The remnant gave up the fight and left the field. If Wilcox could have reached the wall with his gallant Alabamians, the fight might have been prolonged —it might have been successful. But to reach that stone wall Wilcox must march through the fire that shot to pieces the brigades of Kemper, Garnett and Armistead. General Wilcox says that he reached the foot of the hill; that he could not see a man whom he was sent to support; that he was subjected to such an artillery fire from front and both flanks that he went back in search of a battery; that he could find none; that returning to his brigade he regarded further advance useless and ordered a retreat.

On the left, Pettigrew and Trimble carried their battle to the Emmitsburg road and to the advanced line. Archer's brigade, on Garnett's immediate left, had 13 color-bearers shot one after another in gallant efforts to plant the colors of his five regiments on the stone wall. The direction of the Federal line was oblique to the general line of advance. Pettigrew's line was exposed longest to the front and flank fire, and at the Emmitsburg road he had suffered more severely than Pickett's brigades. When Pettigrew was yet 150 yards from the Emmitsburg road, says General Trimble, who was about that distance in his rear, ‘They seemed to sink into the earth from the tempest of fire poured into them.’ Although wounded, Pettigrew led his line across the [275] road and against the first line, but his brigades were shattered too badly to make organized assault further. Archer's brigade on his right fought at the stone wall, as did Garnett's and Kemper's and Armistead's, and suffered a like repulse. Officers and men from the other brigades reached the wall and fought with desperate courage, and died beside it, but the division in its organization was torn asunder and shot to pieces by the time they reached and attacked the first line. Trimble's brigades were as helpless for successful assault as Pettigrew; and yet they moved on until within pistol shot of the main line. As General Trimble followed his line back to Seminary ridge, on horseback, under the increased fire of shell, grape and musketry, he reported his wonder that any one could escape wounds or death. And, indeed, but few did. The loss is reported for Garnett, Kemper, Armistead and Wilcox, but there is no report given of the particular loss of July 3d in Pettigrew's command, or Trimble's. The three brigades of Pickett lost their brigadiers, nearly every field officer, and nearly or quite 3,000 men.

With the failure of this attack, the great contest at Gettysburg was decided. While it was in progress General Stuart, on the rear of General Lee's left, was fighting a great cavalry battle with the main body of General Meade's cavalry. Stuart had the brigades of Hampton, Fitz Lee, Chambliss, W. H. F. Lee and Jenkins. In the battle much of the fighting was at close quarters and with pistol and saber as the charging lines came together. In one of these contacts General Hampton was twice severely wounded. On the day previous, his having been the first of General Stuart's brigades to reach the vicinity of Gettysburg, he was just in time to meet a cavalry force moving from Hunterstown directly against General Lee's unprotected left. After a sharp engagement General Hampton defeated this force, and drove it beyond reach. The arrival of Stuart on the 2d was a [276] source of infinite satisfaction to the Confederate commander; indeed, if he had not come, the three divisions of General Pleasanton would have taken complete possession of General Lee's communications, and the battle of Gettysburg would have been a still greater disaster to the Southern army.

After the defeat of the assaulting column, Meade was too cautious to risk his lines against the army that had held the heights of Fredericksburg. He stood resolutely on the defensive throughout the 4th of July. On that night General Lee began his masterly retreat to the Potomac, which he crossed in the face of his enemy on the morning of the 14th. Ewell's corps forded the river at Williamsport, Generals Longstreet and Hill crossed by pontoon at Falling Waters, and by 1 p. m. of the 14th the Gettysburg campaign was over. [277]

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