[from our own Correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia, March 18th, 1864.
In two previous letters I have adverted to the parts which Ewell
's corps, and Heth
, of Hill
's corps, bore in the first day's fight at Gettysburg
To-day I propose to speak of the second day's fight.
's division of Longstreet
's corps crossed the Potomac
on the 25th.
, of the same corps, on the 26th, and these three divisions reached Chambersburg
on the 27th of June. Here the whole corps remained for two days. From this point Hood
moved to Greenwood
was left at Chambersburg
to guard and bring up the rear.
On the 1st of July the corps received orders to move to Gettysburg
It was detained, however, several hours by Johnson
's division and the train of wagons which came into the road from Shippensburg
's division, notwithstanding this delay, reached Marsh Creek
, four miles from Gettysburg
, soon after dark on the evening of the 1st July. Hood
's division got within nearly the same distance by the same time, (except Law
's brigade, which had been on picket at Guildford
, on the road to Emmittsburg, and returned about noon on the 2d) General Pickett
had not yet gotten up.
About noon of the 2d Lieut. Gen Longstreet
began a movement which he had previously been ordered by Gen
to make, viz: To move around and gain the Emmittsburg road on the enemy's left.
The enemy having been driven back by the corps of Lieuts Gen Ewell
on the first day, had taken up a strong position extending from Cemetery hill
along the Emmittsburg road.
On account of the difficulty of finding a route by which the movement could be made without being observed, McLaws
did not get into position opposite the enemy's left until about 4 o'clock Hood
's division was moved further to our right, and was placed in position partially enveloping the enemy's left.
's battalion of artillery, with McLaws
's division and Henry
's battalion of artillery, with Hood
's division, opened at once upon the enemy.--Hood
at the same moment moved forward, pressing the enemy upon his left, whilst McLaws
attacked the enemy in front.
The enemy was soon driven back upon a commanding hill, which was so steep and rough that ascent was most difficult.
At the base of this hill were numerous stone fences, behind which the enemy sought shelter, and these they held with great pertinacity.
The enemy were, however, driven from point to point until nearly night, when a very strong force of them met some brigades of Anderson
's division, of A. P. Hill
's corps, driving back one of them and king another.
Backs dale's brigade, of McLaws
's division, was also driven back at the same time.
A portion of Hood
's division, which had driven the enemy to the precipitous part of the mountain, was repulsed about dark with considerable loss.
After this the troops were withdrawn to the position from which they had first driven the enemy.
During the fight of this day Lieut. Gen. Longstreet
was with and superintended the movements of McLaws
's division, leading the charge of Wofford
's brigade in the attack on the enemy's first position on the Emmittsburg road, and was exposed to a heavy fire of artillery and musketry during the action.
During the fight this evening Longstreet
's corps captured two pieces of artillery, several hundred prisoners, and two stands of colors, with heavy loss, however.
Major General Hood
was severely wounded, as was Brig. Gen. G. T. Anderson
, of Hood
Brig. Gen. Barksdale
, of McLaws
's di of the same division, was mortally wounded, but has since died, and fully one half of the field and line officers of these divisions were either killed or wounded in this evening's engagement.
The line of battle on this day was formed with Ewell
on the extreme left, and Longstreet
on the extreme right, with A. P. Hill
in the centre.
We have hurriedly and imperfectly alluded to the battle as fought on the right; let us now look after the enemy on Ewell
's front, and see how he has disposed of them.
All was ready on this end of the line to attack at 8 o'clock in the morning, but word having been received that Longstreet
would not be ready for some hours, the whole of the artillery that could be brought to bear, was placed into position, the ground carefully reconnoitred, and every precaution taken to ensure success.
's battalion of artillery, under Major Latimer
, was placed in position on a hill, from which the batteries on Cemetery Hill
, fronting the scene of the first day's fight, were taken in reverse, and two 25 pounder Parrott guns, belonging to the reserve artillery of the corps, were placed on the same ridge, 600 or 800 yards to their rear.
Some of the other artillery of the corps was posted near the seminary, just to the right of the Middletown
road; but finding its position unsuitable for doing much against the enemy, they fired only occasionally, in order to draw the fire of the enemy.
About four o'clock in the evening, Longstreet
's guns away to the right announced that the battle was opened, and from that time until night there was kept up one of the most magnificently grand and terribly loud cannonades ever heard, far more terrific than at Malvern Hill
, though by no means so destructive to us.
's guns taking the enemy's in reverse, whilst those on Hill
's front and on the right were engaged with them in front, completely silenced the enemy for nearly half an hour, but they soon put thirty or forty guns in position against him, and by far greater weight of metal and superiority of position, so damaged Latimer
's guns, as to compel his withdrawal from the field after a contest of one and a half hours, except one battery which he kept to rebel any advance of the enemy's infantry.
He himself remained with this battery and received the wound which resulted in his death, from one of the last shells which the enemy threw.
His arm was much shattered, rendering necessary amputation above the elbow.
He bore the operation with much cheerfulness of spirits, and seemed to be rapidly recovering when secondary hemorrhage ensued.
He had now been removed to Harrisonburg, Virginia
, and at this point he died after lingering some six or seven days. His immediate commander, in speaking of him, said "no greater loss could have befallen the artillery of this corps." This was emphatically true.
He was at the time of his death not more than twenty-one years of age, yet there was no better officer in the whole of this army or one more highly esteemed.
Just as Latimer
ceased firing, Johnson
's infantry was ordered forward to the attack.
It was now not more than on half an hour before sunset.
In passing down the hill on which they had been posted, and whilst crossing the creek they were much annoyed by the fire to which they were subjected from the enemy's artillery, which, from Cemetery hill
, poured nearly an enfilade fire upon them.
The creek was wide, and its banks steep, so that our men had to break ranks in order to cross it. Having passed the creek, and getting close under the hill which the enemy occupied, Gen. J. M. Jones
, who was on the right, reformed his line and advanced steadily up the hill to the attack; but before the brigade had proceeded very far Gen. Jones
was wounded, and his senior Colonel
being also shot about the same time, the brigade was for awhile without a commander, and was thrown into some confusion, and finally retired a short distance.
brigade of General Nichols
, (Col. J. M. Williams
commanding,) conformed their movements to those of Gen. Jones
's. On the extreme left General G H Stewart
's brigade was more successful.
Pushing around to the enemy's left, he enfiladed and drove the enemy from a breastwork they had built in order to defend their right flank, and which ran at right angles to the rest of their lines up the mountain side.
The enemy, however, quickly moved forward a force in order to retake it, but were repulsed, our troops occupying their own breastworks in order to receive their attack.
It was now dark, and Gen. Stewart
made no further effort to advance, the ground being now to him, and very rugged and precipitous.
, upon hearing Gen. Johnson
's infantry engaged, sent forward Hayes
's North Carolina brigade, (under Col. Avery
.) These troops advancing as a storming party, quickly passed over a ridge and down a hill in a valley below they met two lines of the Federals
posted behind stone walls.
These they charged.
At the charge the Federals
broke and fled up the hill, closely pursued by our men. (The enemy, after repulsing Gen. Jones
's brigade of Virginians
, pushed a column down the valley, between them and Gen. Early
, with the view of turning Jones
's right Bank, but hearing Early
's guns they hastily returned.) It was now dark.
, still pursuing, pushed the enemy up the hill and stormed the Cemetery heights
Says a most intelligent spectator, who witnessed this charge, "I have never seen or heard anything more intensely exciting and terrible than this contest now became.
From the point where I stood, just outside of the town, lighted up by the flashes of the enemy's guns, thirty or forty pieces, perhaps more, were firing grape and canister with inconceivable rapidity at Early
It must have been that they imagined it to have been a general and simultaneous advance, for they opened on our men in three or four directions besides that which they were attacking.
Fortunately, in the darkness they overshot, and our men did not suffer very severely.
's and Hoke
's brigades pressed on and captured two or three lines of breast works and three or four of their batteries of artillery.
For a few moments every gun of the enemy on the heights was silenced, but by the time Gen. Hayes
could get his command together a dark line appeared in front of them and on either flank a few yards off. The true situation soon became clear.
were bringing up at least a division to retake the works.
, being unsupported by the troops on his right, (which were from Hill
's corps,) was compelled to fail back, bringing with him four stands of captured colors and some seventy five prisoners." Col. Avery
, 6th N. C. troops, commanding Hoke
's brigade, was killed in this attack.
It is believed that if this attack had been supported by a simultaneous one on our right, different results would have followed.
Maj Gen. Rodes
commenced to advance simultaneously with Gen. Early
He had, however, more than double the distance of Early
to go, and being unsupported by the troops on his right who made no advance, he consequently moved slower than he would have done had he have been supported.
Before reaching the enemy's works Early
had been repulsed, and so Gen Rodes
halted, thinking it useless to attack, since he was unsupported, especially as the enemy had heavy reinforcements just coming up and over a hundred guns which could be brought to bear on the line of Rodes
When the second day closed this was the position of Ewell
's left had gained important ground, part of it being a very short distance from the top of the mountain, which, if once gained, would command the whole of the enemy's position; but his right had made no progress.
Early's attack, almost
a brilliant success, had produced no results, and he occupied nearly his former position.
, having advanced nearly halfway to the enemy's works, and finding these good cover for his troops, he remained in the occupancy of his advanced position.
This was the condition of affairs on our extreme right and left.
during this day occupied the centre, and only a part of his corps was actively engaged.
Late in the afternoon of this day, whilst Lieut. General Longstreet
's corps and a portion of Major Gen. Anderson
's division were assaulting the enemy's left, Major Gen. Pender
having ridden to the extreme right of his command to put them in the fight, should the opportunity offer, received a severe wound in the leg from the fragment of a shell.
The wound, at first pronounced not dangerous, subsequently proved fatal.
Words from the writer in eulogy of this brave and accomplished officer are unnecessary.
Speaking of him in his preliminary report of Gettysburg
, Gen. Lee
says: ‘"This lamented officer has borne a distinguished part in every engagement of this army and while leading his command with conspicuous gallantry and ability.
The confidence and admiration inspired by his courage and capacity as an officer were only equalled by the esteem and respect entertained by all with whom he was associated for the noble qualities of his modest and unassuming character."’
Early in the morning of the 2d July, Wilcox
's brigade began to take position, but finding that three regiments of Yankee sharp shooters had anticipated them and were occupying the position they had intended to take, Wilcox
's men engaged the Yankees
, and after a sharp fight drove them off, and occupied the ground from which the Yankees
had just been driven.
This brigade, with Perry
, were formed on the right of Hill
's corps, and the left of Longstreet
's being joined on to Barksdale
's brigade, of McLaws
's division. --After the sport of a fight in the morning the troops of these brigades rested until about four o'clock, when the attack begun on the right and gradually extended around to the left.
's brigade, of McLaws
's division, had been engaged for some time, Wilcox
, were ordered forward, encountering a line of the enemy, and soon putting them to rout.
Still pressing forward these three brigades met with another and stronger line of the enemy, backed by twelve pieces of artillery.
No pause was made.
The line moved rapidly forward and captured the artillery.
The enemy, however, fought with greater obstinacy than usual, and their artillery mowed down our men at every discharge.
On reaching, however, a ravine (some three or four hundred yards beyond the captured artillery) of dense bushes, it was discovered that the enemy had another heavy line of battle immediately on the other side, with a large amount of artillery posted on the ridge behind them.
Upon our reaching this ravine the enemy attempted to drive us away by a charge, but were repulsed with heavy loss.
Seeing the weakened condition of our men, another fresh line of battle was thrown forward by the enemy, but after an obstinate fight was repulsed.
And now the condition of our troops became critical in the extreme.
had charged most gallantly over a distance of more than three quarters of a mile, breaking two or three of the enemy's lines of battles and capturing two or three batteries of artillery.
Of course our lines were greatly thinned and our troops much exhausted.
By strange mismanagement, as yet unexplained, no reinforcements were sent to this column by the Lieut-General
Perhaps when the official report of Lieut.-General Hill
shall be given to the public, the whole matter will be made clear.
Again the enemy made a third and most determined effort to force us back, and having succeeded in driving back.
Barksdale on the right of these brigades, they in turn were of necessity compelled to retreat.
It was now dark, and our troops were repulsed at all points save where Brig General Stewart
held his ground.
A second day of desperate fighting and correspondingly frightful carnage was ended.
But our noble commanding General still believed himself and his brave army capable of taking these commanding heights, and thus to be able to dictate a peace on the soil of the free States.
With what success this was attempted, it will become us to inquire in our next, when we shall account the events of the third day's fight at Gettysburg
The information in regard to this part of Longstreet
's corps is not as full as I could have desired.
I am promised fuller information in regard to this corps, which I hope to get in time for the book in regard to this campaign, which the writer is preparing.