Chapter 26: Gettysburg-First day.
- Information of Federal force and positions brought by the scout Harrison -- General Lee declines to credit it -- General Longstreet suggests a change of direction in conformance with the revelation -- General Meade had succeeded Hooker in command five days before battle -- positions on the eve of the first day -- Confederate cavalry “not in sight” --“the eyes of the army” sadly needed -- a description of the famous battle-field -- Generals Ewell and A. P. Hill engage the Federals -- death of General John F. Reynolds -- the fight on Seminary Ridge -- General Hancock in Federal command on the field -- concerning the absent cavalry and information given by the scout -- conditions at the close of the first day's fight.
The eve of the great battle was crowded with events. Movements for the concentration of the two vast armies went on in mighty force, but with a silence in strong contrast to the swift-coming commotion of their shock in conflict. It was the pent quiet of the gathering storm whose bursting was to shake the continent and suddenly command the startled attention of the world. After due preparation for our march of the 29th, all hands turned in early for a good night's rest. My mind had hardly turned away from the cares and labors of the day, when I was aroused by some one beating on the pole of my tent. It proved to be Assistant Inspector-General Fairfax. A young man had been arrested by our outlying pickets under suspicious circumstances. He was looking for General Longstreet's Headquarters, but his comfortable apparel and well-to-do, though travel-stained, appearance caused doubt in the minds of the guards of his being a genuine Confederate who could be trusted about Headquarters. So he was sent up under a file of men to be identified. He proved to be Harrison, the valued scout. He had walked through the lines of the  Union army during the night of the 27th and the 28th, secured a mount at dark of the latter day to get in as soon as possible, and brought information of the location of two corps of Federals at night of the 27th, and approximate positions of others. General Hooker had crossed the Potomac on the 25th and 26th of June. On the 27th he had posted two army corps at Frederick, and the scout reported another near them, and two others near South Mountain, as he escaped their lines a little after dark of the 28th. He was sent under care of Colonel Fairfax to make report of his information at general Headquarters. General Lee declined, however, to see him, though he asked Colonel Fairfax as to the information that he brought, and, on hearing it, expressed want of faith in reports of scouts, in which Fairfax generally agreed, but suggested that in this case the information was so near General Longstreet's ideas of the probable movements of the enemy that he gave credit to it. I also sent up a note suggesting a change of direction of the head of our column east. This I thought to be the first and necessary step towards bringing the two armies to such concentration east as would enable us to find a way to draw the enemy into battle, in keeping with the general plan of campaign, and at the same time draw him off from the travel of our trains. There were seven corps of the Army of the Potomac afield. We were informed on the 28th of the approximate positions of five of them,--three near Frederick and two near the base of South Mountain. The others, of which we had no definite information, we now know were the Sixth (Sedgwick's), south of Frederick and east of the Monocacy, and the Twelfth, towards Harper's Ferry. On the 26th, General Hooker thought to use the Twelfth Corps and the garrison of Harper's Ferry to strike the line of our communication, but General Halleck forbade the use of the troops of that post, when General Hooker  asked to be relieved of the responsibility of command, and was succeeded by General Meade on the night of the 27th. If General Hooker had been granted the authority for which he applied, he would have struck our trains, exposed from Chambersburg to the Potomac without a cavalryman to ride and report the trouble. General Stuart was riding around Hooker's army, General Robertson was in Virginia, General Imboden at Hancock, and Jenkins's cavalry was at our front with General Ewell. By the report of the scout we found that the march of Ewell's east wing had failed of execution and of the effect designed, and that heavy columns of the enemy were hovering along the east base of the mountain. To remove this pressure towards our rear, General Lee concluded to make a more serious demonstration and force the enemy to look eastward. With this view he changed direction of the proposed march north, by counter-orders on the night of the 28th, calling concentration east of the mountains at Cashtown, and his troops began their march under the last orders on the 29th. It seems that General Hill misconstrued the orders of the day, or was confused by the change of orders, and was under the impression that he was to march by York and cross the Susquehanna towards Philadelphia or Harrisburg. He ordered his leading division under Heth to Cashtown, however, and followed with Pender's division on the 30th, leaving orders for the division of R. H. Anderson to follow on the 1st. The purpose of General Lee's march east was only preliminary,--a concentration about Cashtown. General Ewell was ready to march for Harrisburg on the 29th, when orders reached him of the intended concentration at Cashtown. He was at Carlisle with Rodes's and E. Johnson's divisions and the reserve artillery; his other division under Early was at York. On the 30th, Rodes  was at Heidlersburg, Early near by, and Johnson, with the reserve artillery, near Green Village. Pettigrew's brigade of Heth's division, advancing towards Gettysburg on the 30th, encountered Buford's cavalry and returned to Cashtown. On the 29th, General Meade wired General Halleck,--
If Lee is moving for Baltimore, I expect to get between his main army and that place. If he is crossing the Susquehanna, I shall rely upon General Couch, with his force, holding him, until I can fall upon his rear and give him battle, which I shall endeavor to do. . . . My endeavor will be, in my movements, to hold my force well together, with the hope of falling upon some portion of Lee's army in detail.1As the change of orders made Gettysburg prominent as the point of impact, the positions of the commands relative thereto and their distances therefrom are items of importance in considering the culmination of events.
- General Lee's Headquarters, Greenwood.
- First Corps, Chambersburg, twenty-four miles to Gettysburg; part at Greenwood, sixteen miles.
- Second Corps and Jenkins's cavalry, Heidlersburg, ten miles; part near Green Village, twenty-three miles (Johnson's division and trains).
- Third Corps, near Greenwood, sixteen miles, and Cashtown, eight miles.
- Stuart's cavalry, circling between York and Carlisle, out of sight.
- Robertson's cavalry, in Virginia, beyond reach.
- Imboden's cavalry, at Hancock, out of sight.
- The Confederates not intending to precipitate battle.
Positions of Army of Northern Virginia, night of June 30.
- General Meade's Headquarters, Taneytown, fourteen miles.
- General Hunt, artillery reserve, Taneytown.
- First Corps, Marsh Run, six miles. 
- Second Corps, Uniontown, twenty-two miles.
- Third Corps, Bridgeport, twelve miles.
- Fifth Corps, Union Mills, fifteen miles.
- Sixth Corps, Manchester, twenty-two miles.
- Eleventh Corps, Emmitsburg, twelve miles.
- Twelfth Corps, Littletown, nine miles.
- Kilpatrick's cavalry, Hanover, thirteen miles.
- Gregg's cavalry, Manchester, twenty-two miles.
- Buford's cavalry, Gettysburg.
Positions of Army of the Potomac.
About twelve o'clock I received a message notifying me that General Lee desired to see me. I found General Lee intently listening to the fire of the guns, and very much disturbed and depressed. At length he said, more to himself than to me, ‘I cannot think what has become of Stuart. I ought to have heard from him long before now. He may have met with disaster, but I hope not. In the absence of reports from him, I am in ignorance as to what we have in front of us here. It may be the whole Federal army, or it may be only a detachment. If it is the whole Federal force, we must fight a battle here. If we do not gain a victory, those defiles and gorges which we passed this morning will shelter us from disaster.’He ordered Anderson forward, and rode on to Seminary Ridge in time to view the closing operations of the engagement. The Union troops were in disorder, climbing Cemetery Heights, the Confederates following through the streets of Gettysburg. Two other divisions of Confederates were up soon after, E. Johnson's of the Second and R. H. Anderson's of the Third Corps. After a long wait I left orders for the troops to follow  the trains of the Second Corps, and rode to find General Lee. His Headquarters were on Seminary Ridge at the crossing of the Cashtown road. Anderson's division was then filed off along the ridge, resting. Johnson's had marched to report to the corps commander. Dismounting and passing the usual salutation, I drew my glasses and made a studied view of the position upon which the enemy was rallying his forces, and of the lay of the land surrounding. General Lee was engaged at the moment. He had announced beforehand that he would not make aggressive battle in the enemy's country. After the survey and in consideration of his plans,--noting movements of detachments of the enemy on the Emmitsburg road, the relative positions for manoeuvre, the lofty perch of the enemy, the rocky slopes from it, all marking the position clearly defensive,--said, “We could not call the enemy to position better suited to our plans. All that we have to do is to file around his left and secure good ground between him and his capital.” This, when said, was thought to be the opinion of my commander as much as my own. I was not a little surprised, therefore, at his impatience, as, striking the air with his closed hand, he said, “If he is there to-morrow I will attack him.” In his official account, General Lee reported,--
It had not been intended to deliver a general battle so far from our base unless attacked. But coming unexpectedly upon the whole Federal army, to withdraw through the mountains with our extensive trains would have been difficult and dangerous.When he rode away from me in the forenoon he made no mention of his absent cavalry, nor did he indicate that it was not within call. So I was at a loss to understand his nervous condition, and supported the suggestion so far as to say, “If he is there to-morrow it will be because he wants you to attack,” and queried, “If that height has become the objective, why not take it at once?  We have forty thousand men, less the casualties of the day; he cannot have more than twenty thousand.” Then it was that I heard of the wanderings of the cavalry and the cause of his uneven temper. So vexed was he at the halt of the Imboden cavalry at Hancock, in the opening of the campaign, that he was losing sight of Pickett's brigades as a known quantity for battle. His manner suggested to me that a little reflection would be better than further discussion, and right soon he suggested to the commander of the Second Corps to take Cemetery Hill if he thought it practicable, but the subordinate did not care to take upon himself a fight that his chief would not venture to order.2 The following circular orders were sent the commanders of columns of the First Corps:
 At 12.15 of the afternoon of the 1st, General Halleck sent a cipher despatch to General Meade approving his tactics, but asking, as to his strategy, “Are you not too far east, and may not Lee attempt to turn your left and cut you off from Frederick?” In this connection may be noted the plan that General Meade had mapped in his own mind and given to some of his generals for battle to be formed behind Pipe Creek, a position that would have met the views of General Halleck, as well as his own, covering Washington and Baltimore under close lines that could not be turned. At Gettysburg the Confederates had comparatively an open field. Reports coming in to Headquarters about six o'clock that the enemy was in some force off our right towards Fairfield, General Lee ordered General Anderson to put one of his brigades out on the right as picket-guard. Wilcox's brigade and Ross's battery were marched and posted near Black Horse Tavern. Nothing coming from the centre troops about Cemetery Hill, General Lee ordered the Second Corps, after night, from his left to his right, for work in that direction, but General Ewell rode over and reported that another point-Culp's Hill-had been found on his left, which had commanding elevation over Cemetery Hill, from which the troops on the latter could be dislodged, by artillery, and was under the impression that his troops were in possession there. That was accredited as reported and approved, and the corps commander returned, and ordered the hill occupied if it had not been done. But the officer in charge had waited for specific orders, and when they were received he had made another reconnoissance. It was then twelve o'clock. By the reconnoissance it was found that the enemy was there, and it was thought that this should be reported, and further orders waited. General Ewell's troops and trains passed the junction  of the roads at four o'clock. The train was fourteen miles long. It was followed by the troops of the First Corps that had been waiting all day. After night the Washington Artillery and McLaws's division camped at Marsh Run, four miles from Gettysburg. Here is Hood's account of his march:
While lying in camp near Chambersburg information was received that Hill and Ewell were about to come into contact with the enemy near Gettysburg. My troops, together with McLaws's division, were at once put in motion upon the most direct road to that point, which we reached after a hard march at or before sunrise on July 2. So imperative had been our orders to hasten forward with all possible speed that on the march my troops were allowed to halt and rest only about two hours during the night from the 1st to the 2d of July.When I left General Lee, about seven o'clock in the evening, he had formed no plans beyond that of seizing Culp's Hill as his point from which to engage, nor given any orders for the next day, though his desperate mood was painfully evident, and gave rise to serious apprehensions. He had heard nothing of the movements of the enemy since his crossing the Potomac, except the report of the scout. His own force on the field was the Second Corps, Rodes's, Early's, and E. Johnson's divisions from right to left through the streets of Gettysburg around towards Culp's Hill; on Rodes's right, Pender's division of the Third; on Seminary Ridge, R. H. Anderson's division of the Third (except Wilcox's brigade at Black Horse Tavern); behind Seminary Ridge, Heth's division of the Third; on the march between Cashtown and Greenwood, the First Corps.