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The cavalry battle near Gettysburg.

by William E. Miller, Captain, 3D Pennsylvania cavalry.

Monument on the field of the cavalry fight between the forces of Gregg and Stuart. From a photograph.

The 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry, after participating in the different cavalry engagements from Brandy Station to Upperville, was the last regiment to cross the Potomac into Maryland by the pontoon-bridge at Edwards's Ferry, except McCandless's brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves. Well do the men of Gregg's cavalry command remember the evening of the 27th of June, 1863, while they were drawn up on the slope of the northern bank of the Potomac awaiting the crossing of McCandless's infantry, which was somewhat delayed on the opposite side. As soon as the band of McCandless's brigade placed foot on the bridge it began to play “Maryland, my Maryland.” The men took up the refrain, and it was echoed back by the cavalrymen on the northern hillside. The scene was beautiful and touching beyond description, and formed one of the happy incidents that broke the monotony of the long and weary march from Falmouth to Gettysburg.

About dusk “to horse” was sounded, and the division again put in motion. A tedious night's march along a road blockaded with wagons and other impediments brought us to Monocacy Junction, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, between which place and Frederick we halted on Sunday morning, the 28th. A reorganization of the cavalry there took place. General Kilpatrick, who had commanded the Second Brigade of Gregg's division, was promoted to the command of Stahel's division, which was then added to the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac as the Third Division, and Colonel Pennock Huey, with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was transferred from Buford's division to the Second Brigade of the Second Division, Huey succeeding Kilpatrick in command of the brigade. [For organization, see p. 437.]

Before leaving Frederick the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry was ordered to report to General Meade's headquarters, where it remained until after the battle of Gettysburg; it did not rejoin its brigade before the 12th of July, at Boonsboro‘. The 1st Massachusetts was also sent on detached service.

While we were halted near Frederick it was discovered that Stuart was making a detour around our army and had crossed the Potomac below Edwards's Ferry. Our cavalry was sent out on all the roads leading from Frederick to the north and east to prevent his gaining information, and to push him as far away as possible, so that he might be delayed in communicating with his chief. On the evening of the 28th McIntosh's brigade was sent eastward on the Baltimore pike, and passing New Market it halted at Ridgeville, and from there scouting parties were sent in every direction. On the morning of the 29th a portion of the 3d Pennsylvania was sent to Lisbon, [398] and from there one squadron went northward to Woodbine, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It was ascertained that Stuart was tearing up the tracks near Hood's Mill, the next station east of Woodbine, and that he was moving northward. Information was sent to headquarters, and by 4 o'clock P. M. Gregg's division was concentrated at Mount Airy, north of Ridgeville, where it was supplied with a scanty allowance of rations and forage. Five o'clock found it on the march for Westminster, with the 3d Pennsylvania of McIntosh's brigade in advance. Having been on almost continuous duty, night and day, since the battle of Brandy Station, on the 9th, the prospect of another night march was, to say the least, discouraging.1

Our march to Westminster was one of unusual severity, for the night was very dark and both men and horses were worn out. The men fell asleep in their saddles, and whenever the column halted the horses would fall asleep too. As the officers were responsible for keeping the column closed up, they had to resort to all sorts of expedients to keep awake, such as pinching themselves, pounding their heads, and pricking themselves with pins. When within about five miles of Westminster it

Brevet Major-General D. McM. Gregg. From a photograph.

was discovered that the left of the line was not up. A halt was ordered, and, on sending back, the fact was disclosed that the artillerymen and battery horses were sound asleep, and that, whilst the portion of the column in front of them had been moving on, that in the rear was standing still. As soon as the latter was brought up the whole command moved forward, and at day-light on the 30th the advance, under Captain Charles Treichel, of the 3d Pennsylvania, charged into Westminster and captured a lot of Stuart's stragglers. Here we met with a cordial reception. The majority of the houses were thrown open, and the women, standing on their door-steps and at the windows, waved their handkerchiefs and cheered the old flag. It was noticed, however, that some of the houses remained closed, and upon inquiry it was [399] ascertained that these had in a similar manner been open the day before for the reception of Stuart and his men.

At Manchester a halt of a few hours was made, during which the men consumed what was left of the rations procured at Mount Airy, gave their horses the last grain of feed they had with them, and obtained a little sleep. Mounting again we moved north along the Carlisle pike for half a mile, and then by the Grove Mill road to Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, on the Northern Central Railroad, where we arrived during the forenoon of July 1st. Our movements at this place illustrate to some extent the uncertainties of the campaign. After a short delay General Gregg received an order to proceed south toward Baltimore. Scarcely was the division drawn out on the road when a second order came directing him to turn about and move north as rapidly as possible toward York. Just as we were starting in the latter direction the final order came to send Huey's brigade back to Manchester, Maryland, and to march with McIntosh's and Irvin Gregg's brigades west-ward to Gettysburg. After losing some valuable time in consequence of these conflicting orders, we (McIntosh's and Gregg's brigades) advanced over a crooked road to Hanover, where we went into bivouac.

At Hanover we found the streets barricaded with boxes, old carriages and wagons, hay, ladders, barbers' poles, etc., the marks of Kilpatrick's encounter with Stuart on the previous day, for the Third Division, while we were making the detour on the right flank, had taken the direct road from Frederick, and at Hanover had intercepted the line of march of the Confederate cavalry while we had been following it up.

By this time we had become a sorry-looking body of men, having been in the saddle day and night almost continuously for over three weeks, without a change of clothing or an opportunity for a general wash; moreover we were much reduced by short rations and exhaustion, and mounted on horses whose bones were plainly visible to the naked eye.2

Leaving Hanover at 3 o'clock on the morning of July 2d we had proceeded along the Littlestown road for two miles when Dr. T. T. Tate, one of the assistant surgeons of the 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry, who was a citizen of Gettysburg and familiar with the country, advised General Gregg that the shortest route to Gettysburg was by way of the Bonaughtown or Hanover road. The doctor piloted the column across the fields and we reached the Bonaughtown road at McSherrystown. On reaching Geiselman's Woods, Colonel McIntosh, who had been suffering from exhaustion, became very sick. The column was halted, and Dr. Tate took him to Mr. Geiselman's house, where with careful medical attention he was in a short time restored and again [400]

Map 19: cavalry battle July 3d, 2:30 P. M.

Map 20: cavalry battle July 3d, 3:30 P. M.

made his appearance at the head of his command. Resuming the march we arrived at the intersection of the Low Dutch (or Salem Church) and Hanover roads about noon on July 2d. The regiments were closed up, and we halted in a field to allow the men and horses some much-needed rest.

About 3 o'clock the 10th New York cavalry of the Third Brigade was ordered forward and directed to occupy Brinkerhoff's Ridge and relieve some infantry of the Eleventh Corps, who were in possession of the ridge and were keeping up a skirmish fire with the enemy in their front. General Gregg took two guns, a section of Battery H, 3d Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, Captain W. D. Rank (serving as Light Artillery), and placed them on the Hanover road opposite the leever house, about three miles east of Gettysburg. Near 6 o'clock some mounted men, who seemed to be making observations, appeared in the road on the top of Brinkerhoff's [401] Ridge, about three-fourths of a mile distant, whereupon Gregg ordered Rank to send them a “feeler,” which he did in the most approved style — the two shells bursting in their midst and scattering the party like chaff in a wind storm. The First Brigade was now ordered forward, and on passing beyond Rank's guns the 3d Pennsylvania, being in the advance, was ordered into Cress's Woods, on the right of the road. The squadron of Captain Hess and my own were directed to dismount and advance across Cress's Run to the top of Brinkerhoff's Ridge — Hess on the left, with his left resting on the road and deployed to the right, and Miller [the writer] deployed to the right of Hess. On the left side of the road, connecting with Hess, two battalions of the 1st New Jersey, under Major Janeway and Captain Boyd, and Duvall's Maryland troop were deployed — the whole supported by the Third Battalion of the 1st New Jersey, under Major Beaumont. After crossing Cress's Run and gaining the elevated ground beyond, it was discovered that a stone fence ran along the crest of the ridge, and that some Confederate infantry were advancing from the opposite direction. “Double quick” was ordered, and a race for the fence ensued. The men seeing the importance of the position quickened their steps and arrived at the wall about twenty paces in advance of the enem y. As soon as our men reached the wall they opened fire with their carbines, and drove back their opponents. They punched holes through the wall with their carbines, and behind this formidable breastwork they were enabled, though repeatedly charged, to hold their position until daylight disappeared. Rank's guns in the meantime kept up a lively fire and did effective work. After dark a charge was made against our right which was driven in, but the men, not being discouraged, made a counter-charge and regained their position. Our opponents proved to be Walker's brigade, of Johnson's division, of Ewell's corps, and it was our good fortune to hold them in check long enough to prevent them from participating in the assault on Culp's Hill.

About 10 o'clock the whole division was withdrawn and moved over a country cross-road to the Baltimore pike, where it bivouacked for the night along White Run.

Between 9 and 10 o'clock on the morning of the 3d “to horse” was sounded, and we were again in the saddle. Retracing our steps, we resumed our position on the right, but with a more extended line. Irvin Gregg connected with the right of the infantry line near Wolf's Hill and stretched his line to the Hanover road, while McIntosh moved to and halted at the crossing of the Low Dutch and Hanover roads. Custer's brigade occupied the ground to the right and front of McIntosh. After some delay McIntosh moved forward to relieve Custer, who had been ordered to report to his division commander (Kilpatrick) in the vicinity of Round Top. The 3d Pennsylvania and 1st Maryland were drawn up in column of squadrons in a clover-field in front of and across the road from Lott's house, while the 1st New Jersey was sent to relieve Custer's men on outpost.

General J. E. B. Stuart, who was in command of the Confederate cavalry, now occupied what is known as Cress's Ridge, about three-fourths of a mile [402] north of Lott's house. On the south-eastern slope of the ridge there were cultivated fields, while its summit was covered with heavy timber. North of this ridge there were open fields, almost surrounded by woods, through which ran a country cross-road leading from the York pike to the Low Dutch road. The place was most admirably adapted to the massing and screening of troops. Behind the woods Stuart, who had come out from the direction of Gettysburg along the York pike, concentrated his forces on what was known as the Stallsmith farm. Gregg's troops were not so favorably situated. Occupying a line about three miles long from Wolf's Hill to Lott's house, through an open country, they were in full view of the enemy. [See maps, pp: 344, 400.]

A party of Confederate skirmishers thrown out in front of Stuart's center occupied the Rummel farm buildings, which were situated in the plain about three-fourths of a mile north-west of the Lott house, and near the base of Cress's Ridge. About 2 o'clock McIntosh, who well understood Stuart's tactics, and had correctly discerned his position, dismounted the 1st New Jersey and moved it forward under Major Beaumont in the direction of Rummel's. To meet this advance the Confederates pushed out a line of skirmishers and occupied a fence south of Rummel's. The 1st New Jersey soon adjusted their line to correspond with that of their antagonists, and firing began. At the same time a Confederate battery appeared on the top of the ridge and commenced shelling. Lieutenant A. C. M. Pennington's battery (M, 2d U. S. Artillery), in position in front of Spangler's house on the Hanover road, instantly replied. The 3d Pennsylvania was ordered forward, and two squadrons under Captains Treichel and Rodgers were moved across to Little's Run (which flowed southward from Rummel's spring-house) and placed to the left of the 1st New Jersey, while Duvall's troop was extended to their left. Captains Walsh and Hess were ordered out the Low Dutch road beyond Lott's woods, with instructions to hold the position and protect the right. My squadron was deployed along the edge of the woods north of Lott's house (near where the cavalry shaft now stands) and extended to the cross-roads running toward Stallsmith's, facing north-west. It will thus be seen that the 3d Pennsylvania was divided--one-half being on the left of the line, whilst the other occupied the right. The 1st Maryland was posted near the Lott house and held in reserve. Captain A. M. Randol's battery (E, 1st U. S. Artillery), stationed across the road from the Howard house, was also ordered forward, and a section under Lieutenant Chester placed in position a little south-west of Lott's house. Pennington and Chester soon silenced th e Confederate battery, and finding Rummel's barn filled with sharp-shooters, who were picking off our men, they turned their guns on it and drove them out. In the meantime our front line was advanced and we drove back that of the Confederates, occupying their position. A lull in the firing now ensued, during which Custer's brigade returned. After the engagement had opened McIntosh had discovered that the force in his front was too strong for his command, and consequently he had sent word to General Gregg to that effect, requesting that Irvin Gregg's brigade be forwarded to his support. As this brigade was some distance to the rear, and therefore not immediately available, [403]

Battle between the Union cavalry under Gregg and the Confederate cavalry under Stuart. From a sketch made at the time.

Gregg, meeting Custer, who was about to begin his march in the opposite direction, had ordered him to return, and at the same time had sent word to Irvin Gregg to concentrate as much of his command as possible in the vicinity of Spangler's house. Custer, eager for the fray, had wheeled about and was soon on the field.

Gregg at this juncture appeared and took command in person. Custer, as soon as he arrived, extended the left of the line along Little's Run with a portion of the 6th Michigan, dismounted, and at the same time Randol placed in position to the left and rear of Chester the second section of his battery under Lieutenant Kinney.

At this stage the ammunition of that portion of the 3d Pennsylvania which was on the left, and of the 1st New Jersey, began to run short, and the 5th Michigan was ordered to relieve them. The latter was dismounted, and whilst it was moving to the front a dismounted regiment from W. H. F. Lee's brigade came to the support of the Confederate skirmishers. A heated contest followed, in which the 1st New Jersey and the 3d Pennsylvania remained to take part. After the firing abated these regiments attempted to withdraw, but they were followed up so closely that they were obliged to face about and resume the conflict. However, they soon drove the enemy back, inflicting severe punishment. The short supply of ammunition of the 5th Michigan having by this time given out, and Major Noah H. Ferry, who was in command of the line, having been killed, the whole line was driven in. Improving this opportunity, Fitz. Lee sent forward the 1st Virginia, which charged our right and center. The 7th Michigan at once moved forward from the direction of the Reever house in close column of squadrons and advanced to the attack. The right of the 5th Michigan swung back, and the 7th pressed forward to a stone-and-rail fence and opened fire with their carbines. The [404] 1st Virginia advanced with steadiness, and soon the two regiments were face to face, the fence alone separating them. My squadron, which occupied the right center and which up to this time had not been engaged, opened a flank fire on the Virginians, which aided materially in holding them in check. The 1st North Carolina Cavalry and the Jeff Davis Legion coming up to their support, they crowded the 7th Michigan back, and it was obliged to give way, the Confederates following in close pursuit. A more determined and vigorous charge than that made by the 1st Virginia it was never my fortune to witness. But they became scattered by the flank fire they received, together with the shells from our artillery, and were in the end o bliged to fall back on their main body.

About half a mile distant from the last-mentioned fence, where the crossroad passes through the woods on the Stallsmith farm, there appeared moving toward us a large mass of cavalry, which proved to be the remaining portions of Hampton's and Fitzhugh Lee's brigades. They were formed in close column of squadrons and directed their course toward the Spangler house. A grander spectacle than their advance has rarely been beheld. They marched with well-aligned fronts and steady reins. Their polished saber-blades dazzled in the sun. All eyes turned upon them. Chester on the right, Kinney in the center, and Pennington on the left opened fire with well-directed aim. Shell and shrapnel met the advancing Confederates and tore through their ranks. Closing the gaps as though nothing had happened, on they came. As they drew nearer, canister was substituted by our artillerymen for shell, and horse after horse staggered and fell. Still they came on. Our mounted skirmishers rallied and fell into line; the dismounted men fell back, and a few of them reached their horses. The 1st Michigan, drawn up in close column of squadrons near Pennington's battery, was ordered by Gregg to charge. Custer, who was near, placed himself at its head, and off they dashed. As the two columns approached each other the pace of each increased, when suddenly a crash, like the falling of timber, betokened the crisis. So sudden and violent was the collision that many of the horses were turned end over end and crushed their riders beneath them. The clashing of sabers, the firing of pistols, the demands for surrender and cries of the combatants now filled the air. As the columns were drawing nearer to each other McIntosh sent his adjutant-general, Captain Walter S. Newhall, to the left with orders to Treichel and Rogers to mount and charge, and also sent Captain S. C. Wagner, of his staff, to rally the headquarters staff, buglers, and orderlies, whilst he himself rode to the Lott house for the 1st Maryland. But Gregg, when he first arrived and looked over the field, had moved the 1st Maryland over to the Low Dutch road, just north of the Hanover road, in order to strengthen his right, and so failing to find this regiment where he had expected, McIntosh gathered up what loose men he could, joined them to his headquarters party and charged. My squadron was still deployed along the edge of Lott's woods. Standing in company with Lieutenant William Brooke-Rawle on a little rise of ground in front of his command, and seeing that the situation was becoming critical, I turned to him [405] and said: “I have been ordered to hold this position, but, if you will back me up in case I am court-martialed for disobedience, I will order a charge.” The lieutenant, always ready to “pitch in,” as he expressed it, with an energetic reply convinced me that I would not be deserted. I accordingly directed him to close in the left and Sergeant Heagy the right, while the former should select the proper place for the attack. As soon as his line had rallied, the men fired a volley from their carbines, drew their sabers, sent up a shout, and “sailed in,” striking the enemy's left flank about two-thirds down the column. Hart, of the 1st New Jersey, whose squadron was in the woods on my left, soon followed, but directed his charge to the head of the enemy's column. Newhall, when he reached Treichel and Rogers, joined them in their charge, which struck the right flank of the enemy's column, near the color-guard. The standard-bearer, seeing that Newhall was about to seize the colors, lowered his spear, which caught his opponent on the chin, tearing and shattering his lower jaw, and sending him senseless to the earth. Every officer of the party was wounded. My command pressed through the Confederate column, cut off the rear portion and drove it back. In the charge my men became somewhat scattered. A portion of them, however, got into Rummel's lane, in front of the farm-buildings, and there encount ered some of Jenkins's men, who seemed stubborn about leaving.3 Breathed's battery, unsupported, was only one hundred yards away, but my men were so disabled and scattered that they were unable to take it back.

These flank attacks demoralized the Confederate column. Custer and McIntosh, whose tenacity had kept the head of the column at bay, now got the advantage. Many of the enemy had fallen, Wade Hampton was wounded, and at length the enemy turned. Their column was swept back to its starting-point, and the field was ours.

After the repulse of the enemy's grand charge, McIntosh took the 1st New Jersey and part of the 3d Pennsylvania and Duvall's troop, and established a skirmish line along Little's Run, by Rummel's spring-house and along his lane toward the cross-road, the field of the hand-to-hand contest thus remaining in our possession. The Confederates established their line along the edge of the woods on the summit of Cress's Ridge. Some artillery firing and light skirmishing was kept up until after dark. In the meantime Custer's brigade was relieved and sent to its division.4 [406]

With the exception of the Rummel farm buildings, the Confederates held virtually the same line at dark that they held in the morning, but this did not include the field of the main engagement. This was no mere reconnoissance to develop the position or movements of the enemy. Stuart had with him the main strength and the flower of the Confederate cavalry, led by their most distinguished commanders. His force comprised 4 brigades with 20 regiments and battalions and 4 batteries. His avowed object was to strike the rear of the Federal army in cooperation with Pickett's grand attack upon its center. For this movement he succeeded in attaining a most commanding position, and, according to the surmise of Major H. B. McClellan, Stuart's adjutant-general, gave to Lee the preconcerted signal for the attack. The field of this cavalry fight was south of the Rummel buildings. To this field Stuart advanced his whole force, engaged in an obstinate and desperate struggle with the Federal cavalry, was driven back out of the field and forced to retire to his original position. At the opening of the engagement Gregg's outposts were on the southern side of the battle-field; at its close they were advanced to its northern side. The losses on both sides show the importance and determined character of the fight.5

Meade at Gettysburg.

by Francis A. Walker, Brevet Brigadier-General, U. S. V.
There is probably no other battle of which men are so prone to think and speak without a conscious reference to the commanding general of the victorious party, as they are regarding Gettysburg. For this there are several reasons.

First, General Meade had been in command of the army but three days when the action began.

Second, the collision of the two armies on the 1st of July took place while headquarters were at a distance.

Third, the battle, on the Union side, was a defensive one. The sword is ever of higher honor than the shield.

Fourth, the fact that the Union army occupied a convex line, broke up the battles of the 2d and 3d of July into a series of actions, regarding which it was inevitable that attention should be fixed especially upon those who commanded at the points successively assaulted.

Fifth, the fact that so many eminent officers were killed or severely wounded during the action, had a tendency to concentrate interest upon them. Reynolds, the commander of the left wing, was killed at the first onset. Hancock, the commander of the left center; Sickles, the commander of the Third Corps, and Gibbon, commanding, in Hancock's absence, the Second, were desperately wounded. Such an unusual succession of casualties could not fail to have an effect in distracting attention from the commander-in-chief.

Sixth, the people of the North have ever loved to think of Gettysburg as a soldier's battle. In a great measure the wish has been father to the thought. But, indeed, there was something in the [407] change of tone in the Army of the Potomac, as it turned from the gloomy region of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville to throw itself in the path of the invading army, which justifies that view.

Seventh, much of the effect we are considering was due to General Meade's disinclination to assert himself against hostile criticism. He did, indeed, show a proper resentment of the blame thrown upon him for allowing the retreat of Lee; but during the years of life which remained he took little pains to vindicate himself against aspersion and disparagement, or even to put upon record the orders and dispositions of the battle.

It is my purpose to show that at Gettysburg the Army of the Potomac had a commander in every sense; that, in spite of misadventures and miscarriages, the action was fought according to his plans and under his direction as nearly as usually happens in war; and that his presence and watchful care, his moral courage and tenacity of purpose, contributed largely to the result.

When, on the 28th of June, 1863, General Meade relieved General Hooker, who, since the 13th, had been moving northward, interposing the Army of the Potomac continually between the Confederate forces and Washington, the right wing of that army lay at Frederick, Maryland, while the left occupied Boonsboro' and Middletown, and held the passes of the South Mountain. One corps, however, had been detached, but was returning to Frederick. It is in the disposition General Meade made of this corps that we find the chief difference between his conception of the strategy suitable to the campaign then approaching its culmination and that which had been entertained by his predecessor. The absent corps was the Twelfth, under Slocum, which had been pushed toward Harper's Ferry, with a view to advancing thence upon Lee's line of supply, and even following up the rear of the Confederate army. This corps Hooker had desired to reenforce by the large garrison of Harper's Ferry, abandoning that post as useless for strategic purposes. This General Halleck, at Washington, positively refused to permit. Thereupon Hooker ordered the Twelfth Corps back, and requested to be relieved.

When, however, Meade had been placed in command, Halleck conceded to him the power of diminishing the garrison at Harper's Ferry to any extent consistent with holding that post. The new commander was thus in a position to prosecute the contemplated enterprise in Lee's rear. Instead of doing so, he included the Twelfth Corps in his plan for a forward movement of the whole army directly northward, to be undertaken on the 29th and pushed with the utmost vigor till the encounter should take place.

This abandonment of the projected movement against Lee's line of communication has been severely criticised by General Doubleday. That writer assumes that it was intelligence of Slocum's enterprise which caused Lee to loose his hold upon the Susquehanna and concentrate his forces at Gettysburg.6 He adds the opinion that “if he (Lee) had known that Meade was about to withdraw all the troops acting against his line of retreat, he would probably have gone on and taken Harrisburg.”

Whatever General Lee might have thought of the projected enterprise under Slocum, had he known of it, he, in fact, knew nothing whatever concerning it. The only intelligence that reached him was that the Union army had crossed the Potomac on the 25th, at Edwards's Ferry, moving toward Frederick and Boonsboro‘. It was this, and only this, which determined his march upon Gettysburg.7

More remains to be said. Meade's movement northward from Frederick, with his whole army, was a severer threat to Lee than a persistence in Hooker's plan. The movement against the Confederate communications through Harper's Ferry was correct enough, provided the bulk of the army was to remain at Frederick; but had the army moved northward while Slocum followed up Lee's rear, on the other side of the river and the mountains, there would have been every reason to anticipate essentially the same result as that which followed Hooker's division of his forces at Chancellorsville. On the other hand, Meade, by marching northward, did not relinquish the opportunity of moving to the west against Lee's communications, which could at any time have been done through Mechaniestown (to Hagerstown) just as effectively as from Harper's Ferry. [See map, p. 246.]

How far Meade's better choice was a mere matter of military judgment; how far it was due to the accident that the new commander was himself a Pennsylvanian it is difficult to say. There can, I think, be no doubt that the special instincts of local patriotism had much to do with bringing on and fighting through to a successful conclusion the battle of Gettysburg. It is remarkable that, in the one Pennsylvania battle of the war, the men of that State should have borne so prominent a part. It was a Pennsylvanian who directed the movement on Gettysburg and commanded there in chief. It was a Pennsylvanian who hurried the left wing into action and lost his life in determining that the battle should be fought at Gettysburg, and not on any line more remote. It was a Pennsylvanian who came up to check the rout and hold Cemetery Hill for the Union arms, who commanded the left center in the great battle of the second day, and on the third received and repelled the attack of Pettigrew and Pickett.

For one, I entertain no doubt that the military [408] judgment of General Meade, which dictated his decision on the 28th of June to adopt the direct and more effective plan of moving straight northward from Frederick, instead of persisting in the division of the army which Hooker had initiated, was largely influenced by that intensity of feeling which actuated him as a Pennsylvanian. At such a crisis, stress of feeling drives the intellect to its highest work. So long as moral forces enter into the conduct of war, can we doubt that it was fortunate for the Union arms that they so largely were Pennsylvanians who hurried forward the troops in their long and painful marches northward, and who threw the veteran corps of the Potomac upon the invading army?

Widely spread as the Confederate army was when General Meade took command of the Union forces,--Longstreet at Chambersburg, Ewell at Carlisle and York,--it was a matter of course that the serious collision should be a surprise to one or the other party, and that accident should determine which should encounter its antagonist with the advantage in concentration. It turned out that the collision was a surprise to both commanders, and chance gave the advantage of greater concentration to the Confederates. Meade, leaving Frederick on the 29th, moved rapidly northward, extending his wings sufficiently to cover alike the road by which Lee might attempt to move to Washington and that by which he might march to Baltimore. He could not conjecture where, amid the fiery cloud of Southern raiders extending from the Cumberland Valley to the Susquehanna, was to be found the real nucleus of that formidable army; nor had the Confederate commander furnished any indication of his purpose. But on the same day, General Lee, having the evening before learned of the crossing of the Potomac by Hooker, recalled his advanced divisions from Carlisle and York, and threw forward Hill and Longstreet, with a view to a concentration at Gettysburg. During the 30th the two armies continued rapidly to approach each other, until, on the morning of the 1st of July, a stunning collision took place between the heads of Lee's columns and our left wing under Reynolds. In the two days that had passed, the Union forces had made nearly twice as long marches as the Confederates. The risk that one of Meade's columns would somewhere encounter the enemy in greater force, was an inevitable incident of so impetuous a forward movement.

But while Meade intended, by his rapid advance, to compel Lee to loose his hold upon the Susquehanna, he had wisely determined to fight a defensive battle, and had selected the line of Pipe Creek as that most suitable for covering Washington and Baltimore.

It was the noble impetuosity of Reynolds, pushing forward to support Buford's hard-pressed but stubborn cavalry, which transformed the movement of the left wing from a reconnoissance into an attack upon Lee's advancing columns, and committed the Union army to battle at Gettysburg. The reports which, at noon of the 1st of July, reached the new commander at Taneytown, brought news that Reynolds had fallen, together with intimations of disaster to his adventurous column. The first act of General Meade, as commander-in-chief in the immediate presence of the enemy, was one which exhibited moral courage, insight into character, and rapidity of decision. This was to dispatch Hancock to the front,8 with full powers to take command and do whatever might be necessary to save the day, and with instructions to report upon the nature of the position. It is difficult for us, now, to appreciate what this decision meant, on the part of Meade. Himself but three days at the head of the army, he was sending an officer, who had but three weeks before left his division, to assume commandc of three corps, over two officers who were his seniors. When one remembers how strong is the respect for rank among the higher officers, and how greatly the oldest commander is subject to the public sentiment of his army,--when one recalls that even Grant recognized Burnside's claim to command at the Mine,--this act of General Meade becomes one of the boldest in the history of our war. That it was also one of the most judicious, is abundantly established. No other man except, perhaps, Sheridan, arriving on that field of disaster, could have done what Hancock did in checking the rout, in establishing order, in restoring confidence, and in making the dispositions which caused Lee to postpone his contemplated assault on Cemetery Hill.

The further news of the opening battle brought upon General Meade the necessity for a choice which might well have caused deep anxiety and protracted doubt to a veteran commander. The Fifth and Sixth corps were still far distant from the field; the former about twenty, the latter more than thirty miles away. The fighting of the day had shown the superior concentration of Lee's forces; and all night long his fast-marching divisions would, doubtless, be pressing down the roads leading to Gettysburg, and wheeling into their places in the Confederate line. Two of the [409] Union corps, the First and Eleventh, had been put nearly hors de combat. With only three corps in fair fighting condition which could be upon the ground at daybreak, should the risks of an early morning battle be taken? General Meade's decision was here as brave as it proved fortunate; and his inspired rashness, like that of Reynolds in the morning, was of the kind which wins battles and saves states.

In his dispositions to meet the enemy's attack, on the 2d of July, it seems probable that General Meade, who had come upon the ground after midnight, and, in the cemetery, had met and conferred with Howard, anticipated that the weight of the Confederate force would be thrown upon Cemetery Hill, or else that the enemy would work around our right in order to get possession of the Baltimore pike. The fighting of the previous day had given undue emphasis to the importance of this end of the line. I am disposed to believe that General Meade's somewhat vague orders to Sickles, and his failure personally to inspect the left of the line after daybreak in the morning,9 were the result of a conviction that the battle was to be fought upon the center and right.

I have spoken of the orders to Sickles as some-what vague. It would be more correct to speak of them as lacking emphasis rather than distinctness. Those orders were explicit enough to have been obeyed without difficulty, had proper care been taken to observe them. They were, that Sickles should take up the position from which Geary's division was to withdraw, in order to rejoin its own corps, the Twelfth, on the extreme right. Little Round Top, which forms a natural bastion, enfilading the low “curtain” known as Cemetery Ridge, strongly attracted the attention of Hancock on the afternoon of the 1st, and he dispatched that division, the first of the Twelfth Corps to arrive, with instructions to take position on the left of the First Corps and extend its own left to the hill. These instructions Geary had intelligently carried out, some of his regiments passing the night on Little Round Top. The slow development of Sickles's corps10 had allowed Geary, in pursuance of his own orders, to withdraw from his position of the night without being actually relieved therein; but a very little of good staff work would have sufficed to show where the line had been. Troops do not occupy ground without leaving palpable evidence of their presence. Meanwhile, the Second Corps had come up and taken position on Cemetery Ridge; the First Corps had been concentrated on the right; and Sickles's orders were repeated to him, by General Meade in person, to extend his command from the left of the Second Corps over the ground previously held by Geary. Those instructions should have sufficed; and yet the presence of General Meade for but a few moments, at that time, upon that part of the line, would have added an assurance that his plans were being carried out. As it proved, it was left to Meade to ascertain, in the crisis of the battle, that Little Round Top was unoccupied and uncovered. The promptitude and energy of that brilliant young officer, General G. K. Warren, and his instantaneous acceptance of grave responsibility in detaching troops of the Fifth Corps on a hurried march to reenforce Sickles, finally secured that vitally important position.

It does not come within the scope of this paper, nor is it necessary, to comment on the action of General Sickles in advancing his troops to the Emmitsburg road, breaking connection with Hancock on the right, and leaving Little Round Top undefended on his left and rear. There can be no question that he both made a mistake in point of judgment and failed properly to subordinate his views and acts to the instructions of his commander. That he defended the position he had taken with courage and address, and that his splendid troops exhibited unsurpassed gallantry and resolution, must be admitted by even the severest critic. General Meade, who had sought to withdraw the Third Corps from its false position, was compelled to desist when the roar of musketry told that the conflict had begun, and had to content himself with reenforcing the widely extended lines and hastily stopping the gaps through which the Confederates streamed in continually swelling numbers. Few commanders ever showed more resolution in fighting a seemingly lost battle, advanced their reserves more promptly, or stripped other parts of their lines with less hesitation. The Fifth Corps was instantly sent forward; Caldwells division and Willard's brigade, of the Second Corps, were thrown into the furious fight; General Meade himself brought up the reenforcements from the First and Twelfth corps, which finally completed the new line behind Plum Run, from which the exhausted Confederates fell back at nightfall. If one will compare the energy in which this action was conducted by General Meade with previous experiences of the Army of the Potomac, especially remembering the manner in which Porter was left to be overwhelmed at Gaines's Mill, the disconnected and desultory fighting at Antietam, and the conduct of affairs at Chancellorsville, one cannot fail to acknowledge that never before had the divisions of that army so closely supported each other or been so unreservedly thrown into the fight when and whe re most needed.11

The fall of night found the Potomac army in a situation that demanded the most grave and serious [410]

Monument to the 1st Massachusetts cavalry, on the site of Sedgwick's headquarters. From a photograph.

consideration. We had repulsed the last assaults ; but nearly twelve thousand men had fallen in the desperate battle of the afternoon; our whole left had been beaten back to the position assigned it in the morning; the two corps chiefly engaged, the Third and Fifth, had been shockingly depleted; the enemy had taken advantage of the absence of the greater portion of the Twelfth Corps to push around our right and seize a part of our line, holding, thus, an open gateway through which their troops could be advanced to seize the Baltimore pike. It was, indeed, a gloomy hour when General Meade assembled his corps commanders to consult upon the situation and to frame plans for the morrow. Fortunately, the spirit of the army was high and stern; the corps commanders were unanimous in the opinion that the battle should be fought out on existing lines; and the commander-in-chief remained resolute in the face of the terrible responsibilities confronting him.

It has been alleged, with much of circumstance, that General Meade sought to retreat from Gettysburg, and he carried to his grave this arrow rankling in his breast. Had that charge been substantiated it would have answered the double purpose of diminishing the fame of the commander-in-chief, and of giving to the advance upon the left the high credit of a movement which held the army at Gettysburg and brought about the conflict from which its commander was disposed to slink away.

The day of the 2d of July divides itself, for the present purpose, into three periods: before, during, and after the battle of the afternoon. Regarding the first period, General Butterfield declares that General Meade directed him, as chief-of-staff, to prepare plans for the withdrawal of the army. Were this admitted, it would prove nothing, since every general is bound to consider the contingency of defeat. Moreover, at Gettysburg there was an especial reason for being prepared for a sudden movement to the rear, inasmuch as the position which the army occupied was liable to be turned on the left. There was another weakness of the position calling for special precautions, viz.: the roads by which the Union army would have had to retreat, if beaten, ran back from the line of battle at an acute angle. But Butterfield's statement was directly contradicted by General Meade,12 than whom no man was more truthful. It is, moreover, inconsistent with the dispatch sent to Halleck [411] at 3 o'clock in the afternoon: “I have delayed attacking, to allow the Sixth Corps and parts of other corps to reach this place and rest the men. Expecting a battle, I ordered all my trains to the rear. If not attacked, and I can get any positive information of the position of the enemy which will justify me in so doing, I shall attack.”

The charge that General Meade, during the battle of the afternoon, actually undertook to retreat from the presence of the enemy, is founded upon a statement of General Pleasonton, dated October 16th, 1865, that at 5 o'clock, which was before Sickles's line had given way, he was directed to collect what cavalry he could and prepare to cover a retreat. This, again, if admitted, would amount to no more than a measure of precaution. But that statement is not only wholly uncorroborated by the official reports of the battle, Pleasonton's included, but it is inconsistent with Pleasonton's own testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, in March, 1864, in the course of which, on being asked whether he knew of General Meade “ever having had any idea of retreating from Gettysburg,” he replied that he “did not [412] remember.” What is the degree of probability that a chief of cavalry, who had, on so important an occasion as this, been engaged from 5 until 12 o'clock in bringing up and disposing his troops to cover the retreat of his army, should, first, have omitted to mention it in his official report, and, secondly, have failed to remember it nine months later, in reply to a specific and highly suggestive inquiry?

That on the evening of the 2d, after the battle, General Meade was disinclined to await further attacks in his position, is an imputation which rests upon much higher authority, for it has the word of General Slocum, an officer of honor, dignity of character, and firmness of purpose. Referring to the council of war, General Slocum, in a letter dated February 19th, 1883, makes the following statement: “When each officer had expressed his views General Meade said: ‘ Well, gentlemen, the question is settled; we will remain here, but I wish to say I consider this no place to fight a battle.’ ”

I would not speak lightly of any word of General Slocum, but it is far more probable that, at such a distance of time, he was mistaken, than that General Sedgwick had forgotten the incidents of the council when he wrote, on March 10th, 1864, “At no time, in my presence, did the general commanding insist upon or advise a withdrawal of the army.”

On the same point, General Gibbon wrote: “I never heard General Meade say one word in favor of a retreat, nor do I believe that he did so.” General A. S. Williams testified: “I heard no expression from him which led me to think he was in favor of withdrawing the army from before Gettysburg.” At a later date, General Howard wrote to Colonel George Meade, “I did not hear your father utter a word which made me think that he then favored a withdrawal of his troops.”

Certainly, if General Meade had such a momentary feeling as General Slocum understood him to express, it was in direct contradiction to his acts and words and bearing throughout those three memorable days. At all other times his spirit was bold and martial. From first to last he bore himself as one who came to fight, who wanted to fight, and who could not have too much fighting on equal terms. Whatever opinion men may hold as to the grade of Meade's generalship, those do him a gross injustice who represent him as ever, in any case, timid, vacillating, or reluctant to encounter the enemy. On the contrary, he was a man in whom high military scholarship and a serious sense of responsibility were often in conflict with “4 creature pugnacity” and stubbornness of temper.

Of the battle of the third day, the purpose of this paper requires us to say but little. When the lines had been rectified upon the left, and the Round Tops had been made secure, when the positions of the troops had been readjusted to secure due strength in every part, when all the points from which effective artillery fire could be obtained had been occupied, and when the intruding enemy upon the right had been driven out in the early morning by the energetic attack of the Twelfth Corps, reenforced from the Sixth,--when all this had been done, little remained but to await the assault which it was known General Lee must needs deliver, whether to prosecute his enterprise or to excuse his retreat. All that long morning, amid the dread silence, no man in the Potomac army could conjecture where that assault would be delivered; but no man in all that army doubted that it was to come.

At last the blow fell. As the spear of Menelaus pierced the shield of his antagonist, cut through the shining breastplate, but spared the life, so the division of Pickett, launched from Seminary Ridge, broke through the Union defense, and for the moment thrust its head of column within our lines, threatening destruction to the Army of the Potomac; then the broken brigades fled, with the loss of more than half their numbers, across the plain, which was shrieking with the fire of a hundred guns, and Gettysburg had been fought and won for the Union arms.

Into the questions, whether Meade should not have followed up the repulse of Pickett with a general advance of his own line, or, failing this, have attacked Lee at Falling Waters, on the 13th of July, we have no call to enter. General Meade was here entirely within his competence as the commander of an army. Any officer who is fit to be intrusted with such a charge is entitled to the presumption that, for decisions such as these, he had good and sufficient reasons, whatever may, at the time, have been the opinion of subordinates on whom did not rest the final responsibility of success or failure; yet in fact, in both these decisions General Meade was supported by a preponderance of authoritative opinion among his corps commanders and the staff-officers of greatest reputation.

I believe that, as time goes on and the events of the last days of June and the first days of July, 1863, are more and more carefully studied, in the light of all the facts, and with an impartial and dispassionate spirit, the weighty judgment of the illustrious chief of the Union artillery, General Henry J. Hunt,13 will be more and more fully approved. “He was right in his orders as to Pipe Creek; right, in his determination under certain circumstances to fall back to it; right, in pushing up to Gettysburg after the battle commenced; right, in remaining there; right, in making his battle a purely defensive one; right, therefore, in taking the line he did; right, in not attempting a counter-attack at any stage of the battle; right, as to his pursuit of Lee.”

1 To one not familiar with a cavalry night march in the face of the enemy it may be difficult to comprehend why it should differ materially from an advance by daylight, but to those who have had some experience this is easily understood. On a night march, in order to guard against surprise, flankers are thrown out on either side, who are supposed to keep abreast of the advance-guard. These flankers are under the supervision of the officer in charge of the advance, and no matter how dark the night is he must keep them sufficiently deployed to protect the column, and yet always have them well in hand. These flankers encounter all sorts of obstacles, such as ditches, ravines, fences, underbrush, woods, etc., and necessarily make slow progress. The time thus occupied compels the main body in the rear to make innumerable stops and starts, which are not only tedious and wearying, but annoying and irksome, and hard upon the horses, often causing the men to grow impatient and the officers to become irritable.--W. E. M.

2 As an evidence of how the division was reduced by hard marching and hard fighting it may be stated that the morning report of the 3d Pennsylvania on the 30th of June--one of the strongest regiments in the division — showed present for duty 29 officers, including field and staff, 365 enlisted men, and 322 serviceable horses. It will thus be manifest that we had seventy-two men whose horses had dropped from the ranks. Many of these men were traveling along on foot and carrying their saddles in the hope of procuring remounts. The above report was made out at Westminster. Our march from there through the broiling sun and clouds of dust entailed a still larger loss of men and horses from exhaustion, so that by the time we reached Gettysburg the 3d Pennsylvania did not number three hundred officers and men all told.--W. E. M.

3 Since the war, while going over the field in company with Mr. Rummel, he told me that he had dragged thirty dead horses out of this lane.--W. E. M.

4 The following incidents will illustrate in some degree with what desperation the men of both sides fought, as well as the character of the struggle. The first two incidents were related by Mr. Rummel, who aided in removing the dead. The last came under my personal notice. On going over the field, Mr. Rummel found two men--one a private in the 3d Pennsylvania, the other a Confederate--who had cut each other down with their sabers, and were lying with their feet together, their heads in opposite directions, and the blood-stained saber of each still tightly in his grip. At another point he found two men--one a Virginian, the other a 3d Pennsylvania man — who fought on horseback with their sabers until they finally clinched and their horses ran from under them. Their heads and shoulders were severely cut, and when found, their fingers, though stiff in death, were so firmly imbedded in each other's flesh that they could not be removed without the aid of force.

In the midst of the engagement, and immediately in front of Rummel's house, E. G. Eyster of H Company, 3d Pennsylvania Cavalry, captured a dismounted Confederate and covered him with his carbine. Eyster's attention becoming drawn off by the firing around him, the Confederate drew his revolver, shot Eyster's horse, and held the rider a prisoner. Just then Sergeant Gregg of A Company came upon the scene, and with his saber cut the Confederate to the ground. Before Gregg had time to turn another Confederate came up, and, with a right cut, sliced off the top of Gregg's scalp. Gregg, who subsequently rose to a captaincy in his regiment, and who died in 1886, had only to remove his hat to show a head as neatly tonsured as a priest's.

A singular coincidence occurred in connection with the above circumstance. Eyster and Gregg were both taken prisoners in the fight. Gregg, being wounded, was removed in an ambulance, and Eyster, with other prisoners, was compelled to walk. They were separated on the field. Eyster was sent to prison; Sergeant Gregg was taken to the hospital and was soon afterward exchanged. It so happened that when one came back to the regiment the other was absent, and vice versa, so that they never met again until sixteen years afterward at Gettysburg, where the regiment was holding a reunion. In going over the field Eyster was relating the story to Colonel John B. Bachelder, on the very spot where the above scene had occurred, when Gregg came up and they met for the first time since their separation on the ground.--W. E. M.

5 The Union loss, July 3d, was 30, k; 149, w; 75, m,--total, 254. Confederate: 41, k; 50, w; 90 m,--total, 181. The loss in Jenkins's (Confederate) brigade is not included in this computation.--editors.

6 “ The wisdom of Hooker's policy in desiring to assail the rebel communications is demonstrated by the fact that Lee immediately turned back. The head of the serpent faced about as soon as its tail was trodden upon.” (Doubleday's Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. )

7 General Lee's official report says: “The advance against Harrisburg was arrested by intelligence received from a scout, on the night of the 28th, to the effect that the army of General Hooker had crossed the Potomac and was approaching the South Mountain.”

8 The Comte de Paris says that Meade “should have gone in person to reconnoiter the localities around which the conflict was carried on, being only separated from it by about thirteen miles.” He says that Meade was “unwilling to go,” and “declined assuming the responsibility” of deciding whether it was expedient to deliver battle at Gettysburg or fall back to Pipe Creek; that, had he gone forward himself, “the concentration of the army would have been effected with more speed.”

The last-indicated advantage certainly is fictitious. Why should the transmission of orders to the more distant points have been more rapid from Gettysburg than from Taneytown? The manner in which the Fifth and Sixth corps were actually brought up showed no loss of time in effecting “the concentration of the army.”

The charge that Meade, in remaining at Taneytown, declined to assume the proper responsibilities of his position, is unfounded and unjust. How could the Union commander know that he might not the very next hour hear of a collision at some other point? His true place, until he had made up his mind where to concentrate, was the most central point. To go to Gettysburg was to leave a position which was midway between his two wings, and was also between Gettysburg and the proposed line on Pipe Creek.--F. A. W.

9 General Meade did, indeed, ride over the line on the left, about 1 o'clock; but it was then too dark to see the whole field, or to get a very clear view of anything.--F. A. W.

10 In his letter to Colonel Benedict, March 16th, 1870, General Meade states that Geary informed him that, “after waiting for some time to be relieved, he sent to General Sickles a staff-officer with instructions to explain the position and its importance, and to ask, if troops could not be sent to relieve him, that General Sickles would send one of his staff to see the ground and to place troops there on their arrival. He received, for reply, that General Sickles would attend to it in due time. No officer or troops came.”--F. A. W.

11 “You handled your troops in that battle as well, if not better, than any general has handled his army during the war. You brought all your forces into action at the right time and place, which no commander of the Army of the Potomac has done before.”--Halleck to Meade, July 28th, 1863.--F. A. W.

12 Before the Committee on the Conduct of the War General Meade testified as follows:

I have understood that an idea has prevailed that I intended an order should be issued on the morning of the 2d of July, requiring the withdrawal of the army or the retreat of the army from Gettysburg, which order was not issued owing simply to the attack of the enemy having prevented it. In reply to that, I have only to say that I have no recollection of ever having directed such an order to be issued, or ever having contemplated the issuing of such an order, and that it does seem to me that to any intelligent mind who is made acquainted with the great exertions I made to mass my army at Gettysburg on the night of July 1st, it must appear entirely incomprehensible that I should order it to retreat, after collecting all my army there, before the enemy had (lone anything to require me to make a movement of that kind.

At another time General Meade testified as follows;

I deny under the full solemnity and sanctity of my oath, and in the firm conviction that the day will come when the secrets of all men shall be known — I utterly deny ever having intended or thought, for one instant, to withdraw that army, unless the military contingencies, which the future should develop during the course of the day, might render it a matter of necessity that the army should be withdrawn.

Of the witnesses referred to by General Meade, General Henry J. Hunt denied any knowledge of such an order or of such intention to retreat. See also p. 297.

That part of General Daniel Butterfield's testimony relating to the matter reads as follows:

General Meade then directed me to prepare an order to withdraw the army from that position. I stated to him that it would be necessary that I should know the exact position of the troops.”

Question: “What day of the fight was this?”

Answer: “This was in the morning of the 2d of July, before the battle of that day had commenced. I stated to General Meade that I could not prepare the order properly without first going over the field and ascertaining the positions of each division and corps of the army with relation to the roads. General Meade replied that he could not wait for that — that he could show me where the troops were. He then took a pencil and a piece of paper and made a rough sketch; showing the position of the different corps. I stated to him that the order was one requiring a great deal of care in its preparation; that it involved something more than logistics, as we were in the presence of the enemy, and that while preparing it I must not be interrupted by anybody coming to me with dispatches or orders. He said, ‘ Very well, you shall not be interrupted.’ I told him I thought I could not prepare the order without a more accurate sketch, and I would have to send out to the corps commanders to give me a report of the position of their troops in regard to the various roads; that in the meanwhile I could be studying the maps. He said, ‘Very well, do so.’ I went upstairs, and, after carefully studying the maps, I prepared the order for the withdrawal of the army from the field of Gettysburg. After finishing it I presented it to General Meade, and it met his approval. I then stated to him that it would be a great deal better if that order was to be executed, as it might involve grave consequences if not properly executed, to submit it for careful examination to such general officers as were then present, with a view of giving them an opportunity of finding any fault with it then, so that no misunderstanding should arise from the manner in which it was worded or expressed. He said there was no objection to having it done. I called General Gibbon, who was present, and, I think, General Williams and General fngalls, and stated to them that I had been directed to prepare this order, and that I would be very much obliged to any of them if they would look it over and point out any faults in it then, rather than after it was put into execution; that I desired it scrutinized carefully with a view of discovering anything in it which might be misunderstood. Some of these officers — I do not remember which; I am very sure General Gibbon was one--I think General Hancock was there, but whether he read it over or not I am not sure — some of the officers read it over and said that they thought it was correctly prepared. The corps commanders were then sent for by General Meade to report to headquarters. The order which I had prepared was given to General Williams, and was copied by the clerks, or was in process of being copied by them. As General Sickles rode up to headquarters, in pursuance of the request of General Meade, the battle broke out in front of General Sickles's corps, and there was no council held. General Sickles returned immediately, and every corps commander then rode immediately to his command. Without my memoranda I cannot fix the hour of this occurrence, but it was during the 2d day of July . . .”

Question: “Did this collision of General Sickles's corps with the enemy prevent the order being executed which you had prepared?”

Answer: “It is impossible for me to state that, because General Meade had not communicated to me his intention to execute the order regardless of the opinion of the corps commanders, or whether he intended to have the order submitted to them. He merely directed me to prepare such an order, which I did. It is for him to say whether he intended to execute it or not. He may have desired it prepared for an emergency without any view of executing it then, or he may have had it prepared with a full view of its execution.”

Question: “The collision of Sickles's troops with the enemy broke up the council?”

Answer: “It prevented any consultation of corps commanders at that time.”

General Seth Williams, assistant adjutant-general on Meade's staff, testified:

“ In regard to the order of the 2d of July, to the best of my recollection and belief, the chief-of-staff either handed to me or to my clerk an order looking to a contingency which possibly might happen, of the army being compelled to assume a new position. To the best of my belief such an order was prepared, and I presume it may have been signed by me and possibly copiers may have been prepared for the corps and other commanders. Orders of such character are usually made out in manfiold in order to save time. The particular order in question, however, was never distributed; no vestige of it is to be found among any of the records of my office, and it must have been destroyed within a day or two after it was prepared. I have no reason to suppose other than the fact that the order was given to me or my chief clerk by the chief-of-staff, that General Meade had any knowledge of it. It was not for me to look beyond the orders of the chief-of-staff. Whether or not a copy of that order was given to Major-General Butterfield, who was then acting as chief-of-staff, I am unable to say, and I cannot certainly state whether the rough draft was ever handed back to him. I only know that there is nothing in relation to that order to be found among the records in my charge. The order was never recorded, or issued in any sense. I do not now remember the exact tenor of the order, but to the best of my belief it was an order which, if carried out, would have involved a retrograde movement of the army.

General John Gibbon testified that General Butterfield asked him to read the order for retreat and to compare it with a map. He added:

General Butterfield did not say General Meade did intend to leave; he merely said something to the effect that it was necessary to be prepared in case it should be necessary to leave, or some remark of that kind. He then showed me the order, and either he read it over and I pointed out the places on the map, or I read it over and he pointed out the places to which each corps was to go. When he got through, I remarked that it was all correctly drawn up.


13 In his letter to General A. S. Webb, January 19th, 1888, quoted by permission.--F. A. W.

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