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Chapter 25: the battle of Gettysburg; the second and third day

When the troops that had gathered on Cemetery Hill went to sleep the night of Wednesday, July 1, 1863 they anticipated that Lee would renew the attack upon them very early the next morning from the direction of our right, for two reasons: one that reports showed that Ewell's men had been working off into that quarter, where they had the shelter of trees. And the other reason was, that we thought that greater immediate results to the Confederates could be expected by promptly crushing our right flank, seizing Benner's, Culp's, and Cemetery hills, and so dislodging us from our strong position embracing those hills and the Round Tops.

Now we know several reasons why General Lee did not do this. He had meditated that plan; in fact, he had given the order to attempt it, provided that Culp's Hill could be carried without too much cost. But, undoubtedly, he was influenced by a reconnoissance of Ewell, who reported an assault impracticable, and by his finding a Union dispatch concerning Slocum's arrival, which showed not only Culp's Hill, but the rough-wooded ground eastward to be already completely occupied. So that though every preparation, even of issuing orders to his officers, had been made to make our extreme right the main point of attack, [421] yet Lee, before daylight of July 2d, had completely changed his mind and plan.

General Lee says: “The preparations for the actual attack were not completed till the afternoon of July 2d.”

Ewell occupied the left of his line, Hill the center, and Longstreet the right. The morning of July 2d, when Lee's attack was expected by us, Law's brigade of Longstreet's corps was behind at Guilford for picket duty; and Pickett's division was not yet up from Chambersburg. Longstreet, thinking his present force too weak for attack, determined upon waiting for Law's brigade.

Among the preparations of the forenoon were the locating of the batteries. Pendleton, Lee's chief of artillery, had worked hard during the night. Ewell's batteries were posted, Latimer's holding the easternmost height available. A. P. Hill's guns were mainly on Seminary Hill, within comfortable range. All this was already done by daylight. But General Lee now planned to attack our left, so that General Pendleton, about sunrise, was over there surveying. So close was he to our lines that he captured two of our armed cavalrymen.

Somehow, Pendleton and several other officersen-gineers and artillery-spent all the morning in surveying and reconnoitering. Probably the nearness of our troops made the work slow and embarrassing.

Longstreet and Pendleton got together opposite our flank about twelve o'clock. There was now much sharpshooting, and at last, as the Confederate artillery of Longstreet was moving into its selected positions, a “furious cannonade” was opened from our side. This necessitated a quick removal of the marching column — the [422] column-farther off to a better cover.

But, finally, about 4 P. M., Longstreet, having made a long march from his camp, began the battle of the second day in earnest. And, indeed, all this delay was good for us. For one, I am glad that Lee chose our left as his point of attack; glad that Longstreet had considerable marching to do before he could bring his excellent troops into position; glad that Pendleton had much trouble in surveying and spent much time at it, and glad also that General Hunt, our artillery chief, had sharp eyes and quick apprehension, and succeeded for hours in disturbing that artillery so essential to the enemy's success. We could better understand the situation from our side, for we had high points of observation and could take in the field. There was no shrubbery then to obstruct our view.

At 7 P. M. the evening of July 1st I received the first intimation that Hancock, junior to me in rank, had been placed in command. When I read the written order of General Meade, I immediately wrote him asking him if he disapproved of any of my actions during the first day's battle. It is a little surprising how much historic statements differ, and often about the least important affairs. Take the statements of generals made at different places; for example, in the reports in the committee rooms of Congress, and in subsequent writings, often executed far from their records. Those of the same officer, as to time and place, often vary strangely. Others catch up these discrepancies and impute untruth and false intent, till much bad blood is stirred up. Even the time of Meade's arrival at the cemetery gate is a point of controversy; one officer putting it at 1 A. M. of July 2d, another [423] at a later hour. I have been confident that it was about 3 A. M., because the time seemed so short to daylight. He was riding at the head of his escort. I met him just inside the gate. The first words he spoke to me were very kind. I believed that I had done my work well the preceding day; I desired his approval and so I frankly stated my earnest wish. Meade at once assured me that he imputed no blame; and I was as well satisfied as I would have been with positive praise from some other commanders. General Sickles joined us as we were talking. I told Meade at once what I thought of the cemetery position. We could have held it even if Lee had pressed his attack the evening before, for Slocum's division had come up and been placed. Sickles had heeded my call and was on hand with a part of his corps. He and Geary and Buford's cavalry together then took care of the left. Out batteries had been placed, and then the simple fact that so much help had already arrived gave heart to our officers and men, who had become discouraged in losing the Seminary Ridge. Therefore, I said to Meade with emphasis: “I am confident we can hold this position.”

Slocum expressed himself as equally confident: “It is good for defense.”

Sickles, who had been able to get a glimpse of the Round Tops as he marched past them, and of the ridge, flanked by Culp's Hill and supported by Wolf's Hill, which Slocum's batteries firmly held after his arrival, was prepared with his opinion:

It is a good place to fight from, general!

Meade's reply to us pleased me: “I am glad to hear you say so, gentlemen, for it is too late to leave it.”

There was a bright moon, so the dawn of day crept [424] upon us unawares. Before sunrise I rode with General Meade along our lines toward the left. These lines, much extended, with long intervals, did not appear very favorable; a sleeping army, at best, suggests weakness; the general saw the needs. He sat upon his horse as the sun was rising, and with his field glass took a survey of the Cemetery Ridge and its environments. We were upon the highest ground within the cemetery inclosure.

The Confederate artillery was occasionally firing. The skirmishing at intervals was a restless, nervous fusillade near the town and off to the right in the woods. I stood at that same point of observation during the most exciting epoch of the great battle. I was there when the cornerstone of the soldier's monument was laid. I stood at the same center some years later amid a group of friends and explained some of the varied scenes of the conflict, and never without emotion; but the impression of that beautiful morning is ineffaceable. The glorious landscape, with its remarkable variety of aspect, in the fresh morning light, like a panorama was spread before our eyes. I need not rehearse its pictorial summary, for I hardly think Meade was considering the panorama at all-the mountains, the groves and the valleys, with their variety of productions, or the streams of waterexcept in their evident relationship to his military plans.

What he soon did, after he had ridden away slowly and thoughtfully, is the true key to his thought. For, by his direction, Slocum's entire corps went quickly to the right to hold the rough-wooded slopes from Culp's Hill to McAllister's Mill. Ames, Steinwehr, Schurz, Robinson, and Doubleday, with their respective divisions, [425] remained substantially the same as I had located them on their arrival at the cemetery the day before. These continued their line from Culp's Hill southward to near Zeigler's Grove. Hancock now brought the Second Corps to occupy a short front on the highest ground by Zeigler's Grove. Sickles gathered the Third Corps and tried to fill the whole space from Hancock to the Little Round Top. His formation, finally, was to push far out to the peach orchard and draw back his left to the Devil's Den, and then put Humphreys's division forward beyond the Emmittsburg road, well to the right.

From Humphreys in front of Hancock's left the ground was occupied by Birney's division. These divisions formed an angle at the peach orchard. For a time the Fifth Corps arriving, was placed in reserve; and all the army reserve of artillery Hunt carefully placed in the angle between the Baltimore pike and the Taneytown road. Buford's cavalry had gone to the rear for rest and to protect the trains, and, by some unaccountable misunderstanding, no cavalry whatever was in the vicinity of our left during July 2d. Sickles's position was questioned; it was outside of the natural line from Zeigler's Grove to the Round Tops. But, as there was no cavalry there and no masses of other troops to protect his left, it was a fortunate circumstance that Sickles had pushed out as he did, simply that it gained time for General Meade and secured Little Round Top against capture.

I, myself, from the cemetery could not see the Confederates' attack, for their objective was the rough and precipitous Little Round Top. It took Longstreet over two hours to dislodge and drive back Sickles and the supports Meade sent him, and caused a most dreadful [426] general contest amid this mass of rock and stony hillock.

As soon as the firing began in earnest, Meade rode near his left flank, and ordered up the Fifth Corps, which entered the battle, led by the vigilant Warren, Meade's chief engineer, and held Little Round Top to the end. The grand old Sixth Corps, having made its thirty-two miles, continuing its march through the night, had filed into position in our rear. It was then the strongest corps, well commanded and ready for use. Hancock's corps, too, was well concentrated and near at hand. As the fight waxed hotter, Meade sent for Slocum's two divisions, leaving only Greene's brigade, beyond Culp's Hill, to face the eastern half of Ewell's corps.

Sickles, like Hood, was at last badly wounded and carried from the field. Then Birney took his place.

The battle was almost over when, just before sunset, a Confederate regiment crossed our line through an open space. Colonel Willard was killed there and his men were falling fast. Hancock himself led the First Minnesota to the exposed point, and they drove back the intruders. Williams's division from Slocum had now come to reenforce the Minnesota men.

During this second day my own command played but a small part in the engagement, except the artillery of the Eleventh Corps, which was incessantly at work from the commencement of Lee's assault.

During the afternoon and evening of July 2d General Ewell, who had succeeded Stonewall Jackson, enveloped our right with his corps, Rodes in and near the town, Edward Johnson opposite our right, and Early between the two. Ewell certainly had instructions [427] to attack at the same time that Longstreet opened his fire opposite Little Round Top.

First, neither he nor his generals could distinguish Longstreet's firing; second, a portion of his command was sent off, far to his left and rear, to meet a force of “Yankees” reliably reported to be turning his left flank. Naturally he delayed a while to get back these troops, because, at the best-judging by natural obstacles and artificial hindrances behind which were the bravest of our infantry and a mighty concentration of artillery-he had assigned to him a task not easy to perform. Under these circumstances few generals ever succeed in getting many brigades to act simultaneously, especially where the ground is exceedingly broken and wooded, where few of the troops can see each other.

On the Confederate side, just about the time when the last of Slocum's column was disappearing and the diligent Greene was endeavoring to so extend his one brigade as to occupy the roughly fortified line just vacated, Johnson, the Confederate, was moving forward his division, astonished to meet with almost no opposition. Johnson went into the woods, stumbled over rocks and stones, forded Rock Creek, drove in and captured a few skirmishers and small detachments, and quietly took possession of Ruger's works; but suddenly from the direction of Culp's Hill he encountered a most annoying fire.

Greene had drawn back his line, turning a little on his left as a pivot, until he could bring an oblique fire. Johnson, perceiving this danger menacing his right, turned and attacked Greene's front and right near the Culp's Hill with those two brigades nearest and immediately available. Again and again the assault was renewed [428] with a sort of angry fury and always as coolly repulsed. Greene's men were sheltered and lost but few. The Confederates piled up their dead and wounded to little purpose. One brigade commander fell among the assailants, and the other was obliged at last to discontinue the useless onslaught, but not until between nine and ten at night.

Wadsworth had so extended his lines as to strengthen Greene's, giving him perhaps one regiment of his own for reserve. As soon as the attack commenced, Greene sent to Wadsworth for assistance, to which he readily responded. Afterwards, Greene came and thanked me for the good service done in his night fight by the Eighty-second Illinois, Forty-fifth New York, and Sixty-first Ohio, sent by me to his assistance from the Eleventh Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Otto, of Schurz's staff, who led this detachment, was also highly commended.

I remember well when Otto promptly volunteered to guide these troops into position. Somehow it always affected me strongly to behold a hearty and fearless young man, after receiving an order, set forth without reluctance to execute it under such circumstances that there were few chances of ever seeing him again. So I felt as Otto went forth that night into the gathering gloom.

I count among the remarkable providences at Gettysburg the want of concert of action among the Confederate commanders. When Edward Johnson gave the command “Forwardl” it was understood that Jubal Early would move at the same time; yet it was at least an hour later before Early began his attack. He had waited for the return from the flank march of his two brigades. Yet as soon as one had [429] arrived he set his troops in motion. Early's first and second brigades, having been long in position, lying quietly under the cover of the Cemetery Hill on its north side, suddenly, after a new spurt of artillery, and just at dusk, sprang forward to assault my corps. He was governing himself by the adjoining brigade of A. P. Hill's corps on the right. Certainly this was fortunate for us, for the two large brigades that did attack --the one of Louisiana and the other of North Carolina troops — were quite enough. It was after seven o'clock when the first cry, shrill and ominous, was heard in front of Ames's division. The Louisiana men, well named “Louisiana tigers,” came on with a rush, broke through the front of Von Gilsa's brigade and other points of my curved front, and almost before I could tell where the assault was made, our men and the Confederates came tumbling back together. Quickly they were among the intrenched batteries of Major Osborn, whose fire was intended strongly to support that bastioned front of the cemetery. Schurz and I were standing near, side by side. At my request he faced Colonel Krzyzanowski's brigade about, now not over 800 men, and double-quicked them to the relief of Wiederich's battery. When they arrived the battery men had not left their guns. Ames's men were assisting them with their rifles, they were wielding hand spikes, abandoned muskets, sponge staffs, or anything they could seize, to keep the enemy from dragging off their guns. The batteries were quickly cleared and promptly used, but the broken lines were not yet restored. Hancock, quick to understand — not more than a quarter of a mile away-“hearing a heavy engagement” on my front, and judging the firing to be coming nearer and nearer to his position, caused Gibbon [430] to detach the brigade of Colonel S. S. Carroll to my support. Colonel Carroll was at that time a young man of great quickness and dash. His brigade was already deployed in the darkness at right angles to the general front, and swept along northward to the right of Krzyzanowski, past the cemetery fence and batteries, and on, on, with marvelous rapidity, sweeping everything before it, till by his energetic help the entire broken front was completely reestablished. General A. S. Webb, a generous and cooperative commander, also sent two of his regiments to my aid. The lines were thus reestablished; then, by the help of General Newton, who commanded the Fifth Corps, I was enabled to shorten my front and have sufficient reserves to prevent the possibility of such a break again.

Early made a few desperate attempts to regain what he had just lost. One of his brigade commanders, Colonel Avery, was killed, and his men were falling rapidly, so that he at last gave up the struggle. Every effort against Culp's Hill, on either flank of it, had come too late to be of any avail in Lee's main attack against the Round Tops, and had been vigorously and promptly met with plenty of troops. But yet, as Geary, next to Greene, and Ruger, nearer McAllister's Mill, began to skirmish back in the night with the hope of resting within their strong barricade, they found to their surprise that these strong lines were held by at least two brigades of the enemy under Edward Johnson. Taking up excellent positions for defense so as to bring an abundant cross fire into those woods and ravines east of Culp's Hill and west of McAllister's Mill, the troops threw themselves on the ground for a brief rest. Meanwhile General Slocum [431] was diligently preparing, determined to regain the stony and log barricades, which an incident of the terrible battle of July 2d had caused him to lose. So ended that day's and that night's conflict.

Thus far it was a drawn battle. We had barely held.our own recovered ground temporarily lost at the center, fought desperately and prevented extreme disaster on the left; but we had gone to sleepConfederates and Union men, many in different parts of the same intrenchments.

The ground was covered with the groanings and moanings of the wounded. While the soldiers were sleeping, the medical men with their ambulances, their lanterns, and their stretchers, aided here and there by a chaplain or a member of the Christian Commission, were going from point to point to do what little they could for the multitude of sufferers. Imagine, then, how we corps commanders felt in view of all this as we came together at Meade's headquarters (on the Taneytown road) for a brief council of war. Two questions were asked: First, “Shall we remain here” Second, “Shall we remain on the defensive or shall we take the offensive” We voted to remain and fight, but not to begin an attack. Lee, on his side, indicates his thought in the report of the campaign in his quiet way of writing, as he says: “These partial successes determined me to continue the assault next day.”

It is not always the case that the characteristics of a young man at school or college remain the same in after life, but in the case of my classmate, Thomas H. Ruger, the marked characteristics of his school days followed him, to be even more observable in his active manhood. Deliberative, cautious, and yet fearless; persistent, and, if unfairly pressed, obstinate to the [432] last degree; it was a good thing that a division fell to him at Gettysburg.

It was a wise order given by Williams, the corps commander, to send Ruger back to hold the extreme right of Slocum's line, it being the right of our main line, after his troops could be of no further use in rear of Hancock's Second Corps.

It must have been after nine o'clock in the night, when, moving along the Baltimore turnpike, Ruger cautiously covered the left of his column by flankers or by skirmishers, “to ascertain if the enemy held any part of the breastworks, and if not, to occupy them at once.” The breastworks held an enemy, so several of Ruger's skirmishers were captured. But Ruger, finding a little farther on, beyond a swale which makes into the Rock Creek, that a portion of his barricaded line which he had left in the morning had not been discovered by Johnson's men, reoccupied it at once and strongly posted his division so as to bring an oblique fire upon the sleeping enemy's stronghold. Geary by midnight had worked himself into a corresponding line near Culp's Hill, prolonging that of Greene's, where the early night battle had been fought. Geary faced so as to take the same sleeping enemy with an oblique fire from the other side of the swale. Ruger's and Geary's lines, when prolonged southward, met somewhere beyond the Baltimore pike. Batteries were located on Power's Hill near that point, in the actual interval between the lines, so as to sweep all the approaches; and, besides, two regiments (the Twentieth Connecticut and the One Hundred and Seventh New York) were deployed in the same interval, so that there should be some little direct opposition should the Confederate general, Edward Johnson, endeavor [433] to seize the famous turnpike, which at daylight he was bound to discover through the slight opening in the wood, the turnpike being only about 700 yards distant.

It appears that the Union commander (in spite of the council of war) and the Confederate had each ordered an attack at daylight. Geary first opened fire with his artillery, continuing it for ten minutes. Then, Geary's troops, or a part of them, began to advance, when the Confederates, also taking the offensive, made a rapid charge along Geary's entire front, shouting as they came; but the Union troops cheered back defiantly, fired rapidly, and yielded no ground.

At last, with Slocum's abundant artillery at Power's Hill and following up Geary's victorious shouting, Ruger's entire division swept forward and, in conjunction with Geary's men, reoccupied those barricades which had by that time cost five hours of hard fighting and carnage which pen cannot describe.

After returning from Meade's headquarters the evening before, as everything was quiet, I made my bed within a fenced lot of the cemetery and took this opportunity, after extraordinary and prolonged effort and want of rest, to get a good sleep, not minding a grave for a pillow. I heard nothing till I was startled by combined artillery and musketry which I have just described, and which appeared near at hand. The roaring of the cannon seemed like thunder, and the musketry may be compared to hail striking a flat roof, growing louder as the storm increases, or lessening as it subsides. I sent immediately to General Meade to inquire what the combat meant. The answer was: “The Twelfth Corps is regaining its lines.” Five years afterwards I walked over that rough battlefield. The breastworks of logs and stones, though dilapidated, [434] were still traceable. Trees and old stumps were full of holes made by rifle bullets and enlarged by the knives of relic seekers. Quite sizable trees were fully cut off, some broken and falling or shattered as with lightning bolts. Even the large rocks, partially covered with moss, by the thousands of discolored spots showed how they had been exposed to the leaden storm. It would not be strange if Slocum and his officers felt that the main Gettysburg battle had been there.

On July 3d the time from the cessation of Slocum's battle to the beginning of Longstreet's last attack was about three hours. During this time, when Lee was making his best preparations for a last effort, our cavalry was doing us good service on the flanks. Stuart, after his raid, had returned, to be sent by Lee to so place himself beyond our right as to do us the greatest possible damage in case of our defeat. But the vigilant General Gregg, with his veteran brigades, was in that quarter. A severe battle, involving cavalry and artillery, occurred well out of town and in the vicinity of the Bonaughton road. Judging by all accounts, it seems to have been a fierce duel, where both parties suffered greatly, losing nearly 1,000 men on each side; but Gregg had the satisfaction of defeating the purpose of his adversary, who was, of course, soon obliged to withdraw to guard the flanks of his own defeated army.

On our left, where General Farnsworth fell, Kilpatrick's division contended-often at great disadvantage — with the different portions of Longstreet's infantry. There were only two brigades-Merritt's and Farnsworth's. They seem to have been intent upon capturing sundry supply wagons that hove in sight, [435] when they were obliged to meet and hold in check the best infantry troops of the South. They were badly injured, with heavy losses.

The final effort of General Lee against our left had two parts or periods: first, the work of his artillery; second, the assault of his infantry. He chose for his point of attack not Little Round Top, but “the umbrella trees,” a landmark near Zeigler's Grove, which was easier of approach, and he believed would give even better fruits to his hopes if once firmly seized and manned with abundant artillery. It was not easy for our glasses to determine the new position of Lee's guns.

Near the ground occupied by Sickles at the beginning of the battle of July 2d, extending along the Emmittsburg road was a semicircular line of about forty pieces, farther south a few more, and on higher ground, as if in tiers, the remainder of that portion of Lee's artillery assigned to Longstreet, who was to attack the command. There were concentrated in this neighborhood at least 140 cannon. The ranges to the point of attack would vary from 1,000 to 2,000 yards.

Pickett's division of three brigades was to make the main attack. It was formed with Kemper on the right, Garnett on the left, and Armistead in rear. Pickett's main force had in support Willcox's brigade on its right and Pettigrew's six brigades on its left.

On our side, Hunt had arranged the artillery into four divisions:

1. On Cemetery Heights, under Osborn, having a large sweep of the front and right of my positions, 50 cannon.

2. Hazzard had 30 finely located close to the crest near Zeigler's Grove. [436]

3. McGilvery about 40, near Little Round Top, favorable for a direct or oblique fire; and

4. The reserve, which Hunt kept ready under shelter, for quick replacement of any which might become disabled.

The infantry had changed place but little.

The brigades now most exposed to direct assault were those of Smyth and Willard (Hays's division), and Webb, Hall, and Harrow (Gibbon's division).

At last two signal guns were fired. Then, after just interval enough to mark well the signal, the cannonading began in good earnest. At first the hostile fire was unusually accurate, neither firing too high nor too low, and the projectiles were showered upon the space between Zeigler's Grove and Little Round Top about the center of our line.

But as soon as Osborn set his guns in play from the cemetery, and McGilvery had opened up his forty pieces from Little Round Top, the Confederate artillerists undertook to give blow for blow, striking blindly toward the most troublesome points. We concentrated our aim more than they. Over 200 heavy guns now fired as fast as men could load and fire; they filled the whole region of mountain, hill, and valley with one continuous roar, instantly varied by sudden bolts at each lightning flash from the cannon's mouth, and by the peculiar, shrill screech of the breaking shells. Then the crash of destruction, the breaking of carriages, the killing and wounding of men — in one of my regiments twenty-seven fell at a single shot. General Meade's headquarters were for a time in the hottest place; the house was riddled with shot, the chimnley knocked in pieces, the dooryard plowed with them, officers and men wounded, and the many patient horses [437] killed, and, what seemed worse, others dreadfully wounded. My horses and those of my staff were nearer the cemetery behind a projecting cliff. The German boy, Charley Weiss, then Colonel Balloch's orderly, was holding a number of them; a fragment of an iron missile struck him, clipping off his left arm. Mrs. Sampson, caring for him, said: “Poor boy, I'm sorry for you l” Weiss sprang up in bed and, lifting his remaining arm, said with vigor: “I'm not a poor boy. General Howard has lost his right arm and I my left. That's all there is about it!”

So every part of that field was visited. Men were killed while straightening their teams; while carrying orders; on horseback; on foot, while talking, eating, or lying down. The lowest ground in our rear was quickly cleared of noncombatants, camp followers, and overcurious civilians. No orders were needed after the first bombshell exploded there. The air was so full of terror and death-dealing fragments that every man at first must have doubted if he should ever see the light of another day. Yet the majority in both armies were now well accustomed to artillery, and, shielding themselves by every possible cover at hand, quietly waited for this firing to cease. We stopped first. We did not want to waste ammunition, and knew what would follow that extraordinary cannonade. Many of the Confederate leaders thought that their fearful artillery had disabled ours and silenced the batteries.

During this artillery duel I had been watching the events, sitting in front of my batteries on the slope of Cemetery Hill. Feeling that my greatest danger came from the strippings of the shells as they flew over my head, I had cracker boxes piled behind us-affording protection from our own cannon. In the lull I suddenly [438] observed beautiful lines of regiments as on parade emerging from the woods in rear of the enemy's cannon. I seemed to see a mile of frontage. The flags, still bright in the thinning haze of the sunlight, waved prettily, and looked like ours. This was Pickett's division and came forward at a rapid pace. Our artillery began with round shot and shells to make openings in their ranks, but they were quickly closed. Nearer, nearer the Confederates came; the front was narrower now and the flanks traceable. It was more like a closed column, and bore to its left and aimed for Zeigler's Grove front. Hays, Gibbon, Doubleday, and their brigade commanders and all their commands, in two lines, were behind the slight barricades and the walls, waiting the word. Hancock was on hand, and General Stannard placed the Vermonters brigade among the trees at an angle so as to fire obliquely. Pickett's right flank was now plain to McGilvery; his 40 guns poured in their deadly shot, and suddenly the whole front of Hancock's line was ablaze with small arms. The Confederates were mowed down like the wheat in harvest; yet not all, for they did not stop.

They advanced in the face of a “galling fire” of both infantry and artillery “to about 20 paces from our wall, when, for a few moments, they recoiled under a terrific fire” ; then were “rushing forward with unyielding determination and an apparent spirit of laudable rivalry to plant the Southern banner on the walls of the enemy.”

The fighting over the wall became hand to hand, but Pickett's force was too weak. It looked for and “hoped for support, but hoped in vain.” The end must come to such an unequal contest. As a sample, one brigade went into action with 1,427 officers and [439] men, and came off with only 300. General Garnett, always cool and self-possessed, was shot from his horse, just in front of the fatal wall. Willcox and Perry, with their supporting brigades, blinded doubtless by the storm of shot and shell, had veered toward the right and Pickett had borne toward the left; thus the right support was lost to the main charge. The support of Pettigrew and others on Pickett's left was more real, but in such a sudden change and quick repulse this force came up only to suffer losses with no substantial result.

The heaviest blow struck Webb's brigade. Armistead reached the wall with about 100 men, but fell inside mortally wounded. Beyond that wall Garnett and Pettigrew had already fallen. The most of that part of Webb's brigade posted here abandoned their position, but fortunately were not put to rout altogether. Webb, with a rifle in his hand broken by a shot and a bleeding head, rallied them to reenforce the rest of his brigade. Plenty of help soon came. I saw our own brigades quickly, in some apparent confusion, with flags flying, charge upon the weakened foe. The Confederates were everywhere beaten back; many became prisoners; many others threw away their arms and lay upon the ground to avoid the firing, while the whole front was strewn with the dead and dying.

The last operation on the evening of July 3d was a sweep over the field in front of Little Round Top by McCandless's brigade and some few other troops. This was ordered by Meade himself. By this movement the whole of the ground lost the previous day was retaken together with all our wounded, who, until then, mingled with Confederates, were lying on the field uncared for. [440]

It is sometimes said to me that writing and speaking upon the events of the war may have a deleterious influence upon youth. I can conceive of two reasons for such a warning-one, that a soldier by his enthusiasm may, even unconsciously, infuse into his writing and speech the war spirit, and thus incite strong desires in younger minds for similar excitements and deeds; and, secondly, a soldier deeply affected as he must have been in our great struggle for national existence, may not take sufficient pains in his accounts of historic incidents to allay any spirit of animosity or dissension which may still exist.

But with regard to the first, I think there is need of a faithful portraiture of what we may call the afterbattle, a panorama which shows with fidelity the fields covered with dead men and horses; with the wounded, numerous and helpless, stretched on the ground in masses, each waiting his turn; the rough hospitals with hay and straw for bedding, saturated with blood and wet with the rain; houses torn into fragments; every species of property ruthlessly demolished or destroyed-these, which we cannot well exaggerate, and such as these, cry out against the horrors, the hateful ravages, and the countless expense of war. They show plainly to our children that war, with its embodied woes and furies, must be avoided, except as the last appeal for existence, or for the rights which are more valuable than life itself.

When I dwell on the scenes of July 4th and 5th at Gettysburg, the pictures exhibiting Meade's men and Lee's, though now shadowy from time, are still full of terrible groupings and revolting lineaments.

There is a lively energy, an emulous activity, an exhilarating buoyancy of spirit in all the preparations [441] for an expected battle, and these feelings are intensified into an increased ardor during the conflict; but it is another thing to see our comrades there upon the ground with their darkened faces and swollen forms; another thing to watch the countenances of friends and companions but lately in the bloom of health, now disfigured, torn, and writhing in death; and not less affecting to a sensitive heart to behold the multitude of strangers prone and weak, pierced with wounds, or showing broken limbs and every sign of suppressed suffering, waiting for hours and hours for a relief which is long coming — the relief of the surgeon's knife or of death.

Several years ago I wrote: “I saw just before leaving the cemetery, on July 5th, a large plat of ground covered with wounded Confederates, some of whom had been struck in the first and some in the second day's battle, not yet attended to. The army surgeons and the physicians, who now flocked to their aid by every incoming railroad train from the North, were doing their best, yet it took time and unremitting labor to go through the mass. The dirt and blood and pallor of this bruised mass of humanity affected me in a manner I can never forget, pleading pathetically for peace and good will toward men.”

As to the second reason, any feeling of personal resentment toward the late Confederates I would not counsel or cherish. Our countrymen-large numbers of them-combined and fought us hard for a cause. They failed and we succeeded; so that, in an honest desire for reconcilement, I would be the more careful, even in the use of terms, to convey no hatred or reproach for the past. Such are my real convictions, and certainly the intention in all my efforts [442] is not to anger and separate, but to pacify and unite.

That morning (the 5th) I made a reconnoissance with a company of cavalry, the Eleventh Corps headquarters escort. It was immediately commanded by Captain Sharra. Major C. H. Howard, then my senior aid, was to accompany me. As we were moving out westerly, toward the Cashtown road, Captain Griffith, of Philadelphia, another staff officer, who being for that time in charge of making provision for the headquarters mess, had ridden out to see what he could find. Noticing our party in motion he rode quickly up to me and said: “General, you are going toward the enemy; please allow me to accompany youth!”

I answered: “Very well, if you desire to do so.”

The Confederates had already left the village and the Seminary Ridge. We passed on at a rapid pace till we came to a ridge fringed with trees. We saw the gray coats among the trees. The escort under Captain Sharra formed in order and charged quickly to the crest, and I followed on with my orderlies to find that the men had overtaken a number of stragglers from the Confederates and had taken them prisoners. The same thing was repeated at the next ridge, only this time, from the grove bordering the road, Sharra found a well-set ambuscade. The men in waiting fired upon the too eager horsemen. Major Howard and Captain Griffith had charged with the cavalry.

In my next letter home, written from Emmittsburg the next day (the 6th), I spoke of this scene and of Griffith: “I made a reconnoissance yesterday with some cavalry. We saw some men ahead that looked like stragglers. A dash was made by the cavalry, led [443] by Charles (Major Howard), Captain Griffith, and other officers. Poor Griffith was very badly wounded by a sudden fire from the woods and thickets; also two or three of his men. We all love Griffith very much. He is a pure-minded, noble man; has a wife in Philadelphia. The ball went quite through him. He is at Mrs. Taylor's in Gettysburg, and is quite comfortable. I talked with him, got strong expressions of his faith in God through Christ; read and prayed with him before leaving. I told him his wound (which afterwards proved fatal) was a punishment to me and not to him. Charles (Major Howard) is well, but we are all pretty well tired out. I long for rest.”

Before I left Gettysburg, with Professor Stoever, of the Lutheran Seminary, I paid a last visit to Captain Griffith. I read a few verses from the fourteenth chapter of John. When I said, “That where I am there ye may be also,” Griffith with his moist eyes looking in my face, said gently: “I am not afraid to die, General, and only regret to leave you and the dear ones at home.”

A member of the Christian Commission who was with Griffith until his good wife came, wrote: “I attended Captain Griffith's funeral on Wednesday (July 8th). I could speak with confidence of his Christian character and hope. He died triumphantly!”

My brother Rowland, of the Christian Commission, looked up our cousin, Major S. P. Lee, of the Third Maine. Lee's arm was shattered and had to be amputated at the shoulder. Lee had first served acceptably in the naval force, but concluded to change into the army, entering my old regiment as lieutenant after I left it by advancement. His gallantry and ability soon won him promotion. When found on the field the [444] major was unconscious and very low. It was not believed that he could recover. Yet by great care and good nursing, first by the friend I have named, and then by his wife, he gradually regained his health and strength.

So each family had its own sorrows and woundings after Gettysburg. Hancock, Gibbon, Webb, Butterfield (Meade's chief of staff), and so many others were wounded that commands changed hands. Meade did not immediately commence the pursuit, and when he did it was not made straight after the foe, but worked off to our left. My command in this moving was, part of the time, the Eleventh and the Fifth Corps combined. For some reason not at the time plain to me we were halted at Emmittsburg. Yet the halt was not long, for July 7th the two corps (the Fifth and the Eleventh) marched thirty miles to the Middletown Valley. The 8th, Schurz's division, was dispatched to Boonsboro. This preferred to support Buford's cavalry, which had some time before met the retreating Confederates and been engaged for hours. My other divisions guarded the mountain pass there till the arrival of other corps. I wrote the next day from Boonsboro (July 9, 1863): “We are near the enemy. Lee has not yet crossed the Potomac and we must have one more trial. God grant us success in the next battle. He has preserved us so many times, I begin to feel that He might do so to the end.”

It was six miles from Funkstown, where I then was the evening of the 12th, when Meade brought together his corps commanders and counseled with them with respect to the position, strength, and intention of Lee, who was intrenched facing us with his back to the river at Williamsport, and with respect to the wisdom of our [445] making an attack upon him there. Meade read us Lee's proclamation, apparently fresh and hearty, wherein ostensibly he courted an opportunity for another trial of strength under more favorable circumstances than those which caused him his reverse at Gettysburg. All regarded that proclamation as something to keep up Confederate courage, and allowed to come to us for “strategic” effect.

We had present, I think, nine corps commanders; six were of the opinion that we had better not assault Lee there. The other three, Wadsworth, Pleasonton, and I, pleaded for an immediate attack. Wadsworth had the First Corps temporarily and Pleasonton the cavalry corps.

A reconnoissance ordered by me on the 13th was made by one of Schimmelfennig's regiments, and Kilpatrick's cavalry, which Pleasonton had sent to Lee's left flank; as soon as the cavalry skirmishers had approached the enemy's line, he opened a brisk fire from infantry or dismounted cavalry. One or two pieces of his artillery also fired at random from a battery near the Williamsport road. After this reconnoissance, and on the information I could collect, I was impressed with a belief that the enemy would retreat without giving us battle, and it was with a hope of being able to make a lodgment on the enemy's left that I asked permission to make a reconnoissance at 3 A. M. of the next day (the 14th). Subsequently the commanding general's order for several simultaneous reconnoissances at 7 A. M. reached me. I also received word, in answer to my request, that orders had already been sent out, which would probably effect the purpose I proposed. But it happened that 7 A. M. was too late.

In a letter of July 14th, dated at Funkstown, Md., [446] where we had abutted against Lee's intrenched position till he effected a crossing by the deep ford and by a hastily constructed rickety bridge of boats, I wrote just after the works were emptied of his troops: “The enemy has got away from us again and gone back to the Potomac, having left a strongly fortified position. We do not know yet whether the Confederates have all crossed. ... Senator Wilson and Vice-President Hamlin visited us while here.”

I remember meeting them in the belfry of a large church on July 13th, in Funkstown, from which we could see what appeared to be Lee's extreme left flank. The letter further says: “Captain Harry M. Stinsongood, true, and faithful and brave as ever — has just reported that he had been in the enemy's evacuated works.” We hastened on that morning, after we found Lee's lines empty, to Williamsport.

En route I reproached an elderly, gray-haired Pennsylvania volunteer, belonging to a regiment of a very high number, for leaving his regiment and straggling. He said that he didn't think that officers who could let Lee escape that way should say much. In heart I then rather sympathized with his growl. He further remarked that we who rode on horses had a good deal to say. I asked him if he wanted to ride. He said that he would not object to that. I dismounted from my horse, which, by the aid of an orderly, the complaining soldier mounted, not removing his full equipments. It was not long before he found out where he was, and becoming very weary with trying to keep his seat, he begged to be allowed to walk and join his regiment. This was granted.

At the river the inhabitants told us that part of Lee's command had crossed the Potomac at Falling [447] Waters on a new bridge of boats; a part on flatboats at Williamsport, and more at a deep ford a little above that place; that many horses and men were drowned while fording the river.

The loss of Meade's army at Gettysburg is set down at 23,186, made up as follows: 2,834 killed, 13,709 wounded, and 6,643 missing. According to the hospital record we had 7,262 wounded prisoners and 13,--621 aggregate. I have been under the impression that Meade, who always had strong objections to overstate, has left an underestimate of the actual number of prisoners taken. General Lee's killed were over 5,500. The number that escaped as stragglers, as slightly ill, or having light wounds-many of whom went back to Virginia or farther south — is reckoned as about 10,000. Taking these figures, the aggregate loss of General Lee caused by the battle of Gettysburg is 29,121 from all causes.

If we put the two sums together, 23,186 and 29,121, we have 52,307 hors de combat. Aggregating the wounded, we have 20,971 men to be cared for — a large number even for our active and efficient hospital department. More than 20,000 men, a strong army corps in itself!

(For notice of General Stannard see Appendix.)

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