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202

OPENING OF THE BATTLE.

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directed Longstreet, towards evening, to advance against it, while Hill threatened the center. Sickles, ignorant of the intention of the enemy, advanced his line å half a mile or more, when Meade rode up to post the Fifth Corps, which was rapidly approaching the field. Not liking the movement of Sickles, he began to explain to him the reasons, when the thunderbolt fell. The onset of Longstreet was tremendous. First came the crash of artillery, swelling and rolling along the whole line; and then, with firm and confident bearing, and deafening shouts, moved up the trained and steady battalions. Sickles, fighting bravely, was soon struck, and carried off the field; and the whole left wing was terribly shaken, and gradually fell back before the desperate charges of the enemy. Its fate was trembling in the balance, when the heads of Sykes' tired columns were seen approaching the field. At the welcome sight, a thrilling cheer went up. They came not a moment too soon, and the fight raged fiercer than ever. But heedless of the mur. derous discharges of artillery that swept their ranks, the enemy still pressed the left so desperately that it was pushed steadily back, and Meade had to order up the wearied Corps of Sedgwick, and part, of the First Corps, to save himself fren defeat. Met with these fresh forces, the rebels were arrested, and though refusing to abandon the struggle, could not break our line of battle. Hour after hour, the contest raged with fearful slaughter on both sides, till darkness closed over the field. The battle, however, was not over; for, later in the evening, a sudden, unexpected assault was made on our extreme right, and several rifle-pits were carried, which the enemy succeeded in holding.

That night, the prospect was gloomy enough. We had been pushed back on both wings, though all our reserves had been brought into action. The dead were piled everywhere-the army was weary, and had not been able to hold

FRIDAY'S BATTLE.

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its own.

What would the next day. bring forth ? was the auxious question of many a brave heart. Meade, however, resolved not to retreat, but to fight it out right there, at all hazards. No better position than that could be found, and if it should be yielded, a swift and disastrous retreat would be inevitable. True, he had been fearfully weakened; so had the enemy-his army was worn out with its long marches; so was the enemy's—and here he would stand, and let God help the right.

THE BATTLE OF FRIDAY.

Early next morning, the troops stood to their arms, while crashing volleys, all along the line, foretold another day of struggle and of slaughter. On our right, the battle raged furiously from early dawn. Ewell was determined to advance from the rifle-pits he had taken the night before, and Slocum was equally resolute to recover them. Geary and Birney here met the first assaults firmly. For six hours, the struggle was desperate on both sides. The rebels seemed to laugh at death, and again and again charged through the smoke of artillery, with shouts that swelled above the uproar. Wheaton's brigade, of the Sixth, was hurried up to the rescue;

and our line, which had been forced back for a moment, again advanced. More troops were pushed forward--artillery brought up on a gallop, and posted so as to enfilade the hostile ranks; and though braver men never stood upon a battle-field to die, than did Ewell's veteran here, our right had become a wall of adamant, against which the heaviest surges broke in vain. At eleven o'clock, the enemy gave it up, and his shattered, bleeding battalions fell back in despair. Silence now rested on the field, and Lee, bafiled in his first design, pondered what next to atteinpt. He had tried both wings, and failed to break them, and on

204

AN AWFUL CANNONADE..

the right had lost all he had gained the night before; while a line of earth-works had sprung up, as if by magic, all along our front. The weakest point still seemed to be the left, and he determined on a last desperate effort to crush it. For this purpose, he brought forward a hundred and twentyseven cannon, and concentrated their terrific fire on our center and left. At two o'clock, they opened simultaneously, and there commenced one of the most awful cannonades ever witnessed on this continent. On Cemetery Hill, the storm fell with such fury that the earth was scattered in showers over the graves, and the tomb-stones shivered to atoms. Shot and shell fell and burst without a moment's cessation, and with a power that seemed able to start the very hills from their firm foundations. Our batteries responded, and, for three hours, more than three hundred cannon exploded on each other, with reverberations that shook the field, and wrapped it in white, rolling clouds, which tossed, and drifted, and settled between the contending lines, till they were hid from view, and the heavens were darkened as in an eclipse.

About four o'clock, Lee ordered a grand charge. In splendid order, and “with banners high advanced," and a courage that seemed to foretell success, the columns came steadily on. The chief attack was on the point occupied by the Second Corps. Moving forward with grand, imposing tont and confident bearing, they entered the desolating fire, without flinching. It was a magnificent charge. A tempest of shot and shell, howling above their heads from the artillery in rear, swept the heights; and Hancock was soon borne wounded from the fight. Gibson succeeded to the command, and, walking along the lines, told the n.en to reserve their fire. On came the rebels, three lines deep, in perfect order, till within point-blank range, when the order to fire was heard. A sudden sheet

THE LAST EFFORT.

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of flame, a crash, and the first line disappeared like a wreath of mist. Undismayed, the second line swept on with a cheer. Up to the rifle-pits, and over them, and up to the guns, bayoneting the gunners beside their pieces, they pressed, waving their flags and shouting the victory. But the moment of their triumph was also the moment of their destruction. They had not seen that the guns on the western slope of Cemetery Hill enfiladed this spot. These now opened with grape and canister, on the uncovered ranks. The effect was awful. Nothing human could stand such a murderous fire, and the line swayed back in terror, and then crumbled into fragments. In an instant, our men were upon them, driving them like a herd of sheep. Whole regiments laid down their arms and surrendered. They seemed appalled-overwhelmed, by the frightful butchery, from which even flight could not save them. Other charges had been made, along the line, and gallantly repulsed; and our cavalry, though not performing any grand movement, came in for its share of the glory. Kilpatrick, having beaten Stuart at Hanover, and repulsed the rebel cavalry at Hunterstown, pressed forward to Gettysburg—which he reached Friday forenoon-and made a sudden dash on Lee's right. The enemy, finding his skirmishers driven in, took a strong position between two stone walls, surmounted by a rail fence. Kilpatrick was anxious to carry this position, for if he could, he would be able to reach Lee's ammunition train. General Farnsworth, with two regiments and a portion of a third, charged it with desperate fury. Leaping his horse over the first fence, sword in hand, he was followed by his gallant band. The space between the fences was covered by a fire from both flanks and the front, yet they dashed through it with a shout, and reached the second fence, where Farns. worth fell, pierced with five balls. Still on, over the second fence, the maddened riders went, “in a whirlpool of shot

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and shell," and pressed on through a horrible fire. They could not return, and so dashed on what was left of them for two miles, to the rebel rear, when they dispersed, and got back as they could.

But, the grand effort of the day having failed, the enemy slowly retired. No pursuit was attempted. Meade had no reserves, with which to follow up his advantage, and scarcely any ammunition. We were near defeat.

We were near defeat. Could Lee have commanded a few thousand fresh troops, even then, he might have won the day. But we had stood the pounding longest, and now a fresh corps on our part, could have driven him in disorder and rout from the field. As it was, both armies had done all they could. Lee had attacked, and failed; and now, with one-third of his forces killed, wounded or taken prisoners, his campaign was over, and nothing remained for him but to get back to Virginia with his shattered army.

On this very afternoon, what a different scene was taking place on the banks of the Mississippi! At the same hour in which the heights around Gettysburg were rocking to the thunder of cannon, and their slopes were reddening with the blood of brave men, Grant and Pemberton were quietly seated under a spreading oak, settling the terms of the capitulation of Vicksburg. While one army was being surrendered into our hands, another was retiring, beaten and humbled, from before our brave troops.

It had been a battle of the Giants—Antietam over again; and our loss amounted, in all, to twenty-three thousand and one hundred and eighty-six men. The field presented a sad wreck, and the slopes around Gettysburg were thickly covered with the dead-men of the same country and creed, and who should never have been foes.

The news of this great victory flew over the wires on the Ath, our National Jubilee-day, spreading joy and exultation, and swelling to a higher note the shouts of the people. To

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