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PERILOUS SITUATION OF THE NATIONAL LEFT.
Both commanders were averse to taking the initiative of battle. Lee perceived the decided advantage in position which Howard had secured for the National army, it projecting like a wedge toward his center, with rocky acclivities along its front. Meade, feeling secure, had determined to leave to Lee the perilous movement of attack, if possible; and yet, early in the morning, observing Ewell stretching his line along the base of Culp’s Hill, with batteries on heights in his rear, as if intending to attack, he was constrained to propose an offensive movement by Slocum with his own and the corps of Sykes, when Sedgwick should arrive. He finally sent orders for Slocum to attack without Sedgwick, but that officer considered it not advisable, and was supported in that opinion by General Warren, the Engineerin-Chief. So the hours passed by with only a little skirmishing and now and then a shot from a battery, until late in the afternoon.
Lee, meanwhile, encouraged by the success of the previous day, and “in view of the valuable results that would ensue from the defeat of the army under General Meade," ! resolved to attack Sickles, who was holding the irregular ridge between Hancock and Round Top. Satisfied that a movement on him was in preparation, he had thrown a considerable portion of his corps forward to a slight elevation along the Emmettsburg road, his right, under General Humphreys, being several hundred yards in front of Hancock's left, with the line prolonged to the left by Graham's brigade of Birney's division, to a large peach-orchard belonging to John Scherfey, who lived near. From that point Birney's line, formed by the brigades of De Trobriand and Ward, of his division, bent back obliquely toward Round Top, with a stony intervale behind it, and having some Massachusetts batteries on the extreme left.
In this position Meade found Sickles between three and four o'clock in the afternoon. Sedgwick had arrived, after a march of thirty-five miles in nineteen hours, and been placed in reserve, and Meade had gone forward to superintend the posting of Sykes's troops on the left of Sickles, when he discovered the Third Corps well up toward the heaviest columns of the enemy, without flank supports. He deplored the perilous movement, and would probably have ordered Sickles back, had not the opening of the batteries of Lee and the pressing forward of his heavy columns to attack Sickles put an end to all deliberations. Meade could now do nothing better
SCHERFEY'S HOUSE. 3
i Lee's Report.
? General Birney sent out a regiment of sharpshooters, under Colonel Berdan, who advanced to a wood a mile beyond the Emmettsburg road, reconnoitering the Confederates. Berdan reported that the foe was moving in three columns, under cover of the woods, with the evident intention of turning the National left. It was this correct report which caused Sickles to advance his corps. The peach-orchard mentioned in the text was at an aggle formed by the Emmettsburg road, and a cross lane from the Taneytown road, which entered it and ended there.
• Scherfey's was a brick house, on the west side of the Emmettsburg road, and, during the battle, was alternately in the possession of the National and Confederate troops. The family left the house when it was wsparent that a battle was impending. The engraving is from a sketch made by the author in the autumn of 1866. The house, notwithstanding its exposed position, was very little injured.
A STRUGGLE FOR LITTLE ROUND TOP.
than to give Sickles all possible support, for the battle was opened and the whole army was deeply concerned.
Lee had perceived this projection of Meade's left, and taken advantage of it. He had prepared to turn that flank of the National army, and now hoped to take its line in reverse, drive it from its strong position, and achieve a glorious victory. He directed Longstreet, his right-arm of dependence since Jackson's death, to make the attempt, while Ewell should attack Meade's right, and Hill menace his center, so as to prevent re-enforcements being sent to the left. Longstreet moved quickly and vigorously, under cover of heavy guns on Seminary Ridge and at other points. He sent his right division, under the dashing General Hood, to strike the salient of Sickles's bent line, at the peach-orchard, held by eight regiments of the divi. sions of Birney and Humphreys, and then to assail De Trobriand and Ward on the left, furiously. This was done effectively with the assistance of the left of McLaws, supported by Anderson. After a severe struggle, during which the tide of victory ebbed and flowed, the Confederates gained the keypoint at the peach-orchard. Sickles, who was in the front of battle, had called for re-enforcements, when Meade ordered General Sykes to furnish them. General Barnes's division of the Fifth Corps was sent forward; but nothing could then save the left, which had been fighting gallantly against odds, from being pushed back by the pressure of more than twenty-five thousand men hurled vigorously upon it. After a hard struggle, Hood's right pushed for the wooded hollow, between the peak known as Round Top and a rocky eminence of less altitude, called Little Round Top, on which Birney's left had rested, but was then uncovered. To secure this hill was of infinite importance to both commanders, and for its possession a severe struggle ensued. Meade, as we have seen, ordered Sykes forward to assist Birney in saving it, if possible. Warren had just reached its summit when Birney's line was bending and Barnes was advancing. He found the signal officers
at their rocky post folding their flags
thrown-up breast works of stones. These forces were there just in time to save the ridge from seizure by Hood's
1 Sykes was tardy in sending help to Sickles. Birney sent an officer to him to urge him to send forward a division at orrce, as the peril was imminent. Sykes said " he would be up in time: that his men were making coffee and were tired.” It was an hour before they were up, when it was too late.—Birney's testimony before the Committee on the Conduct of the War.
Composed of the Sixteenth Michigan, Forty-fourth New York, Eighty-third Pennsylvania, and Twentieth Maine
DEATH OF GENERALS VINCENT AND WEED.
Texans, who were at that moment scaling its rough slopes from the glen and among the huge masses of rocks on the bold western face of the hill. Never was there a wilder place for combat, and never was there a combat more fierce than was seen there, on that hot July evening, with blazing musketry, the clangor of steel as bayonets crossed in close and deadly strife, and hand-to-hand struggles with clubbed fire-arms and jagged stones. For half an hour this terrible conflict went on, when a charge from the Twentieth Maine, under Colonel Chamberlain, hurled the Texans from the hill. General Weed's brigade of Ayres's division of the Fifth Corps (to which Hazlett's battery belonged) had come up and taken position on Vincent's right, and the rocky
THE DEVIL'S DEN.1 citadel of the National left was secured, but at the cost of the lives of Generals Vincent and Weed, Lieutenant Hazlett, and scores of less prominent soldiers.?
During the struggle on the extreme left, there was also a fierce contest more toward the center, which assisted in securing Little Round Top to the Nationals. The brigades of Tilton and Sweitser, of Barnes's division, had been sent to the aid of Birney, and shared in the disaster that befell that line. When it fell back, the remainder of Sickles's corps (Humphrey's division and Graham's brigade) swung round back by the left, its right still clinging to the Emmettsburg road, the battery of Major McGilvray at the same time firing and falling back. Then Caldwell's division was advanced from Hancock's front to check the incoming Confederates, and a patch of open woods and wheat-fields, skirting a cross lane from the Taneytown to the Emmettsburg road, between the peach-orchard and Little Round Top, became a sanguinary battle-field. Caldwell advanced gallantly, with the brigades of Cross and Kelly in the front. Presently his second line, composed of the brigades of Brooke and Zook, were pushed forward. The strife was fierce, and in it Cross and Zook were mortally wounded, and
1 This little sketch shows a mass of rocks forming a sort of dark inclosure, which is called the Devil's Den. It gives a good idea of the masses of huge rocks among which the Confederates struggled up the steep slopes of Little Round Top. This heap was in front of Hazlett's battery, a little way down the hill.
: General Vincent was killed while urging on his men in the struggle, and General Weed was slain at Hazlett's battery, on the summit of Little Round Top. Seeing his commander fall, Lieutenant Hazlett hastened to his side. The expiring general seemed desirous of telling something, and, while Hazlett was bending over him with his ear near his lips, the bullet of a sharpshooter killed the lieutenant, and he fell upon the then dead body of his commander.
3 This was the gallant Colonel Edward E. Cross, of the famous "Fighting Fifth " New Hampshire (see note 1, page 411, volume II.), who was now in command of a brigade. He was one of the most fearless and efficient officers in the army, and was greatly beloved by his troops. A few months before the battle of Gettysburg his regiment presented him an elegant sword, “as a token of their affection and admiration of his character as an officer, after eighteen months' service under his command.” In a letter to the author, a month before the battle of Chancellorsville, speaking of an illustrated journal having an unpublished biographical sketch of him, he playfully said: “They are doubtless waiting, with commendable patience, for me to be killed. However, having received nine wounds in the present war, and three in other wars, I am not afraid of rebel bullets." He lived a few hours after receiving his fatal wound. His last words were: “I did hope I would live to see peace, and our country restored. I have done my duty. I think the boys will miss me. All my effects I give to my mother. Oh, welcome, Death! Say farewell to all.” Then his mind wandered. He commenced giving commands, when ho expired.
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.
Brooke severely so. Firmly the Nationals held the line for some time
shout, and drove the
guns were placed in
battery on its summit,
before morning. When the line of Humphreys and Graham swung round, the former, as we have observed, kept his right firmly on the Emmettsburg road. So soon as Sickles's left was disposed of, the victors hastened to strike this remainder, when Hancock sent to its support two regiments from Gibbons's division (Fifteenth Massachusetts and Eighty-second New York), and advanced Willard's brigade of Hays's division to fill a wide gap. At that moment Hill ceased threatening, and advancing in heavy force from Seminary Ridge, fell upon Humphreys and quickly pushed him back, with a loss of half his men and three guns. In this onset Willard was killed, and Sickles had a leg so shattered that he lost it. Birney then took command of the corps.
The Confederates, elated by their successes, dashed like turbulent waves up to the base of the ridge occupied
1 See page 447, volume II.
2 This is a view of the crest of Little Round Top, at the place of the battery, where General Weed and Lieutenant Hazlett were killed. In the distance is seen Zeigler's Grove, on Cemetery Hill, where Hancock's battery was placed; and near by, the village of Gettysburg and the plain over which the Confederates swept to their attacks.
DANIEL E. BIOKLES.
ATTACK ON CEMETERY HILL.
by the Nationals, fighting most desperately, and throwing themselves recklessly upon supposed weak points of their antagonist's line.
In this encoun. ter Meade led troops in person, and everywhere inspirited his men by his presence. Finally, just at sunset, a general charge was made, under the direction of Hancock, chiefly by fresh troops under General Doubleday, who had hastened to his assistance from the rear of Cemetery Hill. These, with Humphreys's shattered regiments, drove the Confederates back, and a portion of Doubleday's division, pressing up nearly to the opposing lines, recaptured four guns which had been lost. At twilight, the battle on the left and left center ended, when a new line was formed by the divisions of Robinson and Doubleday, and troops from the Twelfth Corps brought up by General Williams who was in temporary command of it, Slocum having charge of the entire right wing.
When the sounds of battle were dying away on the National left, they were suddenly renewed on the right. Lee, as we have observed, had directed Ewell to attack Slocum, simultaneously with Longstreet's assault on Sickles. But it was sunset before he began. Then he opened a heavy artillery fire upon Howard's batteries in the field in front of the Cemetery, and under its cover moved the corps of Early and Johnson to an attack. The efforts of the former were directed against Howard's right, and a body of troops, known as the Louisiana Tigers, were ordered to storm the batteries on Cemetery Hill, and attempt to break the National center. Never was an assault more gallantly made. They charged up the slope in the face of a heavy storm of canister and shrapnell shot, to the muzzles of the guns, pushing completely through one battery (Weidrich's) into another (Ricketts’s), and demanding the surrender of both. The gunners fought desperately with every missile at hand, and beat them back, until Carroll's brigade, sent by Hancock to Howard's assistance, helped to repulse the Confederates and secure the integrity of the National line.
In the mean time Ewell's left division, under Johnson, had pushed up the little vale leading from Rocky Creek to Spangler's Spring, in the rear of Culp's Hill, to strike the weakened right of the Nationals, which the divisions of Williams and Geary had occupied. A greater portion of these troops had been engaged in beating back the Confederates on the left, and only the brigade of General Greene remained, with Wadsworth's division within supporting distance on the left. Johnson moved under cover of the woods and the deepening twilight, and expected an easy conquest, by which a way would be opened for the remainder of Ewell's corps to the National rear; but he found a formidable antagonist in Greene's brigade. The assault was made with great vigor, but for more than two hours, Greene, assisted by a part of Wadsworth's command, fought the assailants, strewing the wooded slope in front of the works with the Confederate dead and wounded, and holding his position firmly. Finally his antagonist penetrated the works near Spangler's Spring, from which the troops had been temporarily withdrawn, but, having been taught prudence by the events of the day, they did not attempt to go farther. So ended, at near ten o'clock at night, the second day of the battle, when nearly forty thousand
• July 2, men of the two armies, who were effective” thirty-six hours before, were dead or wounded. The advantage seemed to be with the Con