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´╗┐Title: The Battle of Gettysburg
Author: Haskell, Frank Aretas
Language: English
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  NOVEMBER, 1908





  WISCONSIN HISTORY COMMISSION                         ix

  PREFACE. _The Editor_                                xi

  THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. _Frank Aretas Haskell_      1



  PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR, while Colonel of Thirty-sixth
  Wisconsin Infantry                                  _Frontispiece_

  MAP OF BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, JULY 2                             58

  MAP OF BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG, JULY 3                            130


  (Organized under the provisions of Chapter 298, Laws of 1905,
  as amended by Chapter 378, Laws of 1907)

      _Governor of Wisconsin_

      _Professor of American History in the University of Wisconsin_

      _Secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin_

      _Secretary of the Wisconsin Library Commission_

      _Representing Department of Wisconsin, Grand Army of the Republic_


  _Secretary and Editor_, COMMISSIONER THWAITES



Frank Aretas Haskell was born at Tunbridge, Vermont, the son of Aretas
and Ann (Folson) Haskell, on the 13th of July, 1828. Graduating from
Dartmouth College with distinguished honors, in the class of 1854, the
young man came to Madison in the autumn of that year, and entered the
law firm of Orton, Atwood & Orton. His career in this profession was
increasingly successful, until in 1861 it was interrupted by the
outbreak of the War of Secession.

Commissioned on June 20 of that year as First Lieutenant of Company I of
the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry of the Iron Brigade, he served as
Adjutant of his regiment until April 14, 1862. Contemporaneous accounts
state that "much of the excellent discipline for which this regiment was
distinguished, was due to his soldierly efforts during its

He was called from the adjutancy of the Sixth to be aide-de-camp to
General John Gibbon, when the latter assumed command of the Iron
Brigade, and remained in such service until (February 9, 1864) he was
promoted to be Colonel of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin. While aide to
General Gibbon he was temporarily on the staffs of several other
generals, including Edwin V. Sumner and G. K. Warren, and won wide
repute as a soldier of unusual ability and courage. With the Iron
Brigade, he participated in the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac,
taking part in reconnoissances at Orange Court House and Stephensburg,
in skirmishes at Rappahannock Station and Sulphur Springs, and in the
battles of Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam,
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Reporting upon the
battle of December 13, 1862, at Fredericksburg, General Gibbon alluded
to his favorite aide as being "constantly on the field, conveying orders
and giving directions amid the heaviest fire."

Writing of Gettysburg, which is herein so graphically depicted by
Haskell, General Francis A. Walker, in his _History of the Second Army
Corps_,[1] refers to our author as one who was "bravest of the brave,
riding mounted through an interval between the Union battalions, and
calling upon the troops to go forward." He further says: "Colonel Frank
A. Haskell, of Wisconsin, had been known for his intelligence and
courage, for his generosity of character and his exquisite culture, long
before the third day of Gettysburg, when, acting as aide to General
Gibbon, he rode mounted between the two lines, then swaying backward and
forward under each other's fire, calling upon the men of the Second
Division to follow him, and setting an example of valor and self
devotion never forgotten by any man of the thousands who witnessed it."

General Winfield S. Hancock, officially reporting upon the battle, thus
alluded to Haskell's deed: "I desire particularly to refer to the
services of a gallant young officer, First Lieutenant F. A. Haskell,
aide-de-camp to Brigadier-General Gibbon, who, at a critical period of
the battle, when the contending forces were but 50 or 60 yards apart,
believing that an example was necessary, and ready to sacrifice his
life, rode between the contending lines with a view of giving
encouragement to ours and leading it forward, he being at the moment
the only mounted officer in a similar position. He was slightly wounded
and his horse was shot in several places."

General Gibbon's report said: "I desire to call particular attention to
the manner in which several of the subordinate reports mention the
services of my gallant aide, Lieutenant F. A. Haskell, Sixth Wisconsin,
and to add my testimony of his valuable services. This young officer has
been through many battles, and distinguished himself alike in all by his
conspicuous coolness and bravery, and in this one was slightly wounded,
but refused to quit the field. It has always been a source of regret to
me that our military system offers no plan for rewarding his merit and
services as they deserve." In later years, the General again publicly
alluded to Haskell's heroic conduct on this field: "There was a young
man on my staff who had been in every battle with me and who did more
than any other one man to repulse Pickett's assault at Gettysburg and he
did the part of a general there."

General William Harrow spoke of Haskell as having "greatly distinguished
himself by his constant exertion in the most exposed places."

Colonel Norman J. Hall, of the Michigan Seventh Infantry, and then
commanding the Third Brigade, thus referred to the incident: "I cannot
omit speaking in the highest terms of the magnificent conduct of
Lieutenant Haskell, of General Gibbon's staff, in bringing forward
regiments and in nerving the troops to their work by word and fearless

Upon receiving his appointment as Colonel of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin,
Haskell returned at once to this State, and recruited and organized the
regiment for the field. Although his commission was dated from February
9, he was not mustered into service as Colonel until March 23. The
regiment, which had been assigned to the First Brigade, Second Division
of the Second Army Corps, left Madison May 10, and seven days later was
acting as reserve during the battle at Spottsylvania. Its experiences
thenceforth were of the most active character.

The command went into action at Cold Harbor, Virginia, early in the
morning of June 3. The official account of what followed, is contained
in the report of the State Adjutant General:[2] "The whole line
advanced upon the enemy by brigades, in column closed in mass by
regiments, the Thirty-sixth being in rear of the brigade. On advancing
about three-fourths of a mile across an open field, under a heavy
artillery fire, and when within about twenty-five rods of the rebel
works, partially protected by the brow of a low hill, the Thirty-sixth
was found in the advance, leading the brigade. During the advance,
Colonel McKeen, commanding the brigade, was killed, when the command
devolved upon Colonel Haskell. After a moment's rest, Colonel Haskell,
by command of General Gibbon, ordered the brigade forward. The men rose
to obey, and were met by a shower of bullets, when the other parts of
the line halted. Colonel Haskell surveyed the situation for a moment, as
if irresolute; he finally gave the order, 'Lie down, men,' which was at
once obeyed. An instant afterwards, he was struck in the head by a rebel
bullet, and instantly killed. Thus fell one of Wisconsin's most gallant
soldiers, a thorough disciplinarian, and an accomplished scholar."

Colonel Clement E. Warner, then a Captain in the Thirty-sixth, but later
its Major and Lieutenant-Colonel, has left us this report of the battle
of Cold Harbor, so far as concerns Colonel Haskell's participation and

"Frank A. Haskell was in every respect an ideal soldier, according to
the highest and best definition of that term. I think he was by
education, experience, association, natural ability, and temperament
fully as competent to handle a Division as a Regiment, and in many
respects the higher would seem the more appropriate position for him.

"He rejoined the Army of the Potomac with his regiment, the Thirty-sixth
Wisconsin, about the middle of May, 1864, at Spottsylvania. The two
armies were joined in a death struggle, which was destined to continue
almost uninterruptedly until one was effectually wiped from the face of
the earth. June 3 at Cold Harbor, our army was massed by division and
in that formation projected upon the fortifications of the enemy. Their
line of works was really the outer line of the defenses of Richmond, and
were perfectly constructed for defense, and manned by General Lee's
army, which when protected by works had thus far been able to
successfully withstand General Grant's continuous attacks.

"With the general advance our Division moved at daylight for nearly two
miles over undulating land, part of the time subject to the fire of the
enemy and occasionally protected from it by slight depressions in the
land. We moved forward as rapidly as possible, and in thirty minutes
were in the immediate presence of the enemy's line, and subjected to as
murderous a fire as met Pickett's men at the celebrated charge at

"Colonel Haskell, who was so largely instrumental in saving the day at
Gettysburg, now finds his position exactly reversed from what it was on
that memorable occasion. Now his men were charging and the enemy on the
defense, protected by their works. He was standing nearly in front of
the remnant of the Second Division which had thus far pressed forward
through the murderous fire, and apparently seeing the hopelessness of
further advance, and willing to save this remnant of his men, gave the
order, 'Lie down, men,' which was the last order he ever gave. It was
promptly obeyed. For an instant it seemed that he was the only man
standing, and only for an instant, for as he stood surveying the havoc
around him, and glanced toward the enemy's line, he was seen to throw up
his arms and sink to the earth, his forehead pierced by a rebel ball.
And this was the last of Frank Haskell's consciousness. He had
fearlessly and freely given his young life for his country. Nearly
fifteen thousand companions joined him in the sacrifice on that fateful
morning, the greatest loss of any single charge in the war."

In his own report of the battle, General Hancock said: "General Tyler
was wounded and taken from the field and the lamented McKeen,[4] after
pushing his command as far as his example could urge it, was killed. The
gallant Haskell succeeded to the command, but was carried from the
field mortally wounded, while making renewed efforts to carry the
enemy's works." In a field order, dated September 28, 1864, he further
declared, "At Cold Harbor the Colonel of the Thirty-sixth Wisconsin, as
gallant a soldier as ever lived, fell dead on the field."

General Gibbon, on receiving the sad news of the Colonel's death, cried,
"My God! I have lost my best friend, and one of the best soldiers in the
Army of the Potomac has fallen!"

The late Hon. A. J. Turner, editor of the Portage _State Register_, who
was well acquainted with Colonel Haskell, said of him:[5] "While
commanding a brigade in the assault upon the enemy's lines at the battle
of the Chickahominy, near Richmond, Virginia, on the morning of Friday,
the 3d of June, he was struck in the right temple by a Rebel
sharpshooter's bullet, and died in about three hours. His body was taken
in charge by his young and faithful Orderly, John N. Ford, who, though
himself wounded in the head and left arm, persevered through all
difficulties and brought it home to Portage where, attended by a great
concourse of people, it was buried in Silver Lake cemetery, June 12,

Feeling tributes to his memory were rendered by the Dane County Bar
Association, and the Common Council of the City of Madison.

This story of the Battle of Gettysburg was written by Lieutenant Haskell
to his brother, H. M. Haskell of Portage, not long after the contest. It
was not intended for publication; but its great merit was at once
recognized, and it was offered to Mr. Turner for insertion in his weekly
paper. It was, however, too long a document for such purpose. About
fifteen years later, it was published in a pamphlet of 72 pages, without
even a title-page, for private circulation only. The account was widely
read by military experts, and received much praise for both its literary
and its professional merit. The pamphlet having become rare, for the
edition was small, was reprinted in 1898 as part of the history of
Dartmouth's Class of 1854. Certain omissions and changes were, however,
made therein by its editor, Captain Daniel Hall, who was an aide on
General Howard's staff; the reason assigned being, that the account was
written so soon after the battle that "although surprisingly accurate in
minute details," the author was not fully informed relative to one or
two facts which to him seemed to reflect on General Sickles. Captain
Hall assumed that were Colonel Haskell now living, he would have
justified these omissions. In March, 1908, the Dartmouth College version
was reprinted by the Commandery of Massachusetts, Military Order of the
Loyal Legion, under the editorship of Captain Charles Hunt.

In deciding to inaugurate its own series of Reprints with Colonel
Haskell's brilliant paper, the Wisconsin History Commission has, in
accordance with its fixed policy, reverted to the original edition,
which is here presented entire, exactly as first printed. Whatever might
have been the author's later judgment, in the event of his surviving the
war, the Commission does not feel warranted in disturbing this original
text in the slightest degree--the present being an unexpurgated reprint
of a rare and valuable narrative written by a soldier in whose memory
Wisconsin feels especial pride. Opinions or errors of fact on the part
of the respective authors represented both in Original Narratives and in
Reprints issued by the Commission, have not nor will they be modified by
the latter. For all statements, of whatever character, the author alone
is responsible.

The Commissioners are grateful to Mrs. W. G. Clough, public librarian of
Portage, for the loan of that institution's rare copy of the original,
for the purpose of this reprint.

R. G. T.


December, 1908


The Great battle of Gettysburg is now an event of the past. The
composition and strength of the armies, their leaders, the strategy, the
tactics, the result, of that field are to-day by the side of those of
Waterloo--matters of history. A few days ago these things were
otherwise. This great event did not so "cast its shadow before," as to
moderate the hot sunshine that streamed upon our preceding march, or to
relieve our minds of all apprehension of the result of the second great
Rebel invasion of the soil North of the Potomac.

No, not many days since, at times we were filled with fears and
forebodings. The people of the country, I suppose, shared the anxieties
of the army, somewhat in common with us, but they could not have felt
them as keenly as we did. We were upon the immediate theatre of events,
as they occurred from day to day, and were of them. We were the army
whose province it should be to meet this invasion and repel it; on us
was the immediate responsibility for results, most momentous for good or
ill, as yet in the future. And so in addition to the solicitude of all
good patriots, we felt that our own honor as men and as an army, as well
as the safety of the Capitol and the country, were at stake.

And what if that invasion should be successful, and in the coming
battle, the Army of the Potomac should be overpowered? Would it not be?
When our army was much larger than at present--had rested all
winter--and, nearly perfect in all its departments and arrangements, was
the most splendid army this continent ever saw, only a part of the Rebel
force, which it now had to contend with, had defeated it--its leader,
rather--at Chancellorsville! Now the Rebel had his whole force
assembled, he was flushed with recent victory, was arrogant in his
career of unopposed invasion, at a favorable season of the year. His
daring plans, made by no unskilled head, to transfer the war from his
own to his enemies' ground, were being successful. He had gone a day's
march from his front before Hooker moved, or was aware of his departure.
Then, I believe, the army in general, both officers and men, had no
confidence in Hooker, in either his honesty or ability.

Did they not charge him personally, with the defeat at Chancellorsville?
Were they not still burning with indignation against him for that
disgrace? And now, again under his leadership, they were marching
against the enemy! And they knew of nothing, short of the providence of
God, that could, or would, remove him. For many reasons, during the
marches prior to the battle, we were anxious, and at times heavy at

But the Army of the Potomac was no band of school girls. They were not
the men likely to be crushed or utterly discouraged by any new
circumstances in which they might find themselves placed. They had lost
some battles, they had gained some. They knew what defeat was, and what
was victory. But here is the greatest praise that I can bestow upon
them, or upon any army: With the elation of victory, or the depression
of defeat, amidst the hardest toils of the campaign, under unwelcome
leadership, at all times, and under all circumstances, they were a
reliable army still. The Army of the Potomac would do as it was told,

Well clothed, and well fed--there never could be any ground for
complaint on these heads--but a mighty work was before them. Onward they
moved--night and day were blended--over many a weary mile, through dust,
and through mud, in the broiling sunshine, in the flooding rain, over
steeps, through defiles, across rivers, over last year's battle fields,
where the skeletons of our dead brethren, by hundreds, lay bare and
bleaching, weary, without sleep for days, tormented with the newspapers,
and their rumors, that the enemy was in Philadelphia, in Baltimore, in
all places where he was not, yet these men could still be relied upon, I
believe, when the day of conflict should come. "_Haec olim meminisse
juvabit._" We did not then know this. I mention them now, that you may
see that in those times we had several matters to think about, and to
do, that were not as pleasant as sleeping upon a bank of violets in the

In moving from near Falmouth, Va., the army was formed in several
columns, and took several roads. The Second Corps, the rear of the
whole, was the last to move, and left Falmouth at daybreak, on the 15th
of June, and pursued its march through Aquia, Dumfries, Wolf Run
Shoales, Centerville, Gainesville, Thoroughfare Gap--this last we left
on the 25th, marching back to Haymarket, where we had a skirmish with
the cavalry and horse artillery of the enemy--Gum Spring, crossing the
Potomac at Edward's Ferry, thence through Poolesville, Frederick,
Liberty, and Union Town. We marched from near Frederick to Union Town, a
distance of thirty-two miles, from eight o'clock A. M. to nine P. M., on
the 28th, and I think this is the longest march, accomplished in so
short a time, by a corps during the war. On the 28th, while we were near
this latter place, we breathed a full breath of joy, and of hope. The
Providence of God had been with us--we ought not to have doubted
it--General Meade commanded the Army of the Potomac.

Not a favorable time, one would be apt to suppose, to change the General
of a large army, on the eve of battle, the result of which might be to
destroy the Government and country! But it should have been done long
before. At all events, any change could not have been for the worse, and
the Administration, therefore, hazarded little, in making it now. From
this moment my own mind was easy concerning results. I now felt that we
had a clear-headed, honest soldier, to command the army, who would do
his best always--that there would be no repetition of Chancellorsville.
Meade was not as much known in the Army as many of the other corps
commanders, but the officers who knew, all thought highly of him, a man
of great modesty, with none of those qualities which are noisy and
assuming, and hankering for cheap newspaper fame, not at all of the
"_gallant_" Sickles stamp. I happened to know much of General Meade--he
and General Gibbon had always been very intimate, and I had seen much of
him--I think my own notions concerning General Meade at this time, were
shared quite generally by the army; at all events, all who knew him
shared them.

By this time, by reports that were not mere rumors, we began to hear
frequently of the enemy, and of his proximity. His cavalry was all about
us, making little raids here and there, capturing now and then a few of
our wagons, and stealing a good many horses, but doing us really the
least amount possible of harm, for we were not by these means impeded at
all, and his cavalry gave no information at all to Lee, that he could
rely upon, of the movements of the Army of the Potomac. The Infantry of
the enemy was at this time in the neighborhood of Hagerstown,
Chambersburg, and some had been at Gettysburg, possibly were there now.
Gettysburg was a point of strategic importance, a great many roads, some
ten or twelve at least concentrating there, so the army could easily
converge to, or, should a further march be necessary, diverge from this
point. General Meade, therefore, resolved to try to seize Gettysburg,
and accordingly gave the necessary orders for the concentration of his
different columns there. Under the new auspices the army brightened, and
moved on with a more elastic step towards the yet undefined field of

The 1st Corps, General Reynolds, already having the advance, was ordered
to push forward rapidly, and take and hold the town, if he could. The
rest of the Army would assemble to his support. Buford's Cavalry
co-operated with this corps, and on the morning of the 1st of July found
the enemy near Gettysburg and to the West, and promptly engaged him. The
First Corps having bivouaced the night before, South of the town, came
up rapidly to Buford's support, and immediately a sharp battle was
opened with the advance of the enemy. The first Division Gen. Wadsworth
was the first of the infantry to become engaged, but the other two,
commanded respectively by Generals Robinson and Doubleday, were close at
hand, and forming the line of battle to the West and North-west of the
town, at a mean distance of about a mile away, the battle continued for
some hours, with various success, which was on the whole with us until
near noon. At this time a lull occurred, which was occupied, by both
sides, in supervising and re-establishing the hastily formed lines of
the morning. New Divisions of the enemy were constantly arriving and
taking up positions, for this purpose marching in upon the various roads
that terminate at the town, from the West and North. The position of the
First Corps was then becoming perilous in the extreme, but it was
improved a little before noon by the arrival upon the field of two
Divisions of the Eleventh Corps (Gen Howard), these Divisions commanded
respectively by Generals Schurz and Barlow, who by order posted their
commands to the right of the First Corps, with their right retired,
forming an angle with the line of the First Corps. Between three and
four o'clock in the afternoon the enemy, now in overwhelming force,
resumed the battle, with spirit. The portion of the Eleventh Corps
making but feeble opposition to the advancing enemy, soon began to fall

Back in disorganized masses they fled into the town, hotly pursued, and
in lanes, in barns, in yards and cellars, throwing away their arms,
they sought to hide like rabbits, and were there captured, unresisting,
by hundreds.

The First Corps, deprived of this support, if support it could be
called, outflanked upon either hand, and engaged in front, was compelled
to yield the field. Making its last stand upon what is called "Seminary
Ridge," not far from the town, it fell back in considerable confusion,
through the South-west part of the town, making brave resistance,
however, but with considerable loss. The enemy did not see fit to
follow, or to attempt to, further than the town, and so the fight of the
1st of July closed here. I suppose our losses during the day would
exceed four thousand, of whom a large number were prisoners. Such
usually is the kind of loss sustained by the Eleventh Corps. You will
remember that the old "Iron Brigade" is in the First Corps, and
consequently shared this fight, and I hear their conduct praised on all

In the 2nd Wis., Col. Fairchild lost his left arm; Lieut. Col. Stevens,
was mortally wounded, and Major Mansfield was wounded; Lieut. Col.
Callis, of the 7th Wis., and Lieut. Col. Dudley, of the 19th Ind., were
badly, dangerously, wounded, the latter by the loss of his right leg
above the knee.

I saw "_John Burns_," the only citizen of Gettysburg who fought in the
battle, and I asked him what troops he fought with. He said: "O, I
pitched in with them Wisconsin fellers." I asked what sort of men they
were, and he answered: "They fit terribly. The Rebs couldn't make
anything of them fellers."

And so the brave compliment the brave. This man was touched by three
bullets from the enemy, but not seriously wounded.

But the loss of the enemy to-day was severe also, probably in killed and
wounded, as heavy as our own, but not so great in prisoners.

Of these latter the "Iron Brigade" captured almost an entire Mississippi
Brigade, however.

Of the events so far, of the 1st of July, I do not speak from personal
knowledge. I shall now tell my introduction to these events.

At eleven o'clock A. M., on that day, the Second Corps was halted at
Taneytown, which is thirteen miles from Gettysburg, South, and there
awaiting orders, the men were allowed to make coffee and rest. At
between one and two o'clock in the afternoon, a message was brought to
Gen. Gibbon, requiring his immediate presence at the headquarters of
Gen. Hancock, who commanded the Corps. I went with Gen. Gibbon, and we
rode at a rapid gallop, to Gen. Hancock.

At Gen. Hancock's headquarters the following was learned: The First
Corps had met the enemy at Gettysburg, and had possession of the town.
Gen. Reynolds was badly, it was feared mortally wounded; the fight of
the First Corps still continued. By Gen. Meade's order, Gen. Hancock was
to hurry forward and take command upon the field, of all troops there,
or which should arrive there. The Eleventh Corps was near Gettysburg
when the messenger who told of the fight left there, and the Third Corps
was marching up, by order, on the Emmetsburg Road--Gen. Gibbon--he was
not the ranking officer of the Second Corps after Hancock--was ordered
to assume the command of the Second Corps.

All this was sudden, and for that reason at least, exciting; but there
were other elements in this information, that aroused our profoundest
interest. The great battle that we had so anxiously looked for during so
many days, had at length opened, and it was a relief, in some sense, to
have these accidents of time and place established. What would be the
result? Might not the enemy fall upon and destroy the First Corps before
succor could arrive?

Gen. Hancock, with his personal staff, at about two o'clock P. M.,
galloped off towards Gettysburg; Gen. Gibbon took his place in command
of the Corps, appointing me his acting Assistant Adjutant General. The
Second Corps took arms at once, and moved rapidly towards the field. It
was not long before we began to hear the dull booming of the guns, and
as we advanced, from many an eminence or opening among the trees, we
could look out upon the white battery smoke, puffing up from the distant
field of blood, and drifting up to the clouds. At these sights and
sounds, the men looked more serious than before and were more silent,
but they marched faster, and straggled less. At about five o'clock P. M.,
as we were riding along at the head of the column, we met an ambulance,
accompanied by two or three mounted officers--we knew them to be staff
officers of Gen. Reynolds--their faces told plainly enough what load the
vehicle carried--it was the dead body of Gen. Reynolds. Very early in the
action, while seeing personally to the formation of his lines under fire,
he was shot through the head by a musket or rifle bullet, and killed
almost instantly. His death at this time affected us much, for he was one
of the _soldier_ Generals of the army, a man whose soul was in his
country's work, which he did with a soldier's high honor and fidelity.

I remember seeing him often at the first battle of Fredericksburg--he
then commanded the First Corps--and while Meade's and Gibbon's Divisions
were assaulting the enemy's works, he was the very beau ideal of the
gallant general. Mounted upon a superb black horse, with his head thrown
back and his great black eyes flashing fire, he was every where upon the
field, seeing all things and giving commands in person. He died as many
a friend, and many a foe to the country have died in this war.

Just as the dusk of evening fell, from Gen. Meade, the Second Corps had
orders to halt, where the head of the column then was, and to go into
position for the night. The Second Division (Gibbon's) was accordingly
put in position, upon the left of the (Taneytown) road, its left near
the South-eastern base of "Round Top"--of which mountain more anon--and
the right near the road; the Third Division was posted upon the right of
the road, abreast of the Second; and the first Division in the rear of
these two--all facing towards Gettysburg.

Arms were stacked, and the men lay down to sleep, alas! many of them
their last but the great final sleep upon the earth.

Late in the afternoon as we came near the field, from some slightly
wounded men we met, and occasional stragglers from the scene of
operations in front, we got many rumors, and much disjointed information
of battle, of lakes of blood, of rout and panic and undescribable
disaster, from all of which the narrators were just fortunate enough to
have barely escaped, the sole survivors. These stragglers are always
terrible liars!

About nine o'clock in the evening, while I was yet engaged in showing
the troops their positions, I met Gen. Hancock, then on his way from the
front, to Gen. Meade, who was back toward Taneytown; and he, for the
purpose of having me advise Gen. Gibbon, for his information, gave me
quite a detailed account of the situation of matters at Gettysburg, and
of what had transpired subsequently to his arrival.

He had arrived and assumed command there, just when the troops of the
First and Eleventh Corps, after their repulse, were coming in confusion
through the town. Hancock is just the man for such an emergency as this.
Upon horseback I think he was the most magnificent looking General in
the whole Army of the Potomac at that time. With a large, well shaped
person, always dressed with elegance, even upon that field of confusion,
he would look as if he was "monarch of all he surveyed," and few of his
subjects would dare to question his right to command, or do aught else
but to obey. His quick eye, in a flash, saw what was to be done, and his
voice and his royal right hand at once commenced to do it. Gen. Howard
had put one of his Divisions--Steinwehr--with some batteries, in
position, upon a commanding eminence, at the "Cemetery," which, as a
reserve, had not participated in the fight of the day, and this Division
was now of course steady. Around this Division the fugitives were
stopped, and the shattered Brigades and Regiments, as they returned,
were formed upon either flank, and faced toward the enemy again. A show
of order at least, speedily came from chaos--the rout was at an end--the
First and Eleventh Corps were in line of battle again--not very
systematically formed perhaps--in a splendid position, and in a
condition to offer resistance, should the enemy be willing to try them.
These formations were all accomplished long before night. Then some
considerable portion of the Third Corps--Gen. Sickles--came up by the
Emmetsburg road, and was formed to the left of the Taneytown road, on an
extension of the line that I have mentioned; and all the Twelfth
Corps--Gen. Slocum--arriving before night, the Divisions were put in
position, to the right of the troops already there, to the East of the
Baltimore Pike. The enemy was in the town, and behind it, and to the
East and West, and appeared to be in strong force, and was jubilant over
his day's success. Such was the posture of affairs as evening came on of
the first of July. Gen. Hancock was hopeful, and in the best of spirits;
and from him I also learned that the reason for halting the Second Corps
in its present position, was that it was not then known where, in the
coming fight, the line of battle would be formed, up near the town,
where the troops then were, or further back, towards Taneytown. He would
give his views upon this subject to Gen. Meade, which were in favor of
the line near the town--the one that was subsequently adopted--and Gen.
Meade would determine.

The night before a great pitched battle would not ordinarily, I suppose,
be a time for much sleep for Generals and their staff officers. We
needed it enough, but there was work to be done. This war makes strange
confusion of night and day! I did not sleep at all that night. It would,
perhaps, be expected, on the eve of such great events, that one should
have some peculiar sort of feelings, something extraordinary, some
great arousing and excitement of the sensibilities and faculties,
commensurate with the event itself; this certainly would be very
poetical and pretty, but so far as I was concerned, and I think I can
speak for the army in this matter, there was nothing of the kind. Men
who had volunteered to fight the battles of the country, had met the
enemy in many battles, and had been constantly before them, as had the
Army of the Potomac, were too old soldiers, and long ago too well had
weighed chances and probabilities, to be so disturbed now. No, I
believe, the army slept soundly that night, and well, and I am glad the
men did, for they needed it.

At midnight Gen. Meade and staff rode by Gen. Gibbon's Head Quarters, on
their way to the field; and in conversation with Gen. Gibbon, Gen. Meade
announced that he had decided to assemble the whole army before
Gettysburg, and offer the enemy battle there. The Second Corps would
move at the earliest daylight, to take up its position.

At three o'clock, A. M., of the second of July, the sleepy soldiers of
the Corps were aroused; before six the Corps was up to the field, and
halted temporarily by the side of the Taneytown road, upon which it had
marched, while some movements of the other troops were being made, to
enable it to take position in the order of battle. The morning was thick
and sultry, the sky overcast with low, vapory clouds. As we approached
all was astir upon the crests near the Cemetery, and the work of
preparation was speedily going on. Men looked like giants there in the
mist, and the guns of the frowning batteries so big, that it was a
relief to know that they were our friends.

Without a topographical map, some description of the ground and location
is necessary to a clear understanding of the battle. With the sketch I
have rudely drawn, without scale or compass, I hope you may understand
my description. The line of battle as it was established, on the evening
of the first, and morning of the second of July was in the form of the
letter "U," the troops facing outwards. And the "Cemetery," which is at
the point of the sharpest curvature of the line, being due South of the
town of Gettysburg. "Round Top," the extreme left of the line, is a
small, woody, rocky elevation, a very little West of South of the town,
and nearly two miles from it.

The sides of this are in places very steep, and its rocky summit is
almost inaccessible. A short distance North of this is a smaller
elevation called "Little Round Top." On the very top of "Little Round
Top," we had heavy rifled guns in position during the battle. Near the
right of the line is a small, woody eminence, named "Culp's Hill." Three
roads come up to the town from the South, which near the town are quite
straight, and at the town the external ones unite, forming an angle of
about sixty, or more degrees. Of these, the farthest to the East is the
"Baltimore Pike," which passes by the East entrance to the Cemetery; the
farthest to the West is the "Emmetsburg road," which is wholly outside
of our line of battle, but near the Cemetery, is within a hundred yards
of it; the "Taneytown road" is between these, running nearly due North
and South, by the Eastern base of "Round Top," by the Western side of
the Cemetery, and uniting with the Emmetsburg road between the Cemetery
and the town. High ground near the Cemetery, is named "Cemetery Ridge."

The Eleventh Corps--Gen. Howard--was posted at the Cemetery, some of its
batteries and troops, actually among the graves and monuments, which
they used for shelter from the enemy's fire, its left resting upon the
Taneytown road, extending thence to the East, crossing the Baltimore
Pike, and thence bending backwards towards the South-east; on the right
of the Eleventh came the First Corps, now, since the death of Gen.
Reynolds, commanded by Gen. Newton, formed in a line curving still more
towards the South. The troops of these two Corps, were re-formed on the
morning of the second, in order that each might be by itself, and to
correct some things not done well during the hasty formations here the
day before.

To the right of the First Corps, and on an extension of the same line,
along the crest and down the South-eastern slope of Culp's Hill, was
posted the Twelfth Corps--Gen. Slocum--its right, which was the extreme
right of the line of the army, resting near a small stream called "Rock
Run." No changes, that I am aware of, occurred in the formation of this
Corps, on the morning of the Second. The Second Corps, after the brief
halt that I have mentioned, moved up and took position, its right
resting upon the Taneytown road, at the left of the Eleventh Corps, and
extending the line thence, nearly a half mile, almost due South, towards
Round Top, with its Divisions in the following order, from right to
left: The Third, Gen. Alex Hays; the Second (Gibbon's), Gen. Harrow,
(temporarily); the First, Gen. Caldwell. The formation was in line by
brigade in column, the brigade being in column by regiment, with forty
paces interval between regimental lines, the Second and Third Divisions
having each one, and the First Division, two brigades--there were four
brigades in the First--similarly formed, in reserve, one hundred and
fifty paces in the rear of the line of their respective Divisions. That
is, the line of the Corps, exclusive of its reserves, was the length of
six regiments, deployed, and the intervals between them, some of which
were left wide for the posting of the batteries, and consisted of four
common deployed lines, each of two ranks of men, and a little more than
one-third over in reserve.

The five batteries, in all twenty-eight guns, were posted as follows:
Woodruff's regular, six twelve-pound Napoleon's, brass, between the two
brigades, in line of the Third Division; Arnold's "A" first R. I., six
three-inch Parrotts, rifled, and Cushing's Regular, four three-inch
Ordnance, rifled, between the Third and Second Division; Hazard's,
(commanded during the battle by Lieut. Brown,) "B" first R. I., and
Rhorty's N. G. each, six twelve-pound Napoleon's, brass, between the
Second and First Division.

I have been thus specific in the description of the posting and
formation of the Second Corps, because they were works that I assisted
to perform; and also that the other Corps were similarly posted, with
reference to the strength of the lines, and the intermixing of infantry
and artillery. From this, you may get a notion of the whole.

The Third Corps--Gen. Sickles--the remainder of it arriving upon the
field this morning, was posted upon the left of the Second extending the
line still in the direction of Round Top, with its left resting near
"Little Round Top." The left of the Third Corps was the extreme left of
the line of battle, until changes occurred, which will be mentioned in
the proper place. The Fifth Corps--Gen. Sykes--coming on the Baltimore
Pike about this time, was massed there, near the line of battle, and
held in reserve until some time in the afternoon, when it changed
position, as I shall describe.

I cannot give a detailed account of the cavalry, for I saw but little of
it. It was posted near the wings, and watched the roads and the
movements of the enemy upon the flanks of the army, but further than
this participated but little in the battle. Some of it was also used for
guarding the trains, which were far to the rear. The artillery reserve,
which consisted of a good many batteries, were posted between the
Baltimore Pike and the Taneytown road, on very nearly the center of a
direct line passing through the extremities of the wings. Thus it could
be readily sent to any part of the line. The Sixth Corps--Gen.
Sedgwick--did not arrive upon the field until some time in the
afternoon, but it was now not very far away, and was coming up rapidly
on the Baltimore Pike. No fears were entertained that "Uncle John," as
his men call Gen. Sedgwick, would not be in the right place at the right

These dispositions were all made early, I think before eight o'clock in
the morning. Skirmishers were posted well out all around the line, and
all put in readiness for battle. The enemy did not yet demonstrate
himself. With a look at the ground now, I think you may understand the
movements of the battle. From Round Top, by the line of battle, round to
the extreme right, I suppose is about three miles. From this same
eminence to the Cemetery, extends a long ridge or hill--more resembling
a great wave than a hill, however--with its crest, which was the line of
battle, quite direct, between the points mentioned. To the West of this,
that is towards the enemy, the ground falls away by a very gradual
descent, across the Emmetsburg road, and then rises again, forming
another ridge, nearly parallel to the first, but inferior in altitude,
and something over a thousand yards away. A belt of woods extends partly
along this second ridge, and partly farther to the West, at distances
of from one thousand to thirteen hundred yards away from our line.
Between these ridges, and along their slopes, that is, in front of the
Second and Third Corps, the ground is cultivated, and is covered with
fields of wheat, now nearly ripe, with grass and pastures, with some
peach orchards, with fields of waving corn, and some farm houses, and
their out buildings along the Emmetsburg road. There are very few places
within the limits mentioned where troops and guns could move concealed.
There are some oaks of considerable growth, along the position of the
right of the Second Corps, a group of small trees, sassafras and oak, in
front of the right of the Second Division of this Corps also; and
considerable woods immediately in front of the left of the Third Corps,
and also to the West of, and near Round Top. At the Cemetery, where is
Cemetery Ridge, to which the line of the Eleventh Corps conforms, is the
highest point in our line, except Round Top. From this the ground falls
quite abruptly to the town, the nearest point of which is some five
hundred yards away from the line, and is cultivated, and checkered with
stone fences.

The same is the character of the ground occupied by, and in front of the
left of the First Corps, which is also on a part of Cemetery Ridge. The
right of this Corps, and the whole of the Twelfth, are along Culp's
Hill, and in woods, and the ground is very rocky, and in places in front
precipitous--a most admirable position for defense from an attack in
front, where, on account of the woods, no artillery could be used with
effect by the enemy. Then these last three mentioned Corps had, by
taking rails, by appropriating stone fences, by felling trees, and
digging the earth, during the night of the first of July, made for
themselves excellent breast works, which were a very good thing indeed.
The position of the First and Twelfth Corps was admirably strong,
therefore. Within the line of battle is an irregular basin, somewhat
woody and rocky in places, but presenting few obstacles to the moving of
troops and guns, from place to place along the lines, and also affording
the advantage that all such movements, by reason of the surrounding
crests, were out of view of the enemy. On the whole this was an
admirable position to fight a defensive battle, good enough, I thought,
when I saw it first, and better I believe than could be found elsewhere
in a circle of many miles. Evils, sometimes at least, are blessings in
disguise, for the repulse of our forces, and the death of Reynolds, on
the first of July, with the opportune arrival of Hancock to arrest the
tide of fugitives and fix it on these heights, gave us this
position--perhaps the position gave us the victory. On arriving upon the
field, Gen. Meade established his headquarters at a shabby little farm
house on the left of the Taneytown road, the house nearest the line, and
a little more than five hundred yards in the rear of what became the
center of the position of the Second Corps, a point where he could
communicate readily and rapidly with all parts of the army. The
advantages of the position, briefly, were these: the flanks were quite
well protected by the natural defences there, Round Top up the left, and
a rocky, steep, untraversable ground up the right. Our line was more
elevated than that of the enemy, consequently our artillery had a
greater range and power than theirs. On account of the convexity of our
line, every part of the line could be reinforced by troops having to
move a shorter distance than if the line were straight; further, for the
same reason, the line of the enemy must be concave, and, consequently,
longer, and with an equal force, thinner, and so weaker than ours. Upon
those parts of our line which were wooded, neither we nor the enemy
could use artillery; but they were so strong by nature, aided by art, as
to be readily defended by a small, against a very large, body of
infantry. When the line was open, it had the advantage of having open
country in front, consequently, the enemy here could not surprise, as we
were on a crest, which besides the other advantages that I have
mentioned, had this: the enemy must advance to the attack up an ascent,
and must therefore move slower, and be, before coming upon us, longer
under our fire, as well as more exhausted. These, and some other things,
rendered our position admirable--for a defensive battle.

So, before a great battle, was ranged the Army of the Potomac. The day
wore on, the weather still sultry, and the sky overcast, with a
mizzling effort at rain. When the audience has all assembled, time seems
long until the curtain rises; so to-day. "Will there be a battle
to-day?" "Shall we attack the Rebel?" "Will he attack us?" These and
similar questions, later in the morning, were thought or asked a million

Meanwhile, on our part, all was put in the last state of readiness for
battle. Surgeons were busy riding about selecting eligible places for
Hospitals, and hunting streams, and springs, and wells. Ambulances, and
ambulance men, were brought up near the lines, and stretchers gotten
ready for use. Who of us could tell but that he would be the first to
need them? The Provost Guards were busy driving up all stragglers, and
causing them to join their regiments. Ammunition wagons were driven to
suitable places, and pack mules bearing boxes of cartridges; and the
commands were informed where they might be found. Officers were sent to
see that the men had each his hundred rounds of ammunition. Generals and
their Staffs were riding here and there among their commands to see that
all was right. A staff officer, or an orderly might be seen galloping
furiously in the transmission of some order or message.--All, all was
ready--and yet the sound of no gun had disturbed the air or ear to-day.

And so the men stacked their arms--in long bristling rows they stood
along the crests--and were at ease. Some men of the Second and Third
Corps pulled down the rail fences near and piled them up for breastworks
in their front. Some loitered, some went to sleep upon the ground, some,
a single man, carrying twenty canteens slung over his shoulder, went for
water. Some made them a fire and boiled a dipper of coffee. Some with
knees cocked up, enjoyed the soldier's peculiar solace, a pipe of
tobacco. Some were mirthful and chatty, and some were serious and
silent. Leaving them thus--I suppose of all arms and grades there were
about a hundred thousand of them somewhere about that field--each to
pass the hour according to his duty or his humor, let us look to the

Here let me state that according to the best information that I could
get, I think a fair estimate of the Rebel force engaged in this battle
would be a little upwards of a hundred thousand men of all arms. Of
course we can't now know, but there are reasonable data for this
estimate. At all events there was no great disparity of numbers in the
two opposing armies. We thought the enemy to be somewhat more numerous
than we, and he probably was. But if ninety-five men should fight with a
hundred and five, the latter would not always be victors--and slight
numerical differences are of much less consequence in great bodies of

Skillful generalship and good fighting are the jewels of war. These
concurring are difficult to overcome; and these, not numbers, must
determine this battle.

During all the morning--and of the night, too--the skirmishers of the
enemy had been confronting those of the Eleventh, First and Twelfth
Corps. At the time of the fight of the First, he was seen in heavy force
North of the town--he was believed to be now in the same neighborhood,
in full force. But from the woody character of the country, and thereby
the careful concealment of troops, which the Rebel is always sure to
effect, during the early part of the morning almost nothing was
actually seen by us of the invaders of the North. About nine o'clock in
the morning, I should think, our glasses began to reveal them at the
West and North-west of the town, a mile and a half away from our lines.
They were moving towards our left, but the woods of Seminary Ridge so
concealed them that we could not make out much of their movements. About
this time some rifled guns in the Cemetery, at the left of the Eleventh
Corps, opened fire--almost the first shots of any kind this morning--and
when it was found they were firing at a Rebel line of skirmishers
merely, that were advancing upon the left of that, and the right of the
Second Corps, the officer in charge of the guns was ordered to cease
firing, and was rebuked for having fired at all. These skirmishers soon
engaged those at the right of the Second Corps, who stood their ground
and were reinforced to make the line entirely secure. The Rebel skirmish
line kept extending further and further to their right--toward our left.
They would dash up close upon ours and sometimes drive them back a short
distance, in turn to be repulsed themselves--and so they continued to
do until their right was opposite the extreme left of the Third Corps.
By these means they had ascertained the position and extent of our
lines--but their own masses were still out of view. From the time that
the firing commenced, as I have mentioned, it was kept up, among the
skirmishers, until quite noon, often briskly; but with no definite
results further than those mentioned, and with no considerable show of
infantry on the part of the enemy to support. There was a farm house and
outbuildings in front of the Third Division of the Second Corps, at
which the skirmishers of the enemy had made a dash, and dislodged ours
posted there, and from there their sharp shooters began to annoy our
line of skirmishers and even the main line, with their long range
rifles. I was up to the line, and a bullet from one of the rascals hid
there, hissed by my cheek so close that I felt the movement of the air
distinctly. And so I was not at all displeased when I saw one of our
regiments go down and attack and capture the house and buildings and
several prisoners, after a spirited little fight, and, by Gen. Hays'
order, burn the buildings to the ground. About noon the Signal Corps,
from the top of Little Round Top, with their powerful glasses, and the
cavalry at the extreme left, began to report the enemy in heavy force,
making disposition of battle, to the West of Round Top, and opposite to
the left of the Third Corps. Some few prisoners had been captured, some
deserters from the enemy had come in, and from all sources, by this
time, we had much important and reliable information of the enemy--of
his disposition and apparent purposes. The Rebel infantry consisted of
three Army Corps, each consisting of three Divisions, Longstreet,
Ewell--the same whose leg Gibbons' shell knocked off at Gainesville on
the 28th of August last year--and A. P. Hill, each in the Rebel service
having the rank of Lieutenant General, were the commanders of these
Corps. Longstreet's Division commanders were Hood, McLaws, and Pickett;
Ewell's were Rhodes, Early and Johnson, and Hill's were Pender, Heth and
Anderson. Stewart and Fitzhugh Lee commanded Divisions of the Rebel
cavalry. The rank of these Division commands, I believe, was that of
Major General. The Rebels had about as much artillery as we did; but we
never have thought much of this arm in the hands of our adversaries.
They have courage enough, but not the skill to handle it well. They
generally fire far too high, and the ammunition is usually of a very
inferior quality. And, of late, we have begun to despise the enemies'
cavalry too. It used to have enterprise and dash, but in the late
cavalry contests ours have always been victor; and so now we think about
all this _chivalry_ is fit for is to steal a few of our mules
occasionally, and their negro drivers. This army of the rebel infantry,
however, is good--to deny this is useless. I never had any desire
to--and if one should count up, it would possibly be found that they
have gained more victories over us, than we have over them, and they
will now, doubtless, fight well, even desperately. And it is not horses
or cannon that will determine the result of this confronting of the two
armies, but the men with the muskets must do it--the infantry must do
the sharp work. So we watched all this posting of forces as closely as
possible, for it was a matter of vital interest to us, and all
information relating to it was hurried to the commander of the army. The
Rebel line of battle was concave, bending around our own, with the
extremities of the wings opposite to, or a little outside of ours.
Longstreet's Corps was upon their right; Hill's in the center. These two
Rebel Corps occupied the second or inferior ridge to the West of our
position, as I have mentioned, with Hill's left bending towards, and
resting near the town, and Ewell's was upon their left, his troops being
in, and to the East of the town. This last Corps confronted our Twelfth,
First, and the right of the Eleventh Corps. When I have said that ours
was a good _defensive_ position, this is equivalant to saying that that
of the enemy was not a good _offensive_ one; for these are relative
terms, and cannot be both predicated of the respective positions of the
two armies at the same time. The reasons that this was not a good
offensive position, are the same already stated in favor of ours for
defense. Excepting, occasionally, for a brief time, during some movement
of troops, as when advancing to attack, their men and guns were kept
constantly and carefully, by woods and inequalities of ground, out of
our view.

Noon is past, one o'clock is past, and, save the skirmishing, that I
have mentioned, and an occasional shot from our guns, at something or
other, the nature of which the ones who fired it were ignorant, there
was no fight yet. Our arms were still stacked, and the men were at ease.
As I looked upon those interminable rows of muskets along the crests,
and saw how cool and good spirited the men were, who were lounging about
on the ground among them, I could not, and did not, have any fears as to
the result of the battle. The storm was near, and we all knew it well
enough by this time, which was to rain death upon these crests and down
their slopes, and yet the men who could not, and would not escape it,
were as calm and cheerful, generally, as if nothing unusual were about
to happen. You see, these men were veterans, and had been in such places
so often that they were accustomed to them. But I was well pleased with
the tone of the men to-day--I could almost see the fore-shadowing of
victory upon their faces, I thought. And I thought, too, as I had seen
the mighty preparations go on to completion for this great
conflict--the marshaling of these two hundred thousand men and the guns
of the hosts, that now but a narrow valley divided, that to have been in
such a battle, and to survive on the side of the victors, would be
glorious. Oh, the world is most unchristian yet!

Somewhat after one o'clock P. M.--the skirmish firing had nearly ceased
now--a movement of the Third Corps occurred, which I shall describe. I
cannot conjecture the reason of this movement. From the position of the
Third Corps, as I have mentioned, to the second ridge West, the distance
is about a thousand yards, and there the Emmetsburg road runs near the
crest of the ridge. Gen. Sickles commenced to advance his whole Corps,
from the general line, straight to the front, with a view to occupy this
second ridge, along, and near the road. What his purpose could have been
is past conjecture. It was not ordered by Gen. Meade, as I heard him
say, and he disapproved of it as soon as it was made known to him.
Generals Hancock and Gibbon, as they saw the move in progress,
criticized its propriety sharply, as I know, and foretold quite
accurately what would be the result. I suppose the truth probably is
that General Sickles supposed he was doing for the best; but he was
neither born nor bred a soldier. But one can scarcely tell what may have
been the motives of such a man--a politician, and some other things,
exclusive of the _Barton Key_ affair--a man after show and notoriety,
and newspaper fame, and the adulation of the mob! O, there is a grave
responsibility on those in whose hands are the lives of ten thousand
men; and on those who put stars upon men's shoulders, too! Bah! I kindle
when I see some things that I have to see. But this move of the Third
Corps was an important one--it developed the battle--the results of the
move to the Corps itself we shall see. O, if this Corps had kept its
strong position upon the crest, and supported by the rest of the army,
had waited for the attack of the enemy!

It was magnificent to see those ten or twelve thousand men--they were
good men--with their batteries, and some squadrons of cavalry upon the
left flank, all in battle order, in several lines, with flags streaming,
sweep steadily down the slope, across the valley, and up the next
ascent, toward their destined position! From our position we could see
it all. In advance Sickles pushed forward his heavy line of skirmishers,
who drove back those of the enemy, across the Emmetsburg road, and thus
cleared the way for the main body. The Third Corps now became the
absorbing object of interest of all eyes. The Second Corps took arms,
and the 1st Division of this Corps was ordered to be in readiness to
support the Third Corps, should circumstances render support necessary.
As the Third Corps was the extreme left of our line, as it advanced, if
the enemy was assembling to the West of Round Top with a view to turn
our left, as we had heard, there would be nothing between the left flank
of the Corps and the enemy, and the enemy would be square upon its flank
by the time it had attained the road. So when this advance line came
near the Emmetsburg road, and we saw the squadrons of cavalry mentioned,
come dashing back from their position as flankers, and the smoke of some
guns, and we heard the reports away to Sickles left, anxiety became an
element in our interest in these movements. The enemy opened slowly at
first, and from long range; but he was square upon Sickles' left flank.
General Caldwell was ordered at once to put his Division--the 1st of the
Second Corps, as mentioned--in motion, and to take post in the woods at
the left slope of Round Top, in such a manner as to resist the enemy
should he attempt to come around Sickles left and gain his rear. The
Division moved as ordered, and disappeared from view in the woods,
towards the point indicated at between two and three o'clock P. M., and
the reserve brigade--the First, Col. Heath temporarily commanding--of
the Second Division, was therefore moved up and occupied the position
vacated by the Third Division. About the same time the Fifth Corps could
be seen marching by the flank from its position on the Baltimore Pike,
and in the opening of the woods heading for the same locality where the
1st Division of the Second Corps had gone. The Sixth Corps had now come
up and was halted upon the Baltimore Pike. So the plot thickened. As the
enemy opened upon Sickles with his batteries, some five or six in all, I
suppose, firing slowly, Sickles with as many replied, and with much
more spirit. The artillery fire became quite animated, soon; but the
enemy was forced to withdraw his guns farther and farther away, and ours
advanced upon him. It was not long before the cannonade ceased
altogether, the enemy having retired out of range, and Sickles, having
temporarily halted his command, pending this, moved forward again to the
position he desired, or nearly that. It was now about five o'clock, and
we shall soon see what Sickles gained by his move. First we hear more
artillery firing upon Sickles' left--the enemy seems to be opening
again, and as we watch the Rebel batteries seem to be advancing there.
The cannonade is soon opened again, and with great spirit upon both
sides. The enemy's batteries press those of Sickles, and pound the shot
upon them, and this time they in turn begin to retire to position nearer
the infantry. The enemy seem to be fearfully in earnest this time. And
what is more ominous than the thunder or the shot of his advancing guns,
this time, in the intervals between his batteries, far to Sickles' left,
appear the long lines and the columns of the Rebel infantry, now
unmistakably moving out to the attack. The position of the Third Corps
becomes at once one of great peril, and it is probable that its
commander by this time began to realize his true situation. All was
astir now on our crest. Generals and their Staffs were galloping hither
and thither--the men were all in their places, and you might have heard
the rattle of ten thousand ramrods as they drove home and "thugged" upon
the little globes and cones of lead. As the enemy was advancing upon
Sickles' flank, he commenced a change, or at least a partial one, of
front, by swinging back his left and throwing forward his right, in
order that his lines might be parallel to those of his adversary, his
batteries meantime doing what they could to check the enemy's advance;
but this movement was not completely executed before new Rebel batteries
opened upon Sickles' right flank--his former front--and in the same
quarter appeared the Rebel infantry also. Now came the dreadful battle
picture, of which we for a time could be but spectators. Upon the front
and right flank of Sickles came sweeping the infantry of Longstreet and
Hill. Hitherto there had been skirmishing and artillery practice--now
the battle began; for amid the heavier smoke and larger tongues of flame
of the batteries, now began to appear the countless flashes, and the
long fiery sheets of the muskets, and the rattle of the volleys, mingled
with the thunder of the guns. We see the long gray lines come sweeping
down upon Sickles' front, and mix with the battle smoke; now the same
colors emerge from the bushes and orchards upon his right, and envelope
his flank in the confusion of the conflict.

O, the din and the roar, and these thirty thousand Rebel wolf cries!
What a hell is there down that valley!

These ten or twelve thousand men of the Third Corps fight well, but it
soon becomes apparent that they must be swept from the field, or perish
there where they are doing so well, so thick and overwhelming a storm of
Rebel fire involves them. It was fearful to see, but these men, such as
ever escape, must come from that conflict as best they can. To move down
and support them with other troops is out of the question, for this
would be to do as Sickles did, to relinquish a good position, and
advance to a bad one. There is no other alternative--the Third Corps
must fight itself out of its position of destruction! What was it ever
put there for?

In the meantime some other dispositions must be made to meet the enemy,
in the event that Sickles is overpowered. With this Corps out of the
way, the enemy would be in a position to advance upon the line of the
Second Corps, not in a line parallel with its front, but they would come
obliquely from the left. To meet this contingency the left of the Second
Division of the Second Corps is thrown back slightly, and two Regiments,
the 15th Mass., Col. Ward, and the 82nd N. Y., Lieut. Col. Horton, are
advanced down to the Emmetsburg road, to a favorable position nearer us
than the fight has yet come, and some new batteries from the artillery
reserve are posted upon the crest near the left of the Second Corps.
This was all Gen. Gibbon could do. Other dispositions were made or were
now being made upon the field, which I shall mention presently. The
enemy is still giving Sickles fierce battle--or rather the Third Corps,
for Sickles has been borne from the field minus one of his legs, and
Gen. Birney now commands--and we of the Second Corps, a thousand yards
away, with our guns and men are, and must be, still idle spectators of
the fight.

The Rebel, as anticipated, tries to gain the left of the Third Corps,
and for this purpose is now moving into the woods at the west of Round
Top. We knew what he would find there. No sooner had the enemy gotten a
considerable force into the woods mentioned, in the attempted execution
of his purpose, than the roar of the conflict was heard there also. The
Fifth Corps and the First Division of the Second were there at the right
time, and promptly engaged him; and there, too, the battle soon became
general and obstinate. Now the roar of battle has become twice the
volume that it was before, and its range extends over more than twice
the space. The Third Corps has been pressed back considerably, and the
wounded are streaming to the rear by hundreds, but still the battle
there goes on, with no considerable abatement on our part. The field of
actual conflict extends now from a point to the front of the left of
the Second Corps, away down to the front of Round Top, and the fight
rages with the greatest fury. The fire of artillery and infantry and the
yells of the Rebels fill the air with a mixture of hideous sounds. When
the First Division of the Second Corps first engaged the enemy, for a
time it was pressed back somewhat, but under the able and judicious
management of Gen. Caldwell, and the support of the Fifth Corps, it
speedily ceased to retrograde, and stood its ground; and then there
followed a time, after the Fifth Corps became well engaged, when from
appearances we hoped the troops already engaged would be able to check
entirely, or repulse the further assault of the enemy. But fresh bodies
of the Rebels continued to advance out of the woods to the front of the
position of the Third Corps, and to swell the numbers of the assailants
of this already hard pressed command. The men there begin to show signs
of exhaustion--their ammunition must be nearly expended--they have now
been fighting more than an hour, and against greatly superior numbers.
From the sound of the firing at the extreme left, and the place where
the smoke rises above the tree tops there, we know that the Fifth Corps
is still steady, and holding its own there; and as we see the Sixth
Corps now marching and near at hand to that point, we have no fears for
the left--we have more apparent reason to fear for ourselves.

The Third Corps is being overpowered--here and there its lines begin to
break--the men begin to pour back to the rear in confusion--the enemy
are close upon them and among them--organization is lost to a great
degree--guns and caissons are abandoned and in the hands of the
enemy--the Third Corps, after a heroic but unfortunate fight, is being
literally swept from the field. That Corps gone, what is there between
the Second Corps, and these yelling masses of the enemy? Do you not
think that by this time we began to feel a personal interest in this
fight? We did indeed. We had been mere observers--the time was at hand
when we must be actors in this drama.

Up to this hour Gen. Gibbon had been in command of the Second Corps,
since yesterday, but Gen. Hancock, relieved of his duties elsewhere, now
assumed command. Five or six hundred yards away the Third Corps was
making its last opposition; and the enemy was hotly pressing his
advantages there, and throwing in fresh troops whose line extended still
more along our front, when Generals Hancock and Gibbon rode along the
lines of their troops; and at once cheer after cheer--not Rebel, mongrel
cries, but genuine cheers--rang out all along the line, above the roar
of battle, for "Hancock" and "Gibbon," and "our Generals." These were
good. Had you heard their voices, you would have known these men would
fight. Just at this time we saw another thing that made us glad:--we
looked to our rear, and there, and all up the hillside which was the
rear of the Third Corps before it went forward, were rapidly advancing
large bodies of men from the extreme right of our line of battle, coming
to the support of the part now so hotly pressed. There was the whole
Twelfth Corps, with the exception of about one brigade, that is, the
larger portion of the Divisions of Gens. Williams and Geary; the Third
Division of the First Corps, Gen. Doubleday; and some other brigades
from the same Corps--and some of them were moving at the double quick.
They formed lines of battle at the foot of the Taneytown road, and when
the broken fragments of the Third Corps were swarming by them towards
the rear, without halting or wavering they came sweeping up, and with
glorious old cheers, under fire, took their places on the crest in line
of battle to the left of the Second Corps. Now Sickles' blunder is
repaired. Now, Rebel chief, hurl forward your howling lines and columns!
Yell out your loudest and your last, for many of your best will never
yell, or wave the spurious flag again!

The battle still rages all along the left, where the Fifth Corps is, and
the West slope of Round Top is the scene of the conflict; and nearer us
there was but short abatement, as the last of the Third Corps retired
from the field, for the enemy is flushed with his success. He has been
throwing forward brigade after brigade, and Division after Division,
since the battle began, and his advancing line now extends almost as far
to our right as the right of the Second Division of the Second Corps.
The whole slope in our front is full of them; and in various formation,
in line, in column, and in masses which are neither, with yells and
thick volleys, they are rushing towards our crest. The Third Corps is
out of the way. Now we are in for it. The battery men are ready by their
loaded guns. All along the crest is ready. Now Arnold and Brown--now
Cushing, and Woodruff, and Rhorty!--you three shall survive to-day! They
drew the cords that moved the friction primers, and gun after gun, along
the batteries, in rapid succession, leaped where it stood and bellowed
its canister upon the enemy. The enemy still advance. The infantry open
fire--first the two advance regiments, the 15th Mass. and the 82d N.
Y.--then here and there throughout the length of the long line, at the
points where the enemy comes nearest, and soon the whole crest,
artillery and infantry, is one continued sheet of fire. From Round Top
to near the Cemetery stretches an uninterrupted field of conflict. There
is a great army upon each side, now hotly engaged.

To see the fight, while it went on in the valley below us, was
terrible,--what must it be now, when we are in it, and it is all around
us, in all its fury?

All senses for the time are dead but the one of sight. The roar of the
discharges and the yells of the enemy all pass unheeded; but the
impassioned soul is all eyes, and sees all things, that the smoke does
not hide. How madly the battery men are driving home the double charges
of canister in those broad-mouthed Napoleons, whose fire seems almost to
reach the enemy. How rapidly these long, blue-coated lines of infantry
deliver their file fire down the slope.

But there is no faltering--the men stand nobly to their work. Men are
dropping dead or wounded on all sides, by scores and by hundreds, and
the poor mutilated creatures, some with an arm dangling, some with a leg
broken by a bullet, are limping and crawling towards the rear. They make
no sound of complaint or pain, but are as silent as if dumb and mute. A
sublime heroism seems to pervade all, and the intuition that to lose
that crest, all is lost. How our officers, in the work of cheering on
and directing the men, are falling.

We have heard that Gen. Zook and Col. Cross, in the First Division of
our Corps, are mortally wounded--they both commanded brigades,--now near
us Col. Ward of the 15th Mass.--he lost a leg at Balls Bluff--and Lieut.
Col. Horton of the 82d N. Y., are mortally struck while trying to hold
their commands, which are being forced back; Col. Revere, 20th Mass.,
grandson of old Paul Revere, of the Revolution, is killed, Lieut. Col.
Max Thoman, commanding 59th N. Y., is mortally wounded, and a host of
others that I cannot name. These were of Gibbon's Division. Lieut. Brown
is wounded among his guns--his position is a hundred yards in advance of
the main line--the enemy is upon his battery, and he escapes, but leaves
three of his six guns in the hands of the enemy.

The fire all along our crest is terrific, and it is a wonder how
anything human could have stood before it, and yet the madness of the
enemy drove them on, clear up to the muzzle of the guns, clear up to the
lines of our infantry--but the lines stood right in their places. Gen.
Hancock and his Aides rode up to Gibbon's Division, under the smoke.
Gen. Gibbon, with myself, was near, and there was a flag dimly visible,
coming towards us from the direction of the enemy. "Here, what are these
men falling back for?" said Hancock. The flag was no more than fifty
yards away, but it was the head of a Rebel column, which at once opened
fire with a volley. Lieut. Miller, Gen. Hancock's Aide, fell, twice
struck, but the General was unharmed, and he told the 1st Minn., which
was near, to drive these people away. That splendid regiment, the less
than three hundred that are left out of fifteen hundred that it has had,
swings around upon the enemy, gives them a volley in their faces, and
advances upon them with the bayonet. The Rebels fled in confusion, but
Col. Colville, Lieut. Col. Adams and Major Downie, are all badly,
dangerously wounded, and many of the other officers and men will never
fight again. More than two-thirds fell.

Such fighting as this cannot last long. It is now near sundown, and the
battle has gone on wonderfully long already. But if you will stop to
notice it, a change has occurred. The Rebel cry has ceased, and the men
of the Union begin to shout there, under the smoke, and their lines to
advance. See, the Rebels are breaking! They are in confusion in all our
front! The wave has rolled upon the rock, and the rock has smashed it.
Let us shout, too!

First upon their extreme left the Rebels broke, where they had almost
pierced our lines; thence the repulse extended rapidly to their right.
They hung longest about Round Top, where the Fifth Corps punished them,
but in a space of time incredibly short, after they first gave signs of
weakness, the whole force of the Rebel assault along the whole line, in
spite of waving red flags, and yells, and the entreaties of officers,
and the pride of the chivalry, fled like chaff before the whirlwind,
back down the slope, over the valley, across the Emmetsburg road,
shattered, without organization in utter confusion, fugitive into the
woods, and victory was with the arms of the Republic. The great Rebel
assault, the greatest ever made upon this continent, has been made and
signally repulsed, and upon this part of the field the fight of to-day
is now soon over. Pursuit was made as rapidly and as far as practicable,
but owing to the proximity of night, and the long distance which would
have to be gone over before any of the enemy, where they would be likely
to halt, could be overtaken, further success was not attainable to-day.
Where the Rebel rout first commenced, a large number of prisoners, some
thousands at least, were captured; almost all their dead, and such of
their wounded as could not themselves get to the rear, were within our
lines; several of their flags were gathered up, and a good many thousand
muskets, some nine or ten guns and some caissons lost by the Third
Corps, and the three of Brown's battery--these last were in Rebel hands
but a few minutes--were all safe now with us, the enemy having had no
time to take them off.

Not less, I estimate, than twenty thousand men were killed or wounded in
this fight. Our own losses must have been nearly half this
number,--about four thousand in the Third Corps, fully two thousand in
the Second, and I think two thousand in the Fifth, and I think the
losses of the First, Twelfth, and a little more than a brigade of the
Sixth--all of that Corps which was actually engaged--would reach nearly
two thousand more. Of course it will never be possible to know the
numbers upon either side who fell in this particular part of the general
battle, but from the position of the enemy and his numbers, and the
appearance of the field, his loss must have been as heavy, or as I think
much heavier than our own, and my estimates are probably short of the
actual loss.

[Illustration: Battle of Gettysburg--Final attack, July 2

(Compiled by C. E. Estabrook)]

The fight done, the sudden revulsions of sense and feeling follow, which
more or less characterize all similar occasions. How strange the
stillness seems! The whole air roared with the conflict but a moment
since--now all is silent; not a gunshot sound is heard, and the silence
comes distinctly, almost painfully to the senses. And the sun purples
the clouds in the West, and the sultry evening steals on as if there had
been no battle, and the furious shout and the cannon's roar had never
shaken the earth. And how look these fields? We may see them before
dark--the ripening grain, the luxuriant corn, the orchards, the grassy
meadows, and in their midst the rural cottage of brick or wood. They
were beautiful this morning. They are desolate now--trampled by the
countless feet of the combatants, plowed and scored by the shot and
shell, the orchards splintered, the fences prostrate, the harvest
trodden in the mud. And more dreadful than the sight of all this,
thickly strewn over all their length and breadth, are the habiliments of
the soldiers, the knapsacks cast aside in the stress of the fight, or
after the fatal lead had struck; haversacks, yawning with the rations
the owner will never call for; canteens of cedar of the Rebel men of
Jackson, and of cloth-covered tin of the men of the Union; blankets and
trowsers, and coats and caps, and some are blue and some are gray;
muskets and ramrods, and bayonets, and swords, and scabbards and belts,
some bent and cut by the shot or shell; broken wheels, exploded
caissons, and limber-boxes, and dismantled guns, and all these are
sprinkled with blood; horses, some dead, a mangled heap of carnage, some
alive, with a leg shot clear off, or other frightful wounds, appealing
to you with almost more than brute gaze as you pass; and last, but not
least numerous, many thousands of men--and there was no rebellion here
now--the men of South Carolina were quiet by the side of those of
Massachusetts, some composed, with upturned faces, sleeping the last
sleep, some mutilated and frightful, some wretched, fallen, bathed in
blood, survivors still and unwilling witnesses of the rage of

And yet with all this before them, as darkness came on, and the
dispositions were made and the outposts thrown out for the night, the
Army of the Potomac was quite mad with joy. No more light-hearted guests
ever graced a banquet, than were these men as they boiled their coffee
and munched their soldiers' supper to-night. Is it strange?

Otherwise they would not have been soldiers. And such sights as all
these will be certain to be seen as long as war lasts in the world, and
when war is done, then is the end and the days of the millenium are at

The ambulances commenced their work as soon as the battle opened--the
twinkling lanterns through the night, and the sun of to-morrow saw them
still with the same work unfinished.

I wish that I could write, that with the coming on of darkness, ended
the fight of to-day, but such was not the case. The armies have fought
enough to-day, and ought to sleep to-night, one would think, but not so
thought the Rebel. Let us see what he gained by his opinion. When the
troops, including those of the Twelfth Corps had been withdrawn from the
extreme right of our line, in the afternoon, to support the left, as I
have mentioned, thereby, of course, weakening that part of the line so
left, the Rebel Ewell, either becoming aware of the fact, or because he
thought he could carry our right at all events, late in the afternoon
commenced an assault upon that part of our line. His battle had been
going on there simultaneously with the fight on the left, but not with
any great degree of obstinacy on his part. He had advanced his men
through the woods, and in front of the formidable position lately held
by the Twelfth Corps cautiously, and to his surprise, I have no doubt,
found our strong defenses upon the extreme right, entirely abandoned.
These he at once took possession of, and simultaneously made an attack
upon our right flank, which was now near the summit of Culp's hill, and
upon the front of that part of the line. That small portion of the
Twelfth Corps, which had been left there, and some of the Eleventh
Corps, sent to their assistance, did what they could to check the
Rebels; but the Eleventh Corps men were getting shot at there, and they
did not want to stay. Matters began to have a bad look in that part of
the field. A portion of the First Division of the First Corps, was sent
there for support--the 6th Wisconsin, among others, and this improved
matters--but still, as we had but a small number of men there, all told,
the enemy with their great numbers, were having too much prospect of
success, and it seems that, probably emboldened by this, Ewell had
resolved upon a night attack upon that wing of the army, and was making
his dispositions accordingly. The enemy had not at sundown, actually
carried any part of our rifle pits there, save the ones abandoned, but
he was getting troops assembled upon our flank, and altogether, with our
weakness there, at that time, matters did not look as we would like to
have them. Such was then the posture of affairs, when the fight upon our
left, that I have described, was done. Under such circumstances it is
not strange that the Twelfth Corps, as soon as its work was done upon
the left, was quickly ordered back to the right, to its old position.
There it arrived in good time; not soon enough, of course, to avoid the
mortification of finding the enemy in the possession of a part of the
works the men had labored so hard to construct, but in ample time before
dark to put the men well in the pits we already held, and to take up a
strong defensible position, at right angles to, and in rear of the main
line, in order to resist these flanking dispositions of the enemy. The
army was secure again. The men in the works would be steady against all
attacks in front, as long as they knew that their flank was safe. Until
between ten and eleven o'clock at night, the woods upon the right,
resounded with the discharges of musketry. Shortly after or about dark,
the enemy made a dash upon the right of the Eleventh Corps. They crept
up the windings of a valley, not in a very heavy force, but from the
peculiar mode in which this Corps does outpost duty, quite unperceived
in the dark until they were close upon the main line. It is said, I do
not know it to be true, that they spiked two guns of one of the Eleventh
Corps' batteries, and that the battery men had to drive them off with
their sabres and rammers, and that there was some fearful "Dutch"
swearing on the occasion, "_donner wetter_" among other similar impious
oaths, having been freely used. The enemy here were finally repulsed by
the assistance of Col. Correll's brigade of the Third Division of the
Second Corps, and the 106th Pa., from the Second Division of the same
Corps, was by Gen. Howard's request sent there to do outpost duty. It
seems to have been a matter of utter madness and folly on the part of
the enemy to have continued their night attack, as they did upon the
right. Our men were securely covered by ample works and even in most
places a log was placed a few inches above the top of the main
breastwork, as a protection to the heads of the men as they thrust out
their pieces beneath it to fire. Yet in the darkness the enemy would
rush up, clambering over rocks and among trees, even to the front of the
works, but only to leave their riddled bodies there upon the ground or
to be swiftly repulsed headlong into the woods again. In the darkness
the enemy would climb trees close to the works, and endeavor to shoot
our men by the light of the flashes. When discovered, a thousand bullets
would whistle after them in the dark, and some would hit, and then the
Rebel would make up his mind to come down.

Our loss was light, almost nothing in this fight--the next morning the
enemy's dead were thick all along this part of the line. Near eleven
o'clock the enemy, wearied with his disastrous work, desisted, and
thereafter until morning, not a shot was heard in all the armies.

So much for the battle. There is another thing that I wish to mention,
of the matters of the 2d of July.

After evening came on, and from reports received, all was known to be
going satisfactorily upon the right, Gen. Meade summoned his Corps
Commanders to his Headquarters for consultation. A consultation is held
upon matters of vast moment to the country, and that poor little
farm-house is honored with more distinguished guests than it ever had
before, or than it will ever have again, probably.

Do you expect to see a degree of ceremony, and severe military aspect
characterize this meeting, in accordance with strict military rules, and
commensurate with the moment of the matters of their deliberation? Name
it "Major General Meade, Commander of the Army of the Potomac, with his
Corps Generals, holding a Council of War, upon the field of Gettysburg,"
and it would sound pretty well,--and that was what it was; and you might
make a picture of it and hang it up by the side of "Napoleon and his
Marshals," and "Washington and his Generals," maybe, at some future
time. But for the artist to draw his picture from, I will tell how this
council appeared. Meade, Sedgwick, Slocum, Howard, Hancock, Sykes,
Newton, Pleasanton--commander of the cavalry--and Gibbon, were the
Generals present. Hancock, now that Sickles is wounded, has charge of
the Third Corps, and Gibbon again has the Second. Meade is a tall spare
man, with full beard, which with his hair, originally brown, is quite
thickly sprinkled with gray--has a Romanish face, very large nose, and a
white, large forehead, prominent and wide over the eyes, which are full
and large, and quick in their movements, and he wears spectacles. His
_fibres_ are all of the long and sinewy kind. His habitual personal
appearance is quite careless, and it would be rather difficult to make
him look well dressed. Sedgwick is quite a heavy man, short, thick-set
and muscular, with florid complexion, dark, calm, straight-looking eyes,
with full, heavyish features, which, with his eyes, have plenty of
animation when he is aroused. He has a magnificent profile, well cut,
with the nose and forehead forming almost a straight line, curly, short,
chestnut hair and full beard, cut short, with a little gray in it. He
dresses carelessly, but can look magnificently when he is well dressed.
Like Meade, he looks and is, honest and modest. You might see at once,
why his men, because they love him, call him "Uncle John," not to his
face, of course, but among themselves. Slocum is small, rather spare,
with black, straight hair and beard, which latter is unshaven and thin,
large, full, quick, black eyes, white skin, sharp nose, wide cheek
bones, and hollow cheeks and small chin. His movements are quick and
angular, and he dresses with a sufficient degree of elegance. Howard is
medium in size, has nothing marked about him, is the youngest of them
all, I think--has lost an arm in the war, has straight brown hair and
beard, shaves his short upper lip, over which his nose slants down, dim
blue eyes, and on the whole, appears a very pleasant, affable, well
dressed little gentleman. Hancock is the tallest and most shapely, and
in many respects is the best looking officer of them all. His hair is
very light brown, straight and moist, and always looks well, his beard
is of the same color, of which he wears the moustache and a tuft upon
the chin; complexion ruddy, features neither large nor small, but well
cut, with full jaw and chin, compressed mouth, straight nose, full, deep
blue eyes, and a very mobile, emotional countenance. He always dresses
remarkably well, and his manner is dignified, gentlemanly and
commanding. I think if he were in citizens clothes, and should give
commands in the army to those who did not know him, he would be likely
to be obeyed at once, and without any question as to his right to
command. Sykes is a small, rather thin man, well dressed and
gentlemanly, brown hair and beard, which he wears full, with a red,
pinched, rough-looking skin, feeble blue eyes, long nose, with the
general air of one who is weary and a little ill-natured. Newton is a
well-sized, shapely, muscular, well dressed man, with brown hair, with a
very ruddy, clean-shaved, full face, blue eyes, blunt, round features,
walks very erect, curbs in his chin, and has somewhat of that smart sort
of swagger that people are apt to suppose characterizes soldiers.
Pleasonton is quite a nice little dandy, with brown hair and beard, a
straw hat with a little jockey rim, which he cocks upon one side of his
head, with an unsteady eye, that looks slyly at you and then dodges.
Gibbon, the youngest of them all, save Howard, is about the same size as
Slocum, Howard, Sykes and Pleasonton, and there are none of these who
will weigh one hundred and fifty pounds. He is compactly made, neither
spare nor corpulent, with ruddy complexion, chestnut brown hair, with a
clean-shaved face, except his moustache, which is decidedly reddish in
color, medium-sized, well-shaped head, sharp, moderately-jutting brow,
deep blue, calm eyes, sharp, slightly aquiline nose, compressed mouth,
full jaws and chin, with an air of calm firmness in his manner. He
always looks well dressed. I suppose Howard is about thirty-five and
Meade about forty-five years of age; the rest are between these ages,
but not many under forty. As they come to the council now, there is the
appearance of fatigue about them, which is not customary, but is only
due to the hard labors of the past few days. They all wear clothes of
dark blue, some have top boots and some not, and except the two-starred
straps upon the shoulders of all save Gibbon, who has but one star,
there was scarcely a piece of regulation uniform about them all. They
wore their swords, of various patterns, but no sashes, the Army hat, but
with the crown pinched into all sorts of shapes and the rim slouched
down and shorn of all its ornaments but the gilt band--except Sykes who
wore a blue cap, and Pleasonton with his straw hat with broad black
band. Then the mean little room where they met,--its only furniture
consisted of a large, wide bed in one corner, a small pine table in the
center, upon which was a wooden pail of water, with a tin cup for
drinking, and a candle, stuck to the table by putting the end in tallow
melted down from the wick, and five or six straight-backed rush-bottomed
chairs. The Generals came in--some sat, some kept walking or standing,
two lounged upon the bed, some were constantly smoking cigars. And thus
disposed, they deliberated whether the army should fall back from its
present position to one in rear which it was said was stronger, should
attack the enemy on the morrow, wherever he could be found, or should
stand there upon the horse-shoe crest, still on the defensive, and await
the further movements of the enemy.

The latter proposition was unanimously agreed to. Their heads were
sound. The Army of the Potomac would just halt right there, and allow
the Rebel to come up and smash his head against it, to any reasonable
extent he desired, as he had to-day. After some two hours the council
dissolved, and the officers went their several ways.

Night, sultry and starless, droned on, and it was almost midnight that I
found myself peering my way from the line of the Second Corps, back down
to the General's Headquarters, which were an ambulance in the rear, in a
little peach orchard. All was silent now but the sound of the
ambulances, as they were bringing off the wounded, and you could hear
them rattle here and there about the field, and see their lanterns. I
am weary and sleepy, almost to such an extent as not to be able to sit
on my horse. And my horse can hardly move--the spur will not start
him--what can be the reason? I know that he has been touched by two or
three bullets to-day, but not to wound or lame him to speak of. Then, in
riding by a horse that is hitched, in the dark, I got kicked; had I not
a very thick boot, the blow would have been likely to have broken my
ankle--it did break my temper as it was--and, as if it would cure
matters, I foolishly spurred my horse again. No use, he would but walk.
I dismounted; I could not lead him along at all, so out of temper I rode
at the slowest possible walk to the Headquarters, which I reached at
last. General Hancock and Gibbon were asleep in the ambulance. With a
light I found what was the matter with "Billy." A bullet had entered his
chest just in front of my left leg, as I was mounted, and the blood was
running down all his side and leg, and the air from his lungs came out
of the bullet-hole. I begged his pardon mentally for my cruelty in
spurring him, and should have done so in words if he could have
understood me. Kind treatment as is due to the wounded he could
understand, and he had it. Poor Billy! He and I were first under fire
together, and I rode him at the second Bull Run and the first and second
Fredericksburg, and at Antietam after brave "Joe" was killed; but I
shall never mount him again--Billy's battles are over.

"George, make my bed here upon the ground by the side of this ambulance.
Pull off my sabre and my boots--that will do!" Was ever princely couch
or softest down so soft as those rough blankets, there upon the unroofed
sod? At midnight they received me for four hours delicious, dreamless
oblivion of weariness and of battle. So to me ended the Second of July.

At four o'clock on the morning of the Third, I was awakened by Gen.
Gibbon's pulling me by the foot and saying: "Come, don't you hear that?"
I sprang up to my feet. Where was I? A moment and my dead senses and
memory were alive again, and the sound of brisk firing of musketry to
the front and right of the Second Corps, and over at the extreme right
of our line, where we heard it last in the night, brought all back to
my memory. We surely were on the field of battle, and there were
palpable evidences to my reason that to-day was to be another of blood.
Oh! for a moment the thought of it was sickening to every sense and
feeling! But the motion of my horse as I galloped over the crest a few
minutes later, and the serene splendor of the morning now breaking
through rifted clouds and spreading over the landscape, soon reassured
me. Come day of battle! Up Rebel hosts, and thunder with your arms! We
are all ready to do and to die for the Republic!

I found a sharp skirmish going on in front of the right of the Second
Corps, between our outposts and those of the enemy, but save this--and
none of the enemy but his outposts were in sight--all was quiet in that
part of the field. On the extreme right of the line the sound of
musketry was quite heavy; and this I learned was brought on by the
attack of the Second Division, Twelfth Corps, Gen. Geary, upon the enemy
in order to drive him out of our works which he had sneaked into
yesterday, as I have mentioned. The attack was made at the earliest
moment in the morning when it was light enough to discern objects to
fire at. The enemy could not use the works, but was confronting Geary in
woods, and had the cover of many rocks and trees, so the fight was an
irregular one, now breaking out and swelling to a vigorous fight, now
subsiding to a few scattering shots; and so it continued by turns until
the morning was well advanced, when the enemy was finally wholly
repulsed and driven from the pits, and the right of our line was again
re-established in the place it first occupied. The heaviest losses the
Twelfth Corps sustained in all the battle, occurred during this attack,
and they were here quite severe. I heard Gen. Meade express
dissatisfaction at Gen. Geary for making this attack, as a thing not
ordered and not necessary, as the works of ours were of no intrinsic
importance, and had not been captured from us by a fight, and Geary's
position was just as good as they, where he was during the night. And I
heard Gen. Meade say that he sent an order to have the fight stopped;
but I believe the order was not communicated to Geary until after the
repulse of the enemy. Late in the forenoon the enemy again tried to
carry our right by storm. We heard that old Rebel Ewell had sworn an
oath that he would break our right. He had Stonewall Jackson's Corps,
and possibly imagined himself another Stonewall, but he certainly
_hankered_ after the right of our line--and so up through the woods, and
over the rocks, and up the steeps he sent his storming parties--our men
could see them now in the day time. But all the Rebel's efforts were
fruitless, save in one thing, slaughter to his own men. These assaults
were made with great spirit and determination, but as the enemy would
come up, our men lying behind their secure defenses would just singe
them with the blaze of their muskets, and riddle them, as a hail-storm
the tender blades of corn. The Rebel oath was not kept, any more than
his former one to support the Constitution of the United States. The
Rebel loss was very heavy indeed, here, ours but trifling. I regret that
I cannot give more of the details of this fighting upon the right--it
was so determined upon the part of the enemy, both last night and this
morning--so successful to us. About all that I actually saw of it
during its progress, was the smoke, and I heard the discharges. My
information is derived from officers who were personally in it. Some of
our heavier artillery assisted our infantry in this by firing, with the
piece elevated, far from the rear, over the heads of our men, at a
distance from the enemy of two miles, I suppose. Of course they could
have done no great damage. It was nearly eleven o'clock that the battle
in this part of the field subsided, not to be again renewed. All the
morning we felt no apprehension for this part of the line, for we knew
its strength, and that our troops engaged, the Twelfth Corps and the
First Division, Wadsworth's, of the First, could be trusted.

For the sake of telling one thing at a time, I have anticipated events
somewhat, in writing of this fight upon the right. I shall now go back
to the starting point, four o'clock this morning, and, as other events
occurred during the day, second to none in the battle in importance,
which I think I saw as much of as any man living, I will tell you
something of them, and what I saw, and how the time moved on. The
outpost skirmish that I have mentioned, soon subsided. I suppose it was
the natural escape of the wrath which the men had, during the night,
hoarded up against each other, and which, as soon as they could see in
the morning, they could no longer contain, but must let it off through
their musket barrels, at their adversaries. At the commencement of the
war such firing would have awaked the whole army and roused it to its
feet and to arms; not so now. The men upon the crest lay snoring in
their blankets, even though some of the enemy's bullets dropped among
them, as if bullets were as harmless as the drops of dew around them. As
the sun arose to-day, the clouds became broken, and we had once more
glimpses of sky, and fits of sunshine--a rarity, to cheer us. From the
crest, save to the right of the Second Corps, no enemy, not even his
outposts could be discovered, along all the position where he so
thronged upon the Third Corps yesterday. All was silent there--the
wounded horses were limping about the field; the ravages of the conflict
were still fearfully visible--the scattered arms and the ground thickly
dotted with the dead--but no hostile foe. The men were roused early, in
order that the morning meal might be out of the way in time for whatever
should occur. Then ensued the hum of an army, not in ranks, chatting in
low tones, and running about and jostling among each other, rolling and
packing their blankets and tents. They looked like an army of
rag-gatherers, while shaking these very useful articles of the soldier's
outfit, for you must know that rain and mud in conjunction have not had
the effect to make them clean, and the wear and tear of service have not
left them entirely whole. But one could not have told by the appearance
of the men, that they were in battle yesterday, and were likely to be
again to-day. They packed their knapsacks, boiled their coffee and
munched their hard bread, just as usual--just like old soldiers who know
what campaigning is; and their talk is far more concerning their present
employment--some joke or drollery--than concerning what they saw or did

As early as practicable the lines all along the left are revised and
reformed, this having been rendered necessary by yesterday's battle, and
also by what is anticipated to-day.

It is the opinion of many of our Generals that the Rebel will not give
us battle to-day--that he had enough yesterday--that he will be heading
towards the Potomac at the earliest practicable moment, if he has not
already done so; but the better, and controlling judgment is, that he
will make another grand effort to pierce or turn our lines--that he will
either mass and attack the left again, as yesterday, or direct his
operations against the left of our center, the position of the Second
Corps, and try to sever our line. I infer that Gen. Meade was of the
opinion that the attack to-day would be upon the left--this from the
disposition he ordered, I know that Gen. Hancock anticipated the attack
upon the center.

The dispositions to-day upon the left are as follows:

The Second and Third Divisions of the Second Corps are in the position
of yesterday; then on the left come Doubleday's--the Third Division and
Col. Stannard's brigade of the First Corps; then Colwell's--the First
Division of the Second Corps; then the Third Corps, temporarily under
the command of Hancock, since Sickles' wound. The Third Corps is upon
the same ground in part, and on the identical line where it first formed
yesterday morning, and where, had it stayed instead of moving out to the
front, we should have many more men to-day, and should not have been
upon the brink of disaster yesterday. On the left of the Third Corps is
the Fifth Corps, with a short front and deep line; then comes the Sixth
Corps, all but one brigade, which is sent over to the Twelfth. The
Sixth, a splendid Corps, almost intact in the fight of yesterday, is the
extreme left of our line, which terminates to the south of Round Top,
and runs along its western base, in the woods, and thence to the
Cemetery. This Corps is burning to pay off the old scores made on the
4th of May, there back of Fredericksburg. Note well the position of the
Second and Third Divisions of the Second Corps--it will become
important. There are nearly six thousand men and officers in these two
Divisions here upon the field--the losses were quite heavy yesterday,
some regiments are detached to other parts of the field--so all told
there are less than six thousand men now in the two Divisions, who
occupy a line of about a thousand yards. The most of the way along this
line upon the crest was a stone fence, constructed of small, rough
stones, a good deal of the way badly pulled down, but the men had
improved it and patched it with rails from the neighboring fences, and
with earth, so as to render it in many places a very passable breastwork
against musketry and flying fragments of shells.

These works are so low as to compel the men to kneel or lie down
generally to obtain cover. Near the right of the Second Division, and
just by the little group of trees that I have mentioned there, this
stone fence made a right angle, and extended thence to the front, about
twenty or thirty yards, where with another less than a right angle it
followed along the crest again.

The lines were conformed to these breastworks and to the nature of the
ground upon the crest, so as to occupy the most favorable places, to be
covered, and still be able to deliver effective fire upon the enemy
should he come there. In some places a second line was so posted as to
be able to deliver its fire over the heads of the first line behind the
works; but such formation was not practicable all of the way. But all
the force of these two divisions was in line, in position, without
reserves, and in such a manner that every man of them could have fired
his piece at the same instant. The division flags, that of the Second
Division, being a white trefoil upon a square blue field, and of the
Third Division a blue trefoil upon a white rectangular field, waved
behind the divisions at the points where the Generals of Division were
supposed to be; the brigade flags, similar to these but with a
triangular field, were behind the brigades; and the national flags of
the regiments were in the lines of their regiments. To the left of the
Second Division, and advanced something over a hundred yards, were
posted a part of Stannard's Brigade two regiments or more, behind a
small bush-crowned crest that ran in a direction oblique to the general
line. These were well covered by the crest, and wholly concealed by the
bushes, so that an advancing enemy would be close upon them before they
could be seen. Other troops of Doubleday's Division were strongly posted
in rear of these in the general line.

I could not help wishing all the morning that this line of the two
divisions of the Second Corps was stronger; it was so far as numbers
constitute strength, the weakest part of our whole line of battle. What
if, I thought, the enemy should make an assault here to-day, with two or
three heavy lines--a great overwhelming mass; would he not sweep through
that thin six thousand?

But I was not General Meade, who alone had power to send other troops
there; and he was satisfied with that part of the line as it was. He was
early on horseback this morning, and rode along the whole line, looking
to it himself, and with glass in hand sweeping the woods and fields in
the direction of the enemy, to see if aught of him could be discovered.
His manner was calm and serious, but earnest. There was no arrogance of
hope, or timidity of fear discernible in his face; but you would have
supposed he would do his duty conscientiously and well, and would be
willing to abide the result. You would have seen this in his face. He
was well pleased with the left of the line to-day, it was so strong with
good troops. He had no apprehension for the right where the fight now
was going on, on account of the admirable position of our forces there.
He was not of the opinion that the enemy would attack the center, our
artillery had such sweep there, and this was not the favorite point of
attack with the Rebel. Besides, should he attack the center, the General
thought he could reinforce it in good season. I heard Gen. Meade speak
of these matters to Hancock and some others, at about nine o'clock in
the morning, while they were up by the line, near the Second Corps.

No further changes of importance except those mentioned, were made in
the disposition of the troops this morning, except to replace some of
the batteries that were disabled yesterday by others from the artillery
reserve, and to brace up the lines well with guns wherever there were
eligible places, from the same source. The line is all in good order
again, and we are ready for general battle.

Save the operations upon the right, the enemy so far as we could see,
was very quiet all the morning. Occasionally the outposts would fire a
little, and then cease. Movements would be discovered which would
indicate the attempt on the part of the enemy to post a battery. Our
Parrotts would send a few shells to the spot, then silence would follow.

At one of these times a painful accident happened to us, this morning.
First Lieut. Henry Ropes, 20th Mass., in Gen. Gibbon's Division, a most
estimable gentleman and officer, intelligent, educated, refined, one of
the noble souls that came to the country's defense, while lying at his
post with his regiment, in front of one of the Batteries, which fired
over the Infantry, was instantly killed by a badly made shell, which, or
some portion of it, fell but a few yards in front of the muzzle of the
gun. The same accident killed or wounded several others. The loss of
Ropes would have pained us at any time, and in any manner; in this
manner his death was doubly painful.

Between ten and eleven o'clock, over in a peach orchard in front of the
position of Sickles yesterday, some little show of the enemy's infantry
was discovered; a few shells scattered the gray-backs; they again
appeared, and it becoming apparent that they were only posting a
skirmish line, no further molestation was offered them. A little after
this some of the enemy's flags could be discerned over near the same
quarter, above the top and behind a small crest of a ridge. There seemed
to be two or three of them--possibly they were guidons--and they moved
too fast to be carried on foot. Possibly, we thought, the enemy is
posting some batteries there. We knew in about two hours from this time
better about the matter. Eleven o'clock came. The noise of battle has
ceased upon the right; not a sound of a gun or musket can be heard on
all the field; the sky is bright, with only the white fleecy clouds
floating over from the West. The July sun streams down its fire upon the
bright iron of the muskets in stacks upon the crest, and the dazzling
brass of the Napoleons. The army lolls and longs for the shade, of which
some get a hand's breadth, from a shelter tent stuck upon a ramrod. The
silence and sultriness of a July noon are supreme. Now it so happened
that just about this time of day a very original and interesting thought
occurred to Gen. Gibbon and several of his staff; that it would be a
very good thing, and a very good time, to have something to eat. When I
announce to you that I had not tasted a mouthful of food since yesterday
noon, and that all I had had to drink since that time, but the most
miserable muddy warm water, was a little drink of whiskey that Major
Biddle, General Meade's aide-de-camp, gave me last evening, and a cup of
strong coffee that I gulped down as I was first mounting this morning,
and further, that, save the four or five hours in the night, there was
scarcely a moment since that time but that I was in the saddle, you may
have some notion of the reason of my assent to this extraordinary
proposition. Nor will I mention the doubts I had as to the feasibility
of the execution of this very novel proposal, except to say that I knew
this morning that our larder was low; not to put too fine a point upon
it, that we had nothing but some potatoes and sugar and coffee in the
world. And I may as well say here, that of such, in scant proportion,
would have been our repast, had it not been for the riding of miles by
two persons, one an officer, to procure supplies; and they only
succeeded in getting some few chickens, some butter, and one huge loaf
of bread, which last was bought of a soldier, because he had grown faint
in carrying it, and was afterwards rescued with much difficulty and
after a long race from a four-footed hog, which had got hold of and had
actually eaten a part of it. "There is a divinity," etc. Suffice it,
this very ingenious and unheard of contemplated proceeding, first
announced by the General, was accepted and at once undertaken by his
staff. Of the absolute quality of what we had to eat, I could not
pretend to judge, but I think an unprejudiced person would have said of
the bread that it was good; so of the potatoes before they were boiled.
Of the chickens he would have questioned their age, but they were large
and in good _running_ order. The toast was good, and the butter. There
were those who, when coffee was given them, called for tea, and vice
versa, and were so ungracious as to suggest that the water that was used
in both might have come from near a barn. Of course it did not. We all
came down to the little peach orchard where we had stayed last night,
and, wonderful to see and tell, ever mindful of our needs, had it all
ready, had our faithful John. There was an enormous pan of stewed
chickens, and the potatoes, and toast, all hot, and the bread and the
butter, and tea and coffee. There was satisfaction derived from just
naming them all over. We called John an angel, and he snickered and said
he "knowed" we'd come. General Hancock is of course invited to partake,
and without delay we commence operations. Stools are not very numerous,
two in all, and these the two Generals have by common consent. Our table
was the top of a mess chest. By this the Generals sat. The rest of us
sat upon the ground, cross-legged, like the picture of a smoking Turk,
and held our plates upon our laps. How delicious was the stewed chicken.
I had a cucumber pickle in my saddle bags, the last of a lunch left
there two or three days ago, which George brought, and I had half of it.
We were just well at it when General Meade rode down to us from the
line, accompanied by one of his staff, and by General Gibbon's
invitation, they dismounted and joined us. For the General commanding
the Army of the Potomac George, by an effort worthy of the person and
the occasion, finds an empty cracker box for a seat. The staff officer
must sit upon the ground with the rest of us. Soon Generals Newton and
Pleasonton, each with an aide, arrive. By an almost superhuman effort a
roll of blankets is found, which, upon a pinch, is long enough to seat
these Generals both, and room is made for them. The aides sit with us.
And, fortunate to relate, there was enough cooked for us all, and from
General Meade to the youngest second lieutenant we all had a most hearty
and well relished dinner. Of the "past" we were "secure." The Generals
ate, and after, lighted cigars, and under the flickering shade of a very
small tree, discoursed of the incidents of yesterday's battle and of the
probabilities of to-day. General Newton humorously spoke of General
Gibbon as "this young North Carolinian," and how he was becoming
arrogant and above his position, because he commanded a corps. General
Gibbon retorted by saying that General Newton had not been long enough
in such a command, only since yesterday, to enable him to judge of such
things. General Meade still thought that the enemy would attack his
left again to-day towards evening; but he was ready for them. General
Hancock thought that the attack would be upon the position of the Second
Corps. It was mentioned that General Hancock would again assume command
of the Second Corps from that time, so that General Gibbon would again
return to the Second Division.

General Meade spoke of the Provost Guards, that they were good men, and
that it would be better to-day to have them in the works than to stop
stragglers and skulkers, as these latter would be good for but little
even in the works; and so he gave the order that all the Provost Guards
should at once temporarily rejoin their regiments. Then General Gibbon
called up Captain Farrel, First Minnesota, who commanded the provost
guard of his division, and directed him for that day to join the
regiment. "Very well, sir," said the Captain, as he touched his hat and
turned away. He was a quiet, excellent gentleman and thorough soldier. I
knew him well and esteemed him. I never saw him again. He was killed in
two or three hours from that time, and over half of his splendid
company were either killed or wounded.

And so the time passed on, each General now and then dispatching some
order or message by an officer or orderly, until about half-past twelve,
when all the Generals, one by one, first General Meade, rode off their
several ways, and General Gibbon and his staff alone remained.

We dozed in the heat, and lolled upon the ground, with half open eyes.
Our horses were hitched to the trees munching some oats. A great lull
rests upon all the field. Time was heavy, and for want of something
better to do, I yawned, and looked at my watch. It was five minutes
before one o'clock. I returned my watch to its pocket, and thought
possibly that I might go to sleep, and stretched myself upon the ground
accordingly. _Ex uno disce omnes._ My attitude and purpose were those of
the General and the rest of the staff.

What sound was that? There was no mistaking it. The distinct sharp sound
of one of the enemy's guns, square over to the front, caused us to open
our eyes and turn them in that direction, when we saw directly above
the crest the smoke of the bursting shell, and heard its noise. In an
instant, before a word was spoken, as if that was the signal gun for
general work, loud, startling, booming, the report of gun after gun in
rapid succession smote our ears and their shells plunged down and
exploded all around us. We sprang to our feet. In briefest time the
whole Rebel line to the West was pouring out its thunder and its iron
upon our devoted crest. The wildest confusion for a few moments obtained
sway among us. The shells came bursting all about. The servants ran
terror-stricken for dear life and disappeared. The horses, hitched to
the trees or held by the slack hands of orderlies, neighed out in
fright, and broke away and plunged riderless through the fields. The
General at the first had snatched his sword, and started on foot for the
front. I called for my horse; nobody responded. I found him tied to a
tree, near by, eating oats, with an air of the greatest composure, which
under the circumstances, even then struck me as exceedingly ridiculous.
He alone, of all beasts or men near was cool. I am not sure but that I
learned a lesson then from a horse. Anxious alone for his oats, while I
put on the bridle and adjusted the halter, he delayed me by keeping his
head down, so I had time to see one of the horses of our mess wagon
struck and torn by a shell. The pair plunge--the driver has lost the
reins--horses, driver and wagon go into a heap by a tree. Two mules
close at hand, packed with boxes of ammunition, are knocked all to
pieces by a shell. General Gibbon's groom has just mounted his horse and
is starting to take the General's horse to him, when the flying iron
meets him and tears open his breast. He drops dead and the horses gallop
away. No more than a minute since the first shot was fired, and I am
mounted and riding after the General. The mighty din that now rises to
heaven and shakes the earth is not all of it the voice of the rebellion;
for our guns, the guardian lions of the crest, quick to awake when
danger comes, have opened their fiery jaws and begun to roar--the great
hoarse roar of battle. I overtake the General half way up to the line.
Before we reach the crest his horse is brought by an orderly. Leaving
our horses just behind a sharp declivity of the ridge, on foot we go up
among the batteries. How the long streams of fire spout from the guns,
how the rifled shells hiss, how the smoke deepens and rolls. But where
is the infantry? Has it vanished in smoke? Is this a nightmare or a
juggler's devilish trick? All too real. The men of the infantry have
seized their arms, and behind their works, behind every rock, in every
ditch, wherever there is any shelter, they hug the ground, silent,
quiet, unterrified, little harmed. The enemy's guns now in action are in
position at their front of the woods along the second ridge that I have
before mentioned and towards their right, behind a small crest in the
open field, where we saw the flags this morning. Their line is some two
miles long, concave on the side towards us, and their range is from one
thousand to eighteen hundred yards. A hundred and twenty-five rebel
guns, we estimate, are now active, firing twenty-four pound, twenty,
twelve and ten-pound projectiles, solid shot and shells, spherical,
conical, spiral. The enemy's fire is chiefly concentrated upon the
position of the Second Corps. From the Cemetery to Round Top, with over
a hundred guns, and to all parts of the enemy's line, our batteries
reply, of twenty and ten-pound Parrotts, ten-pound rifled ordnance, and
twelve-pound Napoleons, using projectiles as various in shape and name
as those of the enemy. Captain Hazard commanding the artillery brigade
of the Second Corps was vigilant among the batteries of his command, and
they were all doing well. All was going on satisfactorily. We had
nothing to do, therefore, but to be observers of the grand spectacle of
battle. Captain Wessels, Judge Advocate of the Division, now joined us,
and we sat down behind the crest, close to the left of Cushing's
Battery, to bide our time, to see, to be ready to act when the time
should come, which might be at any moment. Who can describe such a
conflict as is raging around us? To say that it was like a summer storm,
with the crash of thunder, the glare of lightning, the shrieking of the
wind, and the clatter of hailstones, would be weak. The thunder and
lightning of these two hundred and fifty guns and their shells, whose
smoke darkens the sky, are incessant, all pervading, in the air above
our heads, on the ground at our feet, remote, near, deafening,
ear-piercing, astounding; and these hailstones are massy iron, charged
with exploding fire. And there is little of human interest in a storm;
it is an absorbing element of this. You may see flame and smoke, and
hurrying men, and human passion at a great conflagration; but they are
all earthly and nothing more. These guns are great infuriate demons, not
of the earth, whose mouths blaze with smoky tongues of living fire, and
whose murky breath, sulphur-laden, rolls around them and along the
ground, the smoke of Hades. These grimy men, rushing, shouting, their
souls in frenzy, plying the dusky globes and the igniting spark, are in
their league, and but their willing ministers. We thought that at the
second Bull Run, at the Antietam and at Fredericksburg on the 11th of
December, we had heard heavy cannonading; they were but holiday salutes
compared with this. Besides the great ceaseless roar of the guns, which
was but the background of the others, a million various minor sounds
engaged the ear. The projectiles shriek long and sharp. They hiss, they
scream, they growl, they sputter; all sounds of life and rage; and each
has its different note, and all are discordant. Was ever such a chorus
of sound before? We note the effect of the enemies' fire among the
batteries and along the crest. We see the solid shot strike axle, or
pole, or wheel, and the tough iron and heart of oak snap and fly like
straws. The great oaks there by Woodruff's guns heave down their massy
branches with a crash, as if the lightning smote them. The shells swoop
down among the battery horses standing there apart. A half a dozen
horses start, they tumble, their legs stiffen, their vitals and blood
smear the ground. And these shot and shells have no respect for men
either. We see the poor fellows hobbling back from the crest, or unable
to do so, pale and weak, lying on the ground with the mangled stump of
an arm or leg, dripping their life-blood away; or with a cheek torn
open, or a shoulder mashed. And many, alas! hear not the roar as they
stretch upon the ground with upturned faces and open eyes, though a
shell should burst at their very ears. Their ears and their bodies this
instant are only mud. We saw them but a moment since there among the
flame, with brawny arms and muscles of iron wielding the rammer and
pushing home the cannon's plethoric load.

Strange freaks these round shot play! We saw a man coming up from the
rear with his full knapsack on, and some canteens of water held by the
straps in his hands. He was walking slowly and with apparent unconcern,
though the iron hailed around him. A shot struck the knapsack, and it,
and its contents flew thirty yards in every direction, the knapsack
disappearing like an egg, thrown spitefully against a rock. The soldier
stopped and turned about in puzzled surprise, put up one hand to his
back to assure himself that the knapsack was not there, and then walked
slowly on again unharmed, with not even his coat torn. Near us was a man
crouching behind a small disintegrated stone, which was about the size
of a common water bucket. He was bent up, with his face to the ground,
in the attitude of a Pagan worshipper before his idol. It looked so
absurd to see him thus, that I went and said to him, "Do not lie there
like a toad. Why not go to your regiment and be a man?" He turned up his
face with a stupid, terrified look upon me, and then without a word
turned his nose again to the ground. An orderly that was with me at the
time, told me a few moments later, that a shot struck the stone,
smashing it in a thousand fragments, but did not touch the man, though
his head was not six inches from the stone.

All the projectiles that came near us were not so harmless. Not ten
yards away from us a shell burst among some small bushes, where sat
three or four orderlies holding horses. Two of the men and one horse
were killed. Only a few yards off a shell exploded over an open limber
box in Cushing's battery, and at the same instant, another shell over a
neighboring box. In both the boxes the ammunition blew up with an
explosion that shook the ground, throwing fire and splinters and shells
far into the air and all around, and destroying several men. We watched
the shells bursting in the air, as they came hissing in all directions.
Their flash was a bright gleam of lightning radiating from a point,
giving place in the thousandth part of a second to a small, white, puffy
cloud, like a fleece of the lightest, whitest wool. These clouds were
very numerous. We could not often see the shell before it burst; but
sometimes, as we faced towards the enemy, and looked above our heads,
the approach would be heralded by a prolonged hiss, which always seemed
to me to be a line of something tangible, terminating in a black globe,
distinct to the eye, as the sound had been to the ear. The shell would
seem to stop, and hang suspended in the air an instant, and then vanish
in fire and smoke and noise. We saw the missiles tear and plow the
ground. All in rear of the crest for a thousand yards, as well as among
the batteries, was the field of their blind fury. Ambulances, passing
down the Taneytown road with wounded men, were struck. The hospitals
near this road were riddled. The house which was General Meade's
headquarters was shot through several times, and a great many horses of
officers and orderlies were lying dead around it. Riderless horses,
galloping madly through the fields, were brought up, or down rather, by
these invisible horse-tamers, and they would not run any more. Mules
with ammunition, pigs wallowing about, cows in the pastures, whatever
was animate or inanimate, in all this broad range, were no exception to
their blind havoc. The percussion shells would strike, and thunder, and
scatter the earth and their whistling fragments; the Whitworth bolts
would pound and ricochet, and bowl far away sputtering, with the sound
of a mass of hot iron plunged in water; and the great solid shot would
smite the unresisting ground with a sounding "thud," as the strong boxer
crashes his iron fist into the jaws of his unguarded adversary. Such
were some of the sights and sounds of this great iron battle of
missiles. Our artillerymen upon the crest budged not an inch, nor
intermitted, but, though caisson and limber were smashed, and guns
dismantled, and men and horses killed, there amidst smoke and sweat,
they gave back, without grudge, or loss of time in the sending, in kind
whatever the enemy sent, globe, and cone, and bolt, hollow or solid, an
iron greeting to the rebellion, the compliments of the wrathful
Republic. An hour has droned its flight since first the war began. There
is no sign of weariness or abatement on either side. So long it seemed,
that the din and crashing around began to appear the normal condition
of nature there, and fighting man's element. The General proposed to go
among the men and over to the front of the batteries, so at about two
o'clock he and I started. We went along the lines of the infantry as
they lay there flat upon the earth, a little to the front of the
batteries. They were suffering little, and were quiet and cool. How glad
we were that the enemy were no better gunners, and that they cut the
shell fuses too long. To the question asked the men, "What do you think
of this?" the replies would be, "O, this is bully," "We are getting to
like it," "O, we don't mind this." And so they lay under the heaviest
cannonade that ever shook the continent, and among them a thousand times
more jokes than heads were cracked.

We went down in front of the line some two hundred yards, and as the
smoke had a tendency to settle upon a higher plain than where we were,
we could see near the ground distinctly all over the fields, as well
back to the crest where were our own guns as to the opposite ridge where
were those of the enemy. No infantry was in sight, save the skirmishers,
and they stood silent and motionless--a row of gray posts through the
field on one side confronted by another of blue. Under the grateful
shade of some elm trees, where we could see much of the field, we made
seats of the ground and sat down. Here all the more repulsive features
of the fight were unseen, by reason of the smoke. Man had arranged the
scenes, and for a time had taken part in the great drama; but at last,
as the plot thickened, conscious of his littleness and inadequacy to the
mighty part, he had stepped aside and given place to more powerful
actors. So it seemed; for we could see no men about the batteries. On
either crest we could see the great flaky streams of fire, and they
seemed numberless, of the opposing guns, and their white banks of swift,
convolving smoke; but the sound of the discharges was drowned in the
universal ocean of sound. Over all the valley the smoke, a sulphury
arch, stretched its lurid span; and through it always, shrieking on
their unseen courses, thickly flew a myriad iron deaths. With our grim
horizon on all sides round toothed thick with battery flame, under that
dissonant canopy of warring shells, we sat and heard in silence. What
other expression had we that was not mean, for such an awful universe of

A shell struck our breastwork of rails up in sight of us, and a moment
afterwards we saw the men bearing some of their wounded companions away
from the same spot; and directly two men came from there down toward
where we were and sought to get shelter in an excavation near by, where
many dead horses, killed in yesterday's fight, had been thrown. General
Gibbon said to these men, more in a tone of kindly expostulation than of
command: "My men, do not leave your ranks to try to get shelter here.
All these matters are in the hands of God, and nothing that you can do
will make you safer in one place than in another." The men went quietly
back to the line at once. The General then said to me: "I am not a
member of any church, but I have always had a strong religious feeling;
and so in all these battles I have always believed that I was in the
hands of God, and that I should be unharmed or not, according to his
will. For this reason, I think it is, I am always ready to go where duty
calls, no matter how great the danger." Half-past two o'clock, an hour
and a half since the commencement, and still the cannonade did not in
the least abate; but soon thereafter some signs of weariness and a
little slacking of fire began to be apparent upon both sides. First we
saw Brown's battery retire from the line, too feeble for further battle.
Its position was a little to the front of the line. Its commander was
wounded, and many of its men were so, or worse; some of its guns had
been disabled, many of its horses killed; its ammunition was nearly
expended. Other batteries in similar case had been withdrawn before to
be replaced by fresh ones, and some were withdrawn afterwards. Soon
after the battery named had gone the General and I started to return,
passing towards the left of the division, and crossing the ground where
the guns had stood. The stricken horses were numerous, and the dead and
wounded men lay about, and as we passed these latter, their low, piteous
call for water would invariably come to us, if they had yet any voice
left. I found canteens of water near--no difficult matter where a battle
has been--and held them to livid lips, and even in the faintness of
death the eagerness to drink told of their terrible torture of thirst.
But we must pass on. Our infantry was still unshaken, and in all the
cannonade suffered very little. The batteries had been handled much more
severely. I am unable to give any figures. A great number of horses had
been killed, in some batteries more than half of all. Guns had been
dismounted. A great many caissons, limbers and carriages had been
destroyed, and usually from ten to twenty-five men to each battery had
been struck, at least along our part of the crest. Altogether the fire
of the enemy had injured us much, both in the modes that I have stated,
and also by exhausting our ammunition and fouling our guns, so as to
render our batteries unfit for further immediate use. The scenes that
met our eyes on all hands among the batteries were fearful. All things
must end, and the great cannonade was no exception to the general law of
earth. In the number of guns active at one time, and in the duration and
rapidity of their fire, this artillery engagement, up to this time, must
stand alone and pre-eminent in this war. It has not been often, or many
times, surpassed in the battles of the world. Two hundred and fifty
guns, at least, rapidly fired for two mortal hours. Cipher out the
number of tons of gunpowder and iron that made these two hours hideous.

Of the injury of our fire upon the enemy, except the facts that ours was
the superior position, if not better served and constructed artillery,
and that the enemy's artillery hereafter during the battle was almost
silent, we know little. Of course, during the fight we often saw the
enemy's caissons explode, and the trees rent by our shot crashing about
his ears, but we can from these alone infer but little of general
results. At three o'clock almost precisely the last shot hummed, and
bounded and fell, and the cannonade was over. The purpose of General Lee
in all this fire of his guns--we know it now, we did not at the time so
well--was to disable our artillery and break up our infantry upon the
position of the Second Corps, so as to render them less an impediment to
the sweep of his own brigades and divisions over our crest and through
our lines. He probably supposed our infantry was massed behind the crest
and the batteries; and hence his fire was so high, and his fuses to the
shells were cut so long, too long. The Rebel General failed in some of
his plans in this behalf, as many generals have failed before and will
again. The artillery fight over, men began to breathe more freely, and
to ask, What next, I wonder? The battery men were among their guns, some
leaning to rest and wipe the sweat from their sooty faces, some were
handling ammunition boxes and replenishing those that were empty. Some
batteries from the artillery reserve were moving up to take the places
of the disabled ones; the smoke was clearing from the crests. There was
a pause between acts, with the curtain down, soon to rise upon the great
final act, and catastrophe of Gettysburg. We have passed by the left of
the Second Division, coming from the First; when we crossed the crest
the enemy was not in sight, and all was still--we walked slowly along in
the rear of the troops, by the ridge cut off now from a view of the
enemy in his position, and were returning to the spot where we had left
our horses. General Gibbon had just said that he inclined to the belief
that the enemy was falling back, and that the cannonade was only one of
his noisy modes of covering the movement. I said that I thought that
fifteen minutes would show that, by all his bowling, the Rebel did not
mean retreat. We were near our horses when we noticed Brigadier General
Hunt, Chief of Artillery of the Army, near Woodruff's Battery, swiftly
moving about on horseback, and apparently in a rapid manner giving some
orders about the guns. Thought we, what could this mean? In a moment
afterwards we met Captain Wessels and the orderlies who had our horses;
they were on foot leading the horses. Captain Wessels was pale, and he
said, excited: "General, they say the enemy's infantry is advancing." We
sprang into our saddles, a score of bounds brought us upon the
all-seeing crest. To say that men grew pale and held their breath at
what we and they there saw, would not be true. Might not six thousand
men be brave and without shade of fear, and yet, before a hostile
eighteen thousand, armed, and not five minutes' march away, turn ashy
white? None on that crest now need be told that _the enemy is
advancing_. Every eye could see his legions, an overwhelming resistless
tide of an ocean of armed men sweeping upon us! Regiment after regiment
and brigade after brigade move from the woods and rapidly take their
places in the lines forming the assault. Pickett's proud division, with
some additional troops, hold their right; Pettigrew's (Worth's) their
left. The first line at short interval is followed by a second, and that
a third succeeds; and columns between support the lines. More than half
a mile their front extends; more than a thousand yards the dull gray
masses deploy, man touching man, rank pressing rank, and line supporting
line. The red flags wave, their horsemen gallop up and down; the arms of
eighteen thousand men, barrel and bayonet, gleam in the sun, a sloping
forest of flashing steel. Right on they move, as with one soul, in
perfect order, without impediment of ditch, or wall or stream, over
ridge and slope, through orchard and meadow, and cornfield, magnificent,
grim, irresistible. All was orderly and still upon our crest; no noise
and no confusion. The men had little need of commands, for the survivors
of a dozen battles knew well enough what this array in front portended,
and, already in their places, they would be prepared to act when the
right time should come. The click of the locks as each man raised the
hammer to feel with his fingers that the cap was on the nipple; the
sharp jar as a musket touched a stone upon the wall when thrust in
aiming over it, and the clicking of the iron axles as the guns were
rolled up by hand a little further to the front, were quite all the
sounds that could be heard. Cap-boxes were slid around to the front of
the body; cartridge boxes opened, officers opened their pistol-holsters.
Such preparations, little more was needed. The trefoil flags, colors of
the brigades and divisions moved to their places in rear; but along the
lines in front the grand old ensign that first waved in battle at
Saratoga in 1777, and which these people coming would rob of half its
stars, stood up, and the west wind kissed it as the sergeants sloped its
lance towards the enemy. I believe that not one above whom it then waved
but blessed his God that he was loyal to it, and whose heart did not
swell with pride towards it, as the emblem of the Republic before that
treason's flaunting rag in front. General Gibbon rode down the lines,
cool and calm, and in an unimpassioned voice he said to the men, "Do
not hurry, men, and fire too fast, let them come up close before you
fire, and then aim low and steadily." The coolness of their General was
reflected in the faces of his men. Five minutes has elapsed since first
the enemy have emerged from the woods--no great space of time surely, if
measured by the usual standard by which men estimate duration--but it
was long enough for us to note and weigh some of the elements of mighty
moment that surrounded us; the disparity of numbers between the
assailants and the assailed; that few as were our numbers we could not
be supported or reinforced until support would not be needed or would be
too late; that upon the ability of the two trefoil divisions to hold the
crest and repel the assault depended not only their own safety or
destruction, but also the honor of the Army of the Potomac and defeat or
victory at Gettysburg. Should these advancing men pierce our line and
become the entering wedge, driven home, that would sever our army
asunder, what hope would there be afterwards, and where the blood-earned
fruits of yesterday? It was long enough for the Rebel storm to drift
across more than half the space that had at first separated it from us.
None, or all, of these considerations either depressed or elevated us.
They might have done the former, had we been timid; the latter had we
been confident and vain. But, we were there waiting, and ready to do our
duty--that done, results could not dishonor us.

Our skirmishers open a spattering fire along the front, and, fighting,
retire upon the main line--the first drops, the heralds of the storm,
sounding on our windows. Then the thunders of our guns, first Arnold's
then Cushing's and Woodruff's and the rest, shake and reverberate again
through the air, and their sounding shells smite the enemy. The General
said I had better go and tell General Meade of this advance. To gallop
to General Meade's headquarters, to learn there that he had changed them
to another part of the field, to dispatch to him by the Signal Corps in
General Gibbon's name the message, "The enemy is advancing his infantry
in force upon my front," and to be again upon the crest, were but the
work of a minute. All our available guns are now active, and from the
fire of shells, as the range grows shorter and shorter, they change to
shrapnel, and from shrapnel to canister; but in spite of shells, and
shrapnel and canister, without wavering or halt, the hardy lines of the
enemy continue to move on. The Rebel guns make no reply to ours, and no
charging shout rings out to-day, as is the Rebel wont; but the courage
of these silent men amid our shots seems not to need the stimulus of
other noise. The enemy's right flank sweeps near Stannard's bushy crest,
and his concealed Vermonters rake it with a well-delivered fire of
musketry. The gray lines do not halt or reply, but withdrawing a little
from that extreme, they still move on. And so across all that broad open
ground they have come, nearer and nearer, nearly half the way, with our
guns bellowing in their faces, until now a hundred yards, no more,
divide our ready left from their advancing right. The eager men there
are impatient to begin. Let them. First, Harrow's breastworks flame;
then Hall's; then Webb's. As if our bullets were the fire coals that
touched off their muskets, the enemy in front halts, and his countless
level barrels blaze back upon us. The Second Division is struggling in
battle. The rattling storm soon spreads to the right, and the blue
trefoils are vieing with the white. All along each hostile front, a
thousand yards, with narrowest space between, the volleys blaze and
roll; as thick the sound as when a summer hail-storm pelts the city
roofs; as thick the fire as when the incessant lightning fringes a
summer cloud. When the Rebel infantry had opened fire our batteries soon
became silent, and this without their fault, for they were foul by long
previous use. They were the targets of the concentrated Rebel bullets,
and some of them had expended all their canister. But they were not
silent before Rhorty was killed, Woodruff had fallen mortally wounded,
and Cushing, firing almost his last canister, had dropped dead among his
guns shot through the head by a bullet. The conflict is left to the
infantry alone. Unable to find my general when I had returned to the
crest after transmitting his message to General Meade, and while riding
in the search having witnessed the development of the fight, from the
first fire upon the left by the main lines until all of the two
divisions were furiously engaged, I gave up hunting as useless--I was
convinced General Gibbon could not be on the field; I left him mounted;
I could easily have found him now had he so remained--but now, save
myself, there was not a mounted officer near the engaged lines--and was
riding towards the right of the Second Division, with purpose to stop
there, as the most eligible position to watch the further progress of
the battle, there to be ready to take part according to my own notions
whenever and wherever occasion was presented. The conflict was
tremendous, but I had seen no wavering in all our line. Wondering how
long the Rebel ranks, deep though they were, could stand our sheltered
volleys, I had come near my destination, when--great heaven! were my
senses mad? The larger portion of Webb's brigade--my God, it was
true--there by the group of trees and the angles of the wall, was
breaking from the cover of their works, and, without orders or reason,
with no hand lifted to check them, was falling back, a fear-stricken
flock of confusion! The fate of Gettysburg hung upon a spider's single
thread! A great magnificent passion came on me at the instant, not one
that overpowers and confounds, but one that blanches the face and
sublimes every sense and faculty. My sword, that had always hung idle by
my side, the sign of rank only in every battle, I drew, bright and
gleaming, the symbol of command. Was not that a fit occasion, and these
fugitives the men on whom to try the temper of the Solinzen steel? All
rules and proprieties were forgotten; all considerations of person, and
danger and safety despised; for, as I met the tide of these rabbits, the
damned red flags of the rebellion began to thicken and flaunt along the
wall they had just deserted, and one was already waving over one of the
guns of the dead Cushing. I ordered these men to "halt," and "face
about" and "fire," and they heard my voice and gathered my meaning, and
obeyed my commands. On some unpatriotic backs of those not quick of
comprehension, the flat of my sabre fell not lightly, and at its touch
their love of country returned, and, with a look at me as if I were the
destroying angel, as I might have become theirs, they again faced the
enemy. General Webb soon came to my assistance. He was on foot, but he
was active, and did all that one could do to repair the breach, or to
avert its calamity. The men that had fallen back, facing the enemy, soon
regained confidence in themselves, and became steady. This portion of
the wall was lost to us, and the enemy had gained the cover of the
reverse side, where he now stormed with fire. But Webb's men, with their
bodies in part protected by the abruptness of the crest, now sent back
in the enemies' faces as fierce a storm. Some scores of venturesome
Rebels, that in their first push at the wall had dared to cross at the
further angle, and those that had desecrated Cushing's guns, were
promptly shot down, and speedy death met him who should raise his body
to cross it again. At this point little could be seen of the enemy, by
reason of his cover and the smoke, except the flash of his muskets and
his waving flags. These red flags were accumulating at the wall every
moment, and they maddened us as the same color does the bull. Webb's men
are falling fast, and he is among them to direct and encourage; but,
however well they may now do, with that walled enemy in front, with more
than a dozen flags to Webb's three, it soon becomes apparent that in
not many minutes they will be overpowered, or that there will be none
alive for the enemy to overpower. Webb, has but three regiments, all
small, the 69th, 71st and 72d Pennsylvania--the 106th Pennsylvania,
except two companies, is not here to-day--and he must have speedy
assistance, or this crest will be lost. Oh, where is Gibbon? where is
Hancock?--some general--anybody with the power and the will to support
that wasting, melting line? No general came, and no succor! I thought of
Hayes upon the right, but from the smoke and war along his front, it was
evident that he had enough upon his hands, if he stayed the in-rolling
tide of the Rebels there. Doubleday upon the left was too far off and
too slow, and on another occasion I had begged him to send his idle
regiments to support another line battling with thrice its numbers, and
this "Old Sumpter Hero" had declined. As a last resort I resolved to see
if Hall and Harrow could not send some of their commands to reinforce
Webb. I galloped to the left in the execution of my purpose, and as I
attained the rear of Hall's line, from the nature of the ground and the
position of the enemy it was easy to discover the reason and the manner
of this gathering of Rebel flags in front of Webb. The enemy, emboldened
by his success in gaining our line by the group of trees and the angle
of the wall, was concentrating all his right against and was further
pressing that point. There was the stress of his assault; there would he
drive his fiery wedge to split our line. In front of Harrow's and Hall's
Brigades he had been able to advance no nearer than when he first halted
to deliver fire, and these commands had not yielded an inch. To effect
the concentration before Webb, the enemy would march the regiment on his
extreme right of each of his lines by the left flank to the rear of the
troops, still halted and facing to the front, and so continuing to draw
in his right, when they were all massed in the position desired, he
would again face them to the front, and advance to the storming. This
was the way he made the wall before Webb's line blaze red with his
battle flags, and such was the purpose there of his thick-crowding
battalions. Not a moment must be lost. Colonel Hall I found just in
rear of his line, sword in hand, cool, vigilant, noting all that passed
and directing the battle of his brigade. The fire was constantly
diminishing now in his front, in the manner and by the movement of the
enemy that I have mentioned, drifting to the right. "How is it going?"
Colonel Hall asked me, as I rode up. "Well, but Webb is hotly pressed
and must have support, or he will be overpowered. Can you assist him?"
"Yes." "You cannot be too quick." "I will move my brigade at once."
"Good." He gave the order, and in briefest time I saw five friendly
colors hurrying to the aid of the imperilled three; and each color
represented true, battle-tried men, that had not turned back from Rebel
fire that day nor yesterday, though their ranks were sadly thinned, to
Webb's brigade, pressed back as it had been from the wall, the distance
was not great from Hall's right. The regiments marched by the right
flank. Col. Hall superintended the movement in person. Col. Devereux
coolly commanded the 19th Massachusetts. His major, Rice, had already
been wounded and carried off. Lieut. Col. Macy, of the 20th Mass., had
just had his left hand shot off, and so Capt. Abbott gallantly led over
this fine regiment. The 42d New York followed their excellent Colonel
Mallon. Lieut. Col. Steele, 7th Mich., had just been killed, and his
regiment, and the handful of the 59th N. Y., followed their colors. The
movement, as it did, attracting the enemy's fire, and executed in haste,
as it must be, was difficult; but in reasonable time, and in order that
is serviceable, if not regular, Hall's men are fighting gallantly side
by side with Webb's before the all important point. I did not stop to
see all this movement of Hall's, but from him I went at once further to
the left, to the 1st brigade. Gen'l Harrow I did not see, but his
fighting men would answer my purpose as well. The 19th Me., the 15th
Mass., the 32d N. Y. and the shattered old thunderbolt, the 1st
Minn.--poor Farrell was dying then upon the ground where he had
fallen,--all men that I could find I took over to the right at the
_double quick_.

As we were moving to, and near the other brigade of the division, from
my position on horseback I could see that the enemy's right, under
Hall's fire, was beginning to stagger and to break. "See," I said to the
men, "See the _chivalry_! See the gray-backs run!" The men saw, and as
they swept to their places by the side of Hall and opened fire, they
roared, and this in a manner that said more plainly than words--for the
deaf could have seen it in their faces, and the blind could have heard
it in their voices--_the crest is safe_!

The whole Division concentrated, and changes of position, and new
phases, as well on our part as on that of the enemy, having as indicated
occurred, for the purpose of showing the exact present posture of
affairs, some further description is necessary. Before the 2d Division
the enemy is massed, the main bulk of his force covered by the ground
that slopes to his rear, with his front at the stone wall. Between his
front and us extends the very apex of the crest. All there are left of
the White Trefoil Division--yesterday morning there were three thousand
eight hundred, this morning there were less than three thousand--at this
moment there are somewhat over two thousand;--twelve regiments in three
brigades are below or behind the crest, in such a position that by the
exposure of the head and upper part of the body above the crest they can
deliver their fire in the enemy's faces along the top of the wall. By
reason of the disorganization incidental in Webb's brigade to his men's
having broken and fallen back, as mentioned, in the two other brigades
to their rapid and difficult change of position under fire, and in all
the division in part to severe and continuous battle, formation of
companies and regiments in regular ranks is lost; but commands,
companies, regiments and brigades are blended and intermixed--an
irregular extended mass--men enough, if in order, to form a line of four
or five ranks along the whole front of the division. The twelve flags of
the regiments wave defiantly at intervals along the front; at the stone
wall, at unequal distances from ours of forty, fifty or sixty yards,
stream nearly double this number of the battle flags of the enemy. These
changes accomplished on either side, and the concentration complete,
although no cessation or abatement in the general din of conflict since
the commencement had at any time been appreciable, now it was as if a
new battle, deadlier, stormier than before, had sprung from the body of
the old--a young Phoenix of combat, whose eyes stream lightning,
shaking his arrowy wings over the yet glowing ashes of his progenitor.
The jostling, swaying lines on either side boil, and roar, and dash
their flamy spray, two hostile billows of a fiery ocean. Thick flashes
stream from the wall, thick volleys answer from the crest. No threats or
expostulation now, only example and encouragement. All depths of passion
are stirred, and all combatives fire, down to their deep foundations.
Individuality is drowned in a sea of clamor, and timid men, breathing
the breath of the multitude, are brave. The frequent dead and wounded
lie where they stagger and fall--there is no humanity for them now, and
none can be spared to care for them. The men do not cheer or shout; they
growl, and over that uneasy sea, heard with the roar of musketry, sweeps
the muttered thunder of a storm of growls. Webb, Hall, Devereux, Mallon,
Abbott among the men where all are heroes, are doing deeds of note. Now
the loyal wave rolls up as if it would overleap its barrier, the crest.
Pistols flash with the muskets. My "Forward to the wall" is answered by
the Rebel counter-command, "Steady, men!" and the wave swings back.
Again it surges, and again it sinks. These men of Pennsylvania, on the
soil of their own homesteads, the first and only to flee the wall, must
be the first to storm it. "Major--, _lead_ your men over the crest, they
will follow." "By the tactics I understand my place is in rear of the
men." "Your pardon, sir; I see _your_ place is in rear of the men. I
thought you were fit to lead." "Capt. Sapler, come on with your men."
"Let me first stop this fire in the rear, or we shall be hit by our own
men." "Never mind the fire in the rear; let us take care of this in
front first." "Sergeant, forward with your color. Let the Rebels see it
close to their eyes once before they die." The color sergeant of the 72d
Pa., grasping the stump of the severed lance in both his hands, waved
the flag above his head and rushed towards the wall. "Will you see your
color storm the wall alone?" One man only starts to follow. Almost half
way to the wall, down go color bearer and color to the ground--the
gallant sergeant is dead. The line springs--the crest of the solid
ground with a great roar, heaves forward its maddened load, men, arms,
smoke, fire, a fighting mass. It rolls to the wall--flash meets flash,
the wall is crossed--a moment ensues of thrusts, yells, blows, shots,
and undistinguishable conflict, followed by a shout universal that makes
the welkin ring again, and the last and bloodiest fight of the great
battle of Gettysburg is ended and won.

Many things cannot be described by pen or pencil--such a fight is one.
Some hints and incidents may be given, but a description or picture
never. From what is told the imagination may for itself construct the
scene; otherwise he who never saw can have no adequate idea of what such
a battle is.

When the vortex of battle passion had subsided, hopes, fears, rage, joy,
of which the maddest and the noisiest was the last, and we were calm
enough to look about us, we saw that, as with us, the fight with the
Third Division was ended, and that in that division was a repetition of
the scenes immediately about us. In that moment the judgment almost
refused to credit the senses. Are these abject wretches about us,
whom our men are now disarming and driving together in flocks, the
jaunty men of Pickett's Division, whose steady lines and flashing arms
but a few moment's since came sweeping up the slope to destroy us? Are
these red cloths that our men toss about in derision the "fiery Southern
crosses," thrice ardent, the battle flags of the rebellion that waved
defiance at the wall? We know, but so sudden has been the transition, we
yet can scarce believe.

[Illustration: Battle of Gettysburg--Final attack, July 3

(Compiled by C E. Estabrook)]

Just as the fight was over, and the first outburst of victory had a
little subsided, when all in front of the crest was noise and
confusion--prisoners being collected, small parties in pursuit of them
far down into the fields, flags waving, officers giving quick, sharp
commands to their men--I stood apart for a few moments upon the crest,
by that group of trees which ought to be historic forever, a spectator
of the thrilling scene around. Some few musket shots were still heard in
the Third Division; and the enemy's guns, almost silent since the
advance of his infantry until the moment of his defeat, were dropping a
few sullen shells among friend and foe upon the crest. Rebellion
fosters such humanity. Near me, saddest sight of the many of such a
field and not in keeping with all this noise, were mingled alone the
thick dead of Maine and Minnesota, and Michigan and Massachusetts, and
the Empire and Keystone States, who, not yet cold, with the blood still
oozing from their death-wounds, had given their lives to the country
upon that stormy field. So mingled upon that crest let their honored
graves be. Look with me about us. These dead have been avenged already.
Where the long lines of the enemy's thousands so proudly advanced, see
how thick the silent men of gray are scattered. It is not an hour since
these legions were sweeping along so grandly; now sixteen hundred of
that fiery mass are strewn among the trampled grass, dead as the clods
they load; more than seven thousand, probably eight thousand, are
wounded, some there with the dead, in our hands, some fugitive far
towards the woods, among them Generals Pettigrew, Garnett, Kemper and
Armstead, the last three mortally, and the last one in our hands. "Tell
General Hancock," he said to Lieutenant Mitchell, Hancock's
aide-de-camp, to whom he handed his watch, "that I know I did my
country a great wrong when I took up arms against her, for which I am
sorry, but for which I cannot live to atone." Four thousand, not
wounded, are prisoners of war. More in number of the captured than the
captors. Our men are still "gathering them in." Some hold up their hands
or a handkerchief in sign of submission; some have hugged the ground to
escape our bullets and so are taken; few made resistance after the first
moment of our crossing the wall; some yield submissively with good
grace, some with grim, dogged aspect, showing that but for the other
alternative they could not submit to this. Colonels, and all less grades
of officers, in the usual proportion are among them, and all are being
stripped of their arms. Such of them as escaped wounds and capture are
fleeing routed and panic stricken, and disappearing in the woods. Small
arms, more thousands than we can count, are in our hands, scattered over
the field. And these defiant battle-flags, some inscribed with "First
Manassas," the numerous battles of the Peninsula, "Second Manassas,"
"South Mountain," "Sharpsburg," (our Antietam), "Fredericksburg,"
"Chancellorsville," and many more names, our men have, and are showing
about, _over thirty of them_.

Such was really the closing scene of the grand drama of Gettysburg.
After repeated assaults upon the right and the left, where, and in all
of which repulse had been his only success, this persistent and
presuming enemy forms his chosen troops, the flower of his army, for a
grand assault upon our center. The manner and result of such assault
have been told--a loss to the enemy of from twelve thousand to fourteen
thousand, killed, wounded and prisoners, and of over thirty
battle-flags. This was accomplished by not over six thousand men, with a
loss on our part of not over two thousand five hundred killed and

Would to Heaven General Hancock and Gibbon could have stood there where
I did, and have looked upon that field! It would have done two men, to
whom the country owes much, good to have been with their men in that
moment of victory--to have seen the result of those dispositions which
they had made, and of that splendid fighting which men schooled by their
discipline, had executed. But they are both severely wounded and have
been carried from the field. One person did come then that I was glad to
see there, and that was no less than Major General Meade, whom the Army
of the Potomac was fortunate enough to have at that time to command it.
See how a great General looked upon the field, and what he said and did
at the moment, and when he learned of his great victory. To appreciate
the incident I give, it should be borne in mind that one coming up from
the rear of the line, as did General Meade, could have seen very little
of our own men, who had now crossed the crest, and although he could
have heard the noise, he could not have told its occasion, or by whom
made, until he had actually attained the crest. One who did not know
results, so coming, would have been quite as likely to have supposed
that our line there had been carried and captured by the enemy--so many
gray Rebels were on the crest--as to have discovered the real truth.
Such mistake was really made by one of our officers, as I shall relate.

General Meade rode up, accompanied alone by his son, who is his
aide-de-camp, an escort, if select, not large for a commander of such an
army. The principal horseman was no bedizened hero of some holiday
review, but he was a plain man, dressed in a serviceable summer suit of
dark blue cloth, without badge or ornament, save the shoulder-straps of
his grade, and a light, straight sword of a General or General staff
officer. He wore heavy, high-top boots and buff gauntlets, and his soft
black felt hat was slouched down over his eyes. His face was very white,
not pale, and the lines were marked and earnest and full of care. As he
arrived near me, coming up the hill, he asked, in a sharp, eager voice:
"How is it going here?" "I believe, General, the enemy's attack is
repulsed," I answered. Still approaching, and a new light began to come
in his face, of gratified surprise, with a touch of incredulity, of
which his voice was also the medium, he further asked: "_What! Is the
assault already repulsed?_" his voice quicker and more eager than
before. "It is, sir," I replied. By this time he was on the crest, and
when his eye had for an instant swept over the field, taking in just a
glance of the whole--the masses of prisoners, the numerous captured
flags which the men were derisively flaunting about, the fugitives of
the routed enemy, disappearing with the speed of terror in the
woods--partly at what I had told him, partly at what he saw, he said,
impressively, and his face lighted: "Thank God." And then his right hand
moved as if it would have caught off his hat and waved it; but this
gesture he suppressed, and instead he waved his hand, and said "Hurrah!"
The son, with more youth in his blood and less rank upon his shoulders,
snatched off his cap, and roared out his three "hurrahs" right heartily.
The General then surveyed the field, some minutes, in silence. He at
length asked who was in command--he had heard that Hancock and Gibbon
were wounded--and I told him that General Caldwell was the senior
officer of the Corps and General Harrow of the Division. He asked where
they were, but before I had time to answer that I did not know, he
resumed: "No matter; I will give my orders to you and you will see them
executed." He then gave direction that the troops should be reformed as
soon as practicable, and kept in their places, as the enemy might be mad
enough to attack again. He also gave directions concerning the posting
of some reinforcements which he said would soon be there, adding: "If
the enemy does attack, charge him in the flank and sweep him from the
field; do you understand." The General then, a gratified man, galloped
in the direction of his headquarters.

Then the work of the field went on. First, the prisoners were collected
and sent to the rear. "There go the men," the Rebels were heard to say,
by some of our surgeons who were in Gettysburg, at the time Pickett's
Division marched out to take position--"There go the men that will go
through your d--d Yankee lines, for you," A good many of them did "go
through our lines for us," but in a very different way from the one they
intended--not impetuous victors, sweeping away our thin lines with ball
and bayonet, but crestfallen captives, without arms, guarded by the true
bayonets of the Union, with the cheers of their conquerors ringing in
their ears. There was a grim truth after all in this Rebel remark.
Collected, the prisoners began their dreary march, a miserable,
melancholy stream of dirty gray, to pour over the crest to our rear.
Many of the officers were well dressed, fine, proud gentlemen, such men
as it would be a pleasure to meet, when the war is over. I had no desire
to exult over them, and pity and sympathy were the general feelings of
us all upon the occasion. The cheering of our men, and the unceremonious
handling of the captured flags was probably not gratifying to the
prisoners, but not intended for taunt or insult to the men; they could
take no exception to such practices. When the prisoners were turned to
the rear and were crossing the crest, Lieut. Col. Morgan, General
Hancock's Chief of Staff, was conducting a battery from the artillery
reserve, towards the Second Corps. As he saw the men in gray coming over
the hill, he said to the officer in command of the battery: "See up
there! The enemy has carried the crest. See them come pouring over! The
old Second Corps is gone, and you had better get your battery away from
here as quickly as possible, or it will be captured." The officer was
actually giving the order to his men to move back, when close
observation discovered that the gray-backs that were coming had no arms,
and then the truth flashed upon the minds of the observers. The same
mistake was made by others.

In view of the results of that day--the successes of the arms of the
country, would not the people of the whole country, standing there upon
the crest with General Meade, have said, with him: "Thank God?"

I have no knowledge and little notion of how long a time elapsed from
the moment the fire of the infantry commenced, until the enemy was
entirely repulsed, in this his grand assault. I judge, from the amount
of fighting and the changes of position that occurred, that probably the
fight was of nearly an hour's duration, but I cannot tell, and I have
seen none who knew. The time seemed but a very few minutes, when the
battle was over.

When the prisoners were cleared away and order was again established
upon our crest, where the conflict had impaired it, until between five
and six o'clock, I remained upon the field, directing some troops to
their position, in conformity to the orders of General Meade. The enemy
appeared no more in front of the Second Corps; but while I was engaged
as I have mentioned, farther to our left some considerable force of the
enemy moved out and made show of attack. Our artillery, now in good
order again, in due time opened fire, and the shells scattered the
"Butternuts," as clubs do the gray snow-birds of winter, before they
came within range of our infantry. This, save unimportant outpost
firing, was the last of the battle.

Of the pursuit of the enemy and the movements of the army subsequent to
the battle, until the crossing of the Potomac by Lee and the closing of
the campaign, it is not my purpose to write. Suffice it that on the
night of the 3d of July the enemy withdrew his left, Ewell's Corps, from
our front, and on the morning of the 4th we again occupied the village
of Gettysburg, and on that national day victory was proclaimed to the
country; that floods of rain on that day prevented army movements of any
considerable magnitude, the day being passed by our army in position
upon the field, in burying our dead, and some of those of the enemy, and
in making the movements already indicated; that on the 5th the pursuit
of the enemy was commenced--his dead were buried by us--and the corps of
our army, upon various roads, moved from the battlefield.

With a statement of some of the results of the battle, as to losses and
captures, and of what I saw in riding over the field, when the enemy was
gone, my account is done.

Our own losses in killed, wounded and missing I estimate at
_twenty-three thousand_. Of the "missing" the larger proportion were
prisoners, lost on the 1st of July. Our loss in prisoners, not wounded,
probably was _four thousand_. The losses were distributed among the
different army corps about as follows: In the Second Corps, which
sustained the heaviest loss of any corps, a little over _four thousand
five hundred_, of whom the missing were a mere nominal number; in the
First Corps a little over _four thousand_, of whom a great many were
missing; in the Third Corps _four thousand_, of whom some were missing;
in the Eleventh Corps nearly _four thousand_, of whom the most were
missing; and the rest of the loss, to make the aggregate mentioned, was
shared by the Fifth, Sixth and Twelfth Corps and the cavalry. Among
these the missing were few; and the losses of the Sixth Corps and of the
cavalry were light. I do not think the official reports will show my
estimate of our losses to be far from correct, for I have taken great
pains to question staff officers upon the subject, and have learned
approximate numbers from them. We lost no gun or flag that I have heard
of in all the battle. Some small arms, I suppose, were lost on the 1st
of July.

The enemy's loss in killed, wounded and prisoners I estimate at _forty
thousand_, and from the following data and for the following reasons: So
far as I can learn we took _ten thousand_ prisoners, who were not
wounded--many more than these were captured, but several thousands of
them were wounded. I have so far as practicable ascertained the number
of dead the enemy left upon the field, approximately, by getting the
reports of different burying parties. I think his dead upon the field
were _five thousand_, almost all of whom, save those killed on the first
of July, were buried by us--the enemy not having them in their
possession. In looking at a great number of tables of killed and
wounded in battles I have found that the proportion of the killed to the
wounded is as _one_ to _five_, or more than five, rarely less than five.
So with the killed at the number stated, _twenty-five thousand_
mentioned. I think _fourteen thousand_ of the enemy, wounded and
unwounded, fell into our hands. Great numbers of his small arms, two or
three guns, and forty or more--was there ever such bannered harvest?--of
his regimental battle-flags, were captured by us. Some day possibly we
may learn the enemy's loss, but I doubt if he will ever tell truly how
many flags he did not take home with him. I have great confidence
however in my estimates, for they have been carefully made, and after
much inquiry, and with no desire or motive to overestimate the enemy's

The magnitude of the armies engaged, the number of the casualties, the
object sought by the Rebel, the result, will all contribute to give
Gettysburg a place among the great historic battles of the world. That
General Meade's concentration was rapid--over thirty miles a day was
marched by some of the Corps--that his position was skillfully selected
and his dispositions good; that he fought the battle hard and well;
that his victory was brilliant and complete, I think all should admit. I
cannot but regard it as highly fortunate to us and commendable in
General Meade, that the enemy was allowed the initiative, the offensive,
in the main battle; that it was much better to allow the Rebel, for his
own destruction, to come up and smash his lines and columns upon the
defensive solidity of our position, than it would have been to hunt him,
for the same purpose, in the woods, or to unearth him from his
rifle-pits. In this manner our losses were lighter, and his heavier,
than if the case had been reversed. And whatever the books may say of
troops fighting the better who make the attack, I am satisfied that in
this war, Americans, the Rebels, as well as ourselves, are best on the
defensive. The proposition is deducible from the battles of the war, I
think, and my own observation confirms it.

But men there are who think that nothing was gained or done well in this
battle, because some other general did not have the command, or because
any portion of the army of the enemy was permitted to escape capture or
destruction. As if one army of a hundred thousand men could encounter
another of the same number of as good troops and annihilate it! Military
men do not claim or expect this; but the McClellan destroyers do, the
doughty knights of purchasable newspaper quills; the formidable warriors
from the brothels of politics, men of much warlike experience against
honesty and honor, of profound attainments in ignorance, who have the
maxims of Napoleon, whose spirit they as little understand as they do
most things, to quote, to prove all things; but who, unfortunately, have
much influence in the country and with the Government, and so over the
army. It is very pleasant for these people, no doubt, at safe distances
from guns, in the enjoyment of a lucrative office, or of a fraudulently
obtained government contract, surrounded by the luxuries of their own
firesides, where mud and flooding storms, and utter weariness never
penetrate, to discourse of battles and how campaigns should be conducted
and armies of the enemy destroyed. But it should be enough, perhaps, to
say that men here, or elsewhere, who have knowledge enough of military
affairs to entitle them to express an opinion on such matters, and
accurate information enough to realize the nature and the means of this
desired destruction of Lee's army before it crossed the Potomac into
Virginia, will be most likely to vindicate the Pennsylvania campaign of
Gen. Meade, and to see that he accomplished all that could have been
reasonably expected of any general of any army. Complaint has been, and
is, made specially against Meade, that he did not attack Lee near
Williamsport before he had time to withdraw across the river. These were
the facts concerning this matter:

The 13th of July was the earliest day when such an attack, if
practicable at all, could have been made. The time before this, since
the battle, had been spent in moving the army from the vicinity of the
field, finding something of the enemy and concentrating before him. On
that day the army was concentrated and in order of battle near the
turnpike that leads from Sharpsburg to Hagerstown, Md., the right
resting at or near the latter place, the left near Jones' crossroads,
some six miles in the direction of Sharpsburg, and in the following
order from left to right: the 12th corps, the 2d, the 5th, the 6th, the
1st, the 11th; the 3d being in reserve behind the 2d. The mean distance
to the Potomac was some six miles, and the enemy was between Meade and
the river. The Potomac, swelled by the recent rain, was boiling and
swift and deep, a magnificent place to have drowned all the Rebel crew.
I have not the least doubt but that Gen. Meade would have liked to drown
them all, if he could, but they were unwilling to be drowned, and would
fight first. To drive them into the river then, they must be routed.
Gen. Meade, I believe, favored an attack upon the enemy at that time,
and he summoned his corps commanders to a council upon the subject. The
1st corps was represented by William Hayes, the 3d by French, the 5th by
Sykes, the 6th by Sedgwick, the 11th by Howard, the 12th by Slocum, and
the Cavalry by Pleasanton. Of the eight generals there, Wadsworth,
Howard and Pleasanton were in favor of immediate attack, and five,
Hayes, French, Sykes, Sedgwick and Slocum were not in favor of attack
until better information was obtained of the position and situation of
the enemy. Of the _pros_ Wadsworth only temporarily represented the 1st
corps in the brief absence of Newton, who, had a battle occurred, would
have commanded. Pleasanton, with his horses, would have been a spectator
only, and Howard, with the _brilliant 11th corps_, would have been
trusted nowhere but a safe distance from the enemy--not by Gen. Howard's
fault, however, for he is a good and brave man. Such was the position of
those who felt sanguinarily inclined. Of the _cons_ were all of the
fighting generals of the fighting corps, save the 1st. This, then, was
the feeling of these generals--all who would have had no responsibility
or part in all probability, _hankered_ for a fight--those who would have
had both part and responsibility, did not. The attack was not made. At
daylight on the morning of the 14th, strong reconnoissances from the
12th, 2d and 5th corps were the means of discovering that between the
enemy, except a thousand or fifteen hundred of his rear guard, who fell
into our hands, and the Army of the Potomac, rolled the rapid, unbridged
river. The Rebel General, Pettigrew, was here killed. The enemy had
constructed bridges, had crossed during all the preceding night, but so
close were our cavalry and infantry upon him in the morning, that the
bridges were destroyed before his rear guard had all crossed.

Among the considerations influencing these generals against the
propriety of attack at that time, were probably the following: The army
was wearied and worn down by four weeks of constant forced marching or
battle, in the midst of heat, mud and drenching showers, burdened with
arms, accoutrements, blankets, sixty to a hundred cartridges, and five
to eight days' rations. What such weariness means few save soldiers
know. Since the battle the army had been constantly diminished by
sickness or prostration and by more straggling than I ever saw before.
Poor fellows--they could not help it. The men were near the point when
further efficient physical exertion was quite impossible. Even the sound
of the skirmishing, which was almost constant, and the excitement of
impending battle, had no effect to arouse for an hour the exhibition of
their wonted former vigor. The enemy's loss in battle, it is true, had
been far heavier than ours; but his army was less weary than ours, for
in a given time since the first of the campaign, it had marched far less
and with lighter loads. These Rebels are accustomed to hunger and
nakedness, customs to which our men do not take readily. And the enemy
had straggled less, for the men were going away from battle and towards
home, and for them to straggle was to go into captivity, whose end they
could not conjecture. The enemy was somewhere in position in a ridgy,
wooded country, abounding in strong defensive positions, his main bodies
concealed, protected by rifle-pits and epaulements, acting strictly on
the defensive. His dispositions, his position even, with any
considerable degree of accuracy was unknown, nor could they be known
except by reconnoisances in such force, and carried to such extent, as
would have constituted them attacks liable to bring on at any moment a
general engagement, and at places where we were least prepared and least
likely to be successful. To have had a battle there then, Gen. Meade
would have had to attack a cunning enemy in the dark, where surprises,
undiscovered rifle-pits and batteries, and unseen bodies of men might
have met his forces at every point. With his not greatly superior
numbers, under such circumstances had Gen. Meade attacked, would he have
been victorious? The vote of these generals at the council shows their
opinion--my own is that he would have been repulsed with heavy loss with
little damage to the enemy. Such a result might have satisfied the
bloody politicians better than the end of the campaign as it was; but I
think the country did not need that sacrifice of the Army of the Potomac
at that time--that enough odor of sacrifice came up to its nostrils from
the 1st Fredericksburg field, to stop their snuffing for some time. I
felt the probability of defeat strongly at the time, when we all
supposed that a conflict would certainly ensue; for always before a
battle--at least it so happens to me--some dim presentiment of results,
some unaccountable fore-shadowing pervades the army. I never knew the
result to prove it untrue, which rests with the weight of a conviction.
Whether such shadows are cause or consequence, I shall not pretend to
determine; but when, as they often are, they are general, I think they
should not be wholly disregarded by the commander. I believe the Army of
the Potomac is always willing, often eager, to fight the enemy,
whenever, as it thinks, there is a fair chance for victory; that it
always will fight, let come victory or defeat whenever it is ordered so
to do. Of course the army, both officers and men, had very great
disappointment and very great sorrow that the Rebels _escaped_--so it
was called--across the river; the disappointment was genuine, at least
to the extent that disappointment is like surprise; but the sorrow to
judge by looks, tones and actions, rather than by words, was not of that
deep, sable character for which there is no balm.

Would it be an imputation upon the courage or patriotism of this army if
it was not rampant for fight at this particular time and under the
existing circumstances? Had the enemy stayed upon the left bank of the
Potomac twelve hours longer, there would have been a great battle there
near Williamsport on the 14th of July.

After such digression, if such it is, I return to Gettysburg.

As good generalship is claimed for Gen. Meade in the battle, so was the
conduct of his subordinate commanders good. I know, and have heard, of
no bad conduct or blundering on the part of any officer, save that of
Sickles, on the 2d of July, and that was so gross, and came so near
being the cause of irreparable disaster that I cannot discuss it with
moderation. I hope the man may never return to the Army of the Potomac,
or elsewhere, to a position where his incapacity, or something worse,
may bring fruitless destruction to thousands again. The conduct of
officers and men was good. The 11th corps behaved badly; but I have yet
to learn the occasion when, in the opinion of any save their own
officers and themselves, the men of this corps have behaved well on the
march or before the enemy, either under Siegel or any other commander.
With this exception, and some minor cases of very little consequence in
the general result, our troops whenever and wherever the enemy came,
stood against them storms of impassable fire. Such was the infantry,
such the artillery--the cavalry did less but it did all that was

The enemy, too, showed a determination and valor worthy of a better
cause. Their conduct in this battle even makes me proud of them as
Americans. They would have been victorious over any but the best of
soldiers. Lee and his generals presumed too much upon some past
successes, and did not estimate how much they were due on their part to
position, as at Fredericksburg, or on our part to bad generalship, as at
the 2d Bull Run and Chancellorsville.

The fight of the 1st of July we do not, of course, claim as a victory;
but even that probably would have resulted differently had Reynolds not
been struck. The success of the enemy in the battle ended with the 1st
of July. The Rebels were joyous and jubilant--so said our men in their
hands, and the citizens of Gettysburg--at their achievements on that
day. Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville were remembered by them. They
saw victory already won, or only to be snatched from the streaming
coat-tails of the 11th corps, or the "_raw Pennsylvania militia_" as
they thought they were, when they saw them run; and already the spires
of Baltimore and the dome of the National Capitol were forecast upon
their glad vision--only two or three days march away through the
beautiful valleys of Pennsylvania and "_my_" Maryland. Was there ever
anything so fine before? How splendid it would be to enjoy the poultry
and the fruit, the meats, the cakes, the beds, the clothing, the
_Whiskey_, without price in this rich land of the Yankee! It would,
indeed! But on the 2d of July something of a change came over the spirit
of these dreams. They were surprised at results and talked less and
thought more as they prepared supper that night. After the fight of the
3d they talked only of the means of their own safety from destruction.
Pickett's splendid division had been almost annihilated, they said, and
they talked not of how many were lost, but of who had escaped. They
talked of these "Yanks" that had _clubs_ on their flags and caps, the
trefoils of the 2d corps that are like _clubs_ in cards.

The battle of Gettysburg is distinguished in this war, not only as by
far the greatest and severest conflict that has occurred, but for some
other things that I may mention. The fight of the 2d of July, on the
left, which was almost a separate and complete battle, is, so far as I
know, alone in the following particulars: the numbers of men actually
engaged at one time, and the enormous losses that occurred in killed and
wounded in the space of about two hours. If the truth could be obtained,
it would probably show a much larger number of casualties in this than
my estimate in a former part of these sheets. Few battles of the war
that have had so many casualties altogether as those of the two hours on
the 2d of July. The 3d of July is distinguished. Then occurred the
"great cannonade"--so we call it, and so it would be called in any war,
and in almost any battle. And besides this, the main operations that
followed have few parallels in history, none in this war, of the
magnitude and magnificence of the assault, single and simultaneous, the
disparity of the numbers engaged, and the brilliancy, completeness and
overwhelming character of the result in favor of the side numerically
the weaker. I think I have not, in giving the results of this encounter,
overestimated the numbers or the losses of the enemy. We learned on all
hands, by prisoners and by the newspapers, that over two divisions
moved up to the assault--Pickett's and Pettigrew's--that this was the
first engagement of Pickett's in the battle, and the first of
Pettigrew's save a light participation on the 1st of July. The Rebel
divisions usually number nine or ten thousand, or did at that time, as
we understood. Then I have seen something of troops and think I can
estimate their numbers somewhat. The number of the Rebels killed here I
have estimated in this way: the 2d and 3d divisions of the 2d corps
buried the Rebel dead in their own front, and where they fought upon
their own grounds, by count they buried over _one thousand eight
hundred_. I think no more than about _two hundred_ of these were killed
on the 2d of July in front of the 2d division, and the rest must have
fallen upon the 3d. My estimates that depend upon this contingency may
be erroneous, but to no great extent. The rest of the particulars of the
assault, our own losses and our captures, I know are approximately
accurate. Yet the whole sounds like romance, a grand stage piece of

Of all the corps d'armie, for hard fighting, severe losses and
brilliant results, the palm should be, as by the army it is, awarded to
the "_Old Second_." It did more fighting than any other corps, inflicted
severer losses upon the enemy in killed and wounded, and sustained a
heavier like loss, and captured more flags than all the rest of the
army, and almost as many prisoners as the rest of the army. The loss of
the 2d corps in killed and wounded in this battle--there is no other
test of hard fighting--was almost as great as that of all Gen. Grant's
forces in the battle that preceded and in the siege of Vicksburg.
Three-eighths of the whole corps were killed and wounded. Why does the
Western Army suppose that the Army of the Potomac does not fight? Was
ever a more absurd supposition? The Army of the Potomac is grand! Give
it good leadership--let it alone--and it will not fail to accomplish all
that reasonable men desire.

Of Gibbon's white trefoil division, if I am not cautious, I shall speak
too enthusiastically. This division has been accustomed to distinguished
leadership. Sumner, Sedgwick and Howard have honored, and been honored
by, its command. It was repulsed under Sedgwick at Antietam and under
Howard at Fredericksburg; it was victorious under Gibbon at the 2d
Fredericksburg and at Gettysburg. At Gettysburg its loss in killed and
wounded was over _one thousand seven hundred_, near one-half of all
engaged; it captured _seventeen_ battle-flags and _two thousand three
hundred_ prisoners. Its bullets hailed on Pickett's division, and killed
or mortally wounded four Rebel generals, _Barksdale_ on the 2d of July,
with the three on the 3d, _Armstead_, _Garnett_ and _Kemper_. In losses
in killed and wounded, and in captures from the enemy of prisoners and
flags, it stood pre-eminent among all the divisions at Gettysburg.

Under such generals as Hancock and Gibbon brilliant results may be
expected. Will the country remember them?

It is understood in the army that the President thanked the slayer of
Barton Key for _saving the day_ at Gettysburg. Does the country know any
better than the President that Meade, Hancock and Gibbon were entitled
to some little share of such credit?

At about six o'clock on the afternoon of the 3d of July, my duties done
upon the field, I quitted it to go to the General. My brave horse
_Dick_--poor creature, his good conduct in the battle that afternoon had
been complimented by a Brigadier--was a sight to see. He was literally
covered with blood. Struck repeatedly, his right thigh had been ripped
open in a ghastly manner by a piece of shell, and three bullets were
lodged deep in his body, and from his wounds the blood oozed and ran
down his sides and legs and with the sweat formed a bloody foam. Dick's
was no mean part in that battle. Good conduct in men under such
circumstances as he was placed in might result from a sense of duty--his
was the result of his bravery. Most horses would have been unmanageable
with the flash and roar of arms about and the shouting. Dick was utterly
cool, and would have obeyed the rein had it been a straw. To Dick
belongs the honor of first mounting that stormy crest before the enemy,
not forty yards away, whose bullets smote him, and of being the only
horse there during the heat of the battle. Even the enemy noticed Dick,
and one of their reports of the battle mentions the "_solitary
horseman_" who rallied our wavering line. He enabled me to do twelve
times as much as I could have done on foot. It would not be dignified
for an officer on foot to run; it is entirely so, mounted, to gallop. I
do not approve of officers dismounting in battle, which is the time of
all when they most need to be mounted, for thereby they have so much
greater facilities for being everywhere present. Most officers, however,
in close action, dismount. Dick deserves well of his country, and one
day should have a horse-monument. If there be "_ut sapientibus placit_,"
and equine elysium, I will send to Charon the brass coin, the fee for
Dick's passage over, and on the other side of the Styx in those shadowy
clover-fields he may nibble the blossoms forever.

I had been struck upon the thigh by a bullet which I think must have
glanced and partially spent its force upon my saddle. It had pierced the
thick cloth of my trowsers and two thicknesses of underclothing, but had
not broken the skin, leaving me with an enormous bruise that for a time
benumbed the entire leg. At the time of receiving it, I heard the thump,
and noticed it and the hole in the cloth into which I thrust my finger,
and I experienced a feeling of relief I am sure, when I found that my
leg was not pierced. I think when I dismounted my horse after that fight
that I was no very comely specimen of humanity. Drenched with sweat, the
white of battle, by the reaction, now turned to burning red. I felt like
a boiled man; and had it not been for the exhiliration at results I
should have been miserable. This kept me up, however, and having found a
man to transfer the saddle from poor Dick, who was now disposed to lie
down by loss of blood and exhaustion, to another horse, I hobbled on
among the hospitals in search of Gen. Gibbon.

The skulkers were about, and they were as loud as any in their
rejoicings at the victory, and I took a malicious pleasure as I went
along and met them, in taunting the _sneaks_ with their cowardice and
telling them--it was not true--that Gen. Meade had just given the order
to the Provost Guard to arrest and shoot all men they could find away
from their regiments who could not prove a good account of themselves.
To find the General was no easy matter. I inquired for both Generals
Hancock and Gibbon--I knew well enough that they would be together--and
for the hospitals of the 2d corps. My search was attended with many
incidents that were provokingly humorous. The stupidity of most men is
amazing. I would ask of a man I met, "Do you know, sir, where the 2d
corps hospitals are?" "The 12th corps hospital is there!" Then I would
ask sharply, "Did you understand me to ask for the 12th corps hospital?"
"No!" "Then why tell me what I do not ask or care to know?" Then
stupidity would stare or mutter about the ingratitude of some people for
kindness. Did I ask for the Generals I was looking for, they would
announce the interesting fact, in reply, that they had seen some other
generals. Some were sure that Gen. Hancock or Gibbon was dead. They had
seen his dead body. This was a falsehood, and they knew it. Then it was
Gen. Longstreet. This was also, as they knew, a falsehood.

Oh, sorrowful was the sight to see so many wounded! The whole
neighborhood in rear of the field became one vast hospital of miles in
extent. Some could walk to the hospitals; such as could not were taken
upon stretchers from the places where they fell to selected points and
thence the ambulance bore them, a miserable load, to their destination.
Many were brought to the building, along the Taneytown road, and too
badly wounded to be carried further, died and were buried there, Union
and Rebel soldiers together. At every house, and barn, and shed the
wounded were; by many a cooling brook, or many a shady slope or grassy
glade, the red flags beckoned them to their tented asylums, and there
they gathered, in numbers a great army, a mutilated, bruised mass of
humanity. Men with gray hair and furrowed cheeks and soft-lipped,
beardless boys were there, for these bullets have made no distinction
between age and youth. Every conceivable wound that iron and lead can
make, blunt or sharp, bullet, ball and shell, piercing, bruising,
tearing, was there; sometimes so light that a bandage and cold water
would restore the soldier to the ranks again; sometimes so severe that
the poor victim in his hopeless pain, remedy-less save by the only
panacea for all mortal suffering, invoked that. The men are generally
cheerful, and even those with frightful wounds, often are talking with
animated faces of nothing but the battle and the victory. But some are
downcast, their faces distorted with pain. Some have undergone the
surgeon's work; some, like men at a ticket office, await impatiently
their turn to have an arm or a leg cut off. Some walk about with an arm
in a sling; some sit idly upon the ground; some lie at full length upon
a little straw, or a blanket, with their brawny, now blood-stained,
limbs bare, and you may see where the minie bullet has struck or the
shell has torn. From a small round hole upon many a manly breast, the
red blood trickles, but the pallid cheek, the hard-drawn breath and dim
closed eyes tell how near the source of life it has gone. The surgeons,
with coats off and sleeves rolled up, and the hospital attendants with
green bands upon their caps, are about their work; and their faces and
clothes are spattered with blood; and though they look weary and tired,
their work goes systematically and steadily on. How much and how long
they have worked, the piles of legs, arms, feet, hands, and fingers
about partially tell. Such sounds are heard sometimes--you would not
have heard them upon the field--as convince that bodies, bones, sinews
and muscles are not made of insensible stone. Near by appear a row of
small fresh mounds, placed side by side. They were not there day before
yesterday. They will become more numerous every day.

Such things I saw as I rode along. At last I found the Generals. Gen.
Gibbon was sitting on a chair that had been borrowed somewhere, with his
wounded shoulder bare, and an attendant was bathing it with cold water.
Gen. Hancock was near by in an ambulance. They were at the tents of the
Second Corps hospitals, which were on Rock Run. As I approached Gen.
Gibbon, when he saw me, he began to hurrah and wave his right hand. He
had heard the result. I said: "O, General, long and well may you
wave"--and he shook me warmly by the hand. Gen. Gibbon was struck by a
bullet in the left shoulder, which had passed from the front through the
flesh and out behind, fracturing the shoulder blade and inflicting a
severe but not dangerous wound. He thinks he was the mark of a
sharpshooter of the enemy hid in the bushes, near where he and I had
sat so long during the cannonade; and he was wounded and taken off the
field before the fire of the main lines of infantry had commenced, he
being at the time he was hit near the left of his division. Gen. Hancock
was struck a little later near the same part of the field by a bullet,
piercing and almost going through his thigh, without touching the bone,
however. His wound was severe, also. He was carried back out of range,
but before he would be carried off the field, he lay upon the ground in
sight of the crest, where he could see something of the fight, until he
knew what would be the result.

And then, at Gen. Gibbon's request, I had to tell him and a large
voluntary crowd of the wounded who pressed around now, for the wounds
they showed not rebuked for closing up to the Generals, the story of the
fight. I was nothing loth; and I must say though I used sometimes before
the war to make speeches, that I never had so enthusiastic an audience
before. Cries of "good," "glorious," frequently interrupted me, and the
storming of the wall was applauded by enthusiastic tears and the waving
of battered, bloody hands.

By the custom of the service the General had the right to have me along
with him, while away with his wound; but duty and inclination attracted
me still to the field, and I obtained the General's consent to stay.
Accompanying Gen. Gibbon to Westminster, the nearest point to which
railroad trains then ran, and seeing him transferred from an ambulance
to the cars for Baltimore on the 4th, the next day I returned to the
field to his division, since his wounding in the command of Gen. Harrow.

On the 6th of July, while my bullet bruise was yet too inflamed and
sensitive for me to be good for much in the way of duty--the division
was then halted for the day some four miles from the field on the
Baltimore turnpike--I could not repress the desire or omit the
opportunity to see again where the battle had been. With the right
stirrup strap shortened in a manner to favor the bruised leg, I could
ride my horse at a walk without serious discomfort. It seemed very
strange upon approaching the horse-shoe crest again, not to see it
covered with the thousands of troops and horses and guns, but they were
all gone--the armies, to my seeming, had vanished--and on that lovely
summer morning the stillness and silence of death pervaded the
localities where so recently the shouts and the cannon had thundered.
The recent rains had washed out many an unsightly spot, and smoothed
many a harrowed trace of the conflict; but one still needed no guide
save the eyes, to follow the track of that storm, which the storms of
heaven were powerless soon to entirely efface. The spade and shovel, so
far as a little earth for the human bodies would render their task done,
had completed their work--a great labor, that. But still might see under
some concealing bush, or sheltering rock, what had once been a man, and
the thousands of stricken horses still lay scattered as they had died.
The scattered small arms and the accoutrements had been collected and
carried away, almost all that were of any value; but great numbers of
bent and splintered muskets, rent knapsacks and haversacks, bruised
canteens, shreds of caps, coats, trowsers, of blue or gray cloth,
worthless belts and cartridge boxes, torn blankets, ammunition boxes,
broken wheels, smashed limbers, shattered gun carriages, parts of
harness, of all that men or horses wear or use in battle, were scattered
broadcast over miles of the field. From these one could tell where the
fight had been hottest. The rifle-pits and epaulements and the trampled
grass told where the lines had stood, and the batteries--the former
being thicker where the enemy had been than those of our own
construction. No soldier was to be seen, but numbers of civilians and
boys, and some girls even, were curiously loitering about the field, and
their faces showed not sadness or horror, but only staring wonder or
smirking curiosity. They looked for mementoes of the battle to keep,
they said; but their furtive attempts to conceal an uninjured musket or
an untorn blanket--they had been told that all property left here
belonged to the Government--showed that the love of gain was an
ingredient at least of their motive for coming here. Of course there was
not the slightest objection to their taking anything they could find
now; but their manner of doing it was the objectionable thing. I could
now understand why soldiers had been asked a dollar for a small strip
of old linen to bind their own wound, and not be compelled to go off to
the hospitals.

Never elsewhere upon any field have I seen such abundant evidences of a
terrific fire of cannon and musketry as upon this. Along the enemy's
position, where our shells and shot had struck during the cannonade of
the third, the trees had cast their trunks and branches as if they had
been icicles shaken by a blast. And graves of the Rebel's making, and
dead horses and scattered accoutrements, showed that other things
besides trees had been struck by our projectiles. I must say that,
having seen the work of their guns upon the same occasion, I was
gratified to see these things. Along the slope of Culp's Hill, in front
of the position of the 12th, and the 1st Division of the 1st Corps, the
trees were almost literally peeled, from the ground up some fifteen or
twenty feet, so thick upon them were the scars the bullets had made.
Upon a single tree, not over a foot and a half in diameter, I actually
counted as many as two hundred and fifty bullet marks. The ground was
covered by the little twigs that had been cut off by the hailstorm of
lead. Such were the evidences of the storm under which Ewell's bold
Rebels assaulted our breastworks on the night of the 2d and the morning
of the 3d of July. And those works looked formidable, zig-zaging along
these rocky crests, even now when not a musket was behind them. What
madness on the part of the enemy to have attacked them! All along
through these bullet-stormed woods were interspersed little patches of
fresh earth, raised a foot or so above the surrounding ground. Some were
very near the front of the works; and near by, upon a tree whose bark
had been smoothed by an axe, written in red chalk would be the words,
not in fine handwriting, "75 Rebels buried here." "54 Rebs. there." And
so on. Such was the burial and such the epitaph of many of those famous
men, once led by the mighty Stonewall Jackson. Oh, this damned rebellion
will make brutes of us all, if it is not soon quelled! Our own men were
buried in graves, not trenches; and upon a piece of board, or stave of a
barrel, or bit of cracker box, placed at the head, were neatly cut or
penciled the name and regiment of the one buried in such. This practice
was general, but of course there must be some exceptions, for sometimes
the cannon's load had not left enough of a man to recognize or name. The
reasons here for the more careful interment of our own dead than such as
was given to the dead of the enemy are obvious and I think satisfactory.
Our own dead were usually buried not long after they fell, and without
any general order to that effect. It was a work that the men's hearts
were in as soon as the fight was over and opportunity offered, to hunt
out their dead companions, to make them a grave in some convenient spot,
and decently composed with their blankets wrapped about them, to cover
them tenderly with earth and mark their resting place. Such burials were
not without as scalding tears as ever fell upon the face of coffined
mortality. The dead of the enemy could not be buried until after the
close of the whole battle. The army was about to move--some of it was
already upon the march, before such burial commenced. Tools, save those
carried by the pioneers, were many miles away with the train, and the
burying parties were required to make all haste in their work, in order
to be ready to move with their regiments. To make long shallow
trenches, to collect the Rebel dead, often hundreds in one place, and to
cover them hastily with a little earth, without name, number, or mark,
save the shallow mound above them--their names of course they did not
know--was the best that could be done. I should have been glad to have
seen more formal burial, even of these men of the rebellion, both
because hostilities should cease with death, and of the respect I have
for them as my brave, though deluded, countrymen. I found fault with
such burial at the time, though I knew that the best was done that could
be under the circumstances; but it may perhaps soften somewhat the
rising feelings upon this subject, of any who may be disposed to share
mine, to remember that under similar circumstances--had the issue of the
battle been reversed--our own dead would have had no burial at all, at
the hands of the enemy, but, stripped of their clothing, their naked
bodies would have been left to rot, and their bones to whiten upon the
top of the ground where they fell. Plenty of such examples of Rebel
magnanimity are not wanting, and one occurred on this field, too. Our
dead that fell into the hands of the enemy on the 1st of July had been
plundered of all their clothing, but they were left unburied until our
own men buried them after the Rebels had retreated at the end of the

All was bustle and noise in the little town of Gettysburg as I entered
it on my tour of the field. From the afternoon of the 1st to the morning
of the 4th of July, the enemy was in possession. Very many of the
inhabitants had, upon the first approach of the enemy, or upon the
retirement of our troops, fled their homes and the town not to return
until after the battle. Now the town was a hospital where gray and blue
mingled in about equal proportion. The public buildings, the courthouse,
the churches and many private dwellings were full of wounded. There had
been in some of the streets a good deal of fighting, and bullets had
thickly spattered the fences and walls, and shells had riddled the
houses from side to side. And the Rebels had done their work of pillage
there, too, in spite of the smooth-sounding general order of the Rebel
commander enjoining a sacred regard for private property--the order was
really good and would sound marvelously well abroad or in history. All
stores of drugs and medicines, of clothing, tin-ware and all groceries
had been rifled and emptied without pay or offer of recompense.
Libraries, public and private, had been entered and the books scattered
about the yards or destroyed. Great numbers of private dwellings had
been entered and occupied without ceremony and whatever was liked had
been appropriated or wantonly destroyed. Furniture had been smashed and
beds ripped open, and apparently unlicensed pillage had reigned.
Citizens and women who had remained had been kindly relieved of their
money, their jewelry and their watches--all this by the high-toned
chivalry, the army of the magnanimous Lee! Put these things by the side
of the acts of the "vandal Yankees" in Virginia, and then let mad
Rebeldom prate of honor! But the people, the women and children that had
fled, were returning, or had returned to their homes--such homes--and
amid the general havoc were restoring as they could order to the
desecrated firesides. And the faces of them all plainly told that, with
all they had lost and bad as was the condition of all things they
found, they were better pleased with such homes than with wandering
houseless in the fields with the Rebels there. All had treasures of
incidents of the battle and of the occupation of the enemy--wonderful
sights, escapes, witnessed encounters, wounds, the marvelous passage of
shells or bullets which, upon the asking, or even without, they were
willing to share with the stranger. I heard of no more than one or two
cases of any personal injury received by any of the inhabitants. One
woman was said to have been killed while at her wash-tub, sometime
during the battle; but probably by a stray bullet coming a very long
distance from our own men. For the next hundred years Gettysburg will be
rich in legends and traditions of the battle. I rode through the
Cemetery on "Cemetery Hill." How these quiet sleepers must have been
astounded in their graves when the twenty pound Parrott guns thundered
above them and the solid shot crushed their gravestones! The flowers,
roses and creeping vines that pious hands had planted to bloom and shed
their odors over the ashes of dead ones gone, were trampled upon the
ground and black with the cannon's soot. A dead horse lay by the marble
shaft, and over it the marble finger pointed to the sky. The marble lamb
that had slept its white sleep on the grave of a child, now lies
blackened upon a broken gun-carriage. Such are the incongruities and
jumblings of battle.

I looked away to _the group of trees_--the Rebel gunners know what ones
I mean, and so do the survivors of Pickett's division--and a strange
fascination led me thither. How thick are the marks of battle as I
approach--the graves of the men of the 3d division of the 2d corps; the
splintered oaks, the scattered horses--seventy-one dead horses were on a
spot some fifty yards square near the position of Woodruff's battery,
and where he fell.

I stood solitary upon the crest by "_the trees_" where, less than three
days ago, I had stood before; but now how changed is all the eye
beholds. Do these thick mounds cover the fiery hearts that in the battle
rage swept the crest and stormed the wall? I read their names--them,
alas, I do not know--but I see the regiments marked on their frail
monuments--"20th Mass. Vols.," "69 P. V.," "1st Minn. Vols.," and the
rest--they are all represented, and as they fought commingled here. So I
am not alone. These, my brethren of the fight, are with me. Sleep, noble
brave! The foe shall not desecrate your sleep. Yonder thick trenches
will hold them. As long as patriotism is a virtue, and treason a crime
your deeds have made this crest, your resting place, hallowed ground!

But I have seen and said enough of this battle. The unfortunate wounding
of my General so early in the action of the 3d of July, leaving
important duties which, in the unreasoning excitement of the moment I in
part assumed, enabled me to do for the successful issue, something which
under other circumstances would not have fallen to my rank or place.
Deploring the occasion for taking away from the division in that moment
of its need its soldierly, appropriate head, so cool, so clear, I am yet
glad, as that was to be, that his example and his tuition have not been
entirely in vain to me, and that my impulses then prompted me to do
somewhat as he might have done had he been on the field. The encomiums
of officers, so numerous and some of so high rank, generously accorded
me for my conduct upon that occasion--I am not without vanity--were
gratifying. My position as a staff officer gave me an opportunity to see
much, perhaps as much as any one person, of that conflict. My
observations were not so particular as if I had been attached to a
smaller command; not so general as may have been those of a staff
officer to the General commanding the army; but of such as they were, my
heart was there, and I could do no less than to write something of them,
in the intervals between marches and during the subsequent repose of the
army at the close of the campaign. I have put somewhat upon these
pages--I make no apology for the egotism, if such there is, of this
account--it is not designed to be a history, but simply _my account_ of
the battle. It should not be assumed, if I have told of some
occurrences, that there were not other important ones. I would not have
it supposed that I have attempted to do full justice to the good conduct
of the fallen, or the survivors of the 1st and 12th Corps. Others must
tell of them. I did not see their work. A full account of _the battle as
it was_ will never, can never be made. Who could sketch the changes,
the constant shifting of the bloody panorama? It is not possible. The
official reports may give results as to losses, with statements of
attacks and repulses; they may also note the means by which results were
attained, which is a statement of the number and kind of the forces
employed, but the connection between means and results, the mode, the
battle proper, these reports touch lightly. Two prominent reasons at
least exist which go far to account for the general inadequacy of these
official reports, or to account for their giving no true idea of what
they assume to describe--the literary infirmity of the reporters and
their not seeing themselves and their commands as others would have seen
them. And factions, and parties, and politics, the curses of this
Republic, are already putting in their unreasonable demands for the
foremost honors of the field. "Gen. Hooker won Gettysburg." How? Not
with the army in person or by infinitesimal influence--leaving it almost
four days before the battle when both armies were scattered and fifty
miles apart! Was ever claim so absurd? Hooker, and he alone, won the
result at Chancellorsville. "Gen. Howard won Gettysburg!" "Sickles saved
the day!" Just Heaven, save the poor Army of the Potomac from its
friends! It has more to dread and less to hope from them than from the
red bannered hosts of the rebellion. The states prefer each her claim
for the sole brunt and winning of the fight. "Pennsylvania won it!" "New
York won it!" "Did not Old Greece, or some tribe from about the sources
of the Nile win it?" For modern Greeks--from Cork--and African Hannibals
were there. Those intermingled graves along the crest bearing the names
of every loyal state, save one or two, should admonish these geese to
cease to cackle. One of the armies of the country won the battle, and
that army supposes that Gen. Meade led it upon that occasion. If it be
not one of the lessons that this war teaches, that we have a country
paramount and supreme over faction, and party, and state, then was the
blood of fifty thousand citizens shed on this field in vain. For the
reasons mentioned, of this battle, greater than that of Waterloo, a
history, just, comprehensive, complete will never be written.
By-and-by, out of the chaos of trash and falsehood that the newspapers
hold, out of the disjointed mass of reports, out of the traditions and
tales that come down from the field, some eye that never saw the battle
will select, and some pen will write what will be named _the history_.
With that the world will be and, if we are alive, we must be, content.

Already, as I rode down from the heights, nature's mysterious loom was
at work, joining and weaving on her ceaseless web the shells had broken
there. Another spring shall green these trampled slopes, and flowers,
planted by unseen hands, shall bloom upon these graves; another autumn
and the yellow harvest shall ripen there--all not in less, but in higher
perfection for this poured out blood. In another decade of years, in
another century, or age, we hope that the Union, by the same means, may
repose in a securer peace and bloom in a higher civilization. Then what
matter if it lame Tradition glean on this field and hand down her
garbled sheaf--if deft story with furtive fingers plait her ballad
wreaths, deeds of her heroes here? or if stately history fill as she
list her arbitrary tablet, the sounding record of this fight? Tradition,
story, history--all will not efface the true, grand epic of Gettysburg.


_To H. M. Haskell._


[1] _History of the Second Army Corps in the Army of the Potomac_ (New
York, 1886), pp. 512, 513.

[2] _Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Wisconsin for
1865_ (Madison, 1866), pp. 510, 511.

[3] Columbus (Wis.) _Democrat_, May 27, 1895.

[4] Colonel Harvey Boyd McKeen, of Pennsylvania, commander of the Third

[5] Columbus (Wis.) _Democrat_, May 27, 1895.

[6] Upon the Portage Public Library's copy of the original pamphlet
edition, Hon. A. J. Turner wrote the following explanatory note:

"The within description of the 'The Battle of Gettysburg' was written by
Colonel Frank A. Haskell who was on the staff of General John Gibbon, to
his brother at Portage, Wisconsin. It was submitted to me soon after, in
the _State Register_ office, but its great length rendered its
publication in our columns quite impossible. The article was written
from the 'Head Quarters of the Army of the Potomac,' but bore no date,
although it was during the same month as the battle, and was written by
Colonel Haskell in the intervals of the march, and was a private letter
without design of publication--A. J. TURNER."

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "attiude" corrected to "attitude" (page 101)
  "altogther" corrected to "altogether" (page 157)
  "divison" corrected to "division" (page 179)

Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in
spelling and hyphenation usage have been retained.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Battle of Gettysburg" ***

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