American Historical Documents, 10001904. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Haskells Account of the Battle of Gettysburg
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 oclock 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 DivisionsSteinwehrwith 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 chaosthe rout was at an endthe First and Eleventh Corps were in line of battle againnot very systematically formed perhapsin 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 CorpsGen. Sicklescame 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 CorpsGen. Slocumarriving 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 town, and behind it, and to the East and West, and appeared to be in strong force, and was jubilant over his days 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 townthe one that was subsequently adoptedand 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 feeling, 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. Gibbons 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 oclock, 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 Culps 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 CorpsGen. Howardwas posted at the Cemetery, some of its batteries and troops, actually among the graves and monuments, which they used for shelter from the enemys 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 Culps Hill, was posted the Twelfth CorpsGen. Slocumits 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 (Gibbons), 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 brigadesthere were four brigades in the Firstsimilarly 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,1 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: Woodruffs regular, six twelve-pound Napoleons, brass, between the two brigades, in line of the Third Division; Arnolds A first R.I., six three-inch Parrotts, rifled, and Cushings Regular, four three-inch Ordinance, rifled, between the Third and Second Division; Hazards, (commanded during the battle by Lieut. Brown,) B first R. I., and Rhortys N. G. each, six twelve-pound Napoleons, 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 CorpsGen. Sicklesthe 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 CorpsGen. Sykescoming on the Baltimore Pike about this time, was massed there, near the line of the 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 enemy, 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 CorpsGen. Sedgwickdid 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 time.
These dispositions were all made early, I think before eight oclock 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 hillmore resembling a great wave than a hill, howeverwith 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 Culps Hill, and in woods, and the ground is very rocky, and in places in front precipitousa 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 positionperhaps 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 defenses 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 admirablefor 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 times.
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 packed 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 readyand yet the sound of no gun had disturbed the air or ear to-day.
And so the men stacked their armsin long bristling rows they stood along the crestsand 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 soldiers peculiar solace, a pipe of tobacco. Some were mirthful and chatty, and some were serious and silent. Leaving them thusI suppose of all arms and grades there were about a hundred thousand of them somewhere about that fieldeach to pass the hour according to his duty or his humor, let us look to the enemy.
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 cant 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.2 But if ninety-five men should fight with a hundred and five, the latter would not always be victorsand slight numerical differences are of much less consequence in great bodies of men.
During all the morningand of the night, toothe 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 townhe 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 oclock 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 a way 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 firealmost the first shots of any kind this morningand 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 righttoward our left. They would dash up close upon ours and sometimes drive them back a short distance, in turn to be repulsed themselvesand 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 linesbut 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 enemyof his disposition and apparent purposes. The Rebel infantry consisted of three Army Corps, each consisting of three Divisions, Longstreet, Ewellthe same whose leg Gibbons shell knocked off at Gainesville on the 28th of August last yearand A. P. Hill, each in the Rebel service having the rank of Lieutenant General, were the commanders of these Corps. Longstreets Division commanders were Hood, McLaws and Pickett; Ewells were Rhodes, Early and Johnson, and Hills were Pender, Heth and Anderson. Stewart and Fitzhugh Lee commanded Divisions of the Rebel cavalry. The rank of these Divisions 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 goodto deny this is useless. I never had any desire toand 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 itthe 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 extremities of the wings opposite to, or a little outside of ours. Longstreets Corps was upon their right; Hills in the center. These two Rebel Corps occupied the second or inferior ridge to the West of our position, as I have mentioned, with Hills left bending towards, and resting near the town, and Ewells 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 equivalent 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 oclock is past, and, we 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 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 so 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-dayI could almost see the foreshadowing 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 conflictthe 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 oclock P. M.the skirmish firing had nearly ceased nowa 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 mana politician, and some other things, exclusive of the Barton Key affaira 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 mens 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 oneit developed the battlethe 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 men3they were good menwith 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 Divisionthe 1st of the Second Corps, as mentionedin 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 oclock P. M., and the reserve brigadethe First, Col. Heath temporarily commandingof the Second Division, was therefore move 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 oclock, and we shall soon see what Sickles gained by his move. First we hear more artillery firing upon Sickles leftthe 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 enemys 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 seems 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 thitherthe 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 enemys advance; but this movement was not completely executed before new Rebel batteries opened upon Sickles right flankhis 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 practicenow 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.
Note 1. As the Second and Third Divisions had three brigades each, it follows that two brigades from each of the three divisions were in the front line.T.L.L. [back]
Note 2. The returns of the Union army for June 30 gave 89,238 infantry and artillery, and 14,973 cavalry present for duty. If there is deducted 5,520 in three brigades of the Sixth Corps and 2,337 in detachments, which, although available, were not opposed to the enemy, and the usual per cent of non-combatants, 88,289 remains for the number engaged. The number engaged on the Confederate side in the same manner, is estimated at 75,000 from the returns of May 31, July 20 and 31. See Livermores Numbers and Losses, pp. 69, 102, 103.T. L. L. [back]
Note 3. The returns give 12,630 present for duty in the Third Corps. See 43 War Records, 151.T. L. L. [back]