Leading Confederates on the Battle of Gettysburg.
[Our series of papers on Gettysburg has naturally attracted great attention and excited general
comment. It is not surprising that there differences of opinion among the gallant and
accomplished soldiers who participated in the Confederate assault on that fortress; and the object
of our series is to bring out a comparison of views, and thus elicit the real truth. We publish,
therefore, without comment and without endorsation, the opposing statements views of our
friends--only insisting that the discussion shall be confined to those bounds of courtesy which
should always characterize gallant knights in search of the truth.]
A Review by General Early.
Several of the papers recently published in relation to the battle of Gettysburg contain statements and views which in some respects are erroneous, especially in regard to the part which
Ewell's corps and its commander bore in the first and second day's operations, and I therefore propose to review them, as I am the senior surviving officer of that corps, whose right to vindicate its reputation and that of its commander will hardly be disputed.
I have too much respect and regard for the officers whose statements and comments in relation to the battle I shall notice and correct, to suspect either of them of the slightest desire to misrepresent or pervert the facts, or to mislead others by their own speculations. I shall, therefore, endeavor to be entirely courteous to each one of them, and shall not attempt to controvert any fact stated on the knowledge of the writer who gives it.
Before proceeding to the execution of the main object I have in view, I must notice a slight variance between the estimate of the strength of General Lee's army at Gettysburg made by Colonel Walter H. Taylor and that made by myself; and in doing so, I will go to some length in giving the data on which my estimate is based, as the question of numbers at that battle is one of great interest.
In his memorandum in the August number of the Southern Historical Society Papers, as well as in the paper reprinted in the September number from the Philadelphia Times, and understood to be an extract from the manuscript of a volume on the war now in the hands of a publisher, Colonel Taylor puts General Lee's strength at Gettysburg at 62,000 electives, and his estimate is repeated by General Heth, whereas I put it at something under 60,000. This variance is caused by the fact that he includes in his estimate the two cavalry brigades of Robertson and Jones, which had been left guarding the passes of the Blue Ridge when the last of our infantry and artillery, under Longstreet and Hill, crossed the Potomac, whilst I exclude them from mine. Those brigades had remained south of the Potomac on the duty assigned them until orders reached them to rejoin the army, which orders were sent after General Lee received information, on the night of the 28th of June, that the Federal army, then under Hooker had crossed the Potomac. Those brigades crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, on the 2nd of July, (see Schenck's telegram, 1st vol. Congressional Report on the Conduct of the War, 2nd series, p. 489,) and arrived near Gettysburg on the 3rd of July, too late to take any part in the battle, and were posted on our right, near Fairfield, as Stuart says, (2nd vol. Society Papers, 65).
They were, therefore, of no avail to us in the invasion of Pennsylvania or in the battle of Gettysburg, but merely aided in guarding our trains to the rear and observing the enemy when we retired. There is no more reason for counting those brigades as a part of the force with which General Lee fought the battle of Gettysburg than there is for counting as a part of Meade's force at the same battle the 10,000 or 11,000 men under French, at Frederick and Harper's Ferry, and the very considerable force under Couch, at Harrisburg, all of which were placed under Meade's orders, and were actually employed for the purpose of watching Ewell's advance to the Susquehanna and harassing his rear on the march to Gettysburg from Carlisle, as was the case with Couch's force, and protecting Meade's communications to the rear, as was the case with French's command. Robinson's and Jones' brigades certainly numbered over 2,000 men, and very probably over 3,000. Take them from Colonel Taylor's estimate of 62,000, and there would be left less than 60,000 as our real strength at Gettysburg. Imboden's small brigade might also be excluded from the estimate of our force at the battle, as he had been employed in destroying the bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and round by the way of McConnellsburg, west of Chambersburg, and by the latter place, reaching the vicinity of Gettysburg late on the afternoon of the 3rd; but I have not made any allowance for that brigade.
As stated by Colonel Taylor, our infantry, as shown by the official returns of the 31st of May previous, then numbered 54,356, the artillery 4,460, and the cavalry 9,536, making our whole force then 68,352.
He says Pettigrew's brigade joined the army after that date; but to offset the increase by reason of that accession, one of his regiments and the whole of Corse's brigade of Pickett's division remained in Virginia, at Hanover Junction.
My division was included in the force of infantry shown by the returns of May 31st. It left the
vicinity of Fredericksburg on the 4th of June, and at Culpeper Courthouse on the 10th, when its
strength was somewhat less than when my return of May 31st was made, by reason of the
exhaustion, foot-soreness, and straggling common to all armies; another return was made, which
is now before me, and shows:
In Hays' brigade, for duty....................137 officers..........1,495 men.
In Hoke's brigade, for duty..................136 officers .........1,684 men.
In Gordon's brigade, for duty .............188 officers...........2,194 men.
In Smith's brigade, for duty ................149 officer ............1,243 men.
In all, exclusive of division and brigade staff..................... 7,226
My return for June 20th, made at Shepherdstown, two days before I crossed the Potomac, also
now before me, shows:
In Hays' brigade, for duty...........................119 officers..........1,281 men.
In Hoke's brigade, for duty..........................96 officers..........1,225 men.
In Gordon's brigade, for duty.....................175 officers..........1,860 men.
In Smith's brigade, for duty..........................97 officers.............758 men.
In all, exclusive of division and brigade staff ...........................5,611
This shows a decrease of 1,615; but that in Hoke's and Smith's brigades was caused, mainly, by the absence of three regiments from those brigades left to occupy Winchester and guard the prisoners taken there and at Martinsburg back to Staunton. The decrease in Hays' and Gordon's brigades was 679, of which, 163 resulted from the loss in the fighting at Winchester, leaving the net loss in those two brigades, from exhaustion, foot-soreness, and straggling, 516. Their aggregate strength on the 10th of June, was 4,024; so there was a loss of a little more than 12 per cent in those two brigades from other causes than casualties in battle, from the 10th to the 20th. They were composed of as good and well-seasoned soldiers as any in that army, and I think I can certainly assume that there was, at least, the same percentage of loss in the entire infantry of the army from the 31st of May to the time it crossed the Potomac. Twelve per cent in 54,356, gives 6,552, which being deducted, leaves 47,834 as the strength of our infantry when it crossed the Potomac, without deducting my three regiments that were left behind, or the loss sustained in Ewell's corps in the fighting at Winchester and Martinsburg, which amounted to 269.
Add the entire artillery and cavalry without any deduction, and our whole force would be only 61,830. But the fact was, that the cavalry had had a very severe engagement with that of the enemy near Brandy Station, on the 9th of June, and several other severe engagements near the Blue Ridge before it crossed the Potomac, in which, if Hooker's telegrams are to be accepted as correct, our cavalry was very badly handled, if not almost destroyed; but I take no account of them.
It is Well known how rapidly cavalry diminishes from loss of horses in action or on the march--in fact, much more than from loss of men when there are no means of replacing the horses, as was the case with our cavalry. Stuart carried three brigades with him across the Potomac, to-wit: Fitz Lee's, Hampton's, and Wm. H. F. Lee's; Jenkins' brigade, not exceeding 1,500 or 1,600, accompanied Ewell, and one battalion of cavalry, White's, was with my division, while Imboden went along the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, then to -McConnellsburg, and from thence by the way of Chambersburg to Gettysburg. This was all the cavalry that went into Pennsylvania at the time our army invaded that state, Robertson's and Jones' being left behind, as already stated. Even Hooker, who estimated our force that passed through Hagerstown at 97,000 infantry and cavalry and 280 guns, and was, by no means, disposed to underrate any part of our army, does not put the cavalry with Stuart beyond 5,000, (see Con. Rep., 173,) and Mr. J. Everett Pearson, of Westminster, Maryland, whose narrative is contained in the transactions of the Southern Historical Society, (Southern Magazine, for January, 1875,) says of Stuart's command, as it passed through that place on the 28th of June: "Although four thousand men comprised the whole command, each of its regiments seemed that number to a novice." General Fitz Lee, without giving any statement as to the force with Stuart, says: "The brigade of General Jenkins, Stuart estimated at 3,800 troops when leaving Virginia." Now, the fact is, that Stuart had no means of knowing Jenkins' strength, as that brigade had never served under him. Rodes, in his report, says it numbered about 1,600 men when it joined him the 12th of June, and Meade sent a dispatch to Halleck on the 28th of June, giving a statement furnished him by persons from Hagerstown, who saw with very large magnifying glasses, and placed our army at very heavy figures, which says: "Rebel cavalry came just a week ago last Monday. General Jenkins having 1,200 mounted infantry, said to be picked men from Jackson's men, and three or four hundred cavalry of his own." (Con. Rep., 479.) Jenkins had then with him all of his cavalry, but no mounted infantry--though all of his cavalry might be said to be infantry mounted, for it was armed as such only. I think it very safe to assume that the whole of our cavalry in Pennsylvania, exclusive of Robertson's and Jones' brigades, did not exceed 6,000 or 7,000, at the most. Estimating the artillery at 4,000, which makes a very small allowance for decrease, and our entire strength must have been less than 60,000 by some 2,000 or 3,000; and even including Robertson's and Jones' brigades, it could not have exceeded that number more than a few hundred, if it reached it. It must be borne in mind that our march, all the time from the start, led us from the sources from which our ranks could be refilled, and hence, our losses were permanent for the entire campaign. I have made no allowance for the decrease after we crossed the Potomac; but we had some even then.
Colonel Taylor gives our strength on the 20th of July, after we had returned to the valley, as 41,388 effective infantry and artillery, and 7,612 cavalry--in all 49,000; and, hence, he deduces our loss at about 19,000.
This mode of estimating the loss may. ascertain very nearly the real loss, that is, the number of
men placed hors du combat; but it is calculated to give rise to misapprehension. The official
reports show the losses in the infantry and artillery of the several corps above, as follows:
In Longstreet's corps.................................. 7,659
In Ewell's corps.......................................... 6,094
In Hill's corps............................................. 8,982
This is exclusive of the loss in the cavalry, which was not inconsiderable.
Add this reported loss of 22,735 to the 49,000, and it would give 71,735 as our force in the campaign. Add the same loss to the effective infantry and artillery shown by the returns of July 20th, and it would give 64,125 as the strength of those arms; and deducting the artillery from this latter number, it would appear that we had about 60,000 infantry, in the campaign, whereas the returns of May 31st show only 54,356.
Colonel Taylor omits to take into consideration the very large regiment of infantry, commanded by Colonel Wharton, the Fifty-first Virginia, which arrived at Winchester from Southwestern Virginia while we were in Pennsylvania, the convalescent wounded from the battle-fields of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg (Second), that had, by the 20th of July reached the valley, as well as my three regiments that were left behind, and the stragglers and disabled men who had come up. This omission gives rise to a criticism on his estimates which has already been made by a distinguished foreign writer on the war in a private letter to myself.
The discrepancy between Colonel Taylor's estimate and the official returns of the loss may be reconciled in this way: Those who lagged behind or fell out of the ranks for any cause before we crossed the Potomac could not rejoin the army after that time before our return. When we returned, we began to meet the stragglers and the convalescent wounded from the battle-fields of May and the early part of June, and perhaps some recruits. Some of them came with the supply ordnance train, which was a part of that attacked by the enemy's cavalry at Williamsport after the battle, and many more reached us in the valley by the 20th of July, having been assembled there while we were in Pennsylvania. My three regiments that had been left behind were then counted in the returns, as I suppose was the case with Wharton's regiment. By these means the ranks of the army had been increased probably to the extent of some 8,000 or 10,000 men; moreover, it any of those reported wounded were very slightly wounded, as it was the custom to report as such all who were hurt, however slightly, and some very insignificant scratches sometimes were reported under the head of wounds. Many of the slightly wounded did not, in fact, properly come under the head of losses to the arm , as they marched with it or with the ambulance trains, bringing off their arms and equipments, and, without being sent to hospitals, soon returned to duty. Their services were not actually lost, or were lost for so short a time as not to warrant their being counted in the real losses of the army.
Making this allowance, and Colonel Taylor's estimate of our losses in the whole campaign is not far from correct.
To illustrate this view: The official reports of Longstreet, Jackson, and D. H. Hill, in whose commands were comprised the whole of our infantry and artillery engaged in the campaign, beginning with Cedar Run in August, 1862, and ending with the minor engagements in the valley after Sharpsburg from first to last, show for that period, a loss of 21,294 in killed and wounded alone. This of course excludes the cavalry, and yet the returns made by the Medical Director of the army, which accompany General Lee's report, show only 19,306 killed and wounded in all arms, including the cavalry, for the same period. This results from the fact that a considerable number of those reported as wounded did not even require surgical treatment or attention.
The returns at the close of July, 1862, nine days before the battle of Cedar Run or Slaughter's Mountain, show 69,559 for duty in the Department of Northern Virginia. No new troops reached the army after those returns were made before the campaign opened; some embraced in it were left at Richmond, and did not participate in the campaign. The returns for September, made after Sharpsburg and the minor engagements following it, show for duty 52,609, while the loss in Longstreet's, Jackson's, and D. H. Hill's commands, including missing, for the period above stated, was 23,575. This again excludes the cavalry. Add the number shown by the returns at the close of September and the above loss, and there will appear a force of 76,184; yet, it is very certain that General Lee did not have, in the campaign against Pope and McClellan, including all that came up while it was progressing, that number of men by many thousands. Add the 52,609 shown by the September returns to the loss shown by the Medical Director's report in killed and wounded alone for Brownsboro', Crampton's Gap, Harper's Ferry, Sharpsburg, and Shepherdstown, which was 10,291, and we have 62,900 to begin that series of engagements with, and yet we know that we had no such force there. Without counting the loss in killed, wounded, and missing at Sharpsburg, which was 8,000 or 10,000, and the September returns would give us 52,609 to fight that battle with, and counting the losses, about 60,000, yet General Lee says he had less than 40,000 men at Sharpsburg, and I feel sure that 30,000 would cover our force of infantry and artillery on the field at that battle.
It comes within my personal knowledge, that Lawton's brigade of Ewell's division, which division I commanded during the latter part of the battle at Sharpsburg, and from that time, had on the field only 1,150 men, and its loss there was 554 in killed and wounded; and yet, before the return of September was made, it numbered nearly 2,000. This great accession of strength was caused by the return of convalescents, stragglers, and temporarily disabled men who had fallen out of ranks before we crossed the Potomac. A less time elapsed between the battle of Sharpsburg and the close of September than between the battle of Gettysburg and the 20th of July, and these illustrations will serve to confirm my view that the force shown by the returns of July the 20th, 1863, included in it very many men who had never crossed the Potomac at all.
I think it may be assumed as very certain that we had less than 60,000 electives of all arms at Gettysburg, and that the battle was fought with something under 50,000 infantry and about 4,000 artillerymen on our side, the cavalry merely serving to protect our flanks and guard our trains, as from the nature of the ground they could not be employed in the battle.
I will now give some consideration to the evidence in regard to the Federal strength at the battle, as that bears a very important relation to a just estimate of the battle itself. It must be borne in mind that when Hooker moved from the banks of the Rappahannock, his route led him all the time towards the sources from which his army was to be recruited; that while the route of our army was the arc of a circle, he moved on the cord of it; and that, therefore, our movements had to be rapid while his were slow.
When our army had crossed the Potomac he was enabled to recruit his strength, not only from the convalescents from the hospitals at Washington, Baltimore, and further North, time enough having elapsed to enable the wounded from the fields of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg to begin to return to duty, but also from the troops in the defenses of Washington south of the Potomac, now rendered useless there, as well as from new recruits answering to the many earnest appeals to the "loyal North" to rally to the "Standard of the Union" and the defense of the invaded "loyal State," as well as of the National Capital. It was not probable, therefore, that his army should decrease from causes similar to those that were diminishing ours. His chief of staff, who subsequently occupied the same relation to Meade, in his testimony (Con. Rep.,428), says that on the 10th of June, when Hooker was yet on the Rappahannock, "the First corps had 11,350; Second corps, 11,361; Third corps, 11,898; Fifth corps, 10,136; Sixth corps, 15,408; Eleventh corps, 10,177; Twelfth corps, 7,925; making in all, 78,245."
This was exclusive of the cavalry, which Bates, in his history of the battle, concedes to have been 12,000, and of the reserve artillery, which General Hunt, in his testimony, says constituted one-third of the artillery of the army. Butterfield, the chief-of-staff, in reply to the question: "Had there been any considerable change in the army between the 10th of June and the time the battle of Gettysburg was fought?" says: "A portion of the Pennsylvania Reserves, some 4,000 or 5,000, had been added to the Fifth corps; General Stannard's Vermont brigade had been added to the First corps, but were to go out of service very shortly, (it was, however, at Gettysburg); General Lockwood, with the Maryland brigade, of about 2,500 men, had joined the Twelfth corps. I have a memorandum among my papers at Lookout Valley, which will show all the additions made to Army of the Potomac. I do not remember the exact figures."
On pages 417-8, he says: "General Hooker had had in mind, as a part of his operations, to use the garrison at Harper's Ferry, which consisted of .10,000 or 11,000 men under General French. General Hooker's intention had been to take that garrison, with General Slocum's corps (the Twelfth), near Knoxville, the two making about 25,000 men, throw them rapidly in rear of
General Lee," &c.
It does not appear whether Lockwood had then joined; but it increased from 7,925 will be seen that the Twelfth corps had been increased to about 12;000 even if Lockwood had then joined, without counting his brigade which was an increase of 4,000. The other corps must also have increased, and accordingly we find Hooker telegraphing to Halleck on the 27th of June, as follows, (Con. Rep., 291): "I would respectfully state that, including the portions of General Heintzeilman's command and Schenck's now with me, my whole force of enlisted men for duty will, not exceed 105,000." He is then protesting that too much must not be expected of him, and of course was not disposed to overstate his force. A force of 105,000 must have had at least 5,000 officers, which would make the whole 110,000, and this was exclusive of French's command, as shown by Colonel Taylor. There is no reason to presume that this force decreased as Meade approached Gettysburg after he assumed command, for he was probably joined by other troops, and there are very cogent reasons for believing that he had between 90,000 and 100,000 men, perhaps fully the latter number, on the field of Gettysburg, exclusive of his cavalry.
The absurd estimate of Professor Bates that the 105,000 reported by Hooker had been reduced to only 72,000 between the 27th of June and the 2nd of July, if true, would furnish a curious commentary on the "loyalty" and patriotism of the North, and on the morale of the soldiers who had rallied to the "Standard of the Union" in order to "save the life of the nation." Equally as preposterous is the statement of Doubleday that there were only 14,000 men on the Federal side on the 1st of July to oppose 60,000 on our side.
We know that we got as many as 6,000 prisoners, including the wounded left on the field and in the hospitals in Gettysburg from the First and Eleventh corps, and there must have been a loss of as many more in killed and wounded; in fact, Bates puts the loss in those two corps at about 10,000. Butterfield says that on the 4th their commanders reported, respectively, in the First corps, 5,000, and in the Eleventh, 5,500 left after all the fighting of the 2nd and 3rd, which does not accord, by any means, with Doubleday's statement.
It is a little strange that Northern writers grope in the dark, and resort to conjecture to ascertain the strength of Meade's army at Gettysburg, when the official returns on file in the Adjutant General's office should settle the question. They always persist in putting our force far beyond that shown by any official returns of ours, and the Federal force greatly under that shown by their own returns. This applies to all the battles.
The assumption that the Confederate Government, with at best only a population of 5,000,000 of whites to draw from when it was hard pressed on all sides, and a large portion of its population beyond its reach, could furnish more troops for the invasion of Pennsylvania than the Federal Government, with a population of 20,000,000 to draw from, besides its foreign recruits, could furnish to defend the soil of the "loyal North" and the national capital, and that, while the soil of Pennsylvania resounded with the tread of the "rebel horde," "the defenders of the Union" were availing themselves of the expiration of their terms of service to go home, and otherwise abandoning the standard to which they had rallied with "patriotic ardor," furnishes food for curious reflection.
I will now come to a consideration of the points, to notice which is the main object of this paper.
General Fitz. Lee, after paying a very just tribute to the memory of General Ewell, says, in
reference to the first day's fight:
"I believe a little more marching, perhaps a little more fighting, would have given us the coveted
position, and that in such an event the battle of Gettysburg would have had another name, and
possibly another result--who knows?"
Colonel Allan says:
"The Confederates would probably have been successful--first, had Ewell and Hill pushed
Howard's broken troops over the top of Cemetery Hill on the first day."
He then assigns four other conditions that would have given us success.
Colonel Taylor, in his memorandum, makes the same point as to Ewell's conduct, but it is more
fully set forth in the paper from the Philadelphia Times, as follows:
"General Lee witnessed the, flight of the Federals through Gettysburg and up the hills beyond. He
then directed me to go to General Ewell and say to him that from the position he occupied he
could see the enemy retreating over those hills, without organization, and in great confusion; that
it was only necessary to press 'those people' in order to secure possession of the heights, and that,
if possible, he wished him to do this. In obedience to these instructions, I proceeded immediately
to General Ewell and delivered the order of General Lee; and after receiving from him some
message for the Commanding-General in regard to the prisoners captured, returned to the latter
and reported that his order had been delivered. General Ewell did not express any objection or
indicate the existence of any impediment to the execution of the order conveyed to him, but left
the impression upon my mind that it would be executed. In the exercise of that discretion,
however, which General Lee was accustomed to accord his lieutenants, and probably because of
an undue regard for his admonition, given early in the day, not to precipitate a general
engagement, General Ewell deemed it unwise to make the pursuit. The troops were not moved
forward, and the enemy proceeded to occupy and fortify the position which it was designed that
General Ewell should seize. Major-General Edward Johnson, whose division reached the field
after the engagement and formed on the left of Early, in a conversation had with me since the war
about this circumstance, in which I sought an explanation of our inaction at the time, assured me
that there was no hindrance to his moving forward, but that, after getting his command in line of
battle, and before it became seriously engaged or had advanced any great distance, for some
unexplained reason he had orders to halt. This was after General Lee's message was delivered to
The language quoted from all three of the officers named conveys a very serious imputation upon General Ewell--if not by direct imputation, at least by necessary inference. It implies that he was inactive when he should have pressed on, and that he was therefore, remiss in the discharge of his duty. Colonel Allan's language would make this implication equally applicable to Gen. Hill, and, in fact, to General Lee--for, as shown by the statements of Colonel Taylor and General Heth, he was on the field in full time to direct all the movements looking to a pursuit and the realization of the legitimate fruits of the success that had been gained. In reality there is no earthly reason why the failure to seize Cemetery Hill that afternoon should rest exclusively on Ewell's shoulders. Colonel Allan's criticism, therefore, to that extent, is more impartial and judicious than that of the others; but it is to be remarked that neither of these gentlemen give a solitary "reason for the faith that is in them" that Gen. Ewell, by going on, could have seized Cemetery Hill, or that the seizure of that hill on the afternoon of the 1st would have been of material advantage to us. All that is assumed.
Without controverting any fact stated by Colonel Taylor in his own knowledge (the other gentlemen state no facts in this connection), I propose to show that they are all under a misapprehension as to the real facts of the case, and that all of their conjectures and speculations in regard to the probable result of a further effort on our, part on the afternoon of the 1st have no
basis to rest on.
In order to get at what are called the "bottom facts' affecting the question in hand, I will give a detailed account of what came under my personal observation on that day, and my own part therein.
It is only necessary to refer to the well-known facts that the advance of Heth's division on the road from Cashtown, supported by Pender's, had brought on the engagement, and that Rodes, who had camped at Heidelberg the night before, and was on his way to Cashtown, came down on the road from Mummasburgh about 2 o'clock P. M., and became engaged on Heth's left. I arrived about an hour after Rodes got up. I had marched from about three miles from Heidlersburg in the direction of York, a distance of fully fourteen miles, I think, and perhaps more. Of course, as I was moving by flank, it required a little time to get my division in line, but the formation was as rapid as possible. The enemy was then holding his line on the north of the town firmly, and his right was pressing back Rodes' left brigade. I had not seen Ewell or Rodes since the night before, and had, on my march, merely received directions from Ewell, in a note sent by courier, to move towards Gettysburg, as Hill was advancing on that place. Without waiting to communicate with Rodes or Ewell, as soon as the division was formed in line the advance was made with three brigades-Gordon's, Hays', and Hoke's-the latter commanded by Colonel Avery; Smith's brigade being posted near the York road to protect our trains and flank from some cavalry reported to be on it. Gordon first struck Barlow's division, and drove it back in great disorder. Hays and Avery then advanced beyond Gordon's left, and struck another line, retired back from the first, and routed that, driving it through the town. Hays' alone entered the town, Avery going into open ground, or rather a field, on the left of the town. Gordon's ammunition had been nearly exhausted, and he had stopped to refill his cartridge-boxes. The movements of my brigades had been very prompt and rapid, and brought them in the rear and flank of the force confronting Rodes. That force then commenced falling back, and the rout soon became general. The troops from Rodes' front moved to our right of the town, followed by his division, and I soon saw the Federal troops from Seminary Hill coming back also. I sent for Smith's brigade, and for my artillery also; but Smith did not come, and I sent a second time. Before the artillery came to me, the Federal troops passing to the right of the town towards Cemetery Hill, had got out of reach. Elated with the success, I rode into the town, past the prisoners streaming to the rear with scarcely any guard, and found Hays forming line along a street on the left of the town. The enemy had begun firing with artillery from Cemetery Hill as soon as my line was formed, and still continued it. It was very Apparent that a force was there which had not participated in the fight below, and sharpshooters were firing from the part of the town nearest the hill, and from the foot of the latter. As soon as I saw that Hays had formed his line and Avery had got his men under cover behind a low ridge in the field, I rode to find Ewell and Rodes, or either, to urge that we should advance at once upon the hill in our front, before the enemy could reform. I found some of Rodes' brigade in the west part of the town just forming line, but did not find him.
I think all of his brigades had not come up. I rode a little out of town on that side, on the Cashtown road, to look at the position from that point of view, and see if I could find Ewell or Rodes. I met here with a staff officer of Pender's division, who had ridden to the town after the enemy had been driven from it, and requested him to go and tell General Hill that if he would send forward a division, we could take that hill. None of Hill's troops had advanced beyond Seminary Ridge. In a very short time Colonel Smead, of Ewell's staff, came to me and informed me that Ewell had sent him to tell me that Johnson was coming up, and to ask me where I thought he ought to be put. The enemy just about this time commenced a furious fire from his artillery all around. While Colonel Smead and myself were having a hurried conversation about the subject of his message, with the shells bursting around us, the aide of General Smith came to me in a gallop and under great excitement, and told me that General Smith said the enemy was advancing on the York road with infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and he could not hold him back. General Smith had not obeyed my order when I sent for him by reason of the report of an advance on that road. I had no faith in the report myself, but knowing the effect such a report must have on the men in Gettysburg and to the right and left of if, as, if true, it would bring the enemy in their rear, I immediately ordered one of my staff officers to go and tell Gordon to take his brigade out on the York road and take command of Smith's also, and stop that "stampeding."
All this had taken place in a very few moments, and in the meantime I had designated to Colonel Smead Culp's Hill, the wooded hill east of the town and adjoining Cemetery Hill, as the position Johnson should take when he got up, as it evidently commanded the enemy's position. I very quickly received another message from General Ewell, stating that he wished to see me in the town. I rode to him at once, and he again informed me that Johnson was coming on and would soon be up, and he repeated the question as to which I thought the best position for Johnson's division. I pointed out to him Culp's Hill as the proper position for Johnson, and I urged the propriety of pushing on and capturing Cemetery Hill. He then asked me to ride with him up the
street towards the hill to reconnoiter; but, as we were proceeding that way, we were stopped by a fire from the enemy's sharpshooters in that end of the town. General Ewell was not disposed to make the advance until Johnson arrived, because Rodes' division, had sustained a very heavy loss--2,500, as Rodes states--and only two of my brigades were available. Reports were being constantly received of the enemy's advance in force on the York road, and it was necessary to keep my two brigades in that direction to prevent a panic and protect our flank and rear, if there should be any truth in the reports. That was by no means improbable, as we knew Stuart had a fight at or near Hanover the day before, and Colonel White, who moved on the York road on the march back, had reported to me that a force of the enemy's infantry and cavalry had been on that road. Ewell, Rodes, and myself, while waiting for Johnson's arrival, rode out of the town a short distance to look out on the York road, which was visible for nearly or quite two miles, to see if we could discover any indications of the enemy's advance. I placed no confidence in the rumor, but Rodes was inclined to believe it, while Ewell seemed at a loss as to what opinion to form, as the reports came mainly from straggling cavalrymen, some of whom I think were waifs from the battle-field of Hanover.
While we were discussing the matter, a line of skirmishers was seen away out on our right of the York road, as we stood apparently advancing towards us, when Rodes exclaimed: "There they come now!" To this I replied in somewhat emphatic language, that it could not be the enemy; that Gordon was out there; and if the enemy was advancing he would certainly be firing on him. It must be recollected that it was very hard to distinguish between the blue and the gray at a distance, as both looked dark. To solve the doubt, Lieutenant T. T. Turner, of Ewell's staff, and Robert D. Early, of mine, were sent to ascertain the fact. It turned out that the skirmishers were some General Smith had sent out, which Gordon was having moved back to post differently. All this consumed time, and Johnson had not yet arrived
When the enemy was driven through the town it was about 4 P.M., and it was now getting towards sunset. I rode to see about my two brigades confronting the enemy, as it was very apparent he was determined to hold the position on Cemetery Hill; in fact, that purpose was manifest from the beginning. I was soon sent for by General Ewell, and on reaching him I found General Lee with him and Rodes in the back porch of a small house north of the town, near the road from Carlisle, when a conference took place, of which I will speak before I am done.
It was now after sunset, and Johnson had arrived and his division was halted near the College, in the northwest of the town adjacent to the Mummasburgh road. It is probable that all of Johnson's brigades were not up, and that some of his men were then moving into position. Of that, however, I have no certain knowledge. In this position he was immediately in rear of Rodes'
line, a half mile or more distant from it, and the town, as well as Rodes' and my lines, were between him and the enemy. He could not, therefore, have been advancing upon the enemy when halted at this point, and he did not get on my left until after dark. It is highly probable he was awaiting the result of the conference and the instructions General Lee should give us, or he may have been halted while Lieutenants Turner and Early were ascertaining if the skirmishers we had seen were the enemy's. Johnson was not present at the conference, and I know that when that took place all idea of advancing to the attack of Cemetery Hill that night had been abandoned, for it was apparent to all that the time for that had passed.
I have stated all these facts to show the doubts and difficulties we had to deal with. I was exceedingly anxious for the advance against the heights, and would have made it with my own division, immediately after the enemy was driven through the town, if Smith had come to me with his brigade when sent for, as soon as Gordon's ammunition was replenished. General Smith had been posted so as to protect our left flank, and receiving information, which he credited, that the enemy was advancing on that flank, in the exercise of a discretion necessarily entrusted to him, he did not think it prudent to withdraw, for which he was not censurable. My other two brigades were greatly encumbered with prisoners at the close of the fight, and by the loss already sustained, which was 208, their joint numbers had been reduced below 2,550. Gordon's brigade had sustained a loss of 378, and its strength, therefore, was below 1,700. I here make no allowance for loss in marching in either brigade since we crossed the Potomac. Gordon, in his report, says he went into action with about 1,200 men--one regiment being detached to support the artillery. Subsequent developments have satisfied me that the attack, if made, though Rodes may have joined in it, would probably have met with a repulse.
It turns out that Steinwehr's division had been left on Cemetery Hill as a reserve, with several batteries of artillery, and Doubleday, who was not at all disposed to exaggerate the forces on his side, says that division numbered 3,000 or 4,000. We may, therefore, assume that it was fully 4,000 strong.
Bates, the State historian of Pennsylvania, says:
"When Howard came up he left one division under Gen. Alex. von Steinwehr upon this hill, with directions to have it posted most advantageously to hold the position, and to cover retiring troops. Around the base of this hill were low stone walls, tier above tier, extending from the Taneytown road around to the westerly extremity of Wolf's Hill. These afforded excellent protection to infantry, and behind which the soldiers, weary with the long march and covered with dust, threw themselves for rest. * * Von Steinwehr was an accomplished soldier, having been thoroughly schooled in the practice of the Prussian army. His military eye was delighted with this position, and thither he drew his heavy' pieces, and planted them at the utmost verge towards the town. * * * * * * * * * *
There was no time to build a fort, for which the ground was admirably adapted. He accordingly threw up lunettes around each gun. These were not mere heaps of stubble and turf, but solid
works of such height and thickness as to defy the most powerful bolts which the enemy could
throw against them, with smooth and perfectly level platforms, on which the guns could be
This was done while the fighting was going on north and west of the town, and Steinwehr, therefore, stood firm, and furnished a rallying point for the troops driven from and across the plains below. His position faced the line occupied by Rodes and myself and we would have had to storm after we advanced into the town, it in order to carry the heights. While the enemy's troops that had been engaged were considerably demoralized, yet a number of them rallied behind Steinwehr's division. Hancock, who had been sent by Meade to take command at Gettysburg, in his testimony, says: "I found that, practically, the fight was then over. The rear of our column, with the enemy in pursuit, was then coming through the town of Gettysburg." (Con. Rep., 406.)
He is here speaking of the time of his arrival, and at 5:25 P. M. he sent the following dispatch to
"When I arrived here an hour since, I found that our troops had given up the front of Gettysburg,
and the town. We have now taken up a position in the Cemetery, and cannot well be taken; it is a
position, however, easily turned. Slocum is now coming on the ground, and is taking a position
on the right, which will protect the right. But we have as yet no troops on the left, the Third
corps not having yet reported; but I suppose that it is marching up. If so, his flank will in a degree
protect our left flank." (Con. Rep., 357.)
General Sickles, commanding the Third corps, in his testimony, says:
"I, therefore, moved to Gettysburg on my own responsibility. I made a forced march, and arrived
there about the time General Howard had taken position on Cemetery Hill. I found his troops
well posted in a secure position on the ridge." (Con. Rep., 297.)
Warren, in his testimony, speaking of his arrival a very short time after Hancock, says:
"General Howard was then on Cemetery Ridge with our division. General Buford's cavalry was
all in line of battle between our position there and the enemy. Our cavalry presented a very
handsome front, and, I think, probably checked the advance of the enemy. General Hancock
made a great deal of personal effort to get our troops into position, and I think his personal
appearance there did a great deal towards restoring order." (Con. Rep., 377.)
Buford confronted Hill's right, and had two brigades, containing seven regiments.
General Long, in his letter to me, says he was directed by Gen. Lee very soon after the close of the action to reconnoiter the position, and he adds: "I found Cemetery Hill occupied by a considerable force--a force strongly posted behind a stone fence near its crest, and the rest on the reverse slope. In my opinion, an attack at that time, with the troops then at hand, would have been hazardous and of very doubtful success."
It was not, therefore, a mere question of a little more marching, nor of a little more fighting either, which was involved. If we had made an assault on Cemetery Hill and occupied it, it would have involved a bloody struggle, and then to find Buford to check our further progress, and the Twelfth corps, under Slocum, and the Third, under Sickles, coming on the ground. What might have been the result of that conjuncture may well be imagined. Slocum and Sickles were both up before Johnson arrived, and at least one of Slocum's divisions had taken position immediately in rear of Culp's Hill, which it was designed Johnson should take. Before Johnson arrived all thought of moving on Cemetery Hill that afternoon had been abandoned, as it was then evident that the enemy had rallied from the dismay of his defeat.
The most that the capture of Cemetery Hill on that day could have accomplished would have been to throw the enemy back on the line of Pipe creek, which Meade had already selected as the position for receiving our attack, for he would not have attacked us at Cemetery Hill. Moreover, it does not appear that it possessed any peculiar strength as approached from his side, and we could not have awaited him there for any length of time, for there were no supplies for our army in that section. Hence, the position would have been of no value to us as a stronghold. There is nothing, therefore, in the idea that we lost a great opportunity by not going on the afternoon of the 1st.
But, if we did lose such an opportunity, why is it that the entire responsibility for its loss should rest on Ewell? Anderson's division of Hill's corps came up about the close of the fight, or shortly thereafter, and the most practicable route for moving on Cemetery Hill was on our right of the town. The question of the propriety of the advance was submitted to Ewell's judgment, and he did not think it prudent to make the attempt until the arrival of Johnson; and I must confess that, though my opinion at the time was different, subsequent developments have satisfied me that his decision was right. Johnson did not arrive in time to make the assault with a prospect of success, and hence it was not made after his arrival. There is, then, no good reason for imputing to Ewell an intentional disregard of the wishes or instructions of General Lee.
Colonel Taylor has either wholly misapprehended General Johnson, or the latter was laboring under some very great mistake, when they had the conversation after the war on the subject. Johnson did not get into line of battle on my left until after dark; and if he had been in line of battle before that time, it was when he was halted near the College before moving to the left. It surely could not have been the intention for him to march from that point over Rodes and myself to attack the enemy on Cemetery Hill. If he had then, or after dark, been ordered to advance upon either hill for the purpose of attacking, Rodes and myself would have been informed of the fact, in order that we might cooperate; and I am very sure I received no such information.
But let us see what General Lee and General Ewell say on the subject of the instructions for capturing the enemy's position that afternoon.
In his report General Lee says:
"Without information as to its proximity (Meade's main force), be the strong position which the enemy had assumed could not attacked without danger of exposing the four divisions present, already weakened by a long and bloody struggle, to overwhelming numbers of fresh troops.
"General Ewell was therefore instructed to carry the hill occupied by the enemy if he found it
practicable, but to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army,
which were ordered to hasten toward. He decided to await Johnson's division, which had
marched from Carlisle by the road west of the mountains, to guard the trains of his corps, and
consequently did not reach Gettysburg until a late hour. In the meantime the enemy occupied the
point which General Ewell designed to seize, but in what force could not be ascertained, owing to
It is now known that that force was the Twelfth corps.
Here is General Ewell's explanation of the whole matter as given in his report:
"The enemy had fallen back to a commanding position known as Cemetery Hill, south of Gettysburg, and quickly showed a formidable front there. On entering the town I received a message from the Commanding-General to attack the hill, if I could do so to advantage. I could not bring artillery to bear on it; all the troops with me were jaded by twelve hours' marching and fighting, and I was notified that General Johnson was close to the town with his division, the only one of my corps that had not been engaged, Anderson's division of the Third corps having been halted to let them pass. Cemetery Hill was not assailable from the town, and I determined, with Johnson's division, to take possession of a wooded hill to my left, on a line with and commanding Cemetery Hill. Before Johnson got up, the enemy was reported moving to our left flank--our extreme left, and I could see what seemed to be his skirmishers in that direction. Before this report could be investigated by Lieutenants T. T. Turner, of my staff, and Robert Early, sent to investigate it, and Johnson placed in position, the night was far advanced.
"I received orders soon after dark to draw my corps to the right in case it could not be used to advantage where it was; that the Commanding-General thought from the nature of the ground that the position for attack was a favorable one on that side. I represented to the Commanding-General that the hill above referred to was unoccupied by the enemy at dark, as reported by Lieutenants Turner and Early, who had gone upon it, and that it commanded their position and made it untenable, so far as I could judge.
"He decided to let me remain, and on my return to my headquarters, after 12 o'clock at night, Isent orders to Johnson, by Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp T. T. Turner, to take possession of this hill, if he had not already done so. General Johnson stated in reply to that order that, after forming his line of battle this side of the wooded bill in question, he had sent a reconnoitering party to the hill with orders to report as to the position of the enemy in reference to it. This party on nearing the summit was met by a superior force of the enemy, which succeeded in capturing a portion of the reconnoitering party,, the rest of it making its escape. During this conversation with General Johnson a man arrived, bringing a dispatch dated at midnight, and taken from a Federal courier making his way from General Sykes to General Slocum, in which the former stated that his corps was then halted four miles from Gettysburg, and would resume its march at 4 A. M. Lieutenant Turner brought this dispatch to my headquarters, and stated that General Johnson would refrain from attacking the position until I had received notice that the enemy was in possession of the hill, and had sent him further orders.
"Day was now breaking, and it was too late for any change of place (plans?) Meantime orders
had come from the General Commanding for me to delay my attack until I heard Longstreet's
guns open fire on the right. Lieutenant Turner at once returned to General Johnson and delivered
these instructions, directing him to be ready to attack, Early being already in line on the left and
Rodes on the right of the main street of the town, Rodes' right extending out on the Fairfield
This is a very full and frank statement of the orders received and of the reasons that influenced General Ewell and surely his character and services were such as to demand for his own account, intended for the eye of the Commanding-General himself, some consideration in forming a correct estimate of the propriety of his course and the probabilities of capturing Cemetery Hill.
But the gentlemen who have undertaken to censure at least by implication what one of them styles "our inaction at that time," have entirely overlooked Ewell's statements, and have followed in the rut of other writers who have given their crude views before Ewell's report was published.
It is very possible that General Johnson may have supposed that he was advancing to the attack of the enemy when he was halted near the College; or, it may be, and probably was the fact, that Ewell had ordered him to take possession of Culp's Hill, then supposed to be unoccupied, when he ordered him to the position he reached after dark; and that, when he received the order to draw his corps to the right, he countermanded the order to take possession of the hill, until General Lee had heard the representation that induced him to change his purpose in that respect; or, it may be, that Johnson was about to attack on the morning of the 2nd, when the message was sent him that all movements were to be suspended until Longstreet's guns were heard. In some one of these ways General Johnson fell into his mistake, for he was incapable of a misrepresentation, and no one can suspect for a moment that Colonel Taylor has intentionally misstated the conversation. There was simply a misconception somewhere,
The reference of Colonel Taylor to this conversation with Gen. Johnson is unfortunate, because
both Ewell and Johnson are now dead, and of course their testimony is closed. General Johnson
did not expect his statement to be incorporated into the history of that great battle, and therefore
was not as explicit as he would have been had he anticipated the use to be made of that statement.
We all know how liable all of us are to make mistakes and oversights in speaking casually of past
events. This is peculiarly the case with many in recalling the events of the late war. In response
to an enquiry from myself, I have received the following note from the gallant soldier who
commanded the Stonewall brigade, in Johnson's division, at Gettysburg:
Newbern, VA., October 13, 1877.
I do not recollect where Johnson's division camped the night of 30th June, but it must have been some twelve or fifteen miles from Gettysburg. We arrived on the ground where Rodes and Gordon had fought late in the evening, after all the troops had gone. We moved to the left very late in the evening, and did not get into position until after dark. I recollect very distinctly that it was dark before we got to the position where we bivouacked for the night. It seems to me we reached the field sooner than sun-set, but not earlier than an hour before sun-set.
Yours very truly,
(Signed) J. A. Walker.
This leaves no doubt that a great mistake has been made, either by General Johnson in the conversation with Colonel Taylor, or by the latter in his recollection of it. The distance of Johnson's march was greater than the highest figure General Walker gives. General Longstreet says that his troops were greatly delayed on the 1st by Johnson's division and the trains following it, which came into the road from Shippensburg. Anderson preceded Johnson and halted, somewhere in rear of Hill's line, for him to pass. Johnson had camped the night before somewhere west of South Mountain and north of the Chambersburg road to Gettysburg.
On the morning of the 1st Ewell was moving with his troops towards Cashtown, in accordance with the orders of General Lee, when he received a note from Hill, giving the information that he was moving on Gettysburg with the expectation of encountering the enemy, and asking Ewell's co-operation. Hill was Ewell's junior, but, without hesitation, the latter promptly responded to the call, and sent information of his movement to General Lee, who in return informed him that, if the enemy's force was found to be very large, he did not wish a general engagement brought on until the rest of the army came up. Ewell found Hill already
engaged, and went at once to his assistance. The arrival of Ewell's divisions was timely, and converted what threatened to be a reverse into a brilliant success; and the imputation on him, that he did not carry out the Commanding-General's instructions, when it was in his power to do so, or did not do all that it was a good soldier's duty to do to insure complete success, is most inconsiderate, if not harsh.
I trust I will not be considered discourteous to the gallant comrade and friend of Stuart, whose bright sabre ever flashed in the very front of battle by the side of his chivalrous leader, when the ringing voice of the latter summoned him to action, and as to whom there was no need of his own assertion to give assurance that he was always one "to count on," if I remind him that he is not, perhaps, the very best judge of how much marching and fighting in one day an infantry command is capable, and that his remark is a rather harsh criticism on the footmen who had preceded the cavalry to the banks of the Susquehanna.
Nor to the very accomplished and efficient chief of ordnance of the Second corps, to whose worth and services I have testified officially more than once, if I tell him that he has not shown on this occasion his usual research and discrimination, by ascertaining, and weighing all the facts before pronouncing his judgment.
Nor to the very worthy and competent Adjutant-General of the Army of Northern Virginia, who justly possessed the confidence of its commander and the esteem of the whole army, if I suggest to him that it would have been more discreet for him to have confined himself in his account of the battle of Gettysburg to a narrative of the facts and events coming within his knowledge, and not essayed a criticism on the conduct of those engaged in the battle. His book will prove a most valuable contribution to the material for a correct history of the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia--marred, however, to the extent he has departed from the rule his position demanded of him to pursue--that is, to stand aloof from the disputed questions, and give an impartial narrative of facts and events of which necessarily he had fuller and more exact knowledge than most others, leaving the future historian to form his own opinions and conclusions from the facts given, without being forestalled by a judgment, which by some might be regarded as ex cathedra.
General Ewell had been the victim to some extent of a miscarriage somewhere in the sending or delivery of an important order at the first battle of Manassas, and there had been some annoying remarks in some papers in the extreme South about the matter. He was a soldier possessed of "that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound," and he was very keenly sensitive in regard to the imputations then cast on him. He had, as I know, the means of vindicating himself thoroughly from the charge of either disobeying, disregarding, or neglecting any order sent him in any way on that occasion, but the unselfishness of his character induced him to trust rather to time for his vindication than to incur the risk of a discussion that might in the slightest degree injure the cause in which he was enlisted.
His subsequent career proved how ready and prompt he was to respond to all calls on his endurance or his courage. His military record for the year 1862 is so intimately identified with that of Stonewall Jackson that one cannot exist without the other.
The flight and pursuit of Banks down the Valley, Cross Keys, Port Republic, Cold Harbor, Slaughter's Mountain, and that most wonderful dash to Pope's rear in August, 1862, would all be shorn of half their proportions if Ewell's name was blotted from the record. Jackson never made a demand upon his energy, courage, or skill that was not promptly honored; and he was maimed for life in earnestly seconding his immortal leader in that most brilliant of all his achievements, the bewildering display of grand tactics, between the armies of Pope and McClellan, on the plains of Manassas in the last days of August, 1862.
The green turf now covers all that was mortal of Jackson's chief lieutenant. His voice is silent, and his pen is still. In departing he has left behind him no sentence or word to wither a solitary leaf of the laurels won by any of his comrades, or to cause a feather in the cap of one of them to moult, and I trust I will be pardoned for putting on record my protest against the injustice done the memory of as true a soldier as ever drew his sword in defense of a righteous cause.
I freely exempt the gentlemen named from all intentional injustice, and from all imputation of unkind motives in giving expression to their views. It is this very fact that renders it necessary to vindicate General Ewell against the implications and inferences to be deduced from their utterances.
I now proceed to consider the question in its general aspect. The idea upon which all the criticisms upon the failure to take Cemetery Hill on the afternoon of the 1st are based, is the assumption that the possession of that hill itself would have been of material advantage to us. We had already inflicted upon the enemy a very serious loss, and the probability is that, if we had
pursued, and his troops were so demoralized as to make no resistance at all, we would have inflicted no further damage on him, but merely have sent his flying corps further to the rear, to the cover of Meade's advancing columns.
It is not necessary for me to inform experienced soldiers that an infantry force in fighting trim cannot overtake a flying one; and it is well known that we had no cavalry up at that time, except a small regiment of Jenkins' cavalry and White's battalion which had been with me, and which I had to use in guarding the prisoners and the trains. What we wanted was not the possession of Cemetery or Culp's Hill merely, but a decisive victory and a crushing defeat of the enemy on the soil of Pennsylvania. The possession of either of those hills on that afternoon might have made that fight a complete one and a victory for us, but it would not have insured the kind of victory we wanted, for we would have had to seek the enemy elsewhere and fight him again.
If asked why it was that I was myself so anxious to go on, my reply is, that I knew nothing of the rest of Meade's army, but that it was moving north; that I took it for granted there was an object in fighting there; and that I regarded it my duty to fight the enemy when I met him, and continue to do so until the victory was complete, or the orders of my superiors arrested me. If I had known then all I know now, probably I would have had a different view.
Meade had selected Pipe Creek as the position for his army to receive our attack, and I presume it was a strong one, as it was selected by the Corps of Engineers under his Chief Engineer, Warren.
If we had seized the hills at Gettysburg, Meade would not have attacked us, but would have waited for us to attack him, as before stated; for that was his manifest policy. We would have had to reconnoiter his position before going into action, and before we could have got ready to attack him, our short stock of provisions would have been exhausted. We were compelled to get our provisions from the country we were in. Ewell's corps was pretty well supplied for a few days, my division best of all, for which the town of York is not yet done paying. We had pretty well gleaned the country through which Longstreet and Hill afterwards came, and they were not so well supplied. The country around Gettysburg for miles furnished no supplies of consequence, and the presence of Meade's army in the vicinity, with its superior cavalry force, would have rendered it impracticable to send out foraging parties. Moreover, the country people would have been stimulated to a resistance to our demands which we had not met with at first, though many of them fled with their herds and flocks before us across the Susquehanna. The probability, therefore, is that before we got ready to fight Meade in his position when found, our army would have been without the food necessary to sustain it, and we would have been compelled to retreat without fighting another battle. To sustain the horses and mules of the army alone, a very large amount of forage was necessary, and that part of the country did not afford it.
The failure, therefore, to seize the heights on the afternoon of the 1st, whoever may have been responsible for it, cannot be legitimately assigned as one of the causes of our failure at Gettysburg. That may have prevented the battle from taking place there, but if we had been compelled to retire from want of provisions without fighting, that would have equally been a failure of the campaign as a decisive one.
I may go further and say, that even a capture of those heights on the 2nd or 3rd of July would have been of no avail to us, unless we could have inflicted on the enemy a decisive and crushing defeat.
If we had merely been able to drive the enemy from the heights and occupy them ourselves, without being able to follow him up and destroy his army or materially cripple it, we would have had but a barren victory instead of a drawn battle, as I regarded it, or a repulse, as others style it. In that event, also, we would have had to retire for want of supplies, and the enemy could soon have recovered from the blow by another levy of troops.
The concentration of Meade's army at that point, after the success on our part on the 1st, coming up as it did in detail, did give us the opportunity of striking him a decisive blow, which we would not otherwise have obtained. When he was bringing up his corps to Cemetery Ridge, one at a time, to use a war phrase very common with correspondents and editors, "we had him just where we wanted him." General Lee saw and recognized at once the great opportunity furnished him, and determined to avail himself of it, by striking while Meade was hurrying up his troops and before all could arrive and be put in position. I believe all now agree, that the fullest success would have attended the effort if the blow had been struck in the morning or forenoon of the 2nd, as it should have been, and as was General Lee's purpose.
If there had before remained any doubt as to who was responsible for the failure to strike the blow at the proper time, the very clear and explicit statement by General Hood, which is a most valuable contribution to the history of the battle, would settle that doubt beyond dispute, I think.
General Hood's statement furnishes information not before given, in regard to the time of the arrival on the ground of Longstreet's troops, and renders it very certain that the orders for the attack to begin were given very early in the morning, if not the night before. It is to be remarked, that no member of General Lee's staff can tell when those orders were given, and what was their precise character. It is very manifest that they were given in person, and orally, as was often General Lee's practice.
The objection which General Hood made in regard to attacking up the Emmettsburg road, would not have existed in the morning or forenoon, because the Round Tops were not then occupied, and it was the delay in the attack that produced the difficulty he mentions.
The statement of General, then Colonel, Alexander, that the duty and responsibility of ordering Pickett's division to begin the charge on the 3rd was devolved on him by the corps commander, is one calculated to excite profound if not painful attention and interest.
I may add in connection with my previous remarks in regard to the want of decisive results from a mere capture of the heights of Gettysburg, that if we had gained them, and Meade had attacked us and been repulsed, or if we had moved to our right to threaten his communications and he had attacked us, and then been repulsed, such repulse would also have been barren of beneficial results, unless it had ensured the destruction or demoralization of his army. The same considerations apply to both cases.
I have never thought that our failure at Gettysburg was due to the absence of Stuart's cavalry, though I can well understand the perplexity and annoyance it caused General Lee before the enemy was found. He was found, however, without the aid of cavalry, and when found, though by accident, he furnished us the opportunity to strike him a fatal blow. When Hooker was crossing the Potomac at Edward'' Ferry, it was simply impossible for Stuart to cross that stream between that point and Harper's Ferry, as Hooker was keeping up his communications with that place, and the interval was narrow. Stuart's only alternatives, therefore, were to cross west of the Blue Ridge, at Shepherdstown or Williamsport, or east of Hooker's Crossing. He selected the latter, in accordance with a discretion given him; and it is doubtful whether the former would have enabled him to fulfill General Lee's expectations, as Hooker immediately threw one corps to Knoxville, on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, a short distance below Harper's Ferry, and three to Middletown, in the Catoctin Valley, while the passes of the South Mountain were seized and guarded, and Buford's division of cavalry moved on that flank. It is difficult, therefore, to perceive of what more avail in ascertaining and reporting the movements of the Federal army Stuart's cavalry could have been if it had moved on the west of South Mountain, than individual scouts employed for that purpose, while it is very certain that his movement on the other flank greatly perplexed and bewildered the Federal commanders, and compelled them to move slower. It is not improbable, however, that it would have been better for him to hurry on, and not meddle with the wagon-train he captured--but, then the temptation was so great to a poor Confederate.
I will now notice a statement Colonel Taylor has made in reference to the conference General Lee
had with Ewell, Rodes, and myself at the close of the 1st day of July. In his memorandum the
"Later General Lee rode over to General Ewell's front, and conferred as to the future movements.
He wanted to follow up the success gained; thought that with Johnson's division, then up, General
Ewell could go forward at dawn next day. Ewell, Early, and Rodes thought it best to await
Longstreet's arrival, and make the main attack on the enemy's left. This was determined on.
Longstreet was then about four miles off, with two of his divisions."
The statement about this conference in the paper from the Philadelphia Times is not entirely accurate; but I will not notice that specially, as I propose to give a full, detailed account of the conference itself.
The statement in reference to it contained in the memorandum is susceptible of the construction that General Lee wanted to go forward at dawn the next day, though Longstreet should not be up, and that Ewell, Rodes and myself opposed the proposition, and insisted that we should await Longstreet's arrival. Yet Gen. Lee has shown, again and again, especially in the extract from his report I have already given, that his purpose was to avoid a general engagement until his army was concentrated. Col. Taylor is under a serious misapprehension as to that conference, and as I am the only surviving person who was present at it, no one else being there but Generals Lee, Ewell, Rodes, and myself, I will state what occurred. I had ridden to see about the condition of Hays, and Hoke's brigades, which were in uncomfortable proximity to the enemy's position on Cemetery Hill, and had to keep under cover from his artillery fire, as well as the fire of his sharpshooters, and maintain a constant lookout, and while there I was sent for by General Ewell. On reaching him I found General Lee, himself and Rodes in the porch, or, rather, I should say arbor, attached to the house already mentioned. No one else was there, and at that time all idea of advancing that night against the heights beyond Gettysburg for the purpose of attack had been abandoned, as it was then after sunset. I was soon given to understand that Gen. Lee's purpose was to ascertain our condition, what we knew of the enemy and his position, and what we could probably do next day. It was evident from the first that it was his purpose to attack the enemy as early as possible next day--at daylight, if practicable. This was a proposition the propriety of which was so apparent that there was not the slightest discussion or difference of opinion upon it. It was a point taken for granted. After we had given General Lee all the information we possessed, addressing us conjointly, he asked: "Can't you, with your corps, attack on this flank at daylight to-morrow?" I was the first to speak, for I had examined more thoroughly and critically than the others the enemy's position east of Gettysburg, extending along Cemetery Hill and the adjacent heights to Culp's Hill, as my two brigades immediately confronted it, and it was peculiarly my duty to do so. Moreover, I had been in Gettysburg the week before, when there was no enemy there, and had noticed the general character of the surrounding country; and, while I was seeking that afternoon to have a further advance made, I had observed that on our right of the town (northwest of it) the ascent to the ridge was much easier and gentler than on the other side, as well as that the Round Tops commanded the whole position, though I did not then know their names.
The purport of what I said was, that the ground over which we would have to advance on our flank was very rugged and steep; that the enemy was then evidently concentrating and fortifying in our immediate front, and by morning would probably have the greater part of his force concentrated on that flank and the position strongly fortified, as ours were the only troops then confronting him in close proximity; that we could not move through the town in line of battle, and would therefore have to go on the left of the town right up against Cemetery Hill and the rugged hills on the left of it; and that the result of an attack there might be doubtful, but if successful it would inevitably be at very great loss. I then called General Lee's attention to the Round Tops, the outline of which we could see, though dusk was approaching, and suggested that those heights must evidently command the enemy's position and render it untenable; and I also called his attention to the more practicable nature of the ascents on that side of the town, adding the suggestion that the attack could be made on that side, and from our right flank, with better chances of success.
With these views both Ewell and Rodes coincided, and they submitted further considerations in the same direction. There was some conversation upon the several points suggested, when General Lee, being satisfied that it was not advisable to make the main assault from our flank, remarked, interrogatively: "Then perhaps I had better draw you around towards my right, as the line will be very long and thin if you remain here, and the enemy may come down and break through it?" This was very nearly the language he used, and I spoke at once in reply, for it was a conceded fact that the arrival of my division had decided the fortunes of the day, and I did not like the idea of giving up anything we had gained. My men, who had marched to the Susquehanna and returned without serious opposition, were very much elated with the success of the day, and I shared their feelings. I know what a damper it would be to their enthusiasm to be withdrawn from the position they had gained by fighting, as it might appear to them as if a reverse had occurred somewhere and we had not gained much of a victory after all. Moreover, there were some of my wounded not in a condition to be removed, and I did not like the idea of leaving those brave fellows to the mercy of the enemy; and there were a great many muskets stacked in the streets of Gettysburg which I did not want to lose. So I replied at once to General Lee, and assured him that he need not fear that the enemy would break through our line, and that we could repulse any force he could send against us. The fact was, that on that part of the line it was more difficult for the enemy to come down from the heights to attack us than for us to ascend them to attack him, as difficult as the latter would have been.
Ewell and Rodes again argued with me, and urged views of their own, the fact being that I merely spoke first. I do not recollect that during all this time Longstreet's name or corps was mentioned. If it was, it was only on the assumption that he would certainly be up during the night, of which neither of us doubted. We knew that Longstreet had been at Chambersburg when Gen. Lee had sent the order to Ewell at Carlisle for the concentration of the army, and that Ewell had then sent it to me at York, with the information that the Federal army had crossed the Potomac and was moving north. York is thirty-two miles from Gettysburg by the direct route, the McAdamized road, while I believe Chambersburg is only twenty-five, certainly not more than thirty from the same place. After getting my orders by the circuitous route mentioned, I had moved from York, by the way of Heidlersburg, several miles further than by the direct route, and Rodes had come from Carlisle, and we had both reached Gettysburg in time to participate in the first day's fight, which closed about 4 P. M. We, therefore, had no thought but that Longstreet would be up in time to begin the battle at dawn next morning; and that question did not enter at all into the considerations that governed us in our views. The first mention of Longstreet's name in connection with the attack was in this wise: When General Lee had heard our views, both in regard to attacking from our flank and our being removed towards the right, he said, in these very words, which are indelibly impressed on my memory: "Well, if I attack from my right, Longstreet will have to make the attack;" and after a moment's pause, during which he field his head down in deep thought, he raised it and said: "Longstreet is a very good fighter when he gets in position and gets everything ready, but he is so slow." The emphasis was just as I have given it, and the words seemed to come from General Lee with pain. I give this expression by General Lee now with great hesitation. I have mentioned it to personal friends often, but have had very great doubts about giving publicity to it, for reasons that will readily occur. But occurrences have taken place and disclosures made which now justify, in my estimation, its publication, if they do not imperatively demand it.*(* The appearance in the Philadelphia Weekly Times of General Longstreet's paper on Gettysburg has removed the last scruple on this point.) As Colonel Taylor has given a version of the conference which is not correct, and refers to Longstreet's name in a relation which it did not bear to that conference, I think the present the proper time for stating all that transpired on that occasion.
Ewell, Rodes, and myself all knew that Longstreet did not move or manoeuvre with the celerity that characterized Jackson, and had been transmitted, in a great measure, to the officers and troops who had served under him, and, therefore, we were not surprised to learn that Longstreet was rather slow in his movements; but I was a little startled to hear it from General Lee, with the emphasis he gave the assertion, both in his manner and the intonation of his voice, as well as the time of making it. We knew, however, that Longstreet had a corps of very fine fighting men, equal to any in the army, and we had no doubt that he would be up in time to make the attack, and that it would certainly be made early enough to ensure the victory, for of the latter we did not permit ourselves to doubt for a moment.
The part we proposed to ourselves to perform in achieving that was to follow up the success that might be gained on the victory right, and pursue and destroy the enemy's forces when they had been thrown in disorder by the capture of the commanding positions on their left. We did not, therefore, by any means, propose to play the part of passive spectators.
The remark of General Lee which I have given, demonstrates the strong conviction he had of the necessity of an attack at a very early hour in the morning, and of promptness and celerity in making it; and it has a very great significance in the light of subsequent results.
We were then given to understand that the attack should begin from our right at daylight in the morning, or as soon thereafter as practicable, and that a diversion should be made on our flank to favor it, with the direction to make that diversion a real attack on discovering any disorder or symptoms of giving way on the enemy's part--which latter is what is meant by a favorable opportunity.
This is substantially a correct narrative of what was said and concluded upon at the conference referred to, and it will be seen that Colonel Taylor is under a serious misapprehension in regard to it.
I do not wish it to be understood, by any means, that I claim for myself, or for Ewell, Rodes, and myself conjointly, the origination of the plan that was adopted for the battle, or that Gen. Lee consulted us for the purpose of being governed by our views. He did not regard his officers as mere machines to execute his will, but he treated them as thinking beings, capable of reasoning, and even aiding him by their suggestions about matters with which they were familiar, in arriving at his conclusions. He had likewise a profound knowledge of human nature, and it was his custom to talk freely to officers about movements they were to make, get their views about the proper mode of making them, in order to ascertain whether they could be relied upon for the work in hand, adopt any judicious views they might suggest, and leave them under the impression that they were carrying out plans in the formation of which they had some part; for he knew that one of the very first elements of success was a confidence on the part of an officer entrusted with a movement in its feasibility, and therefore sought to enlist all his energies in the task entrusted to him by a little humoring of his self-love.
He sought information from us on this occasion about the matters mentioned because he thought we possessed it, and he heard with attention our suggestions, because he expected us to perform an important part in the ensuing operations. From the very nature of things, he could not rely on his own observation to find out everything necessary to enable him to discharge the functions of Commander-in-Chief, and had very often to rely on the eyes and ears of others.
When he left us on this occasion, I was so firmly impressed with the conviction that the battle was to open at daylight next morning that I rode into Gettysburg, and, as soon as it was dark enough to avoid observation, I drew Hays' brigade out of the town, to the left of it, and posted it on a line with Hoke's, under cover of the low ridge already mentioned, not far from the base of Cemetery Hill, so as to be ready at the earliest moment. The facts subsequently developed show that we were right in anticipating that the enemy would concentrate in our immediate front, and strongly fortify the position during the night. He concentrated on that flank not only the First, Eleventh, and Twelfth corps, but the Second and Fifth, as they arrived, and all of them remained there until the morning was considerably advanced. In fact, Meade says, that he had contemplated making a vigorous attack from that flank on our left, until Slocum reported that the character of the ground in front was unfavorable for making the attack. Had we, therefore, attacked on that flank early in the morning, we would have been met by overwhelming numbers, and a bloody repulse must have been the consequence.
I will here remark that it appears, from Ewell's statement, that General Lee, after dark, renewed the proposition to draw our corps to the right, but, upon his representation of the feasibility of taking Culp's Hill without a fight, concluded to let us remain where we were. If I heard of that fact at the time, it had escaped my memory.
I will now notice some statements by Colonels Allan and Taylor in regard to the fighting on the 2d.
The former says:
"Longstreet's attack on the Federal left on the 2d was delayed beyond the expected time, and was
not promptly seconded by Hill and Ewell when made. Ewell's divisions were not made to act in
concert--Johnson, Early, Rodes attacking in succession."
His third condition for a successful result is thus stated:
"Third. Had Ewell made his attack in the afternoon of the 2d at the same time as Longstreet,
instead of later, and then not 'piece-meal,' so that Early was beaten back before Rodes was ready
to support him."
Colonel Allan should have been a little more circumspect in his statement and discriminating in his
comments. In the paragraph of his report immediately following what I have before quoted,
"Early in the morning (2d) I received a communication from the General commanding, the tenor
of which was that he intended the main attack to be made by the First corps, on our right, and
wished me as soon as their guns opened to make a diversion in their favor, to be converted into a
real attack if an opportunity offered."
This is in accord with General Lee's own statement, except that he calls it "a simultaneous demonstration." Now, Colonel Allan ought to know that neither Rodes, Johnson, nor myself, from the nature of the ground, could move from our positions to the front without making a real attack, and then the whole should have gone forward. This was not contemplated by General Lee. The only mode of making a demonstration on our flank was to open a heavy artillery fire, and hold the troops in readiness to advance when the opportunity spoken of arrived. That was done. The opportunity referred to could only be when a considerable success was achieved on our right, and the enemy in front of the left thrown into confusion, or it was discovered that he had considerably weakened his force there. The order given early in the morning was in accordance with the instructions given us at the conference of the evening before. It was expected that the attack would begin at an early hour, before all the enemy's troops were up, and when his left was weak. The procrastination that had taken place on the right was excessively wearying and annoying, and had deranged everything. The success anticipated from the attack in the early morning did not follow that made late in the afternoon. It was not a part of the program that Ewell's real attack should be simultaneous with that of Longstreet, and therefore he is not liable to the censure of having delayed that attack too long, as would seem to be the inference from Colonel Allan's remark. My understanding at the time was that, after the partial success attending the attack on the right, General Lee directed Ewell to make an attack from his position. Ewell ordered that attack to be made by his whole corps. Rodes and myself were to be in readiness to begin the attack as soon as Johnson's muskets should be heard on the left. The reason for this was that Johnson confronted a wooded hill, and had to feel his way through the woods with skirmishers to find the enemy, while the ground over which Rodes and myself had to move was open, and there was no need of skirmishers, but when we started we could go right on. My two brigades started promptly at the sound of Johnson's muskets, moved over the space intervening between them and the base of Cemetery Hill, fought their way up the face of that hill, over stone fences or walls held by successive lines of infantry, and got into the works on the top of the hill while Johnson was yet fighting on the slopes of Culp's Hill. There was, then, no work by "piece-meal," so far as Johnson and myself were concerned, nor is the remark that Ewell's divisions were not made to act in concert applicable to us. Colonel Allan should have recollected that he was writing for the use of one engaged in writing a history of that battle, and not made his charge of want of concert so broad. I believe that if Rodes had advanced at the time designated, especially if one of Hill's divisions on his right had co-operated, we would then have gained permanent possession of that hill; but I am not willing to submit to the imputation of a want of concert or co-operation so far as I am concerned, and I insist that the proper discrimination should be made.
The assertion that "Early was beaten back before Rodes was ready to support him" is a mode of characterizing that brilliant charge by my two brigades that does them great injustice. Prof. Bates' description of that charge contains some of the finest writing in his book, and is very graphic, as well as correct in its main features, though he over-estimates very greatly the numbers contained in my two brigades, especially Hays', as well as the loss sustained by them.
Colonel Taylor gives General Rodes' explanation of his failure to advance as follows:
"General Rodes, who was on General Early's right, states in his report that, after he had conferred
with General Early on his left and General Lane on his right, and arranged to attack in concert, he
proceeded at once to make the necessary preparations; but, as he had to draw his troops out of
town by the flank, change the direction of the line of battle, and then traverse a distance of twelve
or fourteen hundred yards, while Early had to move only half that distance, without change of
front, it resulted that, before he drove in the enemy's skirmishers, General Early had attacked and
been compelled to withdraw."
I am very far from intending to reflect in the slightest degree on General Rodes, of whom I had a very high appreciation as a man and a soldier, and to whose skill, gallantry and efficiency I have borne the fullest testimony when speaking of his unfortunate death in a most brilliant charge, under my command, against vastly superior numbers. He was new in his position of division commander at Gettysburg, but when killed at Winchester, on the 18th of September, 1864, he had learned to be less sensitive about his flanks, and would not at that day have given such an explanation of his failure to co-operate in an attack similar to that made by Johnson and myself at Gettysburg.
When Ewell's order was received I prepared for the attack by issuing the necessary orders to my brigades which were already in position, and I saw that they started promptly at the signal, and Professor Bates is not far wrong when he says they moved "with the steadiness and precision of parade."
He further says:
"As the rebels came within range, Howard's infantry, who had lain completely protected by the
stone wall, poured in volley after volley, sweeping down the charging host. But that resolute
body of men believed themselves invincible, and now, with the eyes of both armies upon them,
they would not break so long as any were left to go forward. The stone walls were passed at a
bound, and when once among the Union men, Stevens was obliged to cease firing for fear of
killing friend and foe alike, and Weiderick was unable to withstand the shock, his supports and his
own men being swept back with a whirlwind's force."
The two brigades, one of Louisianians and the other North Carolinians, continued to ascend the bill while a blaze of fire covered its face, until they reached the enemy's works and entered them. While fighting for the possession of the guns in the enemy's works, a brigade and three regiments were brought from the front, which Rodes should have assaulted, and after a sharp struggle my brigades were compelled to retire, but not in disorder. Hays' men brought off 100 prisoners and four battle-flags, captured from the enemy, and the North Carolinians brought back their gallant leader, Colonel Isaac E. Avery, in an expiring condition. There was no more dashing charge than that made during the war by any command, and my brave Louisianians and Carolinians were the first to enter the enemy's works at Gettysburg. Now, to have their brilliant exploit characterized as part of an attack by "piece-meal," in which, "Early was beaten back before Rodes was ready to support him," is worse than being "damned with faint praise," or having one's name spelt wrong in a bulletin.
When my brigades started I sent word to Rodes that I was moving, and while they were making their way up the rugged slopes of Cemetery Hill, I sent again to urge him to go forward, the message being repeated more than once, but he did not start. I have nothing to say in regard to the causes of his delay, except that I imagine that he and the division commander on his right were discussing the question as to whether the latter should also move, while the time was passing when they could advance with chances of success. I submit that in describing this affair a discrimination should be made between Johnson's and my divisions and Rodes.' There was no attack here by "piece-meal" in any sense. Johnson and I attacked together, but Rodes did not attack at all.
Ewell gave the order for a simultaneous advance of the whole corps, and the failure of Rodes' division to go forward is the solitary instance of remissness on the part of any portion of the corps in the battle.
In regard to this, General Ewell says:
"Major-General Rodes did not not advance for reasons given in his report. Before beginning my
advance I had sent a staff officer to the division of the Third corps on my right, which proved to
be General Pender's, to find out what they were to do. He reported the division under command
of General Lane (who succeeded Pender, wounded), and who sent word back that the only order
he had received from General Pender was to attack if a favorable opportunity presented. I then
wrote to him that I was about attacking with my corps, and requesting that he would co-operate.
To this I received no answer, nor do I believe that any advance was made. The want of
co-operation on the right made it more difficult for Rodes division to attack, though had it been
otherwise I have every reason to believe, from the eminent success attending the assault of Hays
and Avery, that the enemy's lines would have been carried."
Immediately following his statement of Rodes' explanation, Col Taylor says: "The whole affair was disjointed."
He should have recollected that an army in battle array is like a complicated machine, in which, when the motor that starts the whole fails to obey the control and guidance of the engineer, all the parts are powerless or are thrown out of joint.
It is a little remarkable that there is such an industrious search after causes for our failure to
achieve a great victory at Gettysburg, when there is an all-sufficient cause staring us in the face
patent and palpable, which fully explains and accounts for that failure--namely, the most
extraordinary procrastination and delay in carrying out the orders for the attacks on the 2nd and
3rd days, upon which the whole battle hinged. To be hunting for other causes in the miscarriage
of dependent and minor operations, is like examining an engine to ascertain whether some of its
parts are out of order, when the piston-rod fails to move on opening the valve that lets on the
steam, because the fireman has omitted to kindle his fires; or looking into the delicate machinery
of a watch with a microscope to discover whether some of the cogs are broken, or dust impedes
their working, when the hands cease to move because the main-spring is broken.
J. A. Early.
NOTE.-When William the Conqueror invaded England, he was compelled to sustain his army by
foraging or pillaging, which he did by spreading his army over the country adjacent to the coast.
When Harold assembled his army to meet that of the invader, instead of attacking the latter, he
moved near enough to William to check his ravages, and took position on the hill of Jenlac, near
Hastings, and strongly entrenched his army. This covered London and compelled William to
concentrate his army to insure its safety, and it has been well remarked, that "with a host
subsisting by pillage, to concentrate is to starve, and no alternative was left to William but a
decisive victory or ruin." William, therefore, decided to attack at once, and after a bloody battle
the victory of Hastings resulted in securing to him and his descendants the throne of England,
while it placed him among the foremost captains of the world. General Lee's army in
Pennsylvania was in some respects in the same condition of William's. It had to subsist entirely by
foraging on the country, which it could do only by spreading over it, and concentration with it
meant starvation. When, therefore, Meade moved his army near enough to General Lee's to
render concentration necessary, the only alternative left the latter was a battle or a retreat. He
realized that fact, and after speaking in his report of the difficulty of withdrawing through the
mountains, he says: "At the same time we were unable to wait an attack, as the country was
unfavorable for collecting supplies in the presents of the enemy, who could restrain our foraging
parties by holding the mountain passes with local and other troops." It would have been the
merest folly for Meade to attack us, whether we took position on the heights of Gettysburg or by
moving around his left, at some other point. Time would have accomplished all he desired, and
the idea of a campaign on "the offensive-strategical but defensive-tactical plan" of General
Longstreet, for an invading army subsisting on the country, was a simple absurdity.
(Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. 4, pages 241-281)