Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/128

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124 Southern Historical Society Papers.

those of the enemy. Hill's artillery and part of Ewell's was ordered to open simultaneously, and the assaulting column to advance under cover of the combined fire of the three. The batteries were directed to be pushed forward as the infantry progressed, protect their flanks and suppdrt their attacks closely." Every word of this order was potentially significant. You will thus observe Lee's plan of attack. It was to be made in the morning presumably in the early morn- ing with the whole of Longstreet's corps, composed of the divisions of Pickett, McLaws and Hood, together with Heth's division, two brigades of Fender and Wilcox's brigade, and that the assaulting column was to advance under the cover of the combined fire of the artillery of the three corps, and that the assault was to be the com- bined assault of infantry and artillery the batteries to be pushed forward as the infantry progressed, to protect their flanks and sup- port their attack closely. The attack was not made as here ordered. The attacking column did not move until 3 P. M., and when it did move it was without McLaws' and Hood's divisions and practically without Wilcox's brigade, and without accompanying artillery^. The whole attacking force did not exceed 14,000, of which Pickett's division did not exceed 4,700. General Lee afterwards claimed that if the attack had been made as he ordered, it would have been successful.

In order to appreciate the charge made by the attacking force, it is necessary to have some idea of the relative strength and positions of the two armies, and of the topography of the country. Before the battle of Gettysburg opened on the ist of July, Meade's army consisted of seven army corps which, with artillery and cavalry, numbered 105,000. Lee's army consisted of three army corps which, with artillery and cavalry, numbered 62,000. On the 3rd of July the enemy had six army corps in line of battle, with the Sixth corps held in reserve. Their right rested on Gulp Hill and curved around westerly to Cemetery Hill, and thence extended southerly in a straight line along what is known as Cemetery Ridge to Round Top. This line was well protected along its whole length with either fortifications, stone walls or entrenchments. It was crowned with batteries, while the infantry was, in places, several ranks deep, with a line in the rear with skirmish lines in front. The form of the line was like a shepherd's crook. Our line extended from the enemy's right around to Seminary Ridge, which runs parallel to Cemetery Ridge, to a point opposite to Round Top. Between these two ridges lay an open, cultivated valley of about