Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/252
216 Southern Historical Society Papers.
was responsible for the defeat of General Lee's plans. I will first say that in my opinion General Longstreet was not. Hill, with Heth's and Fender's Divisions, was at Cashtown on the evening of July 3oth. General Lee, with Longstreet, was still some distance west of the mountain. Every division of his army infantry, cav- alry, and artillery was on the march, and converging on Cashtown on the morning of July ist. They could all have reached there by night, or in supporting distance. On the evening before (3oth), Hill and Heth heard that a body of the enemy had just occupied Gettysburg. Early on the morning of July ist, Hill, with Heth's and Fender's Divisions, started down without orders to attack them. Before reaching Gettysburg they met Buford's Cavalry on the pike. Buford held them in check until Reynolds, who had camped some six miles off with two corps, hearing the firing, came to his support. Heth first put two brigades into the fight that were soon knocked to pieces; Archer and most of his brigade were captured. Heth says: "Archer and Davis were now directed to advance, the object being to feel the enemy and to determine in what force the enemy were whether or not he was massing his forces on Gettysburg. Heavy columns of the enemy were soon encountered. General Davis was unable to hold the position he had gained. The enemy concentrated on his front and flanks in overwhelming force. The ' enemy had now been felt, and found to be "in heavy force.' ' Hill states sub- stantially the same thing. He put in Heth's other two brigades, and then Fender's Division. He would have been badly beaten, but Ewell, on the march to Cashtown, received a note from Hill, and hearing the firing, came to his rescue. Hill and Heth called the fight, which lasted from about 8 o'clock A. M. to 4 P. M., and in which over 20,000 men were engaged on a side, and five or six thousand killed and wounded on each side, a reconnoissance. If this was a reconnoissance, then what is a battle ? General Lee had not ordered any reconnoissance, and there was no necessity for it. He was west of the mountain when he heard the firing, and did not understand its significance.
IT WAS A RAID.
The object of a reconnoisance is to get information, not to fight. Only sufficient force is applied to compel an enemy to develop his strength and display his position. The attacking force then retires. After two of Heth's Brigades had been shattered and heavy columns of the enemy deployed in his front, he knew the enemy was in force.