Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/139

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131
Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg.

conduct, in this particular, was due to a lack of appreciation on his part of the circumstances which created an urgent and peculiar need for the presence of his troops at the front. As soon as the necessity for the concentration of the army was precipitated by the unexpected encounter on the first of July with a large force of the enemy near Gettysburg, General Longstreet was urged to hasten his march, and this, perhaps, should have sufficed to cause him to push his divisions on toward Gettysburg, from which point he was distant but four miles, early on the second; but I cannot say that he was notified, on the night of the first, of the attack proposed to be made on the morning of the second, and the part his corps was to take therein. Neither do I think it just to charge that he was alone responsible for the delay in attacking that ensued after his arrival on the field. I well remember how General Lee was chafed by the non-appearance of the troops, until he finally became restless, and rode back to meet General Longstreet, and urge him forward; but, then, there was considerable delay in putting the troops to work after they reached the field and much time was spent in discussing what was to be done, which, perhaps, could not be avoided. At any rate, it would be unreasonable to hold General Longstreet alone accountable for this. Indeed, great injustice has been done him in the charge that he had orders from the Commanding-General to attack the enemy at sunrise on the second of July, and that he disobeyed these orders. This would imply that he was in position to attack, whereas General Lee but anticipated his early arrival on the second, and based his calculations upon it. I have shown how he was disappointed, and I need hardly add that the delay was fatal.

General Lee determined to renew the attack upon the enemy's position on the third day of July. In his report of the campaign, in speaking of the operations of the second day, he says:

"The result of this day's operations induced the belief that, with proper concert of action, and with the increased support that the positions gained on the right would enable the artillery to render the assaulting columns, we should ultimately succeed; and it was accordingly determined to continue the attack. The general plan was unchanged. Longstreet, reinforced by Pickett's three brigades, which arrived near the battle-field during the afternoon of the second, was ordered to attack the next morning; and Gen-