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 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.