Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg. 261
Colonel Taylor has either wholly misapprehended General John- son, 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 Eodes and myself to attack the enemy on Ceme- tery Hill. If he had then, or after dark, been ordered to advance upon either hill for the purpose of attacking, Eodes and myself would have been informed of the fact, in order that we might co- operate; 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), the strong position which the enemy had assumed could not be 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 occu- pied by the enemy if he found it practicable, but to avoid a gene- ral engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army, which were ordered to hasten foward. 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 con- sequently did not reach Gettysburg until a late hour. In the meantime the enemy occupied the point which General Ewell de- signed to seize, but in what force could not be ascertained, owing to the darkness."
It is now known that that force was the Twelfth corps. Here is General Swell'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 for- midable 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