Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 04.djvu/279

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271
Causes of Lee's Defeat at Gettysburg.

that specially, as I propose to give a full, detailed account of the conference itself.

The statement in reference to it contained in the memorandum is susceptible of the construction that General Lee wanted to go forward at dawn the next day, though Longstreet should not be up, and that Ewell, Rodes and myself opposed the proposition, and insisted that we should await Longstreet's arrival. Yet Gen. Lee has shown, again and again, especially in the extract from his report I have already given, that his purpose was to avoid a general engagement until his army was concentrated. Col. Taylor is under a serious misapprehension as to that conference, and as I am the only surviving person who was present at it, no one else being there but Generals Lee, Ewell, Rodes, and myself, I will state what occurred. I had ridden to see about the condition of Hays' and Hoke's brigades, which were in uncomfortable proximity to the enemy's position on Cemetery Hill, and had to keep under cover from his artillery fire, as well as the fire of his sharpshooters, and maintain a constant lookout, and while there I was sent for by General Ewell. On reaching him I found General Lee, himself and Rodes in the porch, or, rather, I should say arbor, attached to the house already mentioned. No one else was there, and at that time all idea of advancing that night against the heights beyond Gettysburg for the purpose of attack had been abandoned, as it was then after sunset. I was soon given to understand that Gen. Lee's purpose was to ascertain our condition, what we knew of the enemy and his position, and what we could probably do next day. It was evident from the first that it was his purpose to attack the enemy as early as possible next day—at daylight, if practicable. This was a proposition the propriety of which was so apparent that there was not the slightest discussion or difference of opinion upon it. It was a point taken for granted. After we had given General Lee all the information we possessed, addressing us conjointly, he asked: "Can't you, with your corps, attack on this flank at daylight to-morrow?" I was the first to speak, for I had examined more thoroughly and critically than the others the enemy's position east of Gettysburg, extending along Cemetery Hill and the adjacent heights to Culp's Hill, as my two brigades immediately confronted it, and it was peculiarly my duty to do so. Moreover, I had been in Gettysburg the week before,