The Battle of Gettysburg. 185
once placed their tattered banners upon the crest of Seminary Ridge.
I believe if those men had been told: " This day your lives will pay the penalty of your attack upon the Federal lines," they would have made the charge just as it was made. There was no strag- gling, no feigned sickness, no pretence of being overcome by the intense heat; every man felt that it was his duty to make that fight; that he was his own commander, and they would have made the charge without an officer of any description; they only needed to be told what they were expected to do. This is as near the feeling of the men of Pickett's Division on the morning of the battle as I can give, and with this feeling they went to their work. Many of them were veteran soldiers, who had followed the little cross of stars from Big Bethel to Gettysburg; they knew their own power, and they knew the temper of their adversary; they had often met be- fore, and they knew the meeting before them would be desperate and deadly.
Pickett's three little Virginia brigades were drawn up in two lines, Kemper on the right (ist, 3d, yth, nth and 24), Garnett on the left (8th, 1 8th, iQth, 28th and 56th), and Armistead in the rear and center (Qth, i4th, 38th, 53d and 57th) Virginia Regiments, covering the space between Kemper's left and Garnett's right flanks. This position was assigned Armistead, I suppose, that he might at the critical moment rush to the assistance of the two leading brigades, and if possible, put the capstone upon their work. We will see presently how he succeeded. The Confederate artillery was on the crest of Seminary Ridge, nearty in front of Pickett; only a part of the division had the friendly shelter of the woods; the rest endured the scorching rays of the July sun until the opening of the cannon- ade, when the dangers from the Federal batteries were added to their discomfort. About i o'clock two signal guns were fired by the Washington Artillery, and instantly a terrific cannonade was commenced, which lasted for more than an hour, when suddenly everything was silent. Every man knew what that silence por- tended. The grim blue battle line on Seminary Ridge began at once to prepare for the advance of its antagonists; both sides felt that the tug of war was about to come, and that Greek must meet Greek as they had never met before.