Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/51

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41
General Lee's Report of the Gettysburg Campaign.


gagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army, which were ordered to hasten forward. 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 consequently did not reach Gettysburg until a late hour. In the meantime the enemy occupied the point which General Ewell designed to seize, but in what force could not be ascertained owing to the darkness. An intercepted dispatch showed that another corps had halted that afternoon four miles from Gettysburg. Under these circumstances it was decided not to attack until the arrival of Longstreet, two of whose divisions, those of Hood and McLaws, encamped about four miles in the rear during the night. Anderson's division, of Hill's corps, came up after the engagement.

It had not been intended to deliver a general battle so far from our base unless attacked, but coming unexpectedly upon the whole Federal army, to withdraw through the mountains with our extensive trains would have been difficult and dangerous. At the same time we were unable to wait an attack, as the country was unfavorable for collecting supplies in the presence of the enemy, who could restrain our foraging parties by holding the mountain passes with local and other troops. A battle therefore had become, in a measure, unavoidable, and the success already gained gave hope of a favorable issue.

The enemy occupied a strong position, with his right upon two commanding elevations adjacent to each other, one southeast, and the other, known as Cemetery Hill, immediately south of the town, which lay at its base. His line extended thence upon the high ground along the Emmettsburg road, with a steep ridge in rear, which was also occupied. This ridge was difficult of ascent, particularly the two hills above mentioned, as forming its northern extremity, and a third at the other end on which the enemy's left rested. Numerous stone and rail fences along the slope served to afford protection to his troops and impede our advance. In his front the ground was undulating and generally open for about three quarters of a mile.

General Ewell's corps constituted our left, Johnson's division being opposite the height adjoining Cemetery Hill, Early's in the centre, in front of the north face of the latter, and Rodes upon his right. Hill's corps faced the west side of Cemetery Hill, and extended nearly parallel to the Emmettsburg road, making an angle with Ewell's. Pender's division formed his left, Anderson's his right, Heth's, under Brigadier-General Pettigrew, being in reserve. His artillery, under Colonel Walker, was posted in eligible position along his line.

It was determined to make the principal attack upon the enemy's left and endeavor to gain a position from which it was thought that our artillery could be brought to bear with effect. Longstreet was directed to place the divisions of McLaws and Hood on the right of Hill, partially enveloping the enemy's left, which he was to