Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/123

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113
General C. M. Wilcox on the Battle of Gettysburg.

As he had already delayed to move when ordered, it would seem that he should have been ready to march instantly on the arrival of Law. It is clear that, as he was opposed to attacking, his heart was not in it, and did not yield that cheerful and prompt obedience to his chief that he should. "McLaws' division got into position opposite the enemy's left about 4 P. M." This division was not opposite the left of the enemy, as has been stated, but was in woods that had been already occupied by the Confederates since between 8 and 9 A. M., and opposite the right of Sickles' corps. If we follow Longstreet's corps in its march to get into position as directed, we will see most unusual and extraordinary delay. Colonel Alexander, who commanded two battalions of artillery, informs us that he was ordered between 8 and 9 A. M.[1] to reconnoitre the ground and co-operate with the infantry attack to be made on the enemy's left flank. He got his order from General Longstreet, whilst he and General Lee were together on a hill in rear of our lines. General Longstreet, as has been stated, received this order, according to his first article in the Times, at 11 A. M. Colonel Alexander, after examining the country, conducted his own and then went about hunting up other battalions of artillery attached to the infantry, and while thus engaged came upon the head of an infantry column, which he took to be Hood's division, halted in the road in sight of Round Top, and had sent back to Longstreet for orders. "For some reason they would not turn back and follow the tracks of my guns, and I remember a long and tedious waiting; and at length there came an order to turn back and take a road around by 'Black Horse Tavern.' I have never forgotten that name. My general recollection is that nearly three hours were lost in that delay and countermarch, and that it was about 4 P. M. when Hood became engaged heavily on our extreme right."

General Longstreet says "he was in rear when the column halted; became impatient at the delay, rode forward and learned that the troops were waiting for the engineer officer to find some route over which to lead them so as not to be seen." He saw Round Top, and then knew that further effort at concealment would be a waste of time. "He became very impatient at this delay, and determined to take upon himself the responsibility of hurrying the troops forward." This responsibility for prompt movement was all the time on him. "I did not order General


  1. September, 1877, number of Southern Historical Papers.