Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/125

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115
General C. M. Wilcox on the Battle of Gettysburg.

to carry out his plan, it would not have been in violation of the spirit or even the letter of General Lee's orders.

These messages and replies between Longstreet and Hood are important, as evincing how little interest the former manifested in the impending battle, regarded as so important and fraught with such consequences. General Hood, on receiving Longstreet's final orders, advanced his line and the battle began. There had been some artillery firing in the mean time. As the troops were advancing, General Hood says that Longstreet joined him, and he (Hood) expressed his regrets that he had not been permitted to "attack in flank around Round Top," and that Longstreet replied, "we must obey the orders of General Lee." And yet, after these repeated replies to Hood that General Lee's orders must be obeyed, they were disregarded. Hood's advance was in two lines—Law's brigade on the right, followed by Benning's—the Texas brigade on the left, followed by Anderson's. Hood's attack began about 4 P. M. McLaws' division advanced on the left of Hood, and with a long interval of time intervening—at least this was so with the left brigades of the division. The order of McLaws' advance was Kershaw's brigade, followed by Semmes' on the right, Barksdale's, followed by Wofford's on the left. It is proper to refer to the fact that up to the time of the advance of Hood, neither Round Top nor Little Round Top were occupied by the enemy, nor had the ridge running from the latter towards the Cemetery been held during the forenoon. All this time the Federals were in rear of it. It was not until 4 P. M. that the right of Sickles moved forward and halted, extending along and in rear of the Emmettsburg road.

Early in the morning the two Round Tops could have been occupied by the Confederates without opposition. Neither was occupied by the enemy until the fight had been going on some time. That they were occupied after the fight begun at 4 P. M., is proven by General Warren, General Meade's Chief Engineer, who says, in a letter dated July 13, 1872, and addressed to an officer[1] of the One-hundred-and-fortieth New York regiment of volunteers: "Just before the action began in earnest on July the 2d, I was with General Meade, near General Sickles, whose troops seemed very badly disposed on that part of the field. At my suggestion, General Meade sent me to the left to examine the condition of affairs, and I continued on until I reached Little Round Top. There were no troops on it, and it was used as a signal station. I saw that this


  1. See Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, December 3, 1877.