Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/126

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

was the key of the whole position, and that our troops in the woods in front of it could not see the ground in front of them, so that the enemy would come upon them before they were aware of it. The long line of woods on the west side of the Emmettsburg road (which road was along a ridge) furnished an excellent place for the enemy to form out of sight. I requested the captain of a rifle battery just in front of Little Round Top to fire a shot into these woods. He did so, and as the shot went whistling through the air, the sound of it reached the enemy's troops and caused every one to look in the direction of it. This motion revealed to me the glittering of gun-barrels and bayonets of the enemy's line of battle, already formed and far outflanking the position of any of our troops, so that the line of his advance from his right to Little Round Top was unopposed. I have been particular in telling this, as the discovery was intensely thrilling to my feelings and almost appalling."

This line of glittering gun-barrels and bayonets that so thrilled General Warren was General Longstreet's right, and, as General Warren says, far out outflanked any of the Union troops. Why, then, was not their left "partially enveloped and driven in" as directed by General Lee? General Longstreet says he got into position, partially enveloping the enemy's left. He was mistaken. He outflanked it, but failed to envelop it as ordered; and instead of striking the extreme left and driving it in, he displayed his corps in front of the enemy's left wing and fought it face to face. His troops fought well, of course, as courage was a quality common to the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia. Had Hood been permitted to turn Round Top he would have captured the enemy's principal[1] ammunition train, parked half a mile in rear, and the probabilities are that his losses would have been comparatively small, and the battle would have been fought in accordance with the orders given to General Longstreet.

In the fight that ensued, General Longstreet was vastly outnumbered, and yet he made his way over all obstacles of ground and superiority of numbers, and pushed back the heavy masses that confronted him. But how different would have been the result if the attack had been made in the early morning as expected, or, even late as it was, had it been made as ordered.

There is much exaggeration and high coloring in his description of the engagement during the afternoon of the 2d. This comes

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