Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 32.djvu/199

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The Battle of Gettysburg. 187

infantry behind the rock fence poured volley after volley into the advancing ranks. The men fell like stalks of grain before the reaper, but still they closed the gaps and pressed forward through that pitiless storm. The two advance brigades have thus far done the fighting. Annistead has endured the terrible ordeal without firing a gun; his brave followers have not changed their guns from the right shoulder. Great gaps have been torn in their ranks; their field and company officers have fallen; color-bearer after color- bearer has been shot down, but still they never faltered.


At the critical moment, in respone to a request from Kemper, Armistead, bracing himself to the desperate blow, rushed forward to Kemper's and Garnett's line, delivered his fire, and with one su- preme effort planted his colors on the famous rock fence. Armis- tead himself, with his hat on the point of his sword, that his men might see it through the smoke of battle, rushed forward, scaled the wall, and .cried: " Boys, give them the cold steel! " By this time, the Federal hosts lapped around both flanks and made a counter advance in their front, and the remnant of those three little brigades melted away. Armistead himself had fallen, mortally wounded, under the guns he had captured, while the few who followed him over the fence were either dead or wounded. The charge was over, the sacrifice had been made, but, in the words of a Federal officer: " Banks of heroes they were; they fled not, but amidst that still continuous and terrible fire they slowly, sullenly recrossed the plain all that was left of them but few of the five thousand."


When the advance commenced General Pickett rode up and down in rear of Kemper and Garnett, and in this position he con- tinued as long as there was opportunity of observing him. When the assault became so fierce that he had to superintend the whole line, I am sure he was in his proper place. A few years ago Pick- ett' s staft held a meeting in the city of Richmond, Va. , and after comparing recollections, they published a statement to the effect that he was with the division throughout the charge; that he made an effort to secure reinforcements when he saw his flanks were being turned, and one of General Garnett's couriers testified that he car- ried orders from him almost to the rock fence. From my knowl- edge of General Pickett I am sure he was where his duty called him