Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 37.djvu/128

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

of the 1st, by the Confederates, was a matter of no importance and not worth the effort, inasmuch, as it would not, if occupied have been decisive, and would only have pushed back the battle ground to another field, probably to Pipe Creek. In reference to General Early's first point, if the facts as we have cited them, and the concurrent opinion at the time are not reasonably conclusive, we will supplement them by the opinion of General Hancock, expressed in a letter written to General Fitz Lee, dated January 17, 1878, in which he says, "—— I am in receipt of yours of the 14th instant, and in reply have to say that in my opinion, if the Confederates had continued the pursuit of General Howard on the afternoon of July 1st at Gettysburg, they would have driven him over and beyond Cemetery Hill. After I arrived on the field, assumed the command, and made my dispositions for defending that point (say 4 P. M.) I do not think the Confederate force then present could have carried it." John B. Bachelder, of the Union army says there is no question but what a combined attack on Cemetery Hill, made within an hour, would have been successful.

As to General Early's second point, it would seem to be sufficient to say, that if the Confederates had taken Cemetery Hill the first day, they would have accomplished what they vainly tried to do on the 2d and 3d days; the moral effect would have been as inspiring to one side as depressing to the other; the tremendous losses suffered in the efforts to take it on the 2d and 3d days would have been averted, and Meade could nowhere have selected or stumbled upon a line of defense so impregnable as Cemetery Hill and Round Top proved to be.

In the engagements 'which have been described as occurring on the first day, six pieces of my command, Johnson's battery and a section of Hurt's were put in position on high ground to our right, and with Lane's brigade were engaged in holding in check Buford's cavalry. The two long ranged Whitworths occasionally shelled the woods and distant points wherever the enemy could be seen. The remainder of the battalion under my immediate command actively supported the attacks of Archer and Pender. This gave me an opportunity to witness a large portion of the battlefield, including Oak Hill where Rodes' brigades deployed in line.