Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/287

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The Gettysburg Campaign.

355). It is only in keeping with the haphazard character of the whole battle that the capture of a point of such strategic importance should not have been taken advantage of by the Confederates. It remains, however, no less a proud memory for the officers and men of Steuart's brigade that their prowess gained for the Confederate General a position whence Meade's entire line might have been taken in reverse." But if the Confederates did not realize what they had gained, the Federals were fully aware what they had lost. Accordingly they spent the night massing troops and artillery for an effort to regain their works. "During the night," says Swinton, "a powerful artillery was accumulated against the point entered by the enemy." "To one conversant with the ground," says a Federal authority, "it is now apparent why the enemy did not reply. The creeks, the forest, and the steep acclivities made it utterly impossible for him to move his guns, and this circumstance contributed to the weakness of his position and the futility of his occupation of this part of the line.

Sufficient emphasis has not been laid upon the achievement of Steuart's brigade just referred to. It was probably the most important success attained on any part of our line, had our staff officers only recognized the fact. Let it be noted that this position was held by this devoted brigade for about fourteen hours, from 9 o'clock in the evening to 11 the next morning, and the courage and tenacity exhibited by these troops was not surpassed by any unit of Lee's army in that great battle. Professor Jacobs (Federal) says, "The battle raged furiously and was maintained with desperate obstinacy on both sides." He goes on to speak of the terrible slaughter of our men. General Howard says: "I went over the ground five years after the battle, and marks of the struggle were still to be observed. The moss on the rocks was still discolored in hundreds of places where the bullets had struck. The trees as cut off, knocked down, or shivered, were still there; stumps and trees were perforated with holes where leaden balls had since been taken out, and remnants of the rough breastworks still remained. I did not wonder that General Geary, who was in the thickest of this fight, thought the main battle of Gettysburg must have been fought there."