The Charge at Gettysburg

    In Their Own Words
    The Charge at Gettysburg
    Major Engelhard, Pender’s Division
    Col. Birkett Fry, Archer’s Brigade, Heth’s Division
    Lt. Col. Samuel C. Shepard, Archer’s Brigade, Heth’s Division
    Captain McIntyre, Acting Adj. General Scales Brigade
    Gaston Broughton, Company D, 26th N.C.
    Lt. W.N. Snelling, Company B, 26th N.C.
    Major Haynes, 11th N.C.
    Col. B.F. Little, Captain Company E, 52nd N.C.
    Brigadier General James Lane, Pender’s Division
    Captain Lovell, Co. A. 28th N.C., Lane’s Brigade, Pender’s Division
    Col. Norwood, 37th N.C., Lane’s Brigade, Pender’s Divsion
    Lt. Col. Morris, 33rd N.C., Lane’s Brigade, Pender’s Division
    Major Jos. H. Saunders, 33rd N.C., Lane’s Brigade, Pender’s Division
    Rev. Dr. George W. Sanderlin (then captain of a company, 33rd N.C.)
    Raleigh News and Observer Sunday, April 24, 1887 The Charge at Gettysburg The third day of the struggle between the contending armies near Gettysburg opened clear and cloudless. The July sun burned down on the battlefield of the previous day majestically serene—throwing in to bold relief the outlines of the picture. Standing on Cemetery Hill, a mile south of the little town of Gettysburg, one saw the range continue southward jutting out into the valley to the west, and then receding in strong curves eastward, now falling with even slopes and then swelling again in graceful contour—but further away breaking into precipitous promontories whose rocky knobs were veritable Round Tops and fitly associated with Devil’s Den. Almost parallel and about a mile away to the west could be traced the course of Seminary Ridge, gently rising from the intervening valley, still covered with a growth of the original forest trees. Along the slopes are fences enclosing fields with patches of wood here and there and a little swale down in the valley where it narrows as the ridge throws out a spur to the eastward. Coming from the town is the Emmitsburg Pike, which, after passing the summit of Cemetery Hill swerves off along a lower and divergent ridge that trends across the valley. Overlooking the pike is a stone wall following along the upper slope of Cemetery Ridge and conforming generally to the line of its crest but, at a point some six hundred yards away, where the hill grows bolder and juts out into the valley, this wall makes a right angle and comes straight towards the pike, and then again follows the crest, which soon retreats and falls away, leaving a slight depression embayed in the general outline. On this headland, which, like a bastion front projects itself into the valley, stands a clump of trees which served to guide the right wing of the attacking column on that fateful day, and a quarter of a mile in front, but further down the valley, stood the farm house of Codori on a little knoll surrounded by a sparse grove. Beyond the cemetery to the north, the range bent sharply to the right, forming a difficult eminence known as Culp’s Hill, and on the curve from Culp’s Hill west to the Cemetery and thence to the Round Top, was massed the Federal Army, some 100,000 strong, while on the exterior lines of sister hills lay Lee’s forces with Ewell on the left in possession of a part of Culp’s Hill, and Longstreet on the right towards Round Top while A.P. Hill covered the center, a total force of about 60,000. Dispositions had been made for an early morning attack on the 3rd, simultaneously by Ewell on the right and Longstreet on the left; and with that view the artillery had been massed against the Federal center, Col. Alexander acting as Longstreet’s chief of artillery, having occupied during the night, an advanced ridge that lay several hundred yards beyond Longstreet’s front, and covered it with batteries. But Meade himself had not been inactive and, at 4:00 in the morning, he unsettled this plan of attack by driving back Early, whose lodgment on Culp’s Hill was an essential part of Lee’s proposed movement. Later in the morning, then, Lee determined on making that assault which has since been so famous in history. General Long, the author of Lee’s Memoirs and then on Lee’s staff, says: “this decision was reached at a conference held in the morning on the field in front of Round Top, there being present Generals Lee, Longstreet, A.P. Hill and Heth and Col. Long and Maj. Venable.” Longstreet made some objection, his idea being to move farther to the right and entice Meade to abandon his position and give battle on more favorable ground; but the attack was ordered nevertheless and Longstreet was directed to carry it into execution. The object of General Lee was to prostrate Meade’s line in the depression on the south of Cemetery Hill and thus turning his position, move up and dispossess him. When the morning broke and the Federal forces beheld so great an armament as 140 pieces of artillery in position on the crest of Seminary Ridge, they knew that an assault was intended on some part of their line and every preparation was at once made to receive it. The batteries on Cemetery Ridge were strengthened by new ones from the reserve and soon 80 pieces of artillery were in readiness to respond to the expected cannonade which was awaited with increasing solicitude as the morning wore on in ominous silence. In early morning, Pickett’s first division had arrived and two of his brigades had been placed under cover of the advanced ridge which Colonel Alexander had seized the night before. Armistead’s brigade lay back protected by the main ridge in a line with Heth’s division, while the North Carolina brigades of Scales and Lane were still further in the rear. These were the troops selected to make the assault, Pickett’s Division being fresh, and Heth’s Division and Lane’s and Scales’ Brigade, although badly cut up on the first, not having been engaged on the second and being troops of the highest reputation for constancy and endurance. In Heth’s Division was Archer’s Brigade, composed of the Alabama and three Tennessee regiments’ Pettigrew’s Brigade, which had present the 11th, 26th, 47th, and 52nd North Carolina Regiments’ Davis’ Brigade consisting of three Mississippi and one North Carolina regiment; and Brockenborough’s or Field’s Brigade, which was composed entirely of Virginians. Pettigrew’s Brigade was commanded by Col. Marshall, General Pettigrew being in command of the Division. Lane’s Brigade was formed of the 7th, 18th, 28th, 33rd and 37th North Carolina Regiments and in Scales’, then under Col. Lowrance, were the 13th, 16th, 22nd, 34th, and 38th North Carolina Regiments. These troops had suffered so severely on the first of July that many companies were mere skeletons and some regiments were officered by captains. Pickett’s Division, composed entirely of Virginians, had just arrived and in all respects was in excellent condition. The movement was in double column, the first line consisting of Kemper’s and Garnet’s brigades on the right, with Heth’s Division on the left; and for the second line Armistead in the rear of Pickett’s other brigades, and Scales’ and Lane’s brigades of North Carolinians in the rear of Heth’s Division. Wilcox’s and Perry’s brigades were to move out on the extreme right and protect the column from any flanking force, while R.H. Anderson’s division, covering the left, was to be in readiness to act as opportunity should permit. Preliminary to the movement, the artillery was to silence the enemy’s guns and as far as possible, demoralize their infantry before the attempt should be made to carry the works by storm. At 1:00 two guns were discharged by the Washington Artillery as the signal for the cannonade to begin. Immediately the line of batteries opened with salvos of artillery evoking a quick reply from the enemy and the engagement soon became one of the most terrific bombardments of the war. Its fury was inconceivable. “From ridge to ridge was kept up for nearly two hours a Titanic combat of artillery that caused the solid fabric of the hills to labor and shake and filled the air with fire and smoke and the mad clamor of two hundred guns.” The exposed batteries were greatly damaged. Both horses and men suffered fearful destruction. Caissons exploded, limbers were thrown up and guns were crippled on every side. In particular, was the Confederate fire concentrated on the point of attack, very effectively. But still the enemy’s batteries were not silenced. Their fire did not slacken, for as fast as the Federal batteries expended their ammunition, they were replaced by new ones from the reserve and the fire continued without abatement until at length the confederate ammunition began to run low. Col. Alexander, to whom had been committed the duty of indicating the moment for the beginning of the charge, felt the awful responsibility of the dilemma that presented itself; and hurriedly communicated to Pickett that he should wait no longer, but should begin the movement at once, notwithstanding the terrific energy of the artillery that crowned the enemy’s stronghold. But if the Confederate chests had been depleted, so at last had become those of their antagonists and General Hunt, Meade’s chief of artillery, finding it unsafe to move up new supplies, and anticipating that the assault would be made on the center, conceived it well to husband his resources and ordered the fire to slacken and so unexpectedly the embarrassing difficulty of the Confederate situation vanished. Immediately the order to advance was given along the whole line, and some 12,000 veterans, with alacrity and high elations, moved forward over the crests that had sheltered them and passed down the slopes of Seminary Ridge, their bright guns gleaming in the noon day sun and their innumerable battle flags flying in the breeze, making as fine a pageant as was ever seen on any field of battle. They moved in quick time and with admirable precision, as if on some gala day parade. It was a glorious spectacle, evoking admiration from foe and friend alike, and being the theme of unstinted praise from everyone who witnessed it. But hardly had the line reached the downward slope of the extensive valley when the Federal batteries wee again unloosed and the carnival of death began. “Though stormed at with shot and shell, it moved steadily on and even when grape and canister began to rain upon it, the gaps were quickly closed and the alignment preserved.” The line of grey, a full mile in length, with its second line following at easy distance, marched indeed in fine style down that valley of death, reckless of peril and animated with that soldierly zeal and confidence which had ever inspired the troops of Lee when moving in the immediate presence of that trusted commander. For Pickett’s advanced position, down the valley the clump of trees which gave him direction bore far to the left, and soon reaching the ridge on which the Turnpike ran, he wheeled to the left and moved up towards Codori’s house. By this movement he presented his flank to the batteries posted on Little Round Top and received a severe enfilading fire, while General Stannard, whose division was in his immediate front, threw out two Vermont regiments to contest the ground with him. But Col. Alexander had himself hastily followed with a battery of artillery and opened up on this force with spirit, in a measure dispensing it and neutralizing its power for serious work. But still it could not be entirely driven off and when Kemper, on the extreme right, having passed to the east of Coderi’s house, moved by the left flank to close up with Garnett’s Brigade, the Vermonters also moved by the left flank to keep pace with him and continued to annoy him. As the line advanced there loomed up in the distance the works it was to assault. Immediately in front of Archer’s Brigade and Pickett’s left lay the projecting stone wall standing out into the valley, and held by Webb’s Brigade of Gibbon’s Division; and opposite the Confederate left was the retired wall held by Hays’ Division, with Smyth’s Brigade towards the cemetery and Sherrill’s Brigade between that and Webb. South of the projection, Hall’s and Harrow’s Brigades continued the Federal line, behind breastworks of rails covered with earth and rifle pits and shallow trenches in their front. Further on were Stannard’s and other brigades of Doubleday’s Division. On the next hill, a few yards behind the line of works, was thickly massed the artillery. Skirmishers lay out several hundred yards in front in the clover and grass, while a first line of infantry held a strong fence along the pike in front of Hays and a low stone wall further down the valley, and lay concealed in the grass in the intervening space. At the stone wall and breastworks was a second line in readiness to receive the attack, while behind the artillery, some thirty paces off, was still another, occupying higher ground and protected by the backbone of the ridge, and farther off on the flanks were heavy masses of infantry ready to be concentrated if need be. As the Confederate line moved forward, in constant site, momentarily drawing nearer to the point of attack, all was expectation and anxiety along the Federal front. The heavy artillery fire of the Confederates had ceased and the demoralization incident to it rapidly gave place to a feeling of reassurance and determination. While it had destroyed the two batteries in the rear of Webb, leaving only one piece that could be worked, the guns in the rear of Hays’ Division were in better condition and Howard’s fresh battery had been brought up and posted on the slope of Cemetery Hill. And so it happened that while the troops on the Confederate right were fortunately not subjected to an artillery fire from the front and were exposed only to an enfilading fire from the extreme left of the Federal line; it was far different with Pettigrew’s command, the batteries in his front being well served, firing first solid shot, then shell and spherical case and at last canister—double charged, as Pettigrew’s line drew nearer and nearer. The movement of the Confederates was made in quick time over a clear field, beneath the burning rays of a fiery July sun, and was attended with considerable fatigue and exhaustion. But those veterans who had been trained to the vicissitudes of war well know that at the final assault, dash and vigor would be needed and they therefore husbanded their strength and moved forward steadily and resolutely beneath the galling fire that was rapidly thinning their ranks. Speaking of the troops in front of Hays’ Division, General Bachelder says that when they had reached a position “half way across the plain they encountered a terrible artillery fire, but against which, as a man presses against a blinding storm, they moved steadily on as if impelled by a will greater than their own—some mighty unseen power which they could not resist. Solid shot ploughed through their ranks, spherical case rattled in their midst and canister swept them by hundreds from the field yet on they pressed unflinchingly.” It was an awful experience to pass nearly a mile across an open plain subjected to such a terrible fire, with no hope of protection and without power to resist. But each brave spirit in Pettigrew’s command recognized the necessity of immolation if need be, and offered himself a willing sacrifice; and so closing on the great gaps in the ranks, the lines on the left continued to face the furious storm and silently moved on upon the deadly batteries. At length having made two-thirds of the distance and being only three hundred yards away, Pickett’s troops with Garnett’s in front, Kemper on the right, but somewhat in the rear, and Armistead a hundred yards behind, turned towards the point they were to assail. On Garnett’s left was Archer’s Brigade, under Col. Fry, whose numbers had been largely reduced in the first day’s fight—and which had moved directly forward as the brigade of direction. Close joined with it were Pettigrew’s North Carolinians under Col. Marshall, Pettigrew himself being in command of the division; and further on were Davis’ Mississippians and Brockenborough’s Virginia Brigade, all well aligned while a hundred and fifty yards behind, Trimble led Lane’s and Scales’ Brigade, the latter under Col. Lowrence, Scales having been severely wounded two days earlier. Although the right had not suffered greatly during it shorter progress up the valley and being somewhat protected by favoring ridges, heavy loss had been inflicted on the center and on the left, which had been fearfully cut up during its long and exposed march. But though sorely distressed on front and flank, with ranks largely depleted, the left brigades maintained their original alignment and still pursued their onward course. As the attacking column, now much narrowed, moved up the slope that formed a natural glacis to the enemy’s works, the batteries opened still more rapidly with grape and canister and the front line of the enemy, that lay in advance, together with the second line at the stone wall, poured into the Confederate column volley after volley of musketry—sending out a perfect sheet of lead and iron—a storm of murderous fire. The ranks of the first Confederate line, in the immediate front of Hays’ artillery, were mowed down as grass by the scythe. The carnage was terrible. The piercing cries of the dying and wounded could be heard over the field and the shrieks of shells and the roar of the cannon. Trimble, in command of the two North Carolina brigades, says of Heth’s Division, “that it seemed to sink into the earth under the tempest of fire poured into them.” “We passed over the remnant of their line and immediately some one close to my left sang out ‘three cheers for the old North State’, when both brigades sent up a hearty shout. It was the cry of brave men rushing into the jaws of death.” So furious was the fire and so murderous that it staggered the line—which “halted, returned the fire and with a wild yell, dashed on.” The first line of the enemy, which lay a hundred yards in front, was thrown back against the wall, many being captured and hurried to the rear without guard. But yet the roar and din of the conflict continued and, though the smoke of battle obscured the front, the carnage went on as the columns drew closer and closer to the enemy’s works. A front that had been originally more than a mile in length had now been compressed into less than 800 yards and the concentrated fire of the enemy’s artillery, as well as musketry, from the flanks as well as from the front, told with fearful effect. As the line approached the enemy’s works, Pettigrew seeing Brockenborough’s Virginia brigade and Davis’ Mississippians give way under the murderous fire that assailed them, hurried his aide, Captain Shepherd, to rally them—but all of Captain Shepherd’s efforts were without avail. They had become separated some distance from Pettigrew’s North Carolinian Brigade and lacked the support imparted by the immediate cooperation of other troops. They could not be rallied, but broke and fell back at the critical moment of the ordeal. It was then that Trimble ordered his North Carolina Brigades to close up on the first column and Lane bearing to the left, with well aligned ranks and in handsome style, covered the position made vacant on the left by the broken brigades, while Lowrance led Scales’ Brigade directly forward to unite with the front line then one hundred yards in advance. In this hasty movement of Lane’s, however, because of a misunderstanding as to whether the guide was right or left, the Seventh North Carolina and a part of the 33rd, being on Lane’s right, became separated from the larger part of the brigade, which continued its movement well to the left, leaving some space intervening between it and Pettigrew’s Brigade. The position of the troops before the final charge was: Pickett’s line was in front of a part of the projecting wall, with Kemper’s brigade extending to the right of it, covering the front of the Federal brigades of Hall and Harrow. Archer’s Brigade was in front of the projection and along with Pettigrew’s North Carolina Brigade, extended in front of the retired wall, with Scales’ Brigade coming up in the rear, while Lane, with nearly four regiments, was some distance to the left. On the far right, Pickett’s command had crossed the pike, while the line further to the left had yet to pass it. As the troops in their progress reached the fences enclosing this road, the obstruction tended greatly to break up their alignment. Many were killed and wounded there and others sought protection from the fearful fire by lying in the road. The column advancing beyond the pike was thus considerably weakened, and especially was this the case on the center and left where the road ran closer to the stone wall and was stoutly held by the front line of the enemy. Pickett’s troops, however, crossing at a point nearly a quarter of a mile distant from the enemy’s works, escaped the full effect of this damaging obstacle and maintained a more perfect organization. And in like manner, the right of the Confederate column had the good fortune of not being subjected to a similar artillery fire to that which mowed down the ranks of Pettigrew’s command. It is narrated by General Doubleday that all of the artillery supporting Webb’s Brigade, which, being the right of Gibbon’s Division, held the projecting wall, being destroyed except one piece in Cushing’s Battery which was in the rear of Webb’s right and nearly all of the artillerymen being either killed of wounded, as the Confederates came close. Cushing, himself mortally wounded, with his bowels protruding, exclaimed “Webb, I must have one more shot at them” and caused his piece to be run down to the stone wall and fired, immediately expiring. This incident not only illustrates how Pickett’s Division during its advance fortunately escaped the artillery fire that was so effective against Pettigrew’s troops, but accounts for the presence of a gun at the angle where Major Engelhard subsequently found it. A few moments after a fresh battery reached Webb’s left and opened a murderous fire on Pickett’s charging column. Col. Peyton, who came out of the fight in command of Garnett’s Brigade, in his official report, speaks of having routed the advanced line of the Federal infantry a hundred yards in front of the stone wall and says: “Up to this time we had suffered but little from the enemy’s batteries with the exception of one posted on the mountain about one mile to our right, which enfiladed nearly our entire line with fearful effect. Having routed the enemy here, General Garnett ordered the brigade forward, which was promptly obeyed. From the point which it had first routed the enemy, the brigade moved rapidly forward towards the stone wall, a galling fire, both from infantry and artillery, using grape and canister. We were now within 75 paces of the wall, unsupported on the right and left; General Kemper being some 50 or 60 yards behind and to the right and General Armistead coming up in our rear.” “Our line, much shattered, still kept up the advance until within about twenty paces of the wall when for a moment they recoiled under the terrible fire they poured into our ranks, both from their batteries and their sheltered infantry. At this moment, General Kemper came up on the right and General Armistead in the rear, when the three lines joining in concert rushed forward. His strongest and his last (illegible word) was instantly granted; the Confederate battle flag waved over his defenses and the fighting over the wall became hand to hand of the most desperate character, but more than half having already fallen, our line was found too weak to rout the enemy. We hoped for a support on our left (which had started simultaneously with us) but our hope was in vain. Yet a small remnant remained in desperate struggle, receiving a fire in front, on the right and on the left. Many were climbing over the wall and fighting the enemy in his own trench until completely surrounded and those who were not killed or wounded were captured with the exception of about 300 who came off slowly but greatly scattered—the identity of every regiment being entirely ost, every regimental commander killed or wounded.” We have an official report from either Armistead’s or Kemper’s Brigades. The latter was on the extreme right, extending south of the stone wall, and in its advance suffered greatly from the flanking fire of two Yankee regiments thrown out by General Stannard against it. A Federal account says: “The Confederate line is up almost to the grove in front of Robinson’s. It has reached the clump of scrub oaks. It has drifted past the Vermont boys. They move upon the run up to the breastworks of rails, bearing Hancock’s line to the top of the ridge—so powerful their momentum.” “Men fire into each other’s faces, not five feet apart. There are bayonet thrusts, saber strokes, pistol shots—cool, deliberate movements on the part of some; hot, passionate, desperate efforts on the part of others; hand-to-hand contests; recklessness of life; tenacity of purpose; fiery determination; oaths, yells, curses, hurrahs, shouting. The Confederates have swept past the Vermont regiments. ‘Take them out on the flank’, says Stannard. The 13th and 16th Vermont swing out from their trench line. They move forward and pour a deadly volley into the backs of Kemper’s troops. With a hurrah they rush on to drive home the bayonet. Other regiments close upon the foe. The Confederate column has lost its power. The lines waver……..Thousands of Confederates throw down their arms and give themselves up as prisoners.” Another Federal account of Kemper’s attack says: “Up to the rifle pits, across them, over the barricades---the momentum of the charge swept them on. Our thin line could fight, but it had not weight enough to resist the momentum. It was pushed behind the guns. Right on came the enemy. They were upon the guns—were bayoneting the gunners—were waving their flags above our pieces. But they had penetrated to the fatal point. A storm of grape and canister tore its way from man to man and marked its way with corpses straight down its line. They had exposed themselves to the enfilading fire of the guns on the western slope of Cemetery Hill. That exposure sealed their fate.” “The line reeled back, disjoined already, in an instant in fragments. Our men were just behind the guns. They leaped forward in a disordered mass. But there was little need of fighting now. A regiment threw down its arms and with colors at its head, rushed over and surrendered. All along the field detachments did the same. Over the field, the escaped fragments of the charging line fell back. A single brigade—Harrow’s came out with a loss of 54 officers and 793 men. So the whole corps fought—so too they fought all down the line.” Colonel Fry, who so gallantly led Archer’s brigade, says: “I heard Garnett give a command. Seeing my gesture of inquiry he called out: ‘I am dressing on you.’ A few seconds later he fell dead. A moment later a shot through my thigh penetrated me. The smoke soon became so dense I could not see what was going on. A moment later I heard General Pettigrew calling to rally them on the left. All of the five regimental colors of my command reached the line of the enemy’s works and many of my men and officers were killed after passing over it. Col. Shepherd, who succeeded Colonel Fry in command said in his report that “every flag of Archer’s Brigade except one was captured at or within the works of the enemy”. Scales’ Brigade followed closely upon Archer’s, dashed up to the projecting wall and planted their battle flags upon the enemy’s breastworks. Pettigrew’s and the left of Archer’s had surged forward beyond the projecting wall, and had firmly established themselves along the retired portion of the wall. General Bachelder of the Federal Army, who so thoroughly studied the field in the days after the battle, than whom no one knew so well the details of that affairs, says: “The left of the column continued to move on towards the second wall, threatening the right and rear of Gibbon’s Division, which held the advanced line. General Webb, whose brigade was on the right, (in the projection) had hurried back to bring up his right reserve from the second line. But before this could be accomplished the first line broke under the tremendous pressure which threatened its front and flank and fell back upon the reserve. “Thus while Garnett was struggling for possession of the stone wall on the Confederate right and Kemper was engaged with Harrow and Hall still further to the right, seeking unsuccessfully to penetrate the enemy’s lines and turn the left of the hill, the advance of Pettigrew’s troops beyond the protruding wall, taking Webb’s exposed brigade on the right flank, caused it to give back from the wall and yield that part of the projection to the regiments of Archer and Scales that pressed them in front.” Captain McIntyre, Acting Adjutant General of Scales’ Brigade, says: “My brigade, or a larger part of it, went inside the enemy’s works.” Capt. Guerrant, acting as brigade inspector, says that Scales’ Brigade entered the breastworks and remained in position until driven out by the enemy’s advancing on their flanks. Major Engelhard, the gallant adjutant general of the two brigades of Pender’s Division, commanded by Trimble, says: “The point at which the troops with me struck the enemy’s works projected farthest to the front. I recollect well, my horse having been shot, I leaned my elbow on one of the guns to rest, while I watched with painful anxiety the fight upon Pickett’s right, for the success depended upon the tenableness of our position. Surrounding me were the soldiers of Pender’s, Heth’s, and Pickett’s divisions and it required all the resources at my command to prevent their following en masse the retreating enemy, and some did go so far that when we were compelled to withdraw, they were unable to reach our lines, the enemy closing in from the right and left. We remained in quiet and undisputed possession of the enemy’s works, the men flushed with victory, eager to press forward. But when the right of Pickett’s Division was compelled by the overpowering attack upon its right flank to give way, there was nothing left for us to do but surrender ourselves prisoners or withdraw in confusion before the converging lines of the enemy, those in our immediate front not having rallied.” The retreat wall in front of Pettigrew’s North Carolina Brigade was higher and stronger than at the projection and along it skirted a lane enclosed by a strong fence. Hays’ Division clung to the wall with great pertinacity and the second line, protected by the high crest of the ridge, commanded it completely, while Howard’s fresh artillery on the slope of Cemetery Hill, swept the front with an enfilading fire. But while it was impracticable for any troops to carry it by assault, the Confederate line, much weakened by the losses suffered in the march, silenced the batteries in their front and suppressed the infantry fire from the wall, and maintained the unequal contest there to the last. Some of Pettigrew’s North Carolinians advanced to the wall itself, doing all that splendid valor and heroic endurance could do to dislodge the enemy—but their heroism was in vain. Col. Jones, in charge of Pettigrew’s Brigade, says: “On we pushed and were now at the enemy’s works, when we received a murderous fire upon our left flank. I looked to see where it came from—we were completely flanked on our left not only by infantry but artillery. One of our brigades had given way. The enemy had seized upon the gap and poured a galling fire into our troops forcing them to give way in succession to the right. The color bearer of the 26th North Carolina was shot down while attempting to plant the flag on the wall.” Gaston Broughton, commanding Company D, 26th N.C., says: “We crossed the road and went to the enemy’s works, where we continued fighting until most of the regiment was captured. The enemy closed in on us from the rear.” Lt. W.N. Snelling of Company B, same regiment, says: “We went to an old road some ten steps from the rock fence behind which was the enemy.” Major Haynes of the 11th N.C., says: “I was about 50 yards (I think nearer) of the wall when I was shot down. When shot, we were in line going towards the cemetery wall. We were all cut down—no one left not wounded in my company save two.” Captain J.J. Davis: “My company was next to the extreme left of the regiment, 47th N.C. Regiment, and when not far from the enemy’s works, say not more than 100 yards, a sergeant of an adjoining regiment called my attention to the fact that the troops to the left had given way. I looked and saw that at some distance to the left, the troops had given way, but our supports were then advancing in admirable style.” (Lane’s Brigade) Colonel Graves, who was to the right of me, had kept the regiment so well in hand and was urging the men on. “And we advanced”, says Captain Davis, “to the plank fence that ran alongside the lane just under the stone wall.” Here he and his regiment were afterwards captured. Col. B.F. Little, Captain of Company E, 52nd N.C. Regiment: “I was shot down when within about 50 yards of the enemy’s works, and the ground between where I lay and the works was thickly strewn by killed and wounded, some of them having fallen immediately at the works. I do not think a single one of my men ever got back to the rear except those who were slightly wounded before they got to the place where I was wounded. And such was the case with companies on either side of mine. When I was taken prisoner and borne to the rear, I passed over their works and found some of my men killed and wounded immediately at their works.” It is of Pettigrew’s Brigade that Col. Swallow writes as follows: “Pettigrew’s Brigade now united with Archer’s Regiment which had not entered the fortifications and attacked the enemy with the most desperate determination.” While the writer (Col. Swallow) lay wounded with General Smyth, of Hays’ Division, at Gettysburg, that officer told him that Pettigrew’s Brigade all along his front were within thirty or forty feet of his line and fought with a determination he had never seen equaled. This encomium, so richly merited, is, however, to be shared with Lane’s Brigade, equally with Pettigrew’s, for Smyth’s front was the extreme left where Lane fought as well as Pettigrew’s Brigade. While such was the position of affairs on the right and center when the smoke of the battle lifted somewhat, Brockenborough’s Virginians and Davis’ Mississippians not having rallied from the deadly discharge that had hurled them back, Lane’s North Carolinians were alone on the left and bore the brunt of the conflict on that part of the field. In his report Lane says: “My command never moved forward more handsomely. The men received their fire in accordance with orders until within good range of the enemy and then opened fire with telling effect, driving the cannoneers from their pieces, completely silencing the guns in our immediate front, and breaking the line of infantry on the crest of the hill.” “We advanced to within a few yards of the stone wall, exposed all the while to a heavy raking artillery fire from the right. My left was here very much exposed and a column of infantry was thrown forward in that direction that enfiladed my entire line.” This was a column of regiments that was thrown forward from Hay’s right and despite an enfilading artillery fire, Lane broke off a regiment from his left to face the threatened danger. Captain Lovell, Company A, 28th N.C., Lane’s Brigade, says: “Some of my men were wounded and captured inside the works.” Col. Norwood, of the 37th N.C., says that regiment, along with the brigade, advanced to within thirty yards of the enemy’s works, where they encountered a plank fence. “Several officers, myself among them, sprang over the fence, followed by the whole command so far as I know. The cannoneers then left their pieces.” Lt. Col. Morris, of the 33rd N.C., says: “Pettigrew’s and Archer’s men reached the enemy’s works a little in advance of us, and succeeded in driving the enemy from their works in their front, but were exposed to a flank fire both right and left. We drove the enemy from his position on the road and from behind the stone fence. The enemy having disappeared from our front, we became engaged with a flanking party on our left and were surrounded and captured. Six officers on the right of my regiment were wounded in the enemy’s works and captured.” The brave Major Jos. H. Saunders, of the 33rd, says: “I went, by a subsequent measurement, to within sixty yards of the stone wall, where I was wounded. Just before I was shot, I saw a Federal color bearer just in front of the left wing of the regiment, get up and run waiving his flag and followed by a regiment, so that there was nothing to keep our regiment from going right on into the enemy’s works. I was shot by the troops to our left flank. At the time, I was acting as left guide to the line of battle, directing the line of march more to the right so as to strike the enemy’s works in a straighter line.” Rev. Dr. George W. Sanderlin, who was captain of a company of the 33rd N.C., says: “Our brigade being in the second line advanced in fine style over the field. When we were about 200 yards from the enemy’s works, General Lane ordered a half wheel to the left and we continued our advance, our organization being excellently preserved, came up to the enemy’s works. We were subjected to a rapid artillery fire from our front as well as a deadly musketry fire from the left. My regiment, the 33rd N.C., rested at the enemy’s works, the artillery men being driven away from their pieces and the infantry having been driven from their breastworks. For some five minutes, all was comparatively quiet in our front, except a desultory firing here and there. We could hear the Federal officers just over the ridge trying to rally and reform their men. Attention was called to a piece of artillery just at hand which had been struck in the muzzle by a shell, from a gun of like caliber from a Confederate battery, which remained fastened in the bore. We noticed the situation on the extreme right of the line and finally saw it driven off by the enemy. A column had been thrown out on the enemy’s right which flanked us. We, being in danger of being cut off, were ordered back, Pickett’s troops on our right having been in the meantime repulsed. Just then the enemy opened on us a most heavy and destructive fire, and as we began to retreat the enemy in front of us rallied and rushed down, crossing their breastworks, attacking us on our right. Our line on the extreme right (Pickett’s) had given away before this and we made the best retreat we could. Our organization was well preserved up until the time we retreated. I am absolutely confident that Lane’s brigade held its position on the enemy’s works longer than any other command and that we did not move towards the rear until the rest of the line was in full retreat, the extreme right being well advanced to the rear.” The Seventh North Carolina and that part of the 33rd which became separated from the rest of Lane’s Brigade moved forward gallantly, drove the enemy from the stone wall, silenced the guns at their front and lost officers and men at the stone wall, many being captured there. In the brief minutes that had elapsed since the final rush on the enemy’s works had begun, the carnage had been terrific. Garnett had fallen near the wall. Kemper was desperately wounded at the wall. Pettigrew had received a mortal blow. Trimble was knocked hors de combat. Fry, Marshall and Lowrance had fallen among the thousands of officers and men whose life blood was ebbing on that field. But if the Confederates had suffered fearfully, they had also inflicted a heavy loss on their opponents. “Hancock lay bleeding upon the ground, Gibbon was being taken wounded from the field. Webb had been hit. Sherrill and Smythe both wounded, the former mortally. Stannard had received a painful wound, but his troops continued to pour volley after volley into Pickett’s flanks.” When the front line of Webb’s brigade gave way under the pressure of Pettigrew’s men on the flank, they had fallen back, some to the cover of a clump of trees in the rear and others to a stone wall that crossed the ridge. From these points they maintained a desultory firing upon the Confederates, who, having possession of the stone wall, used it as protection for themselves. The projection was practically cleared, but, though Archer’s and Scales’ and Pickett’s men held the angle next to Pettigrew, there was no general effort made to penetrate the enemy’s line. In the meantime, regiment after regiment had hurried to cover the break in the Federal line until the men stood four deep, ready to hurl back the Confederates if they should advance. Such was the condition of the comparative repose when Armistead’s Brigade reached the wall in Garnett’s rear. “Seeing his men were inclined to use it as a defense, as the front line were doing, he raised his hat upon his sword, and springing upon a broken place in the wall, called on his men to follow him. Nearly 100 of the gallant 53rd Virginia, led by Colonel Martin and Major Timberlake, responded with alacrity and entered the works, only four of whom advanced with these officers to the crest, passing, as they advanced, General Webb, who was returning to his front line.” Armistead there received his mortal blow, and 42 of his men fell within the works as the enemy rushed forward to recover their position. It was the work of brief moments for as the pressure on the Federal line had been sharp, the recoil was quick and decisive. On the right Kemper had been driven back and the battle having ceased in front of Hall’s and Harrow’s Brigades, these were hurriedly advanced, at the moment the force collected in the rear of Webb rushed forward, taking Garnett’s and Armistead’s troops in the flank as well as front and dispersing and entirely routing them. As the right was hurled back and the fragments of General Pickett’s Division were hurrying to the rear, the battle began to rage more furiously on the left. The artillery swept the front occupied by Pettigrew’s command and Hay’s Division renewed the contest with increased ardor. A Delaware regiment on Smythe’s left sprang over the wall and penetrating the Confederate line, opened a fire to the right and left and hurried the drama to a close. The remnant of Pettigrew’s and Scales’ and Archer’s Brigades that could not escape, were taken prisoner by the victorious columns closing in on them from the rear, while most of Lane’s Brigade further to the left had the better fortune of avoiding a like fate by a speedy retreat, but they were the last to relinquish their position in the immediate front of the enemy’s works. As they withdrew, they saw the field far down the valley dotted with squads of Pickett’s broken regiment, while nearer were the fragments of other regiments in full retreat. Thus ended the events of those brief ten minutes—the gallant charge, the successful planting of the Confederate standards along the entire line of the Federal works—the comparative lull, save on the right, where Kemper made his fierce entrance into the enemy’s lines, his speedy repulse—and the overwhelming rally of Hancock’s forces, enveloping and dispersing Pickett’s Division—the terrible onslaught on the left, and the dispersal of the last of that splendid body of 12,000 picked troops who essayed to do what was impossible of accomplishment. Conspicuous gallantry had brought to the Confederate banner an accumulation of martial honor, but on no field was ever more devotion shown, more heroism, more nerve, than on that day which has been justly considered the turning point in the tide of Confederate achievement. It was indeed a field of honor as well as a field of blood, and the sister states of Virginia and North Carolina had equal cause to weave chaplets of laurel and cypress. On their sons the heaviest blows fell and to them the highest praise. Archer’s men doubtless suffered heavily, but the chief loss was borne by the three North Carolina and the three Virginia Brigades in the assault of the works. The losses of the latter are easy of ascertainment—for they were fresh and had been in no other conflict; while the former, having suffered heavily on the first day and having lost most of their regimental and company officers, made at the time no special return of the loss in this now celebrated charge. Lane carried in 1,300 and lost 600, nearly all killed and wounded. Pettigrew’s Brigade was about 1,700 and lost 1,100, the greater part killed and wounded. Scales’ Brigade suffered in the like proportion. These three brigades doubtless lost in killed and wounded 1,500 men. The three Virginia brigades lost 224 killed and 1,140 wounded to total of 1,364. They had besides 1,499 missing. While the North Carolina brigades did not have so many “captured” as Pickett’s troops, they doubtless suffered a heavier loss in killed and wounded, although they took into the fight a smaller force, and their organization was much disturbed by the severe loss of regimental and company officers in the battle on the first. But despite this drawback, they exhibited a heroism, a constancy, an endurance unsurpassed, upon that field where they accomplished as much as any other troops, suffered greater losses and remained the longest. Indeed, it was to them a day of glory as well as of mournful disaster. Transcribed by Christine Spencer, June 2008

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