Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
GENERAL HANCOCK AND THE ARTILLERY AT GETTYSBURG.
for guessing; the long marches, followed by the forced ones of July 1-2, of the Army of the Potomac left thousands of stragglers on the roads. These totals are of little importance; they would have been of some significance had the larger army been defeated; but it was not. At the "points of contact" the Confederates were almost always the stronger. On July 1st 18,000 Federal combatants contended against at least 25,000 Confederates, and got the worst of it. On July 2d Longstreet's 15,000 overcame Sickles's 10,000, and had to halt when a larger force was opposed to them. Williams's Twelfth Corps retook its works from a larger body of Ewell's troops, for at the contested point they were opposed by an inferior number; and then held them, for Johnson's superior force was as much hampered here by the nature of the ground as was Meade's on the left, the evening before. In many respects the Confederates had the advantage: they had much better ground for their artillery; they were fresher; they were all veterans; they were better organ ized; they were commanded by officers who had been selected for their experience and abilities, and in whom they had implicit confidence. These were enormous advantages, sufficient to counterbalance the difference of numbers, which, if any existed, was small; and whilst all the Confederate army, except here and there a brigade, were fought to the utmost, the strongest Federal corps (the Sixth) was hardly in action, the total loss of its eight brigades being but two hundred and forty-two killed, wounded, and missing. But the Southerners were subjected here to the disadvantages that the Northerners had to contend with in Virginia: they were surrounded by enemies, not friends who supplied them with aid and information; and they were not by choice, but by necessity, the assailants on the chosen ground of their opponents.
Right gallantly did they act their part, and their failure carried no discredit with it. Their military honor was not tarnished by their defeat, nor their spirit lowered, but their respect for their opponents was restored to what it had been before Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.
GENERAL HANCOCK AND THE ARTILLERY AT GETTYSBURG.I. BY FRANCIS A. WALKER, BREVET BRIGADIER-GENERAL, U. S. V.GENERAL HUNT, in his article on "The Third Day at Gettysburg" [see p. 375], criticises General Hancock's conduct of his artillery, on the ground that his directing the Second Corps batteries to continue firing throughout the Confederate cannonade was both an encroachment upon his own (General Hunt's) proper authority, as chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac, and an act of bad policy. On the latter point he says:
"Had my instructions been followed here, as they were by McGilvery, I do not believe that Pickett's division would have reached our line. We lost not only the fire of one-third of our guns, but the resulting crossfire, which would have doubled its value."
This, it will be seen, constitutes a very severe impeachment. I have had much correspondence and conversation with General Hancock on the subject; and, as the heroic leader of the Second Corps can no longer reply for himself, I beg leave to speak on his behalf.
In the first place, two antagonistic theories of authority are advanced. General Hancock claimed that he commanded the line of battle along Cemetery Ridge. General Hunt, in substance, alleges that General Hancock commanded the infantry of that line, and that he himself commanded the artillery. Winfield S. Hancock did not read his commission as constituting him a major-general of infantry, nor did he believe that a line of battle was to be ordered by military specialists. He knew that by both law and reason the defense of Cemetery Ridge was intrusted to him, subject to the actual, authentic orders of the commander of the Army of the Potomac, but not subject to the discretion of one of General Meade's staff-officers. General Meade could, under the President's order, have