Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
REPELLING LEE'S LAST BLOW' AT GETTYSBURG.
manders. A "staff-officer" is an officer attached to the person or headquarters of a general as his aide or assistant.
To illustrate the general principle as to the service of the special arms, I quote from the "Instructions of Frederick the Great" to his artillery. He was himself, by the way, an "artillery specialist" of the highest order, yet I have never heard it suggested that this unfitted him for "ordering a line of battle." lie was also a disciplinarian of the sternest school, yet he "almost preached insubordination" in order to reduce to a minimum the mischief that meddling with the artillery by any general, even the general-in-chief, might occasion. He says:
As to the other question, that of policy, each general must decide it for himself, and General Hancock presumably acted according to his best judgment in the emergency suddenly presented to him when the cannonade opened. I do not know his reasons for countermanding my orders, and therefore cannot discuss them, even were I disposed to do so. As to the hypothetical case presented by General Walker, the possible effect of the enemy's cannonade on the morale of our troops, and his question, "Who was the better judge, General Hunt or General Hancock?" I may be permitted to reply, that a corps commander ought to be, so far as his own corps is concerned. It is, however, one of the necessary duties of an artillery commander to study the qualities of the other arms, for these must be considered in organizing and distributing the artillery, and are, as we see in this very case, important elements in determining its service. I had studied the Army of the Potomac, believed in its high qualities, and when, for special reasons, I instructed our batteries to withhold their fire for a given period, I knew the severity of the trial to which I was subjecting all the troops. I knew, also, that while the batteries would be the direct object of the enemy's fire, their men must stand idle at the guns and bear its full fury, while the infantry, lying on the reverse slope of the ridge and out of the enemy's sight, would be partly sheltered from it. Yet I felt no misgiving as to the fortitude of my cannoneers, and no doubt as to that of the infantry. I think I was justified by the event, for the troops on General Hancock's line, where my instructions were not followed, and those on General Newton's line (on Hancock's immediate left), where they were followed, were equal in "heart and courage" for the "fearful ordeal of Longstreet's charge." The object of my orders, however, was to spare them this ordeal altogether by breaking up the charge before it reached our lines. Had my orders been fully carried out, I think their whole line would have been--as half of it was--driven back before reaching our position, and this would have given us our only chance for a successful counter-attack. As it was, the splendid valor of Pickett's division alone enabled the Confederates, although defeated, to preserve their morale intact. Had they been repulsed without coming into immediate contact with our infantry, their morale would have been seriously impaired, their sense of superiority humbled.
REPELLING LEE'S LAST BLOW AT GETTYSBURG.
THE brigades of Harrow, Webb, and Hall, of Gibbon's division, Hancock's corps, occupied the crest on Cemetery Ridge on July 3d. The right of Hall's and the left of Webb's brigades were in a clump of trees, called by the enemy the salient of our position, and this grove was the focus of the most fearful cannonade that preceded Pickett's charge. One regiment, the 72d Pennsylvania, in Webb's command, was a little in rear of the left of its brigade; two regiments, the 19th Massachusetts and 42d New York, Colonel A. F. Devereux commanding, of Hall's brigade, were in rear of the right of their brigade.
From the opposite ridge, three-fourths of a mile away, a line of skirmishers sprang lightly forward out of the woods, and with intervals well kept moved rapidly down into the open fields, closely followed by a line of battle, then by another, and by yet a third. Both sides watched this never-to-be-forgotten scene,-- the grandeur of attack of so many thousand men. Gibbon's division, which was to stand the brunt of the assault, looked with admiration on the different lines of Confederates, marching forward with easy, swinging step, and the men were heard to exclaim: "Here they come!" "Here they come !" "Here comes the infantry !"