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The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

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OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 2 (Gettysburg Campaign)
Page 556 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

Orders given during the afternoon, and after the engagement had opened on the right, required me to co-operate with the attacking force as soon as any opportunity of doing so with good effect was offered. Seeing the stir alluded to, I thought that opportunity had come, and immediately sought General Early, with a view of making an attack in concert with him. He agreed with me as to the propriety of attacking, and made preparations accordingly. I hastened to inform the officer commanding the troops on my right (part of Pender's division) that, in accordance with our plan, I would attack just at dark, and proceeded to make my arrangements; but having to draw my troops out of town by the flank, change the direction of the line of battle, and then to traverse a distance of 1, 200 or 1, 400 yards, while General Early had to move only half that distance without change of front, the result was that, before I drove the enemy's skirmishers in, General Early had attacked and had been compelled to withdraw. After driving in the enemy's skirmishers, the advance line was halted by General Ramseur, who commanded the right brihade, to enable him to report to me certain important facts (for statement of which I refer to his report) he had discovered as to the nature of the ground and of the defenses. These facts, together with Early's withdrawal, of which I had been officially informed, and the increased darkness, convinced me that it would be a useless sacrifice of life to go on, and a recall was ordered. But instead of falling back to the original line, I caused the front line to assume a strong position in the plain to the right of the town, along the hollow of an old roadbed. This position was much nearer the enemy, was clear of the town, and was one from which I could readily attack without confusion. The second line was placed in the position originally held by the first. Everything was gotten ready to attack at daylight; but a short time after assuming this new position, I was ordered to send without delay all the troops I could spare without destroying my ability to hold my position, to re-enforce Major-General Johnson. As my front line was much more strongly posted than my second, and was fully competent to hold the position, and as the re-enforcements had to be in position before daylight, I was compelled to send to General Johnson the troops of my second line, i. e., the brigades of Daniel and O'Neal (excepting the Fifth Alabama). These brigades participated in the engagement on the left, under General Johnson, and remained under his orders until the following night, when our whole corps changed front to rear, so as to extend the line occupied by the other two corps. For a report of their operations on July 3, I have, therefore, to refer respectfully to the report of General Johnson, and to those of General Daniel and Colonel O'Neal, herewith filed. This order left me powerless to do more than hold my position, unless the enemy should be very much weakened in my front, for I had now remaining but a single thin line, composed of two small brigades, about the third of another, and one regiment (the Fifth Alabama) of O'Neal's brigade (in all, not over 1, 800 men), facing what I believed then and now to be the most impregnable portion of the enemy's line of intrenchments. The gallant men and officers of this line held their new position all day on July 3, under a sharp and incessant fire from the enemy's sharpshooters and an occasional artillery fire. The enemy made during the day several ineffectual efforts, by advancing heavy lines of


Page 556 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.
OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 27, Part 2 (Gettysburg Campaign)
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