War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0130 N. C., VA., W. VA., MD., PA., ETC. Chapter XXXIX.

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volving an entire change of front, and there await the movements of the enemy. The position which General Meade had selected for the final struggle between the two armies was some 15 miles distant from Gettysburg, where fate willed that it should occur. Whether this important circular ordering him to fall back reached the lamented Reynolds before he became engaged at Gettysburg, it is difficult to say. It could not have failed to reach General Sickles; but he happily determined to push on to the rescue of the First and Eleventh Corps, already engaged. It is strange that General Meade should make no mention in his report of this singular and most important fact: that he issued a plan of campaign on Wednesday, July 1, directing his whole army to retire and take up the defensive on Pipe Creek almost at the moment that his left flank was fiercely struggling with the right wing of the enemy. This proves how often the plans of a general are frustrated by unlooked-for contingencies. General Meade broke up his quarters at Taneytown, as he states, at 11 p. m. on Wednesday, and reached Gettysburg at 1 a. m. Thursday, July 2. Early in the morning he set to work examining the position of the various army corps. It is hardly true to say that he imitated the example of all prudent commanders on the eve of a battle, and made a complete survey of the ground he occupied. It was on these occasions that the genius of the first Napoleon revealed itself; for at a glance he saw the advantages of his own position and the assailable point of the enemy. It seems that General Lee was somewhat more astute than Meade in this, for in his report he states what he deemed "the most favorable point" for his attack. "In front of General Longstreet: {opposite our left wing

, Lee remarks, " the enemy held a position from which, if he could be driven, it was thought our army could be used to advantage in assailing the more elevated ground beyond, and thus enable us to reach the crest of the ridge. That officer, the was directed to carry this position. " It is plain enough that Lee regarded the point where our left was posted as the key to our position, and if that could be taken from us our defeat was inevitable. It is not to be supposed that General Meade refused to see this; but as he makes no mention of it in his report, I propose, for the sake of the future historian of the battle, to tell what I know about it. Near this important ground was posted the valiant Third Corps, and its commander, General Sickles, saw at once how necessary it was to occupy the elevated ground in his front toward the Emmitsburg road, and to extend his lines to the commanding eminence known as the Round Top, or Sugar Loaf hill. Unless this were done, the left and rear of our army would be in the greatest danger. Sickles concluded that no time was to be lost, as he observed the enemy massing large bodies of troops on their right {our left

. Receiving no orders, and filled with anxiety

he reported in person to General Meade, and urged the advance he deemed so essential. "O, " said Meade,:generals are all apt to look for the attack to be made where they are. " Whether this was a jest or a sneer Sickles did not stop to consider, but begged Meade to go over the ground with him instantly; but the commander-in-chief declined this on account of other duties. Yielding, however, to the prolonged solicitations of Sickles, General Meade desired General Hunt, chief of artillery, to accompany Sickles, and report the result of their reconnaissance. Hunt concurred with Sickles as to the line to be occupied- the advance line from the left of the Second Corps to the Round Top hill-but he declined to give