War of the Rebellion: Serial 043 Page 0131 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

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any orders until he had reported to General Meade remarking, however, that he {General Sickles

would doubtless receive orders immediately. Two p. m. came, and yet no orders. Why was this? Other orders than those expected by General Sickles were, it appears, in preparation at headquarters. It has since been stated, upon unquestionable authority, that General Meade had decided upon a retreat, and that an order to withdraw from the position held by our army was penned by his chief of staff, General Butterfield, though happily its promulgation never took place. This order is probably on record in the Adjutant-General's Office. Meanwhile the enemy's columns were moving rapidly around to our left and rear. These facts were again reported to headquarters, but brought no response. Buford's cavalry had been massed on the left, covering that flank with outposts, and videttes were thrown forward on the Emmitsburg road. While awaiting the expected orders, Sickles made good use of his time in leveling all the fences and stone wall, so as to facilitate the movements of his troops and to favor the operations of the cavalry. What, then, was the surprise of Sickles to see of a sudden all the cavalry withdrawn leaving his flank entirely exposed! He sent an earnest remonstrance to General Meade, whose reply was that he did not intend to withdraw he cavalry, and that a part of this division {Buford's

should be sent back. It never returned. Under these circumstances, Sickles threw forward three regiments of light troops as skirmishers and for outpost duty. The critical moment had now arrived. The enemy's movements indicated their purpose to seize the Round Tophill; and this in their possession, General Longstreet would have had easy work in cutting up our left wing. To prevent this disaster, Sickles waited no longer for orders from General Meade, but directed General Hobart Ward's brigade and Smith's battery {Fourth New York

to secure that vital position, and at the same time advancing his line of battle about 300 yards, so as to hold the crest in his front, he extended his left to support Ward an cover the threatened rear of the army. These dispositions were made in the very face of the enemy, who were advancing in columns of attack, and Sickles dreaded lest the conflict should open before his dispositions were completed. At this juncture he was summoned to report in person at headquarters, to attend a council of corps commanders. His preparations were of such moment and the attack so near, that General Sickles delayed attending the council, while giving all his attention to the carrying out of his orders. A second peremptory summons came from General Meade, and, leaving his unfinished task to the active supervision of General Birney and General Humphreys, Sickles rode off to the rear to headquarters. Before he had reached there, the sound of cannon announced that the battle had begun. Hastening rapidly on, he was met by General Meade at the door of his quarters, who said, "General, I will not ask you to dismount; the enemy are engaging your front; the council is over. " It was an unfortunate moment, as it proved, for a council of war. Sickles, putting spurs to his horse, flew back to his command, and, finding that Graham's brigade was not advanced as far as he desired, he was pushing that brigade and a battery forward about 100 yards, when General Meade at length arrived on the field. The following colloquy ensued, which I gathered from several officers present: "Are you not too much extended