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Pennsylvania, the one in greatest
danger, was so laggard that she asked New Jersey to come to her help,
and that little State gallantly did so.


Hooker deserved credit for appreciating his own unfitness for the
command of the army that was again to fight Lee. He crossed the Potomac
June 26th, making a movement which threatened Lee's communications, and
resigned the next day. At Frederick, on the 28th, he published an order
to the effect that the army had been placed in charge of Major-General
George G. Meade.

This was an excellent appointment. Although Meade was born, in 1815, in
Cadiz, Spain, he was an American, because his father was the United
States naval agent at the time. Meade was graduated from West Point in
1835, and won distinction in the war with the Seminoles and with Mexico.
The appointment was a surprise to him, but it pleased everybody, and he
modestly took hold, resolved to do the best he could.


He adhered to the general plan of Hooker. His army numbered about
100,000, and no braver men lived anywhere. Nearly all of Lee's troops
were north of the Potomac, partly in Maryland and partly in
Pennsylvania. On the 27th of June the whole army was at Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania; but Lee was greatly hampered by the absence of Stuart and
his cavalry. That dashing officer was very fond of making raids, and,
giving a wider meaning to the permission of Lee than that general
intended, he was off on another of his bold ventures, with no certainty
as to when he would return. It was upon him that Lee was obliged to
depend for news of the Union army. Receiving none, he was on the point
of advancing against Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, when he
paused upon receiving the first reliable news of the Army of the

Meade had pushed his advance beyond Middleton, where his left was lying
when he took command of the army at Frederick. This action of the Union
commander looked as if he intended to cross the mountains and attack the
Confederate rear. Ewell's corps was at York and Carlisle, but still
there was no knowledge whatever of the whereabouts of Stuart.

Lee now attempted to draw Meade away from the Potomac by concentrating
his army to the east of the mountains. Hill and Longstreet advanced to
Gettysburg, while Ewell was ordered to do the same. Lee himself lagged
in the hope that Stuart would join him, and because of that, Meade, who
was keenly on the alert, arrived in the neighborhood of Gettysburg
first. On the last day of June, he was within a few miles of the town,
while Lee was somewhat to the north and making for the same place.

Stuart and his cavalry had harassed the Army of the Potomac in Virginia,
but, unable to stay its advance, they crossed the Potomac, and, moving
to the east of Meade, entered Carlisle shortly after Ewell had left for
Gettysburg. Stuart's delay was owing to the fact that he did not know
Lee's whereabouts.


The two mighty armies were now within striking distance of each other.
It was yet early in the day when a collision took place between a
Confederate division and Reynolds' Corps on the western side of the
town. Reynolds was one of the best officers in the Union army. He was
engaged in directing the movements of his troops when he was struck in
the head by a rifle bullet and instantly killed. General Doubleday
succeeded him in command, but was unable to drive back the enemy. Howard
arrived with the Eleventh Corps early in the afternoon and took charge
of the whole force. These were mainly composed of Germans, who were so
overwhelmingly stampeded by Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville. They
did not appear to have recovered from that panic, for they fled
pell-mell through Gettysburg, with the enemy whooping at their heels.
Nearly all who did not run were cut down or they surrendered.

Meade had sent Hancock to take chief command, and, aided by Howard, he
rallied the shattered corps on the crest of Culp's Hill, behind the
town. The keen eye of Hancock was quick to see that it was here the
decisive struggle must take place, and he sent an urgent message to
Meade, fifteen miles away, to lose not an hour in hurrying his troops
forward. Meade followed the counsel. Some of his men arrived that night,
some the next morning, while those from the greatest distance did not
come in until the following afternoon.

The line as formed by Hancock extended along Cemetery Hill on the west
and south of Gettysburg. It was a formidable position, and Lee, after
carefully studying it, decided to await the arrival of Longstreet and
Ewell with their corps before making his attack. Events proved that the
decision was a disastrous mistake on the part of the Confederate

When the sultry first day of July drew to a close, the Federal right
held Culp's Hill, the centre Cemetery Hill, the left was along Cemetery
Ridge, and the reserve on the right. This line curved in the form of a
horseshoe, with the projecting portion facing Gettysburg. Sedgwick, it
will be remembered, had not arrived, but the force was composed of a
hundred thousand veterans who had 200 cannon at command.

That night the Confederates were in Gettysburg and a part of the country
to the east and west. Ewell formed the left and held the town; Seminary
Ridge was occupied by Hill's Corps, and confronted the centre and left
of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. When Pickett's division came up on
the 3d, it was placed on the right of Hill's position and faced Round

Most of the succeeding day was spent by both armies in preparing for the
tremendous death-grapple. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, having
become convinced that the left and left centre of the Union line were
the weakest points, Lee directed his efforts against them. They were
held by Sickles, who made a blunder by advancing a portion of his force
beyond the battle-line and seizing a ridge. It was because of this
blunder that the first Confederate attack was made at that point.

Longstreet and Ewell opened with a sharp cannonade, under cover of which
Hood's division impetuously assaulted Sickles' left. He drove his right
wing between Sickles left and Little Round Top, and was steadily
succeeding in his purpose, when one of those apparently trifling things,
for which no one can account, interfered and brought about momentous

[Illustration: GEORGE G. MEADE.

The Union commander-in-chief at Gettysburg.]

Little Round Top was the key to the position, and yet it had no real
defenders. Had Hood known this, he could have seized it without the
slightest difficulty. Perceiving its importance, he began working his
way toward it, and only some extraordinary interference could prevent it
speedily falling into his possession.

But General Gouverneur Warren, chief engineer, and his officers had
climbed Little Round Top and were using it as a signal station. Soon the
shots began flying so fast about them that they made hurried
preparations to leave. Warren, however, saw the importance of holding
the hill, and told his associates to make a pretense of doing so, while
he looked around for a force to bring to the spot.

Fortunately, a large body of reinforcements were hurrying past to
Sickles, who had sent an urgent call for them. Without hesitation,
General Warren detached a brigade for the defense of Little Round Top.
They ran up the slope, dragging a battery with them. Hardly had they
done so, when Hood made a fierce charge. The fighting was of the most
furious nature, and it looked for a time as if the yelling Texans would
carry the hill, but they were forced back, and, pressing their way up
the ravine at the foot, turned the left Union flank, but were forced
again to retire by a bayonet charge.

Sickles called for reinforcements when attacked by Longstreet, but with
their aid he could not hold his position. He was rushed back by the
terrific fighter, and Longstreet gained and held the key-point of the
line against the repeated assaults of the Union troops. Not only that,
but he was resistlessly advancing, when more reinforcements arrived and
attacked him just as he reached a wheatfield and grove of woods on the
western side of Plum Run. The Confederates were beginning to give way,
when Hood, having carried Sickles' extreme left, arrived. A vehement
charge carried Hood through two divisions that were doubled back on
their main line on Cemetery Ridge; Sickles' left having been crushed,
his centre and right were assailed, and the latter was driven back. In
the fighting Sickles lost a leg as well as his entire advanced position.

The close of the 2d of July brought brilliant, but only partial, success
to the Confederates. After reaching Cemetery Ridge, Longstreet's men
were repulsed by Hancock. The Confederate commander fell back to the
western side of the wheatfield, where he remained until morning. Ewell,
impetuously attacking the Union right centre at Cemetery and Culp's
Hill, kept back Federal reinforcements from reaching the left, which
Longstreet was pounding, drove out the Federal artillery and infantry,
and held the works. This was a most important success, and, if Ewell
could maintain his position throughout the morrow, General Lee would
have a chance of taking Meade's line in reverse. The conclusion of the
second day, therefore, left matters in dubious shape for both sides.
While the Confederates had made gains, they were not decisive. Still
they were such as to cause grave concern on the part of Meade and his
brother officers, who held a long, anxious consultation, and discussed
the question whether it was not wise to fall back and assume a new and
stronger position. The decision was to remain where they were.


Naturally Lee strengthened his force near where Ewell had secured a
lodgment within the breastworks of Culp's Hill, with the purpose of
making his main attack there; but Meade could not fail to see the
utmost importance of driving out the enemy from his position.

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