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He shelled
it at daylight on the 3d, and sent a strong body of infantry against the
intruders. The Confederates made a desperate resistance, but in the end
were expelled, and the Union line re-established.

It will be seen that this miscalculation of Lee compelled him to change
his plans. Sitting on his horse, riding back and forth, often halting
and scanning the battlefield through his glasses, and continually
consulting his officers, he finally decided to direct his supreme effort
against the Union centre. Success there meant the defeat and rout of the
Union army, for, if the two wings could be wedged apart, they would be
overwhelmed and destroyed by the charging Confederates.

But the impressive fact was as well known to the Federals as to their
enemies, and nothing was neglected that could add to the strength of
their position. All night long troops kept arriving, and in the
moonlight were assigned to their positions for the morrow. It took Lee
several hours to complete his preparations for the assault upon the
Union centre. At noon he had 145 cannon posted on Seminary Ridge,
opposite Meade's centre, while Meade had 80 pieces of artillery lined
along the crest of Cemetery Hill.


PICKETT'S CHARGE.

At noon the Confederates opened with all their cannon, their object
being to silence the batteries in front, to clear the way for the charge
against the Union centre. The eighty Federal pieces replied, and for two
hours the earth rocked under the most prodigious cannonade ever heard on
this side of the Atlantic. Then the Union fire gradually ceased, and, as
the vast volume of smoke slowly lifted, a column of 5,000 gray-coated
men were seen to issue from the Confederate lines more than a mile away
and advance at a steady stride toward the Union intrenchments. Their
bayonets shone in the afternoon sun, and their fluttering battle-flags,
the splendid precision of their step, and their superb soldierly
appearance made so thrilling a picture that an involuntary murmur of
admiration ran along the Union lines, even though these same men were
advancing to kill and wound them.

They formed the division of General George E. Pickett, and no more
magnificent charge was ever made. They advanced in a double line, their
own artillery ceasing firing as they gradually passed within range with
beautiful regular step, which seemed to hasten, as if even with their
perfect discipline they could not restrain, their eagerness to join in
the death-grapple.

The Union artillery remained silent until half the space was crossed,
when it burst forth, and the Confederates went down by the score. The
gaps could be seen from every point of the immense field, but those who
were unhurt immediately closed up and continued their dauntless advance
without a tremor. Coming still closer under the murderous artillery
fire, they broke into the double-quick, and it looked as if nothing
could check them.

Waiting until within a few hundred yards, the artillery and musketry
blazed forth again. Through a misconception of orders, the Confederate
line had become disjointed, and the supports of Pickett were repelled
and a large number killed or taken prisoners, but Pickett's own division
came on unfalteringly, let fly with a volley at the breastworks in front
of them, and then, with their resounding yells, dashed up the crest of
Cemetery Ridge and drove out the defenders at the point of the bayonet.

[Illustration: CUSHING'S LAST SHOT.]

Immediately the hand-to-hand fighting became like that of so many
tigers. Guns were clubbed, men wrestled and fought and struck with their
bare fists, while a fire was converged upon the assailants of so
murderous a nature that even the daring Pickett saw that every one of
his men would be killed, if they remained. He gave the order to fall
back, and the survivors broke into a run down the slope for their own
lines.

[Illustration: Drawn by W.B. DAVIS.

PICKETT'S RETURN FROM HIS FAMOUS CHARGE.

"General, my noble division is swept away."]

Pickett's charge ranks among the famous in modern history, and was one
of the most striking incidents of the war. The double column which
marched across that fire-swept field numbered 5,000 of the flower of the
Confederate army. Thirty-five hundred were killed, wounded, or taken
prisoners. Of the three brigade commanders, one was killed, the second
mortally wounded, and the third badly hurt. One only of the fourteen
field officers returned, and out of the twenty-four regimental officers,
only two were unhurt. The ferocity of the charge resulted in many deaths
among the Unionists, and General Hancock was painfully wounded, but
refused to leave the field until the struggle was over.

And all this valor had gone for naught. The Southerners had attempted an
impossible thing, and the penalty was fearful. Unspeakably depressed,
General Lee saw the return of the staggering, bleeding survivors, and,
riding among them, he did all he could to cheer the mute sufferers by
his sympathetic words. He insisted that the failure was wholly his own
fault, and that not a word of censure should be visited upon anyone
else.

The expectation of the Confederates was that the Federals would follow
up this repulse with an immediate advance, and preparations were
hurriedly made to repel it; but the ammunition was low on Cemetery
Ridge, and the furious struggle had exhausted the defenders. Day was
closing and the great battle of Gettysburg was ended.


THE FEARFUL LOSSES.

The Union losses were: killed, 3,070; wounded, 14,497; missing, 5,434;
total, 23,001. The Confederate losses were: killed, 2,592; wounded,
12,706; captured and missing, 5,150; total, 20,448. To quote from Fox's
"Regimental Losses in the American Civil War:" "Gettysburg was the
greatest battle of the war; Antietam the bloodiest; the largest army was
assembled by the Confederates in the Seven Days' Fight; by the Unionists
at the Wilderness."


THE DECISIVE BATTLE OF THE WAR.

Gettysburg has been styled the Waterloo of the Southern Confederacy.
"Highest tide" was reached by its fortunes during those three first days
in July, 1863. Lee put forth his supreme effort, and the result was
defeat. He and his leading generals clearly saw that their cause had
received its death-blow, and, as one of them expressed it, the fighting
thenceforward was for terms. They were not yet conquered, and severe
work remained to be done, but never again did the Lost Cause come so
near success. Its sun, having reached meridian, must now go down until
it should set forever in gloom, disaster, and ruin.

General Lee could not fail to perceive that all that remained to him was
to leave the country before overtaken by irretrievable disaster. He
withdrew Ewell's Corps that night from Gettysburg and posted it on
Seminary Ridge, where intrenchments were thrown up. The town was
occupied by Meade, and the dismal morrow was spent by the Confederates
in burying their dead and removing their wounded. At night the retreat
was begun by the Chambersburg and Fairfield roads, which enter the
Cumberland Valley through the South Mountain range. Great battles always
produce violent storms, and one of these added to the unspeakable
wretchedness of the homeward march. Finding Lee was retreating, Meade
sent Sedgwick in pursuit. The rear guard was overtaken on the night of
the 6th, but its position was too strong to be attacked and the Union
army took a route parallel to that of the Confederate. There was
considerable skirmishing, but nothing decisive occurred, and the
retiring army reached Hagerstown, where it found the fords of the
Potomac so swollen as to be impassable. Lee, therefore, intrenched, and
stayed where he was until the 13th, by which time the river had fallen
sufficiently to be forded, and he once more re-entered Virginia. Meade,
fearful that the great prize was about to escape him, made strenuous
efforts to intercept him, but failed, and returned to the Rappahannock,
while Lee established himself in the neighborhood of Culpeper.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO GETTYSBURG CEMETERY.]

A period of inactivity now followed. Both Meade and Lee sent strong
detachments from their armies to the southwest, where, as we have seen,
they had the most active kind of service at Chickamauga, Missionary
Ridge, Knoxville, and other places. When Lee had considerably depleted
his forces, Meade thought the prospect of success warranted his making a
move against him. Accordingly, he sent his cavalry across the
Rappahannock, whereupon Lee withdrew to a position behind the Rapidan,
which was so strong that Meade dared not attack, and he, therefore,
attempted a flank movement. Before, however, it could be carried out, he
was called upon to send two more of his corps to the southwest, because
of the defeat of Rosecrans at Chickamauga. These corps were the Eleventh
and Twelfth under the command of Hooker.

This withdrawal compelled Meade to give up his purpose, and he remained
on the defensive. By-and-by, when the troops were returned to him, he
prepared once more to advance, but Lee anticipated him by an effort to
pass around his right flank and interpose between him and Washington.
Crossing the Rapidan on the 9th of October, he moved swiftly to Madison
Court-House, without detection by Meade, who did not learn of it until
the next day, when his outpost was attacked and driven back on the main
army at Culpeper. This was proof that the Union right flank had been
turned, and Meade immediately started his trains toward the
Rappahannock, following a few hours later with his army. On the further
side of Bull Run, he fortified himself so strongly that Lee saw it was
useless to advance further, and, on the 18th of October, he returned to
the line of the Rappahannock.

Meade started for Richmond on the 7th of November. The Confederates were
found occupying earthworks on the north of the Rappahannock. An
impetuous assault drove them out and across the river. Meade pushed on
to Culpeper, and Lee hurriedly retreated across the Rapidan.

Meade's judgment was that no further advance should be made, but the
clamor of the North forced him to try another of the many attempts to
capture Richmond.



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