Harper's Weekly 07/25/1863


Onpages 472 and 473 we publish two fine illus-
trations of the Battle Of Gettysburg from draw-
ings by our special artist, Mr. A. R. Waud. The
best description of the battle which we have seen
is the following from the Philadelphia Age, and we
do not think our readers will be sorry to have it
in full, long as it is:

On Wednesday morning, July 1, General Reynolds, with
twenty-five thousand men, the advance of the Federal
Army, approached Gettysburg from the southeast and be-
gan the great battle. The field upon which it was fought
was a peculiar one. The South Mountain, a long ridge
several miles west of Gettysburg, is the great landmark,
and the most prominent spot near the town is the hill upon
which stood the unfortunate but famous cemetery. Gettys-
burg is situated in a valley. Two ridges, a mile apart,
parallel to each other, are on each side of the valley. It
and the ridges are all curves, the concavity being toward
the east. It was upon these ridges that the battle was
fought, the combatants advancing and retreating through
the town, and across the valley above and below it. There
is but one stream of water on the field—a narrow, swampy
one, a mile south of Gettysburg, which runs zigzag down
the valley toward the Monocacy. The lines of battle formed
by the two armies were upon these ridges, and resembled
two horseshoes, one inside of the other.

The best view of the field is had from the top of the
Cemetery Hill. It is a short distance south of the town.
In front there is a rather steep declivity to the valley, then
a gentle ascent covered with low, scrubby timber and pieces
of rock, to the Seminary Hill, a mile distant. Here was
the Confederate line. As the gazer stood amidst the brok-
en tombstones he could see the entire field. The valley,
the debatable ground, stretched around from right to left,
almost a semicircle. He could look over the tree-tops and
little patches of wood, and passing his eye up the hill on
the other side, could see the seminary toward the north-
west. Further to the right is the Gettysburg College, also
on the Seminary Hill.

Beginning at the left hand, the Confederate line rested
on the little stream, then ascended the hill and ran along
a stone fence, which had been made into a rifle-pit. As
it approached Gettysburg it curved around, crossing the
Chambersburg and Emmettsburg road and the road to
Carlisle, and passed the seminary and college, between
which it crossed a serpentine railway leading to the town,
called the “Tape-worm.” The ridge continued the entire
length, its front, except in a few cleared spots, being cov-
ered with timber. The line must have extended at least
eight miles.

The ridge occupied by the Federal troops was half in-
closed by the other. It was an inner circle, and was made
up of much higher and bolder hills than the outer one.
The Federal left rested also on the little stream, and ran
along a rocky ravine, then ascended the Cemetery Hill,
and so on in a semicircle over one round-topped wooded
hill after another until it was lost on the right in the
mazes of a thick forest. Meade's line was about five
miles in length, and in the battle, besides the higher
ground, he had all the advantages of interior lines, and
also was in a friendly country. His head-quarters were
on a wooded knoll a mile east of the cemetery.

Away off behind the Confederate line, and curving
around in a larger circle still, was the South Mountain.

In all the contests, excepting the opening one, the ene-
my attacked. On Wednesday morning General Reynolds,
with the Federal advance, approached the town from the
southeast, the enemy evacuating it on his arrival. He
passed through and out on the west side toward Cham-
bersburg. He marched several miles, was met by the
enemy in stronger force, and after a slight contest was
compelled to retire. The enemy pushed him very hard,
and he came into the town on a run, his troops going
along every available road, and rushing out on the east
side, closely followed by the enemy. One of his brigades
came along the “Tape-worm” with a Confederate brigade
on each side of it. All three were abreast, running as
hard as they could—the two outside ones pouring a heavy
fire into the centre, out of which men dropped, killed or
wounded, at almost every footstep. This Federal brigade,
in running that terrible gauntlet, lost half of its men.
General Reynolds was killed, and Gettysburg was lost:
but the Federal troops succeeded in mounting the Ceme-
tery Hill, and the enemy ceased pursuing. At night the
enemy encamped in the town, and the Federal troops on
the hill.

During Wednesday night and Thursday morning the
two armies were concentrating on the two ridges, which
were to be the next day's line of battle, and by noon on
Thursday each general had a force of 80,000 men at his
disposal. Then began the great artillery contest, the in-
fantry on both sides crouching behind fences and trees
and in rifle-pits. The Federal soldiers in the cemetery
laid many of the tombstones on the ground to prevent
injury, so that many escaped. There was but little in-
fantry fighting on Thursday, and neither party made
much impression upon the other. The Confederates in the
other town erected barricades, and had their sharp-shoct-
ers posted in every available spot, picking off Federal sol-
diers on the hills to the north of the cemetery. The can-
nonade was fierce and incessant, and shells from both sides
flew over and into the devoted town. Beyond killing and
wounding, breaking trees and shattering houses, and
making an awful noise, however, this cannonade had but
little effect on the result of the battle. Both sides fought
with great ferocity, and neither could drive the other out
of position.

On Thursday night, fearing that the enemy had flank
parties which might turn his rear, General Meade had se-
rious intentions of retreating, and he called a council of
war. The advice of some of his generals, however, and
the capture of the courier with dispatches from Richmond,
from which it was learned that the enemy could receive no
reinforcements, made him decide to remain.

On Friday morning General Lee did not desire to make
the attack. He saw the superiority of the Federal position,
and wished to entice them out of it, and down into the val-
ley. With this design he withdrew all of his sharp-shoot-
ers and infantry from Gettysburg. The deserted town lay
there a very tempting bait, but General Meade's men hid
quietly behind the fences and trees, and banks upon the
hills. They could look down into the streets and see every
thing which was in progress. They saw the enemy march
out and retire to the seminary, but made no advance, and
the Confederates gained nothing by the movement. A
parting salute of musketry, however, from a knoll north
of the cemetery, accelerated the Confederate retreat. For
some time the town had scarcely a soldier in it. Scores
of dead and wounded men and horses, with broken wagons,
bricks, stones, timber, torn clothing, and abandoned ac-
coutrements, lay there. The frightened inhabitants peered
out of their windows to see what the armies were doing to
cause such a lull, and, almost afraid of their own shadows,
they hastened away and crouched in corners and cellars at
the sound of every shot or shell.

General Lee's evacuation had no effect. Meade was
neither to be enticed into the town nor into the valley.
Enough dend bodies lay in the fields and streets to give
him warning of what happened to poor Reynolds two days
before, and he wisely determined to stay where he was
and let events shape themselves. The enemy soon became
impatient. They could wait no longer; and after much
solicitation from his subordinates, General Lee permitted
General Longstreet to send his grand division on a charge
upon the cemetery. The Federal soldiers were on the
alert. They were hid behind their embankments, some
kneeling, and some flat on the ground. The Confederate
artillery opened. It was as fierce a cannonade as the one
the day before, but instead of being spread all over the
line, every shell was thrown at the cemetery. Experi-
enced soldiers soon divined what was coming, and in every
portion of the Federal line the cannon were directed to-
ward the valley in front of the cemetery. All were ready.
Amidst the furious fire from the Confederate cannon scarec-
ly a Federal shot was heard. The artillerists, implements
in hand, crouched in the little ditches dug behind their can-
non. With arms loaded, the infantry awaited the charge.

It soon came. From the woods of short, scrubby tim-
ber and the rocks near the seminary there rose a yell. It
was a long, loud, unremitting, hideous screech from thou-
sands of voices. At the yell the Federal cannon opened.
Soon the enemy's columns emerged from the woods. They
came on a rush down the hill, waving their arms and still
screeching. They climbed the fences and rushed along,
each one bent upon getting first into the cemetery. The
cannon roared, and grape and canister and spherical case
fell thick among them. Still they rushed onward, hun-
dreds falling out of the line. They came within musketshot
of the Federal troops. Then the small-arms began to
rattle. The Confederates approached the outer line of
works. They were laboring up the hill. As they mount-
ed the low bank in front of the rifle-pits, the Federal sol-
diers retreated out of the ditch behind, turning and firing
as they went along. It was a hand-to-hand conflict. Ev-
ery man fought by himself and for himself. Myriads of
the enemy pushed forward down the hill, across into the
works, and up to the cemetery. All were shouting, and
screaming, and swearing, clashing their arms and firing
their pieces. The enemy's shells flew over the field upon
the Federal artillerists on the hills above. These, almost
disregarding the storm which raged around them, direct-
ed all their fire upon the surging columns of the enemy's
charge. Every available cannon on the Cemetery Hill,
and to the right and left, threw its shells and shot in the
valley. The fight was terrible; but despite every effort
the enemy pushed up the hill and across the second line
of works. The fire became hotter. The fight swayed back
and forth. One moment the enemy would be at the rail-
ings of the cemetery; then a rush from the Federal side
would drive them down into the valley. Then, with one
of their horrid screeches, they would fiercely run up the
hill again into the cemetery, and have a fierce battle among
the tombstones. It was the hardest fight of the day, and
hundreds were slain there. Reckless daring, however,
will not always succeed. Several attempts were made to
take the place, but they were not successful; and late in
the afternoon, leaving dead and wounded behind them,
the enemy's forces slowly retreated upon their own hill
and into their woods again.

They were not routed. They can scarcely be said to
have been driven. They have made an attack and been
repulsed, and after renewed attempts, feeling that it was
useless to try any more, they retreated. It was now Gen-
eral Meade's turn to make an attack. Though they had
lost heavily, his soldiers felt elated. They saw hopes of a
victory, and were ready to do almost any thing to secure
it. Although there had been a battle in the valley below
Gettysburg, yet the town was as quiet and as much de-
serted as ever. Shells flew over it, and now and then one
of its houses would have a wall cracked or a roof broken,
but neither force possessed it. General Meade turned his
attention there.

The day was waning and the battle had lulled, and he
determined, if possible, to drive the enemy out of the
seminary. His troops were placed in order, and charged
down the hill and into the town. They ran along every
street, chasing a few of the enemy, still hid there, before
them. They came out upon the west side, along the
“Tape-worm,” and the Emmettsburg and Chambersburg
roads, and ascended the enemy's hills amidst a storm of
grape and shell. At the seminary the Confederates were
not very strong. They had weakened that portion of the
line to make their attack further to the south upon the
cemetery. They had but few cannon; and though they
resisted some time, they finally retreated from the edge
of the hill and abandoned the seminary.

The Federal troops did not chase them. The land back
of the seminary was rather flat and cut up into graia
fields, with here sand there a patch of woods. The rifle-
pits on the brow of the hill proved an effectual aid to the
Federal soldiers in maintaining their ground; and as they
lay behind the bank, with the ditch in front, they could
pick off the stragglers from the retreating enemy. There
was but little serious fighting after that, and night put an
end to Friday's struggle, the Confederates having retired
about a mile on the north, near the seminary, and half
a mile on the south, at a little stream.

During the night the dead in the streets of Gettysburg
were buried, and the wounded on all parts of the field
were collected and carried to the rear. On the next morn-
ing General Meade expected another attack; but, instead
of making it, the enemy retreated further, abandoning
their entire line of battle, and the pickets reported that
they were intrenching at the foot of South Mountain. The
Federal army was terribly crippled and sadly in want of
rest, and no advance was made, although pickets were
thrown out across the enemy's old line of battle, and to-
ward the place where they were building intrenchments.
All the day was spent in feeding and resting the men.
Gettysburg was turned into a vast hospital, and im-
promptu ones were made at a dozen places on the field.
The rain came, too, and with it cool air and refreshment
both from wind and rain. No one could tell what the en-
emy were doing; every picket reported that they were in-
trenching, and the night of the 4th of July closed upon the
field with it in the Federal possession.



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