The Star of Gettysburg by Joseph A. Altsheler
Chapter XII. The Zenith of the South
The sun of the first day of July, which was to witness the beginning of the most tremendous event in the history of America, dawned hot and clouded with vapors. They hung in the valleys, over the steep stony hills and along the long blue slopes of South Mountain. The mists made the country look more fantastic to Harry, who was early in the saddle. The great uplifts and projections of stone assumed the shapes of castles and pyramids and churches.
Over South Mountain, on the west, heavy black clouds floated, and the air was close and oppressive.
"Rain, do you think?" said Harry to Dalton.
"No, just a sultry day. Maybe a wind will spring up and drive away all these clouds and vapors. At least, I hope so. There's the bugle. We're off on our shoe campaign."
"Who leads us?"
"We go with Pettigrew, and Heth comes behind. In a country so thick with enemies it's best to move only in force."
The column took up its march and a cloud of dust followed it. The second half of June had been rainy, but there had been several days of dry weather now, allowing the dust to gather. Harry and Dalton soon became very hot and thirsty. The sun did not drive away the vapors as soon as they had expected, and the air grew heavier.
"I hope they'll have plenty of good drinking water in Gettysburg," said Harry. "It will be nearly as welcome to me as shoes."
They rode on over hills and valleys, and brooks and creeks, the names of none of which they knew. They stopped to drink at the streams, and the thirsty horses drank also. But it remained hard for the infantry. They were trained campaigners, however, and they did not complain as they toiled forward through the heat and dust.
They came presently to round hillocks, over which they passed, then they saw a fertile valley, watered by a creek, and beyond that the roofs of a town with orchards behind it.
"Gettysburg!" said Dalton.
"It must be the place," said Harry. "Picturesque, isn't it? Look at those two hills across there, rising so steeply."
One of the hills, the one that lay farther to the south, a mass of apparently inaccessible rocks, rose more than two hundred feet above the town. The other, about a third of a mile from the first, was only half its height. They were Round Top and Little Round Top. In the mists and vapors and at the distance the two hills looked like ancient towers. Harry and George gazed at them, and then their eyes turned to the town.
It was a neat little place, with many roads radiating from it as if it were the hub of a wheel, and the thrifty farmers of that region had made it a center for their schools.
Harry had learned from Jackson, and again from Lee, always to note well the ground wherever he might ride. Such knowledge in battle was invaluable, and his eyes dwelled long on Gettysburg.
He saw running south of the town a long high ridge, curving at the east and crowned with a cemetery, because of which the people of Gettysburg called it Cemetery Ridge or Hill. Opposed to it, some distance away and running westward, was another but lower ridge that they called Seminary Ridge. Beyond Seminary Ridge were other and yet lower ridges, between two of which flowed a brook called Willoughby Run. Beyond them all, two or three miles away and hemming in the valley, stretched South Mountain, the crests of which were still clothed in the mists and vapors of a sultry day. Near the town was a great field of ripening wheat, golden when the sun shone. Not far from the horsemen was another little stream called Plum Run. They also saw an unfinished railroad track, with a turnpike running beside it, the roof and cupola of a seminary, and beside the little marshy stream of Plum Run a mass of jagged, uplifted rocks, commonly called the Devil's Den.
Harry knew none of these names yet, but he was destined to learn them in such a manner that he could never forget them again. Now he merely admired the peaceful and picturesque appearance of the town, set so snugly among its hills.
"That's Gettysburg, which for us just at this moment is the shoe metropolis of the world," said Dalton, "but I dare say we'll not be welcomed as purchasers or in any other capacity."
"You take a safe risk, George," said Harry. "Tales that we are terrible persons, who rejoice most in arson and murder, evidently have been spread pretty thoroughly through this region."
"Both sections scatter such stories. I suppose it's done in every war. It's only human nature."
"All right, Mr. Pedantic Philosopher. Maybe you're telling the truth. But look, I don't think we're going into Gettysburg in such a great hurry! Yankee soldiers are there before us!"
Other Southern officers had noted the blue uniforms and the flash of rifle barrels and bayonets in Gettysburg. As they used their glasses, the town came much nearer and the Union forces around it increased. Buford, coming up the night before, had surmised that a Southern force would advance on Gettysburg, and he had chosen the place for a battle. He had with him four thousand two hundred mounted men, and he posted them in the strong positions that were so numerous. He had waited there all night, and already his scouts had informed him that Pettigrew and Heth were advancing.
"Are we to lose our shoes?" whispered Harry.
"I don't think so," replied Dalton in an undertone. "We're in strong force, and I don't see any signs that our generals intend to turn back. Harry, your glasses are much stronger than mine. What do you see?"
"I see a lot. The Yankees must be four or five thousand, and they are posted strongly. They are thick in the railroad cut and hundreds of horses are held by men in the rear. It must be almost wholly a cavalry force."
"Do you see any people in the town?"
"There is not a soul in the streets, and as far as I can make out all the doors are closed and the windows shuttered."
"Then it's a heavy force waiting for us. The people know it, and expecting a battle, they have gone away."
"Your reasoning is good, and there's the bugle to confirm it. Our lines are already advancing!"
It was still early in the morning, and the strong Southern force which had come for shoes, but which found rifles and bayonets awaiting them instead, advanced boldly. They, the victors of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, had no thought of retreating before a foe who invited them to combat.
Harry and Dalton found their hearts beating hard at this their first battle on Northern soil, and Harry's eyes once more swept the great panorama of the valley, the silent town, the lofty stone hills, and far beyond the long blue wall of South Mountain, with the mists and vapors still floating about its crest.
Heth was up now, and he took full command, sending two brigades in advance, the brigades themselves preceded by a great swarm of skirmishers. Harry and Dalton rode with one of the brigades, and they closely followed those who went down the right bank of the stream called Willoughby Run, opening a rapid fire as they advanced upon a vigilant enemy who had been posted the night before in protected positions.
Buford's men met the attack with courage and vigor. Four thousand dismounted cavalry, all armed with carbines, sent tremendous volleys from the shelter of ridges and earthworks. The fire was so heavy that the Southern skirmishers could not stand before it, and they, too, began to seek shelter. The whole Southern column halted for a few minutes, but recovered itself and advanced again.
The battle blazed up with a suddenness and violence that astonished Harry. The air was filled in an instant with the whistling of shells and bullets. He heard many cries. Men were falling all around him, but so far he and Dalton were untouched. Heth, Davis, Archer and the others were pushing on their troops, shouting encouragement to them, and occasionally, through the clouds of smoke, which were thickening fast, Harry saw the tanned faces of their enemies loading and firing as fast as they could handle rifle and cannon. The Northern men had shelter, but were fewer in number. The soldiers in gray were suffering the heavier losses, but they continued to advance.
The battle swelled in volume and fierceness along the banks of Willoughby Run. There was a continuous roar of rifles and cannon, and the still, heavy air of the morning conducted the sound to the divisions that were coming up and to the trembling inhabitants of the little town who had fled for refuge to the farmhouses in the valley.
Harry and George had still managed to keep close together. Both had been grazed by bullets, but these were only trifles. They saw that the division was not making much progress. The men in blue were holding their ground with extraordinary stubbornness. Although the Southern fire, coming closer, had grown much more deadly, they refused to yield.
Buford, who had chosen that battlefield and who was the first to command upon it, would not let his men give way. His great hour had come, and he may have known it. Watching through his glasses he had seen long lines of Southern troops upon the hills, marching toward Gettysburg. He knew that they were the corps of Hill, drawn by the thunder of the battle, and he felt that if he could hold his ground yet a while longer help for him too would come, drawn in the same manner.
Harry once caught sight of this officer, a native of Kentucky like himself. He was covered with dust and perspiration, but he ran up and down, encouraging his men and often aiming the cannon himself. It was good fortune for the North that he was there that day. The Southern generals, uncertain whether to push the battle hard or wait for Lee, recoiled a little before his tremendous resistance.
But the South hesitated only for a moment. Hill, pale from an illness, but always full of fire and resolution, was hurrying forward his massive columns, their eagerness growing as the sound of the battle swelled. They would overwhelm the Union force, sweep it away.
Yet the time gained by Buford had a value beyond all measurements. The crash of the battle had been heard by Union troops, too, and Reynolds, one of the ablest Union generals, was leading a great column at the utmost speed to the relief of the general who had held his ground so well. A signalman stationed in the belfry of the seminary reported to Buford the advance of Reynolds, and the officer, eager to verify it, rushed up into the belfry.
Then Buford saw the columns coming forward at the double quick, Reynolds in his eagerness galloping at their head, and leaving them behind. He looked in the other direction and he saw the men of Hill advancing with equal speed. He saw on one road the Stars and Stripes and on the other the Stars and Bars. He rushed back down the steps and met Reynolds.
"The devil is to pay!" he cried to Reynolds.
"How do we stand?"
"We can hold on until the arrival of the First Corps."
Buford sprang on his horse, and the two generals, reckless of death, galloped among the men, encouraging the faint-hearted, reforming the lines, and crying to them to hold fast, that the whole Army of the Potomac was coming.
Harry felt the hardening of resistance. The smoke was so dense that he could not see for a while the fresh troops coming to the help of Buford, but he knew nevertheless that they were there. Then he heard a great shouting behind him, as Hill's men, coming upon the field, rushed into action. But Jackson, the great Jackson whom he had followed through all his victories, the man who saw and understood everything, was not there!
The genius of battle was for the moment on the other side. Reynolds, so ably pushing the work that Buford had done, was seizing the best positions for his men. He was acting with rapidity and precision, and the troops under him felt that a great commander was showing them the way. His vigor secured the slopes and crest of Cemetery Hill, but the Southern masses nevertheless were pouring forward in full tide.
The combat had now lasted about two hours, and, a stray gust of wind lifting the smoke a little, Harry caught a glimpse of a vast blazing amphitheater of battle. He had regarded it at first as an affair of vanguards, but now he realized suddenly that this was the great battle they had been expecting. Within this valley and on these ridges and hills it would be fought, and even as the thought came to him the conflict seemed to redouble in fury and violence, as fresh brigades rushed into the thick of it.
Harry's horse was killed by a shell as he rode toward a wood on the Cashtown road, which both sides were making a desperate effort to secure. Fortunately he was able to leap clear and escape unhurt. In a few moments Dalton was dismounted in almost the same manner, but the two on foot kept at the head of the column and rushed with the skirmishers into the bushes. There they knelt, and began to fire rapidly on the Union men who were advancing to drive them out.
Harry saw an officer in a general's uniform leading the charge. The bullets of the skirmishers rained upon the advance. One struck this general in the head, when he was within twenty yards of the riflemen, and he fell stone dead. It was the gallant and humane Reynolds, falling in the hour of his greatest service. But his troops, wild with ardor and excitement, not noticing his death, still rushed upon the wood.
The charge came with such violence and in such numbers that the Southern skirmishers and infantry in the wood were overpowered. They were driven in a mass across Willoughby Run. A thousand, General Archer among them, were taken prisoners.
Harry and Dalton barely escaped, and in all the tumult and fury of the fighting they found themselves with another division of the Southern army which was resisting a charge made with the same energy and courage that marked the one led by Reynolds. But the charge was beaten back, and the Southerners, following, were repulsed in their turn.
The battle, which had been raging for three hours with the most extraordinary fury, sank a little. Harry and Dalton could make nothing of it. Everything seemed wild, confused, without precision or purpose, but the fighting had been hard and the losses great.
Heth now commanded on the field for the South and Doubleday for the North. Each general began to rectify his lines and try to see what had happened. The Confederate batteries opened, but did not do much damage, and while the lull continued, more men came for the North.
Harry and Dalton had found their way to Heth, who told them to stay with him until Lee came. Heth was making ready to charge a brigade of stalwart Pennsylvania lumbermen, who, however, managed to hold their position, although they were nearly cut to pieces. Hill now passed along the Southern line, and like the other Southern leaders, uncertain what to do in this battle brought on so strangely and suddenly, ceased to push the Union lines with infantry, but opened a tremendous fire from eighty guns. The whole valley echoed with the crash of the cannon, and the vast clouds of smoke began to gather again. The Union forces suffered heavy losses, but still held their ground.
Harry thought, while this comparative lull in close fighting was going on, that Dalton and he should get back to General Lee with news of what was occurring, although he had no doubt the commander-in-chief was now advancing as fast as he could with the full strength of the army. Still, duty was duty. They had been sent forward that they might carry back reports, and they must carry them.
"It's time for us to go," he said to Dalton.
"I was just about to say that myself."
"We can safely report to the general that the vanguards have met at Gettysburg and that there are signs of a battle."
Dalton took a long, comprehensive look over the valley in which thirty or forty thousand men were merely drawing a fresh breath before plunging anew into the struggle, and said:
"Yes, Harry, all the signs do point that way. I think we can be sure of our news."
They had not been able to catch any of the riderless horses galloping about the field, and they started on foot, taking the road which they knew would lead them to Lee. They emerged from some bushes in which they had been lying for shelter, and two or three bullets whistled between them. Others knocked up the dust in the path and a shell shrieked a terrible warning over their heads. They dived back into the bushes.
"Didn't you see that sign out there in the road?" asked Harry.
"Sign! Sign! I saw no sign," said Dalton.
"I did. It was a big sign, and it read, in big letters: 'No Thoroughfare.'"
"You must be right. I suppose I didn't notice it, because I came back in such a hurry."
They had become so hardened to the dangers of war that, like thousands of others, they could jest in the face of death.
"We must make another try for it," said Dalton. "We've got to cross that road. I imagine our greatest danger is from sharpshooters at the head of it."
"Stoop low and make a dash. Here goes!"
Bent almost double, they made a hop, skip and jump and were in the bushes on the other side, where they lay still for a few moments, panting, while the hair on their heads, which had risen up, lay down again. Quick as had been their passage, fully a dozen ferocious bullets whined over their heads.
"I hate skirmishers," said Harry. "It's one thing to fire at the mass of the enemy, and it's another to pick out a man and draw a bead on him."
"I hate 'em, too, especially when they're firing at me!" said Dalton. "But, Harry, we're doing no good lying here in the bushes, trying to press ourselves into the earth so the bullets will pass over our heads. Heavens! What was that?"
"Only the biggest shell that was ever made bursting near us. You know those Yankee artillerymen were always good, but I think they've improved since they first saw us trying to cross the road."
"To think of an entire army turning away from its business to shoot at two fellows like ourselves, who ask nothing but to get away!"
"And it's time we were going. The bushes rise over our heads here. We must make another dash."
They rose and ran on, but to their alarm the bushes soon ended and they emerged into a field. Here they came directly into the line of fire again, and the bullets sang and whistled around them. Once more they read in invisible but significant letters the sign, "No Thoroughfare," and darted back into the wood from which they had just come, while shells, not aimed at them, but at the armies, shrieked over their heads.
"It's not the plan of fate that we should reach General Lee just yet," said Harry.
"The shells and bullets say it isn't. What do you think we ought to do?"
Harry rose up cautiously and began to survey their position. Then he uttered a cry of joy.
"More of our men are coming," he exclaimed, "and they are coming in heavy columns! I see their gray jackets and their tanned faces, and there, too, are the Invincibles. Look, you can see the two colonels, riding side by side, and just behind them are St. Clair and Langdon!"
Dalton's eyes followed Harry's pointing finger, and he saw. It was a joyous sight, the masses of their own infantry coming down the road in perfect order, and their own personal friends not two hundred yards away. But the Northern artillerymen had seen them too, and they began to send up the road a heavy fire which made many fall. Ewell's men came on, unflinching, until they unlimbered their own guns and began to reply with fierce and rapid volleys.
The two youths sprang from the brush and rushed directly into the gray ranks of the Invincibles before they could be fired upon by mistake as enemies. The two colonels had dismounted, but they recognized the fugitives instantly and welcomed them.
"Why this hurry, Lieutenant Kenton?" said Colonel Talbot politely.
"We were trying to reach General Lee, and not being able to do so, we are anxious to greet friends."
"So it would seem. I do not recall another such swift and warm greeting."
"But we're glad, Leonidas, that they've found refuge with us," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire.
"So we are, Hector. Down there, lads, for your lives!"
The colonel had seen a movement in the hostile artillery, and at his sharp command all of the Invincibles and the two lads threw themselves on their faces, not a moment too soon, as a hideous mass of grape and canister flew over their heads. The Invincibles, rising to their feet, sent a return volley from their rifles, and then, at the command of a general, fell back behind their own cannon.
The Northern artillery in front was shifted, evidently to protect some weaker position of their line, but the Southern troops in the road did not advance farther at present, awaiting the report of scouts who were quickly sent ahead.
"You're welcome to our command," said Langdon, "but I notice that you come on foot and in a hurry. We're glad to protect officers on the staff of the commander-in-chief, whenever they appeal to us."
"Even when they come running like scared colts," said St. Clair. "Why, Happy, I saw both of 'em jump clean over bushes ten feet high."
"You'd have jumped over trees a hundred feet high if a hundred thousand Yankees were shooting at you as they were shooting at us," rejoined Harry.
"What place is this in the valley, Harry?" asked Colonel Talbot.
"It's called Gettysburg, sir. We heard that it was full of shoes. We went there this morning to get em, but we found instead that it was full of Yankees."
"And they know how to shoot, too," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire. "We heard all the thunder of a great battle as we came up."
"You haven't come too soon, sir," said Dalton. "The Yankees are fighting like fiends, and we've made very little headway against 'em. Besides, sir, fresh men are continually coming up for 'em."
"And fresh men have now come for our side, too," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot proudly. "I fancy that a division of Jackson's old corps will have a good deal to say about the result."
"What part of the corps, sir, is this?" asked Harry.
"Rodes' division. General Ewell himself has not yet arrived, but you may be sure he is making the utmost haste with the rest of the division."
Rodes, full of eagerness, now pushed his troops forward. Hill, who saw his coming with unmeasured joy, shifted his men until they were fully in touch with those of Rodes, the whole now forming a great curving line of battle frowning with guns, the troops burning for a new attack.
Harry looked up at the sun, which long ago had pierced the mists and vapors, but not the smoke. He saw to his surprise that it had reached and passed the zenith. It must now be at least two o'clock in the afternoon. He was about to look at his watch when the Southern trumpets at that moment sounded the charge, and, knowing no other way to go, he and Dalton fell in with the Invincibles.
Howard was in command of the Northern army at this time, and from a roof of a house in Gettysburg he had been watching the Southern advance. He and Doubleday gathered all their strength to meet it, and, despite the new troops brought by Rodes, Hill was unable to drive them back. Harry felt, as he had felt all along, that marked hardening of the Northern resistance.
The battle wavered. Sometimes the North was driven back and sometimes it was the South, until Hill at last, massing a great number of men on his left, charged with renewed courage and vigor. The Union men could not withstand their weight, and their flank was rolled up. Then Gordon and his Georgians marched into the willows that lined Rock Creek, forded the stream and entered the field of wheat beyond.
Harry saw this famous charge, and during a pause of the Invincibles he watched it. The Georgians, although the cannon and rifles were now turned upon them, marched in perfect order, trampling down the yellow wheat which stood thick and tall before them. The sun glittered on their long lines of bayonets. Many men fell, but the ranks closed up and marched unflinchingly on. Then, as they came near their foe, they fired their own rifles and rushed forward.
The men in blue were taken in the flank at the same time by Jubal Early, and two more brigades also rushed upon them. It was the same Union corps, the Eleventh, that had suffered so terribly at Chancellorsville under the hammer strokes of Jackson, and now it was routed again. It practically dissolved for the time under the overwhelming rush on front and flank and became a mass of fugitives.
Harry heard for the first time that day the long, thrilling rebel yell of triumph, and both Howard and Doubleday, watching the battle intently, had become alarmed for their force. Howard was already sending messages to Meade, telling him that the great battle had begun and begging him to hurry with the whole army. Doubleday, seeing one flank crushed, was endeavoring to draw back the other, lest it be destroyed in its turn.
Harry and Dalton and all the Invincibles felt the thrill of triumph shooting through them. They were advancing at last, making the first real progress of the day.
Harry felt that the days of Jackson had come back. This was the way in which they had always driven the foe. Ewell himself was now upon the field. The loss of a leg had not diminished his ardor a whit. Everywhere his troops were driving the enemy before them, increasing the dismay which now prevailed in the ranks of men who had fought so well.
Harry began to shout with the rest, as the Southern torrent, irresistible now, flowed toward Gettysburg, while Ewell and Hill led their men. The town was filled with the retreating Union troops and the cannon and rifles thundered incessantly in the rear, driving them on. The whole Southern curve was triumphant. Ewell's men entered the town after the fugitives, driving all before them, and leaving Gettysburg in Southern hands.
But the Northern army was not a mob. The men recovered their spirit and reformed rapidly. Many brave and gallant officers encouraged them and a reserve had already thrown up strong entrenchments beyond the town on Cemetery Hill, to which they retreated and once more faced their enemy.
Harry and Dalton stopped at Gettysburg, seeing the battle of the vanguards won, and turned back. Their place was with the general to the staff of whom they belonged, and they believed they would not have to look far. With a battle that had lasted eight hours Lee would surely be upon the field by this time, or very near it.
There were plenty of riderless horses, and capturing two, one of which had belonged to a Union officer, they went back in search of their commander. It was a terrible field over which they passed, strewed with human wreckage, smoke and dust still floated over everything. They inquired as they advanced of officers who were just arriving upon the field, and one of them, pointing, said:
"There is General Lee."
Harry and Dalton saw him sitting on his horse on Seminary Ridge, his figure immovable, his eyes watching the Union brigades as they retreated up the slopes of the opposite hill. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon and the sunlight was brilliant. The commander and his horse stood out like a statue on the hill, magnified in the blazing beams.
Harry and his comrade paused to look at him a few moments. Their spirits had risen when they saw him. They felt that since Lee had come all things were possible and when the whole of the two armies met in battle the victory would surely be theirs.
The two rode quietly into the group of staff officers gathered at a little distance behind Lee. They knew that it was not necessary now to make any report or explanation. Events reported for themselves and explained everything also. Their comrades greeted them with nods, but Harry never ceased to watch Lee.
The commander-in-chief in his turn was gazing at the panorama of battle, spread almost at his feet. Although the combat was dying, enough was left to give it a terrible aspect. The strife still went on in a part of Gettysburg and cannon were thudding and rifles cracking. The flames from houses set on fire by the shells streamed aloft like vast torches. Horses that had lost their riders galloped aimlessly, wild with terror.
While he looked, General Hill rode up and joined them. Hill had been ill that day. His face was deadly in its pallor, and he swayed in his saddle from weakness. But his spirit and courage were high. Harry saw the two generals talking together, and again he glanced at the valley. After long and desperate fighting the Southern victory had been complete. Any young lieutenant could see that. The whole Northern force was now being driven in great disorder upon Cemetery Hill, and a man like Jackson, without going to see Lee, would have hurled his whole force instantly upon those flying masses. Some one had called Ewell and Hill, brave and able as they were, small change for Jackson, and the phrase often came to Harry's mind. Still, it was not possible to find any man or any two men who could fill the place of the great Stonewall.
The day was far from over. At least three hours of sunlight were left. More Southern troops had come up, and Harry expected to see Lee launch his superior numbers against the defeated enemy. But he did not. There was some pursuit, but it was not pressed with vigor, and the victors stopped. Contradictory orders were given, it was claimed later, by the generals, but Lee, with the grandeur of soul that places him so high among the immortals, said afterward:
"The attack was not pressed that afternoon, because the enemy's force was unknown, and it was considered advisable to await the rest of our troops."
When failure occurred he never blamed anyone but himself. Yet Harry always thought that his genius paled a little that afternoon. He did not show the amazing vigor and penetration that were associated with the name of Lee both before and afterwards. Perhaps it was an excess of caution, due to his isolated position in the enemy's country, and perhaps it was the loss of Jackson. Whatever it was, the precious hours passed, the enemy, small in numbers, was not driven from his refuge on Cemetery Hill, and the battle died.
The Southern leaders themselves did not know the smallness of the Northern force that had taken shelter on the hill. That hardening of the resistance which Harry had felt more than once had been exemplified to the full that deadly morning. Buford and Reynolds had shown the penetration and resolution of Jackson himself, and their troops had supported them with a courage and tenacity never surpassed in battle. Only sixteen or seventeen thousand in number, they had left ten thousand killed and wounded around the town, but with only one-third of their numbers unhurt they rallied anew on Cemetery Hill and once more turned defiant faces toward the enemy.
Hancock, whose greatest day also was at hand, had arrived, sent forward in haste by Meade. Unsurpassed as a corps commander, and seeing the advantage of the position, he went among the beaten but willing remnants, telling them to hold on, as Meade and the whole Army of the Potomac were coming at full speed, and would be there to meet Lee and the South in the morning.
Both commanding generals felt that the great battle was to be fought to a finish there. Meade had not yet arrived, but he was hurrying forward all the divisions, ready to concentrate them upon Cemetery Hill. Lee also was bringing up all his troops, save the cavalry of Stuart, now riding on the raid around the Northern army, and absent when they were needed most.
Harry did not know for many days that this fierce first day and the gathering of the foes on Gettysburg was wholly unknown to both North and South. The two armies had passed out of sight under the horizon's rim, and the greatest battle of the war was to be fought unknown, until its close, to the rival sections.
Harry and Dalton, keeping close together, because they were comrades and because they felt the need of companionship, watched from their own hill the town and the hill beyond. Harry felt no joy. The victory was not yet to him a victory. He knew that the field below, terrible to the sight, was destined to become far more terrible, and the coming twilight was full of omens and presages.
The sun sank at last upon the scene of human strife and suffering, but night brought with it little rest, because all through the darkness the brigades and regiments were marching toward the fatal field.