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Gettysburg--Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill

By Harry W. Pfanz | Go to book overview

14
EARLY ATTACKS CEMETERY HILL

Ewell's demonstration in support of Long- street's assault was to start at about 4: 00 P.M. and was to be made by all three divisions of his corps. Johnson's division was to attack the Federals on Culp's Hill. When Early and Rodes heard the roar of musketry that told them that Johnson's men had struck the enemy's main line, they were to hurl their divisions against Cemetery Hill. Since there were no significant natural obstacles in their paths, they hoped to be able to strike Cemetery Hill without undue delay.

When he learned the time of the attack, Early summoned Gordon's brigade from the York Pike east of the town, but he left Smith's there with some of Stuart's cavalry to guard the road. Early posted Gordon's Georgians along the railroad track on the east side of the town a quarter mile behind his main line. Obviously, he believed that the Georgians would be close enough to support his forward line when the attack began and, perhaps, would be able to march quickly from there to the aid of Smith's brigade in case their help was needed on the York Pike. 1

The artillery fire ended, and Johnson's men advanced. Toward sunset, clouds of smoke billowed above the dark trees on Culp's Hill, and Early could hear a roar "like that of a sea lashed in fury." Johnson's brigades had struck the Union position on Culp's Hill, and it was time for Early's line to attack. Early and one of his staff officers rode from the town, probably down from the foot of Stratton Street, to Hays's position on Winebrenner's Run. Puffs of dust that spurted from the slope around them as they approached the infantry line showed that the Federal skirmishers had spotted the two riders and sent them greetings. But light was fail

-235-

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