Chapter 18

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Chapter 18 – This poem, Longstreet 2nd Day at Gettysburg, focuses on General Longstreet and General Lee as Lee finishes giving the orders for battle. General Hood and General Longstreet would rather attack around the Union left flank and strike in the rear. Lee disregards this advice and orders a frontal assault.

220px-James_Longstreet 240px-Lt._Gen._John_B._Hood

General James Longstreet                  General John Bell Hood

Chapter 18 – Longstreet 2nd Day At Gettysburg

 

Old Pete stared at a map

The day was humid and warm

Gazed up at Cemetery Hill

Where a Union Army swarmed

 

Beyond the Hill Cemetery

Was another called Culp’s Hill

Union dug in along the crests

A crescent they did fill

 

From the two hills

A long ridge ran

Like the shaft of a fishhook

Now heavily manned

 

It was Cemetery Ridge

Gradually slopping south crooked

To two more hills

One rocky, one wooded

 

Lee spoke to Longstreet

Bright heat in the Old Man’s eyes

Like a raging burning fever

An internal battle cry

 

“We must attack on the right,” Lee said

For the left was too strong

“Don’t like this ground here

But with time grows the Union throng”

 

He wanted Longstreet to agree

But Old Pete’s displeasure very clear

“Let’s sweep around their left flank

And attack them in the rear?”

 

Lee would not have it

First Corp would attack frontal right

Attack in echelon

That’s how to win this fight

 

Hill would support Longstreet

With Anderson and Pender

Heth’s men resting in reserve

More forces to later render

 

Longstreet reluctantly accepted orders

But he only had McLaws and Hood

Pickett wouldn’t arrive in time

Fighting with “one boot off” aint any good

 

Lee looked at the map

“Attack up Emmitsburg road

Up Cemetery Ridge

To the hill with rocky lodes”

 

Hood then pointed out

Risk of raining enfilade

He could attack around the rocky heights

Just give him one brigade

 

Lee shook his head quickly

Raised a warding hand

“Let’s concentrate,” he pointed

“On attacking this here land”

 

Hood’s men were tired

They had marched all night

Only a two-hour break

And now they had to fight

 

McLaws’ men also

Arrived marching many miles

Thrust exhausted into battle

So demanding are war’s trials

 

Lee then departed

Time for him to pull back

Let the officers lead

In the hour of attack

 

Longstreet placed Hood to the extreme right

McLaws next a little to the left behind

Anderson and Pender directly facing across

The Cemetery Ridgeline

 

Then McLaws reported to Longstreet

Saw enemy while moving forward

Across the Emmitsburg Road

Spread out in a peach orchard

 

Longstreet pondered and wondered why

They would move off the ridge crest

A stupid move on their part

Perhaps this day for them was blessed

 

So, Hood’s men were ordered to attack

White smoke hung in the air

Followed by McLaws

With William Barksdale

 

Brigadier General Barksdale

From Mississippi

Rode across Emmitsburg Road

Charging fiercely

 

Into the Peach Orchard

White hair flowing in the breeze

Sword waving in the air

Shells zipping through the trees

 

Barksdale was riding

Straight for the guns

In a mad race

To get the battle won

 

Longstreet rode behind 

He heard the bugles blow

The battle now raging

“Go! Go! Go!”

 

Go to Chapter 19

What do you think of this poem?