Longstreet Day 3

Chapter 18 – This poem “General Longstreet 3rd Day Gettysburg” focuses on General Robert E. Lee telling General James Longstreet about the battle strategy for the 3rd Day. Lee plans to attack the Union Center with a frontal attack. This will happen after a long cannonade bombardment. Longstreet does not like the plan, but Lee insists.

“General, I have been a soldier all my life. I have been with soldiers engaged in fights by couples, by squads, companies, regiments, divisions, and armies, and should know, as well as any one, what soldiers can do. It is my opinion that no fifteen thousand men ever arranged for battle can take that position.” – General James Longstreet

by Christopher Rudolph © 2015

Longstreet 3rd Day385px-Robert_E_Lee_in_1863

General James Longstreet              General Robert E. Lee

Chapter 18 – General Longstreet 3rd Day Gettysburg


Moving southeast was still possible

Road to Washington still clear

Lee could just issue the order

To maneuver in Meade’s rear


But Lee had made up his mind

He was set in his way

They would stay and fight

Another bloody battle today


Union cavalry now closing in

On Longstreet’s flank right

He extended Hood’s division

To be ready for the fight


Lee rode up to Longstreet

Old Pete saluted Bobby Lee

Time to explain

Today’s battle strategy


Longstreet mounted his horse

Rode with Lee towards Emmitsburg Road fences

Viewed across a long rolling field

Saw enemy defenses


Lee lifted his arm

Pointed to a ridge black

“We will strike there

That’s where we’ll attack”


“You will have Pickett with Hill’s support

There is where you’ll enter

Take those heights there

In the Union center”


 “An artillery barrage

Will precede you

Fixed on that one point

Pont au feu” ( A preliminary artillery bombardment – French – bridge on fire)


Groping for words

Longstreet shook his head

It was a suicide charge

Most would end up dead


Over an open field mile

Enfilade would plaster

Killing massive numbers

A total disaster


Lee understood

That the earth would quake

Cannon balls rain

But believed the Union line would break


Lee was determined

He became more assertive

They would attack the Union center

There was no alternative


Longstreet would have

Command of strong brigades nine

Ready to charge

Into the Union line


Fifteen thousand valorous men

Racing toward the ridge black

Led by Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble

They were ready to attack


Once they got across the field

And the ridge was near

J.E.B Stuart’s cavalry 

Would be attacking the rear


But the Union Center was not weak

In fact it was very strong

General Hancock commanding thousands

A mighty Yankee throng


Longstreet could see the end clearly

It was impossible to win

As they came out of the woods

Union artillery would begin


Long range artillery

Percussion shell and solid shot

Every gun on Cemetery Hill firing

Raining iron burning hot


Under steady fire

More than a mile to walk

Through a battering barrage

Of horrid awe and shock


Just a few hundred yards out

Rifles would start aiming

Picking them off one by one

Killing and maiming


Fire would become heavier

When they crossed the road

Canister blasts and cannon balls

Their world would explode


As they got closer

Double canister would be used

Too many dead and wounded

Others totally dazed and confused


If any reached the wall

They wouldn’t break through

Overwhelmed and outnumbered

Just impossible to do


Go to Chapter 19

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