| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
LINCOLN—THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
 THE day after Jackson was wounded the battle of Chancellorsville
continued, and ended in a second victory for the Confederates. On
the 4th and 5th the fighting was again renewed. Then the Federals
retired across the Rappahannock to their former camping ground
unmolested, the Confederates being too exhausted to pursue them.
After Fredericksburg the Confederates had rejoiced. After
Chancellorsville they rejoiced still more, and they made up their
minds to carry the war into the northern states. So leaving part
of his army under General J. E. B. Stuart to prevent the Federals
pursuing him Lee marched into Pennsylvania. But General Stuart was
unable to hold the Federals back, and they were soon in pursuit of
At Chancellorsville Hooker had shown that although he was a splendid
fighting general he was a poor commander-in-chief, and towards the
end of June, while the army was in full cry after the foe, General
George Gordon Meade was made commander-in-chief. Meade continued
the pursuit, and Lee, seeing nothing for it, gave up his plans of
invasion, and turned to meet the foe.
The two forces met near the little town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania,
and a great three-days' battle took place.
The fighting began on the first of July when the Federal army was
still widely scattered through the country, and Meade himself far
in the rear, and again the Confederates triumphed.
 Late that night General Meade arrived upon the field, and began
to make preparations for the struggle on the morrow. On both sides
the commanders and armies seemed to feel that a great turning point
of the war had come, and they bent all their energies on winning.
Both camps were early astir, yet each side seemed to hesitate to
begin the fearful game, and put fortune to the test. So the morning
passed quietly, the hot silence of the summer day being broken only
now and again by fitful spurts of firing.
Late in the afternoon at length the Confederates attacked, and
soon the battle raged fiercely. The fight swung this way and that,
first the one side and then the other gaining ground here, losing
it there. When night came the position was little changed. The
advantage still lay with the Confederates.
Next day there was no hesitation. Both sides knew that the deadly
duel must be fought to the close, and at dawn the roll and thud of
cannon began. From hill to hill gun answered gun, shells screamed
and hissed, and the whole valley seemed to be encircled with flame
and smoke. But the Confederates gained nothing. The Federals stood
At length Lee determined to make a mighty effort to smash the
center of the Federal line, and split it in two. Collecting about a
hundred and fifty guns he massed them along a height named Seminary
Ridge, and with these he pounded the Federals on Cemetery Hill
opposite. For two hours the terrible cannonade lasted. At first
the Federal guns replied vigorously, then they almost ceased. They
ceased, not because they had been put out of action, not because
ammunition was running short, but because Meade was reserving his
strength for the infantry attack he knew must come.
In the Confederate camp there was strained anxiety. Lee had determined
to make the attack, but General Longstreet was against it. He did
not believe that it could
suc-  ceed. It was, he felt sure, only the
useless throwing away of brave lives, and his heart was wrung with
sorrow at the thought. But Lee insisted, and General George E.
Pickett's division was chosen to make the attempt.
So Longstreet gave way. But when Pickett came to him for last
orders he could not speak; he merely nodded his head, and turned
away with a sob.
Pickett, however, knew neither hesitation nor fear.
"Sir," he said firmly, "I shall lead my division forward."
Again Longstreet gave a sign, and Pickett, gallant and gay, rode off
"into the jaws of death." Erect and smiling, his cap set rakishly
over one ear, his brown-gold hair shining in the sun, he seemed,
said Longstreet long after, more like a "holiday soldier" than a
general about to lead a desperate and almost hopeless attack.
The Federal lines were a mile away. Towards them, towards the
bristling row of guns, the men marched steadily, keeping step as
if on parade, their banners fluttering gaily, and their bayonets
glittering in the sunshine. Confident and elated they swept on.
They were out to win not merely the battle but the war, and they
meant to do it.
Half the distance was covered. Then the Federal guns spoke. Crashing
and thundering they tore great gaps in the approaching column. Still
the men moved on steadily, resistlessly, until they came within
musket range. Then on a sudden the whole Federal line became as it
were a sheet of flame and smoke, and the first line of the advancing
Confederates seemed to crumble away before the fearful fusilade. But
the second line came on only faster and yet faster, firing volley
after volley, scattering frightful death as they came.
HIGH TIDE AT GETTYSBURG
Nothing could stay their impetuous charge. On they came right up
to the rifle pits. In a rush they were across them, and over the
barricades. Then with a yell of victory
 they threw themselves upon
the guns, bayoneting the gunners. Leaping upon the barricade a man
held aloft the Confederate flag, waving it in triumphant joy. The
next instant he fell mortally wounded, and the flag, bloodstained
and torn, was trampled under foot.
The Confederate success was only the success of a moment. The
handful of heroic men who had reached the Federal guns could not
hope to hold them. They died gallantly. That was all.
A storm of shot and shell tore its way through the still advancing
ranks. It became an ordeal of fire too great for even the bravest
to face. The lines at length wavered, they broke, and the men were
scattered in flight. Thousands lay dead and dying on the field, many
surrendered and were taken prisoner, and of the fifteen thousand
gallant soldiers who had set forth so gaily, only a pitiful remnant
of thirteen hundred blood-stained, weary men at length reached
their own lines.
This gallant and hopeless charge brought the battle of Gettysburg
to an end. It brought victory to the Federal side, and the Confederates
slowly retired into Virginia once more.
Yet the victory was not very great nor in any way decisive, and
the cost of life had been frightful. Indeed, so many brave men
had fallen upon this dreadful field that the thought came to the
Governor of the state that it would be well to make a portion of
it into a soldiers' burial place and thus consecrate it forever
as holy ground. All the states whose sons had taken part in the
battle willingly helped, and a few months after the battle it was
dedicated. And there President Lincoln made one of his most beautiful
and famous speeches.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR
"Fourscore and seven years ago," he said, "our fathers brought
forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are
 equal. Now we are
engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any
nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are
met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a
portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here
gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense
we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this
ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have
consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The
world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living,
rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they
who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for
us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that
from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause
for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we
here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and
that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall
not perish from the earth."
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