Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

How far had the Confederates come?

They passed the halfway point with most of their regiments and brigades still in formation, but they had only entered the worst part. Two-thirds of the way up the hill was the lone rail fence, standing out like a sore thumb. It did not run the entire length of the Confederate front, but it represented an additional hurdle to at least half of Pickett’s men, who were forced to leap over, climb over, or crawl under it. Given the extreme heat and the weight of their packs, each one of Pickett’s men may have lost thirty precious seconds in getting under or over the fence. Then, to many of their eyes, the way seemed open. But the Federals had saved the worst for last.

The Union cannon now roared more furiously than before, and, seeing an extension of the Confederate lines, some of the Federals executed a flanking maneuver so as to create an enfilading fire. The miracle is that any of the Confederates continued their march, if that was still the appropriate word.


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