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ragut said of this battle: "It was fought in full view of thousands of French and English, with full confidence on the part of all but the Union people that we would be whipped. I would sooner have fought that fight than any ever fought on the ocean."
There is not space to tell how Admiral Farragut captured the forts and city of Mobile when everybody said it could not be done. Nor to speak of other brave and spirited deeds of the United States navy.
ON THE FIELD OF GETTYSBURG.
General Lee with a splendid army was now in Pennsylvania; part of his troops had come to Carlisle, about an hour by train from Harrisburg, the capital of the State. Even in Philadelphia, people had begun to throw up entrenchments. Where would Lee stop? Who would stop him? This work was for the army of the Potomac, and at that time General Hooker was its commander. To say that Lincoln was anxious is putting it lightly; his whole soul was filled with the importance and the urgency of the coming battle. It must be a fierce one; for the world has seldom seen as good, and never better armies than the two which were then to meet, General Lee's confederate forces and the Union army of the Potomac, both armies seasoned by many battles, each well aware of the fighting qualities of the other and ready to meet these with equal valor.
But General Hooker just at that time was offended by some orders which he received from General Halleck, or from the President, and he resigned. He was arranging matters finely and it was dangerous at that time to put a new commander at the head of the army, but it had to be done. Mr. Lincoln said: "A general who resigns his commission on the eve of battle should always have his resignation accepted, let the consequences be what they may." So General Meade was put in command. General Hooker was noble and patriotic enough to ask to be allowed to serve under him. But Meade did not wish it. But the President later gave Hooker an opportunity to show his valor at the West. This Hooker did.
It was not at first the purpose of either commander to fight the battle at Gettysburg; indeed, Meade chose another spot. But the attack came on at Gettysburg, and there the fight had to be finished. The situation was fine for our army, which was excellently posted in a sort of semicircle on high ground so that the centre and the wings of the army supported each other.
On the first of July, 1863, came the first attack of the confederates. That afternoon they had the best of it. But the next day began a fiercer battle with more troops on each side. Some of
Meade's generals tried to induce him to attack Lee's centre and try to smash through it and divide the confederate army; but Meade wisely chose to keep his strong position and let Lee attack him. Longstreet, the ablest confederate general, begged Lee not to attack as he had ordered. But Lee would do it. He had been successful the day before, and he could not resist trying to defeat Meade; for he saw what victory would mean to the South. So, the afternoon of July second the battle was on again. How terrible and fierce it was! The soldiers on both sides, as well as the officers, knew that they were fighting for the life of their cause. For Gettysburg was one of the great battles of the world, not merely because it was one of the most obstinately contested ever fought, and with greater loss of life in proportion to the numbers engaged than in almost any other, nor even because never was greater bravery shown on both sides. But it was a battle for the liberties of a great people, a battle to test whether our government was to stand.
When the sun went down on July second the battle was not yet over. At dawn the morning of the third the two armies went at it again. The confederates were attacked and General Ewell, who commanded the forces which Stonewall Jackson led when he was living, was driven
back. Then there was a little lull on the battlefield.
But Lee had determined to take Cemetery Hill, which was the key of the Union position. So, at one o'clock in the afternoon there suddenly burst out of the stillness the thunder of one hundred and thirty cannon. Never had the soldiers or officers on either side heard or imagined anything so terrific; and when the Union artillery answered back, the uproar was still more terrible. This cannonade lasted about an hour. Then because General Howard ceased firing, to cool off the guns and save the ammunition for the coming infantry attack, General Lee thought his artillery was silenced, and he ordered the attack. The confederates came on, as steady as troops on parade. But when they were half way across the valley toward the lines, the artillery Lee had thought he had silenced burst upon them. Growing fewer in number at every step the column still moved on, and the battle joined. So fierce and terrible was it that for a few minutes the soldiers on both sides could not even hear their officers, and fought man to man. Then the confederates gave way; the Union soldiers sprang forward; the shortest and, considering its shortness, the most bloody of the three days' battle was over. Lee had tried at Gettysburg somewhat the same