General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack....the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself...
A few days ago, I transcribed an excerpt from McLaws' 1878 paper describing his view of Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. https://civilwartalk.com/threads/view-of-picketts-charge-maj-gen-lafayette-mclaws-on-july-3.159910/ Since everyone seems to have enjoyed discussing it, I decided to transcribe and post another section of the text. This excerpt details Hood's and McLaws' preparation, prior to the July 2 assault. <NOTE: Spelling and punctuation errors retained from original.>
...General Hood writes that his orders were to place his division across the Emmettsburg road, form line and attack, but that from a rapid reconnoisance, he saw that if he made the attack according to orders he should first be compelled to attack and drive off the advanced line of battle, to pass over a very broken, rocky character of country, which would scatter his men very much, and that his division would be exposed to a heavy fire from the main line of the enemy, posted on the crest of the high range of which Round Top was the extreme left, and that he would be subjected to a destructive fire in flank and rear, as well as in front.
As bad as he represents the difficulties to be overcome, if he attempted to carry out his orders, I would have been in a worse position if I had attempted to carry out mine, as the main body of the enemy was directly in my front, and the enemy's numerous batteries were posted in front of me in the peach orchard and to its rear. General Hood says he reported that it was unwise to attack up the Emmettsburg road as ordered and urged that he be allowed to turn Round Top and attack the enemy in flank and rear, but that General Longstreet returned the answer: "General Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."
That he shot[?] again, and reported that nothing was to be gained by such an attack, and the answer was: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road."
That during these intervals of time he had continued to use the batteries against the enemy, and it seemed to his more extended reconnoisance that the position occupied by the enemy was naturally so strong, so nearly impregnable that, independently of their flank fire, they could repel his attack by throwing stones down the mountain, and that a third time he dispatched a staff officer to explain more fully in regard to the situation, and to suggest that he (Gen. Longstreet) come in person and see for himself, and that his Adjutant General, whom he sent the last time, returned with the same message: "Gen. Lee's orders are to attack up the Emmettsburg road," and almost simultaneously Col. Fairfax of Longstreet's staff, rode up and repeated the order.
While this was going on, an order came from General Longstreet, borne by Major Latrobe, such is my recollection, asking why did I not charge, "as there was no one in my front but a regiment of infantry and a battery of artillery." I told the officer that I would charge so soon as my division was formed for it; that the enemy was in great force in my immediate front, with numerous artillery, and extended far to the right.
In a very short time after this order was repeated and I informed the officer again that the enemy was so strong in my front that it required careful preparation for the assault, or it necessarily would be a failure; that the opposite artillery was numerous, and it was necessary to break its force by the fire of our artillery; that as soon as it opened, and my men were all up, I would move forward, but requested that he come to the front and see for himself.
Not long after the order came peremptorily for me to charge, the officer representing that General Lee was with General Longstreet, and joined in the order, and I got on my horse and sent word that in five minutes I would be underway. But while collecting my staff to send the order for a simultaneous move of the whole line, a courier dashed up, with orders for me to wait until Hood got into position. I suppose by this time, Hood's protests against attempting to charge up the Emmettsburg road had been received, and hence the delay.
I sent to communicate with Hood at once in order to follow his movement. General Longstreet then came up in person and I met him. His first words were, "Why is not a battery placed here?" pointing to the place where the road by which we marched reached the edge of the open space in front.
I replied, "General, if a battery is placed there it will draw the enemy's artillery right among my lines formed for the charge and will of itself be in the way of my charge, tend to demoralize my men." His reply was only a peremptory order for a battery, and it was sent forward, placed in that position, and its fire at once drew the enemy's fire of artillery upon it, cutting the limbs of the trees in abundance, which fell around my men, and the bursting shells and shot wounded or killed a number whilst in line formed for the advance, producing a natural feeling of uneasiness among them, directing them to lie down, so as to escape as much as possible from the shot and shell which were being rained around us from a very short range.
All this happened within fifteen or twenty minutes. Under cover of their fire, the enemy were making strong demonstrations of an advance and General Barksdale two or three times came to me and said, "General, let me go; General, let me charge!" But as I was waiting General Longstreet's will I told General Barksdale to wait and let the enemy come half way and then we would meet on more equal terms.
Hood had been in the meanwhile moving towards the enemy's left, but he never did go far enough to envelop the left, not even partially. It was said at the time, on the field, that he would have done so, but his guides and scouts, who had been around to the enemy's left in the morning, had gotten confused on their return with the division, and missed carrying the head of column far enough to our right, and it became heavily engaged before Hood intended it, and being pressed on his left sent to me for assistance, and the charge of my division was ordered. <end of excerpt>
Excerpt from [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.]
Image borrowed from @Garandguy 's post https://civilwartalk.com/threads/august-2019-potm-now-accepting-entries.159587/#post-2091383 Thanks @Garandguy It's a GREAT photo!