Last week, I transcribed an excerpt from Lafayette 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/ and another, describing Hood's and McLaws' preparations just prior to the beginning of the assault on July 2, 1863 https://civilwartalk.com/threads/day-2-hoods-mclaws-divisions-prior-to-the-assault.160483/#post-2098161 Since everyone seems to have enjoyed discussing those excerpts, here's another describing McLaws' arrival on the field following the counter-march which delayed arrival. <NOTE: Spelling and punctuation errors retained from original.>
After very considerable difficulty, owing to the rough character of the country in places and the fences and ditches we had to cross, the counter-march was effected, and my troops were moving easily forward along a road with fences on the side not giving room enough for a company front, making it necessary to break files to the rear, when General Longstreet rode up to me, and said: "How are you going in?" and I replied, "That will be determined when I can see what is in my front." He said, "There is nothing in your front; you will be entirely on the flank of the enemy." I replied: "Then I will continue my march in columns of companies, and after arriving on the flank as far as is necessary, will face to the left and march on the enemy." He replied, "That suits me," and rode away.
My head of column soon reached the edge of the woods and the enemy at once opened on it with numerous artillery, and one rapid glance showed them to be in force much greater than I had, and extending considerably beyond my right. My command therefore, instead of marching on as directed, by head of column, deployed at once.
Kershaw, a very cool, judicious and gallant gentleman, immediately turned the head of his column and marched by flank to right, and put his men under cover of a stone wall. Barksdale, the fiery, impetuous Mississippian, following, came into line on the left of Kershaw, his men sheltered by trees and part of a stone wall and under a gentle declivity.
Besides the artillery firing, the enemy were advancing a strong line of skirmishers and threatening an advance in line. I hurried back to quicken the march of those in rear, and sent orders for my artillery to move to my right and open fire, so as to draw the fire of the opposite artillery from my infantry.
I will here state that I had in my division about six thousand, aggregate, which, I think, is over the mark. Well, six thousand men standing in line would occupy over a mile, and in marching in the manner and over the roads we came they would extend a mile and a half. So you will perceive that to form line of battle by directing troops across the country broken by fences and ditches requires considerable time, and it was difficult from the same causes, to get artillery in position.
While this was going on I rode forward, and getting off my horse, went to some trees in advance and took a good look at the situation, and the view presented astonished me, as the enemy was massed in my front, and extended to my right and left as far as I could see. The firing on my command showed to Hood in my rear that the enemy was in force in my front and right, and the head of his column was turned by General Longstreet's order to go on my right, and as his troops appeared, the enemy opened on them, developing a long line to his right even, and way up to the top of Round Top. Thus was presented a state of affairs which was certainly not contemplated when the original plan or order of battle was given, and certainly was not known to General Longstreet not a half hour previous.
As I have already stated, General Longstreet had informed me just previous to my arriving in view of the enemy's position, that I would arrive entirely on their flank, and he wished me to march into my position in columns of companies, and when well on the enemy's flank to face or form line to the left and march down upon them. General Kershaw in his report says, his brigade being at the head of my column, that General Longstreet came to him while marching, and told him that his (Gen's L's) desire was that he (Kershaw) should attack the enemy at the Peach Orchard, turn his flank and extend along the cross road with his left resting toward the Emmettsburg road. You can see by the accompanying map what a very different state of affairs existed from what General Longstreet must have thought really did, as it would simply have been absurd for General Kershaw to have attempted to do as he was required or desired. <end of excerpt>
Image by @ARW borrowed from https://civilwartalk.com/threads/foto-friday-2-22.155108/page-2#post-1994275 Thanks @ARW It's a FANTASTIC image!
Excerpt from: [Lafayette McLaws, "The Battle of Gettysburg," a paper presented before the Georgia Historical Society, January 7, 1878.]