It's fairly well known that, on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee sent an order to Richard Ewell to "Take that hill, if practicable." Ewell did not take the hill, and it has generally been presumed that he dithered about deciding whether it was practicable or not. No written copy of Lee's order exists, for the simple reason that, by that stage of the war, Lee rarely put orders in writing. After the infamous lost cigars incident that preceded Antietam/Sharpsburg, Lee was ever mindful of the fact that written orders could get lost, and that such a circumstance had the potential to lead to disaster, so he generally preferred to give his orders verbally. I had the pleasure of taking a tour with Gettysburg park ranger Troy Harmon recently. According to Troy, Lee's order to Ewell contained not one, but two caveats. Not only did the order say to take the hill "if practicable," it also said to take the hill only if it could be done "without bringing on a general engagement." Shelby Foote's book also indicates that the order directed Ewell "to avoid a general engagement until the arrival of the other divisions of the army." It's possible that Ewell may have felt that it was practicable to take the hill, but did not see how he could do so without bringing on a general engagement. Confederate cavalry scouts (even though JEB Stuart wasn't present, the South wasn't entirely without cavalry on the first day) could clearly see Alpheus Williams' division of the Union XII Corps advancing toward the hill along the Hanover Road, so a Confederate attempt to take the hill would almost certainly have brought on a considerable engagement. Anyone else remember hearing about this part of Lee's order to Ewell? Any opinions as to whether Ewell's failure to take the hill was due more to doubts about (1) whether it was practicable or (2)whether he could do it without bringing on a general engagement?