Lee's attacks of July 2nd had failed to destroy Meade's Army of the Potomac, but Lee still believed that victory was possible. The enemy had sustained heavy losses and were probably demoralized. Lee had attacked both flanks, so he thought that Meade's center was weak. On July 3rd, something like 135 guns were arrayed to bombard Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet would command the attack, the spearhead of which was around 12,000 men from the divisions of Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble, and the brigades of Wilcox and Perry - in all 50 regiments. Hancock's corps mustered 6,000 men in the targeted front of 1,000 yards. If the attack was successful, Stuart's cavalry had been sent into the Union rear areas to create havoc among the retreating Yankees.
Around 1 P.M., Porter Alexander began the artillery bombardment. Eighty Union guns responded, creating a roar audible 40 miles away. Although the Union response was generally a counterproductive waste of ammunition, some Confederate pieces which were to accompany the attack were pulled back. Some Federal batteries were silenced, but much of the barrage landed on the reverse slope in the Union rear areas, probably due to fuse problems. At about 3 P.M., some of the Union batteries ceased firing to conserve ammunition for the infantry attack. Alexander was also running low on ammunition, so he advised Longstreet to begin the attack. Although there was perhaps a little more ammunition available in the rear, after a 50 minute bombardment focusing on Union artillery, Longstreet gave the order to advance with a nod. Pickett rode in front of his men yelling, "Up men and to your posts! Don't forget today that you are from Old Virginia!" Soon thereafter Pickett commenced the attack, followed shortly by Pettigrew then Trimble; the mass of men formed up over the width of almost mile were to converge on the Copse of Trees, near the highest part of Cemetery Ridge.
22 Start of the Oblique Line of Guns
Confederate guns in a line from here to near the Klingle farm on the Emmitsburg Road, visible below the Round Tops, and extending into the Peach Orchard, had bombarded the Union position near the Copse of Trees. Pickett's division had been brought forward from the woods on the right of the picture to just behind the gun line. They were separated from those of Pettigrew and Trimble, so left obliques, essentially diagonal marches, were required before the whole mass would join together in a single column for the final attack. Pickett therefore started the advance before Pettigrew and Trimble to his left. Armistead's brigade in support began the advance from the low ground on the right of the picture, with Garnett to his front, and Kemper's brigade beyond the Spangler Farm, visible at the prominent red barn. This low ground had hidden the division from Union view, but the men had fallen victim to Union artillery fire directed at the gun line to their front. The Confederates met long range Union cannon fire soon after they became visible. Because of the converging march, Pickett's men would be exposed to more enemy fire than they otherwise would have been.
16 From West of Codori
Pickett's division passed through the line of artillery stretching from Seminary Ridge to the Peach Orchard through the Klingle farm. The high ground of the Codori farm shielded the Confederates from frontal fire, allowing them to halt and dress ranks. Somewhere in this general area - between the camera and the Codori farm, but more to the left - Pickett's division met up with Pettigrew and Trimble.
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