General Robert E. Lee had attacked both the right and left of the Union line on July 2nd at Gettysburg. Culp's Hill and Cemetery hill were the right and Little Round top was the left. Lee guessed that Meade had weakened his center on Cemetery Ridge in order to reinforce his flanks. Meade's center was strong and Lee was not able to see just how strong it was because of the topography. Lee opened a bombardment of 150 guns to soften up the union lines which still ranks as the largest bombardment on the North American continent. Unfortunately the Confederate artillery was using new fuses. They were accustomed to the old fuses which were made in Richmond and had a faster burn time. Because of supply problems they were having to use fuses made in Charleston and Selma which had a slower burn time. Instead of blowing up over the heads of the Union troops they overshot their target and the shells for the most part blew up behind the Union lines. Because of the artillery smoke the Confederate gunners could not judge the effectiveness of their fire. Union artillery was ordered to hold their fire in order to conserve ammunition for the coming attack. This led Confederate gunners to believe that they had knocked out many Union artillery batteries. Fifteen thousand men marched across a field one mile wide into the jaws of death. They were met by a devastating barrage of shrapnel and canister and finished off with volleys of rifle fire as they closed with the Union line.
|The Copse Of Tree's|