- Historic Sites
With The Gunners
August 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 5
On the Confederate side, the failure of the artillery is manifest. Lee did open a thunderous cannonade to prepare the way for Pickett’s charge; but Mr. Downey insists on calling attention to the vast number of Confederate guns which did not fire a shot in this cannonade, although it would have been quite possible for Pendleton to arrange them in such a way as to take Cemetery Hill and the area immediately south of it under a devastating cross fire. The guns that did get into action fired, uniformly, just a little high. The supposedly safe rear slope of Cemetery Ridge was thoroughly plastered with shells during the bombardment, to the intense discomfort of the behind-the-lines details, but the point of attack itself came through with only minor damage. In addition, when Pickett’s infantry did advance, the artillery support that was supposed to advance with it was lacking, due to some administrative blunder at headquarters. Valiant as it was, Lee’s artillery failed him at Gettysburg. The Federals not only had more gun power, but they used what they had far more effectively.
When we look at Gettysburg we see, usually, the infantry—which, Heaven knows, is worth looking at. The guns are worth looking at too, and here, for the first time, is a studious analysis of just how they were used and what they accomplished. Treat Gettysburg as victory or as defeat, by your own choice; it does help to know what the technicians were doing.