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July 1, 1863

11:00am

McPherson's Ridge, North of Chambersburg Pike
 Having been blasted by double cannister
   from Hall's Battery,
 the 42nd Mississippi devised another attempt.
This time, with less men, none to mass,
   they would spread out as skirmishers,
  a few yards between each man.
 And attack.
 
Cannister works its horror on massed troops.
  Can take out even twenty or thirty in one blast.
But if they come spread out,
     it is no better than shooting at flies
    with a shotgun.
 
So they came.  Spread out.  Nearly invisible to cannon fire.
   Came upon the six guns of Hall's.
 
But both the men of the 42nd and the men of Hall's
  did not expect, and for some, did not even notice
 two companies of the 147th, 
     still, somehow, holding to the right of the battery,
       across the rail road cut.
But these two companies noticed the 42nd.
  They aimed their rifles upon the backs 
     of the Mississippians
    advancing past them to take the guns.
Their careful aim downed a few skirmishers,
       but being fired upon from the rear
     brough fear of capture.
  That outweighed fear of death.
 They retreated once more to the rail road cut.
 
Oddly enough, the men of Hall's Battery
  could not see the 147th fire upon
 the skirmishers.
    Only saw the Mississippi boys retreat
   for unknown reasons.
Their battery was saved, their lives were saved. 
 And they did no know why.
 
And they did not care.  This was their last straw.
 Hall, thinking his battery was alone,
the 147th was not there, they must have retreated
   with the 56th and 76th.  Didn't they?
 To Hall, his battery, his boys were alone.
Immediately and without orders to do so, 
     he called for withdraw.
 
Could see that the skirmishers, 
   who just recently slinked back to their den
  were slithering their way up the rail road cut
     nearly coming in on his rear.  
 
Quickly, he devised an escape plan.
  It could now no longer be an ordinary retreat,
 falling back by section.
Now was the time to escape.
 
This plan was for the right section
   to pull itself back 75 yards,
 give cover for the rest of the battery
  as they limbered up
  and got away.
But it fell apart from the beginning.
 
The right section got away,
  though it had to be pulled by ropes
  parallel to the battleline of the advancing
55th North Carolina, closing in on them,
   nearly on top of them now.
 For 75 yards, they moved in front of the rebel line.
      Easy targets. 
 
  Somehow they reached their destinations, 
    heavy fire.  Horses, men dropping screaming.
   An entire team of horses dead.
  They had become pinned down.
   Fire intense and steady,
      could not get off even one shot.
    Useless.  
 
 Seeing that this section could afford no cover, 
   Hall ordered the four remaining guns
     to be pulled back by prolong ropes, by hand
   to the waiting limbers, turned around, ready to go.
 And they would make their escape.  
 
As they were limbering up, the Rebels came.
  Screaming, bloody rebel yells, charging.
 Hoping to capture a gun or two.  
Some stopped to fire, 
       killing horses.
   When infantry attacked artillery, 
  all hopes were to capture a gun.
 Their aim would be towards horses, not men.
       If the gun could not be moved, 
          it would be taken.
 
Before any of the guns could be limbered
   and pulled off the field to safety,
  the dead horses, dying horses
      had to be cut from their harnesses.
 Not only, but less horses pulling a gun,
  the slower the gun would travel.
 
But all four were ready to go, 
   moved out across fields on the eastern slope
 of McPherson's Ridge, southeasterly towards
     the Chambersburg Pike.
Rebels still coming fast and en mass. 
  closer.
 




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