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As evening fell over Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, exhausted troops realized that the fight was not yet won. Sergeant Valerius Giles of the 4th Texas Infantry, Robertson’s Brigade, recalled the futile Confederate assault on Little Round Top.

By this time order and discipline were gone. Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as officers. Nobody paid any attention to either….

From behind my boulder I saw a ragged line of battle strung out along the side of Cemetery Ridge and in front of Little Round Top. Night began settling around us, but the carnage went on. There seemed to be viciousness in the very air we breathed. Things had gone wrong all day, and now pandemonium came with the darkness. Alexander Dumas says the devil gets in a man seven times a day, and if the average is not over seven times, he is almost a saint.

At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officers on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling them to go to a country not very far away from us just at that time….

White-winged peace didn’t roost at Little Round Top that night! There was not a man there that cared a snap for the golden rule, or that could have remembered one line of the Lord’s Prayer. Both sides were whipped, and all were furious about it.

Sergeant Valerius C. Giles, Voices of the Civil War: Gettysburg

Originally published in the July 2006 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here