At about 1pm, after the fighting on Culp's Hill had died down, the silence was broken by two successive cannon
signal shots. Over 140 Confederate cannons then opened up on the center of the Federal line. Close to 80 northern guns answered as the
two lines pounded each other while the men of both sides hugged the trembling, shuttering ground.
With General Robert E. Lee hoping to disable the Union
artillery and demoralize their infantry in preparation for the planned assault, the thunderous bombardment lasted anywhere between one
and two hours. Union General Henry Hunt, Artillery Chief, said of the cannonade, "...the enemy opened with all his guns. From that
point the scene was indescribably grand. All their batteries were soon covered with smoke, through which the flashes were incessant,
whilst the air seemed filled with shells, whose sharp explosions, with the hurtling of their fragments, formed a running accompaniment
to the deep roar of the guns."
the fields from the Union lines and the site of Major General Hancock's noble ride,
Lieutenant General James Longstreet was similarly inspiring his men. Confederate Brigadier General James Kemper of Pickett's Division
described him thus. As nearly 90 or so Union cannon plowed the Southern ranks, "Longstreet rode slowly and alone immediately in
front of our entire line. He sat his large charger with a magnificent grace and composure I never before beheld. His bearing was to me
the grandest moral spectacle of the war. I expected to see him fall every instant. Still he moved on, slowly and majestically, with an
inspiring confidence, composure, self-possession and repressed power in every movement and look, that fascinated me."
At about 1:25pm,
the artillery bombardment had begun, so it appeared, to take effect on the Union lines. It appeared that the Federals now sought to
withdraw some of their guns. After General Longstreet and artillery Colonel Edward Porter Alexander sent several notes back and forth
concerning the initiation of the assault, Colonel Alexander sent the following message to Major General George Pickett. "If you
are to advance at all you must come at once or we will not be able to support you as we ought, but the enemy's fire has not slackened
materially and there are still at least 18 guns firing from the Cemetery."