Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gettysburg - Little Round Top

The attack on the Union left would be made by two divisions from Longstreet, McLaws' on the left and Hood's on the right. At about 4:30 pm, as the guns fell silent from a 30 minute bombardment, Hood, standing in his stirrups at the head of the Texas Brigade, shouted "Fix Bayonets, my brave Texans! Forward, and take those heights!" As Hood's division rushed toward the Round Tops the encountered rough, boulder stone ground in an area called Devil's Den. The division shifted off to the east as united struggled to avoid the obstacle. As the attack was being made the commander was lost, the mounted Hood was struck with a bullet and put out of action, Evander Law taking his place.
Confederate sharpshooter in Devil's Den
The Northern troops put up a fierce resistance around the rocky outcroppings, but they could not hold for long. Confederates began to get on their flank and even in their rear. Finally the Confederates pushed through Devil's Den, capturing three cannon that had defended it. The Confederates continued to push on around Big Round Top and towards Little Round Top. Until very recently the smaller hill had been bare of Federal troops other than a few signal men. Sickles had been instructed to anchor his line there, but had disobeyed the order. Brigadier General Gouverneur Warren, chief engineer of the army, rode to the hill and instantly saw the situation. He recognized that the hill was the key to the whole battlefield. Confederate artillery here could wreck havoc on the Federal lines. Warren quickly rode back and on his own authority sent Colonel Strong Vincent's 1,000 man brigade to occupy the hill, along with a battery of artillery. Vincent arranged his regiments on the hill, and they were soon attacked by troops from Hood's division. Already disorganized from the charge, their lines were broken as they tried to climb the rocky sides of Little Round Top. As they approached the top, they came under fire from Strong's men and were driven back. They came on again and again and a fierce fight developed. Reinforcements arrived for the Federals in the form of the 140th New York, a Zouve regiment with colorful uniforms. Which rushed forward and helped stabilize the Union line.

Hood's Attack

The unit on the far left of the Union position was the 20th Maine, commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlin. Today it is one of the most famous unites of the entire Civil War. The Confederates pushed hard against this regiment. Chamberlin remembered counting five separate attacks on his line. His troops were stretched very thin and his men were running low on ammunition. It was thought that the line was about to break, so he ordered a bayonet charge. The 20th Maine rushed down the hill, hit the Confederates and drove them into retreat, capturing a number of retreating rebels.

Through the quick action of Gouverneur Warren, the hard fighting of Vincient's brigade and the disorganization of the Confederates, Little Round Top was held for the Union. The man who got much of the glory for this fight was Joshua Chamberlin, although were other Union units on the hill that fought just as hard against the Confederate attacks.


Post a Comment