Scenes of Little Round Top

Hazlett Scales Little Round Top

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           Lieutenant Charles Hazlett commanded  Battery A 5th US Artillery of the 5th Corps. He was born in Ohio and was a West Point graduate.  Battery A began the war at Bull Run and saw extensive action. At Gettysburg on day 2, when General Gouverneur K. Warren discovered the lack of troops on Little Round Top a series of events led V Corps Artillery commander Augustus Martin and Hazlett to ride to the top of the hill and assess it’s feasibility for artillery. While it was far from a perfect artillery platform due to the small amount of level ground at the top. Hazlett declared “The sound of my guns will be encouraging to our men….”
            The trek to the top was backbreaking for man and beast. Only one of the 10 pound Parrott rifles (weighing ing 2000 pounds with a 1000 pound limber) made it to the top on horsepower. The remaining 5 were literally dragged and pushed by manpower up the last rocky yards of Little Round Top. Not only the men of Battery A but stragglers from Vincent’s Brigade and General Warren himself joined in the effort.
             Like many other soldiers that day Hazlett had a premonition of death. Shortly after the battery arrived in place Hazlett was struck by sharpshooter’s bullet from the Devil’s Den/Valley of Death area. This happened as he was coming to the aid of General Stephen Weed, his former commander.
             Here we see the team of the #3 gun making it to the top of the hill.  On the left Captain Hazlett is surveying the scene below from his horse. Below the Southern forces spearheaded by Benning’s brigade are pushing back the 40th NY and portions of Ward’s brigade from the Devils Den area. The Smoke to the left is from the initial infantry attacks by the 4th and 5th Texas on Strong Vincent’s Brigade.
         Battery A now led by lieutenant B.F. Rittenhouse stayed on Little Round Top the rest of the evening and the next day provided vital support in shelling Pickett’s Advance.
 

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The 140th New York Arrives

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               Though he was born in Ireland, his name destined his family’s move to the United States.  Colonel Patrick Henry O'Rorke grew up in Rochester New York, and graduated first in his class from West Point 1861 as the bookend to “goat” George Custer. In August 1862 he was given command of the 140th New York regiment, consisting of recruits from the Rochester area.
             At Gettysburg on July 2, 1863 the 140th was heading with Weed’s brigade to assist the III corps near the Wheatfield. This was stopped at behest of General Warren, O’Rorke’s former commander, who was looking for more support for Little Round Top.  O’Rorke led his men directly up the north slope of the hill and they arrived at the most opportune moment for the Union. Three southern regiments from General John Bell Hood’s Division were threatening the right flank of Vincent’s brigade.  The small 16th Michigan was getting hemmed in and started to crumble. At that moment the 140th NY came over the hill and formed its attack in company sized double ranks. It is doubtful the first company had time to load before cresting the boulder-strewn hill. Companies G and A took the brunt of the assault by the 526-man regiment.
               Just after O’Rorke shouted “Down this way, boys!” he was mortally wounded in the neck by a southern bullet.  Despite this setback and galling fire from the 48th Alabama the sheer size of the 140th NY was too much for the exhausted Southern troops.
             Much has been made of the 20th Maine’s efforts on the Little Round Top that day but it is arguable the O’Rorke and the 140th were equally decisive in holding that ground.  Indeed if Vincent’s right flank had fallen Benning’s Brigade was poised to enter the gap and put an overwhelming force on the hill.
            The diograph shows the decisive moment just after company A and G have formed and are able to return fire. O’Rorke is in the center just moments before he was hit.        
 

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Alabamans at Vincent’s Spur

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                   Vincent’s Spur is a plateau-like extension off the southeast end of Little Round Top.  At the commencement of Longstreet’s attack it was doubtful that the Confederate command knew of it’s existence. Yet,  it would be scene of the some of the day’s most desperate fighting.  
                    The 15th Alabama Regiment had begun the day a full county away. As part of Law’s brigade they had been encamped near Chambersburg. Awakened at 2 am they made the 26 mile march over South Mountain through Cashtown to Herr Ridge and then south to the jump off for the attack on Warfield Ridge.
                    The path from Warfield Ridge to the spur was hardly direct. Before reaching Plum Run they were confronted by the 2nd US Sharpshooters.  That pushed the whole brigade off to the right. The 15th ended up on the right flank when the two regiments on the left were shifted to fill a gap on the opposite side. For reasons known only to Colonel William Oates, the 15th was directed to move to the summit of Round Top. After completing the exhausting climb over boulders, and fallen trees, the 15th and the 44th Alabama rested on the top of the Mountain while the sound of battle could heard below in the Devils Den and on the eastern slope of Little Round Top.  A few minutes later a courier from General Law ordered the two regiments to join in a the attack on Little Round Top.
                  The 47th moved down the hill into the hollow and soon saw Union troops in a strong position utilizing some of the large boulders and the military crest.  This was the 20th Maine Regiment, and their duel was memorable struggle.
                   The scene depicted is the first attack of the 15th Alabama. There would be at least four more, shifting further and further to the right in an attempt to out flank the Union line. Ultimately the exhausted 15th Regiment  suffered 178 casualties and was pushed off the spur by a desperate bayonet attack by the 20th Maine.    

 

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Pine Tree Warriors

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                The 20th Maine regiment was organized in August 1862. Prior to Gettysburg the regiment had seen limited combat. The 20th Maine was part of Vincent’s Brigade, Barnes Division, Sykes’ V corps.  Arriving at Gettysburg at mid morning on July 2nd, the V was held in reserve. Eventually the V corps was moved to the Union right. During that move the situation became critical. Not only was it becoming apparent to the Union Command that an attack was imminent in that area, but the III corps was not where General Meade (charitably speaking) intended it to be.
                    General Gouverneur Warren of Meade’s staff hurried to Little Round Top to assess the situation. There were no troops there though he could see Ward’s line covering Houck’s Ridge to the immediate front of Little Round Top.  Looking into the woods to the southeast he could see Confederate troop considerably to the south of the Union flank.  Warren sent out couriers to find the troops to cover the vulnerable right.  
                       Somewhere near the Wheatfield a courier from General Sykes approached Vincent’s brigade looking for General Barnes. Sykes was requesting a brigade to move to Little Round Top. Vincent perceived the necessity and without direct orders turned his brigade toward the partially cleared hill. Initially the 16th Michigan was placed on the left flank but then was moved to the right leaving the 20th Maine to cover a low ridge in the woods running south of the peak of Little Round Top. Vincent assured Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine that his position represented the Left flank of the Union army and he was to hold it.
                      For some time Chamberlain could only hear the sounds of battle off to his right as Devil’s Den heated up and later the center of Vincent’s line came under attack. Finally off to the South the men of the 20th saw the legs of Southern Troops approaching-the upper bodies of the Alabamans were still covered by the foliage that had been grazed up to neck level by cattle. This gave the Chamberlain a few more moments to prepare.  
                    The scene portrayed is just moment after the first Union volley. The 15th Alabama still pushes forward through the wooded haze. Several time that evening the attacker would reach the Union line only to be pushed back in hand to hand combat.    After more than an hour of desperate fighting with both side nearly out of ammunition the 20th Maine fixed bayonet and charged down the hill an across the hollow and the Union flank was preserved.
 

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Ellsworth Avenged

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     Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth was born just outside of Albany, New York in 1837. In the late 1850’s he moved to the Midwest and formed Ellsworth’s Zouaves, a militia drill team that became nationally known. He later studied law with Abraham Lincoln and assisted Lincoln’s 1860 Presidential Campaign.          
          When war broke out Ellsworth came back to his home state and helped to raise the 11th New York regiment and became their Colonel. On May 24th 1861 day after Virginia’s Secession he led troops into Alexandria. Ellsworth spotted a large a confederate flag hanging from local hotel. Incensed, he entered the building and tore down the flag. As Ellsworth descended the stairway he was shot by the owner. The event stunned the North and provided a burst of early war enthusiasm. Part of that reaction was a call for a regiment to honor Colonel Ellsworth. The 44th New York was the result and the unit was given the nickname of “Ellsworth’s Avengers.” The original plan was to have one member from every locality in the state. While that concept was not completely adhered to, the regiment represented nearly every locality in the State. The 44th  left Albany with 1061 recruits on October 21st 1861 and  fought extensively in the Peninsula Campaign and 2nd Manassas as part of the Army of the Potomac.
              The 44th came to Gettysburg with 460 men, its complement swelled by veterans from several mustered out regiments. As part of Colonel Strong Vincent’s Brigade of the 5th Corps the 44th was diverted to Little Round Top where held the center of the brigade’s line along side it sister regiment, the 83rd Pa. The vital hill was undefended before the Brigade’s arrival and almost immediately came under attack.  Six regiments from Hood’s Division made repeated assaults from 5:00 PM until nightfall.
         The scene above shows the 5th Texas making a late assault. In the valley below the 40th New York is withdrawing for the area of Devil’s Den along with Ward’s Brigade on Houck’s ridge. The 44th held firm against each Southern attack. The price was high as 36 men died and 69 were wounded. 


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Dusk on Little Round Top

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     The 4th Alabama Regiment was recruited in the early day of the war and came to the Army of Northern Virginia in May of 1861. The regiment fought proudly from 1st Manassas to Appomattox. At Gettysburg the 4th Alabama started the day on July 2, 1863 near Chambersburg Pa. Waking at 2:00 AM Law’s Brigade marched the 26 miles over South Mountain to the south end of Seminary Ridge. With only a few minutes to rest the Brigade moved off with instructions to “Take those heights”. Within half an hour the 4th Alabama had began the first of several attempts to take Little Round Top. The Union Brigade commanded by Strong Vincent and specifically the 83rd Pa. had a nearly invulnerable position part way up the rocky hill. Colonel Scruggs, dismounted by his superior’ orders, soon passed out from the heat and exhaustion. The Regiment continued on working from boulder to boulder looking for a sign of weakness above. Several times the regiment regrouped in the trees at the base of Round Top. The culmination of the battle came as the sun was setting and both flanks of Vincent’s line were challenged. The 4th Alabama moved forward again to support but the result was no different due to desperate charges by the 140th NY and 20th Maine    

                This diograph shows the 4th Alabama  in its final effort. The location is just at the edge of the Woods near what is now Warren Avenue .No doubt the troops sensed the futility of their effort but on they went in the hope that their comrades down the line could carry the heights.In the background elements of Benning’s and Robertson Brigade are assembling to make a final charge across the Valley of Death.
 

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Vincent's Challenge

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              Like many of the Southern Brigade Commanders, Strong Vincent was a lawyer prior to the war.  Educated at Harvard he returned to his native Erie Pa. in 1859.  Joining the army as a private in 1861 he rose to colonel of the 83rd Pa. and then brigade commander.  At Gettysburg Vincent’s Brigade was part of Barnes division of the V corps.
              In the mid afternoon of July 2, 1863 the V corps was moving to the Union left.  Somewhere near the Wheatfield a courier from General Sykes approached looking for General Barnes. Sykes was requesting a brigade to move to Little Round top. Vincent perceived the necessity and without direct orders turned his brigade toward the partially cleared hill. Vincent and his bugler Oliver Norton circled the hill ahead of the brigade to scout the position. Coming out onto the clearing on the summit with Vincent’s flag they were immediately targeted by Confederate Artillery.    After seeking cover Vincent laid out a line on the military crest (about ¾ of the way up the hill) running from a spur on the south wooded side to about halfway across the clearer westerly side of the rocky eminence. From left to right Vincent’s regiments included the 20th Maine, the 83rd Pa., the 44th NY, and the 16th Michigan. Skirmishers were sent out and almost immediately returned signaling the Confederate forces were pushing through the woods on the lower shoulder of Big Round Top.
             The scene shown in the diograph shows portions of the 44th NY and the 16th Mich. being attacked by the 4th and 5th Texas.   Both Texas regiments had emerged from the woods to the left.  Below the battle for Devil’s Den is reaching its conclusion.  Benning’s 17th Ga. and the Law’s 48th Alabama are pushing back the 40th NY and 99th Pa.    
                In about 30 minutes the 48th Alabama will join the two Texas regiments and nearly succeed in dislodging Vincent’s brigade. While rallying his troops Vincent was struck in the groin by a rebel shot. He died five days after being promoted to general.    
 

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Alabamans at Vincent's Ledge -Panorama

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           Vincent’s Spur is a plateau-like extension off the southeast end of Little Round Top. At the commencement of Longstreet’s attack it was doubtful that the Confederate command knew of it’s existence. Yet it would be scene of the some of the day’s most desperate fighting. 

        The 15th Alabama Regiment had begun the day a full county away. As part of Law’s brigade they had been encamped near Chambersburg. Awakened at 2 am they made the 26 mile march over South Mountain through Cashtown to Herr Ridge and then south to the jump off for the attack from Warfield Ridge.

      The path from Warfield Ridge to the Spur was hardly direct. Before reaching Plum Run they were confronted by the 2nd US Sharpshooters. That pushed the whole brigade off to the right. The 15th ended up on the right flank when the two regiments on the left were shifted to fill a gap on the opposite side. For reasons known only to Colonel William Oates, the 15th was directed to move to the summit of Round Top. After completing the exhausting climb over boulders, and fallen trees, the 15th and the 44th Alabama rested on the top of the Mountain while the sound of battle could heard below in the Devils Den and on the eastern slope of Little Round Top. A few minutes later a courier from General Law ordered the two regiments to join in the attack on Little Round Top. 

        The 47th moved down the hill into the hollow and soon saw Union troops in a strong position above utilizing some of the large boulders and the military crest. This was the 20th Maine regiment, and their duel was memorable struggle.

The scene depicted is the first attack of the 15th Alabama. There would be at least four more, each shifting further and further to the right in an attempt to outflank the Union line. Ultimately the exhausted regiment 15th Alabama suffered 178 casualties and was pushed off the Spur by a desperate bayonet attack by the 20th Maine. 


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Lone Star Struggle

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         The 4th and 5th Texas regiments were proud members of Hood’s Texas brigade. Originally commanded by John Bell Hood, the Brigade had an auspicious record as one of the hardest hitting units in the Army of Northern Virginia. From the Peninsular campaign, through 2nd Manassas, Antietem and Fredricksburg, the Texas brigade seemed to find itself at a decisive juncture in each battle.

          That continued at Gettysburg. Now under the command of Jerome Robertson with Hood leading the division, the Brigade also included the 1st Texas and the 3rd Arkansas. The Texas brigade was in the vanguard of Longstreet’s July 2nd attack. As the brigade advanced down into the Plum Run valley the 4th and 5th Texas guided on Law’s Brigade to their right. Due to this they became separated from the 1st Texas and 3rd Arkansas. Eventually this separation placed the 4th and 5th Texas 300 yards and one hill to the east of the rest of the Brigade. That hill was Little Round Top. 

Command had now devolved to the regimental level as Robertson was with the remainder of the brigade. Hood was already wounded. Somehow the two “lost” regiments fused with the 4th Alabama of Law’s brigade and moved forward the rough and wooded ground at the base of Round Top. After pushing off skirmishers they emerged from the woods at the base of a 150 foot boulder strewn hill topped by Union troops. “A mountain goat might have revelled.” said one Texan. 

         This Diograph shows the 5th Texas’s view early in the initial attack. Just visible above are portions of the 16th Michigan and the 44th NY. The two Texas Regiments made perhaps five different attempts to take the hill. It is hard to fathom what type of courage that required. Both Colonels went down early but that did not stop the effort. The last attack came within yards of the top and was only stopped by a desperate charge by the 140th NY who arrived just as the Northern line began to crumble. Of 409 men who went into action that day from the 5th Texas, 211 were killed, wounded, or missing.         

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Lone Star Struggle Panorama

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The 4th and 5th Texas regiments were proud members of Hood’s Texas brigade. Originally commanded by John Bell Hood, the Brigade had an auspicious record as one of the hardest hitting units in the Army of Northern Virginia. From the Peninsular campaign, through 2nd Manassas, Antietem and Fredricksburg, the Texas brigade seemed to find itself at a decisive juncture in each battle.

That continued at Gettysburg. Now under the command of Jerome Robertson with Hood leading the division, the Brigade also included the 1st Texas and the 3rd Arkansas. The Texas brigade was in the vanguard of Longstreet’s July 2nd attack. As the brigade advanced down into the Plum Run valley the 4th and 5th Texas guided on Law’s Brigade to their right. Due to this they became separated from the 1st Texas and 3rd Arkansas. Eventually this separation placed the 4th and 5th Texas 300 yards and one hill to the east of the rest of the Brigade. That hill was Little Round Top. 

Command had now devolved to the regimental level as Robertson was with the remainder of the brigade. Hood was already wounded. Somehow the two “lost” regiments fused with the 4th Alabama of Law’s brigade and moved forward the rough and wooded ground at the base of Round Top. After pushing off skirmishers they emerged from the woods at the base of a 150 foot boulder strewn hill topped by Union troops. “A mountain goat might have revelled.” said one Texan. 

This Diograph shows the  4th and 5th Texas early in the first attack. Just visible above are portions of the 44th NY and the 83rd Pa. The two Texas Regiments made perhaps five different attempts to take the hill. It is hard to fathom what type of courage that required. Both Colonels went down early but that did not stop the effort. The last attack came within yards of the top and was only stopped by a desperate charge by the 140th NY who arrived just as the Northern line began to crumble. Of 409 men who went into action that day from the 5th Texas, 211 were killed, wounded, or missing. 


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