|View single post by martymtg|
|Posted: Sun Aug 31st, 2008 06:55 pm||
There's no doubt that the occupation of Little Roundtop was the key to the battle, particularly for the Union because it gave their flank an impregnable anchor.
They say that Ewell could have gotten there first but hesitated. Lee's orders to him were. "Take those hills if you think it practicable."
Ewell is criticized to no end for not doing it, but he was coming off a forced march and if I'm not mistaken, his men had already been engaged in heavy fighting through a good part of the day.
Give Warren the credit for seeing the importance of the hill, Strong Vincent for getting there without waiting for definitive orders, and the 20th Maine and Chamberlain for refusing to crumble under sustained attacks from Longstreet. Vincent actually risked disciplinary or even court martial proceedings by taking it upon himself to divert troops that had other orders and sending them up to Little Round Top.
So it seems that for once, union leadership was firm where the confederate generals hesitated, instead of the other way around. It could even be argued that Buford did everything for Meade and Reynolds that Jeb Stuart failed to do for Lee. Altho Stuart was an excellent and fearless cavalry commander, his failure to report to Lee or even stay in contact may be a bigger failure than Ewell's. Contrast that with Buford's immediate recognition that the whole rebel army was on the doorstep, dismounting his 2,500 cavalrymen to hold off the Reb infantry while Reynolds approached from some 8 miles away. Buford slowly gave way thru town, buying time and knowing that if he could retreat in orderly fashion to the heights he'd have averted the disaster of the Rebs settling in on the high ground. This while sustaining severe losses to his cavalry, men that were used to fighting on horseback.
So when the smoke clears, the question still remains what should Lee have done Day 3.
This is a good discussion you got going with your question the other day.