View single post by maccars
 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 03:58 am
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SCV Camp 265

Joined: Tue Oct 20th, 2009
Location: Jackson, Mississippi
Posts: 4

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Ole poses an interesting question.  Many just assume that had Law's brigade succeeded in turning the Federal left on LRT, the entire line would have been rolled up.  In retrospect, Generals on both sides offered that hypothetical result.  The real question, however, is, "What did Law (standing in for the badly wounded Hood) or for that matter, McLaws, have committed in reserves to press any advantage gained on his right?"

I think, clearly, the answer is:  not one damn thing.

I keep going back to the memoirs of Col. Wm. C. Oates, 15th Alabama Infantry Reg., Commanding.  His failure to turn the 20th Maine on the far left of the Federal Army plagued Oates for the remainder of his life.  He once lamented:

"If one more Confederate regiment had stormed the far left of the Army of the Potomac with the 15th Alabama, we would have completely turned the flank and have won Little Round Top, which would have forced Meade's whole left wing to retire."

But you have to consider what that one regiment could have been.  Law had placed the 15th Alabama in the center of his line facing LRT.  As Oates noted in his official report, dated August 8, 1863,

"My regiment occupied the center of the brigade when the line of battle was formed. During the advance, the two regiments on my right were moved by the left flank across my rear, which threw me on the extreme right of the whole line."

This movement left the 15th Alabama to the right of the 47th and 4th Alabama Infantry Regiments, both of which smartly moved up LRT; the 4th directly assaulting the 83rd Pennsylvania, with the 47th (immediately to the 15th's left), assaulting the juncture between the Pennsylvanians and the Maine Men.  Of course, Oates' 15th Alabama had its hands full on the far right with the 20th Maine.  The rest of Hood's division was completely engaged in the Devil's Den and the Wheat Field to the North and West of LRT.  By the time McLaws reserves (including Barksdale's Mississippians) were committed to pushing back Caldwell, Ayers and Humphreys, both Hood's and McLaws' divisions were either committed or used up.

There was nothing left to support a breakthrough on the Federal left, much less hold any position gained, against overpowering reserves from the Federal 6th Corp which just arrived to the East of LRT.

It is stirring to believe the Confederates could have pressed an advantage late in the evening of July 2nd, but they just didn't have enough resources available to make that advantage pay off.  Although they would have certainly brought the captured Federal artillery to bear on the Union positions on Cemetery Ridge, it is unlikely The Rebs could have resisted either the massive counter-battery fire or the powerful infantry assault which would have come either late that evening or early the next morning. 

With McLaws and Hood (Law) running out the string in their attacks, and Pickett still a day's march away from the field at this time, it is doubtful Lee could have reinforced the position to maintain any toehold obtained by the valiant Alabama infantry regiments.

Given the spending of the Alabamians on the lines of the 20th Maine and 83rd Pennsylvania, one might consider that Little Round Top was the true “High Water Mark” of the Confederacy.


Last edited on Wed Oct 21st, 2009 07:00 pm by maccars

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