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 Posted: Tue Aug 15th, 2006 12:19 am
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Jimtno
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HI all,

I was thumbing through my older version of the American Heritage Atlast of the Civil War.

According to Bruce Catton. "Warren rushed two brigades to the fight (for LRT), where according to one 20th Maine Veteran the two lines were so close at times that there rifles could almost touch!".  The gallant New Englanders under "Warren" out of ammunition and exhausted fixed bayonets and charged causing the enemy to surrender. This charge along with the GALLANT charge of the 140th New York save little round top for if it had fallen the confederates would have been able to enfliade the union line making it untenable. But only for a pause.

Now folks I realize we all know the full story.. But as they like to say "Brcue Catton said it so it must be true!"....

Jimtno :D

 



 Posted: Wed Nov 21st, 2007 03:31 pm
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Lawrence63
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Well, according to Edwin B. Coddington in his, "The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command", on page 395, paragraph 2, "As the Union line began to crumble on Little Round Top, Warren, vested with the authority of Meade's chief representative, emerged as the right man in the right place at the right time. He stood near the top of the hill, but the thick smoke obscured the scene of Vincent's brigade". Warren can only be credited with two contributions during the fight on Little Round Top: Alerting Syke's Fifth Corps to the fact that LRT was unoccupied save for a signal station, and reinforcing the line on LRT with Weed's brigade AFTER the 20th Maine's bayonet charge. It was Vincent who took the initiative to lead his brigade to LRT, and it was Chamberlain who ordered the infamous right-wheel forward. In fact, no one has ever been able to firmly establish that Warren was on LRT for the entire fight. And, just because Bruce Catton says something, that doesn't neccesarily make it true. Everyone is capable of being wrong, including Catton.



 Posted: Thu Nov 22nd, 2007 03:41 am
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PvtClewell
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The neat thing about history is that it is always moving forward, building upon itself as the scholarship reveals previously unpublished or forgotten papers, letters or documents, or images.

Catton was one of the premiere historians of the 1950s, and for a boomer like me, one of the catalysts for my interest in the Civil War. His 'A Stillness at Appomattox' won a Pulitzer Prize, so somebody must have thought it was significant history. His trilogy on the Army of the Potomac ('Mr. Lincoln's Army,' 'Glory Road,' 'Stillness...') is still pretty good reading to this day, so I'm willing to cut him a little slack.



 Posted: Mon May 11th, 2009 06:45 pm
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ole
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Bumping this to the top to ask a question: Just how important was LRT?

Lee focused his attack on the 2nd to peel the Union line from the base and roll it up all the way to (or preferably past) Cemetery Hill. Meade apparently didn't intend to defend it, presumably because an attacking force would have no artillery to support it and charging through woods and rocks would leave the attacking force exhausted and considerably disorganized.

No way to drag artillery up there through that kind of terrain. And, as Hazlett proved, it wasn't a cakewalk going up the northeast face either.

The "attack" was apparently Robertson's Brigade wandering off to the right of where he ought to have been. As he passed over the base of Big Round Top, he sent the 15th Alabama and seven companies of the 47th Alabama up that hill to chase off a few companies of the 2nd USS.

By this time, Warren had sent Strong Vincent's Brigade up and over LRT to set the stage for the famous charge of Jeff Daniels. (The 15th and 47th Alabama were called off BRT and sent to assail the Union Right.

Assume that Robertson's Brigade could have taken LRT and siezed Hazlett's Battery. Would that been as disastrous as most historians make it? Here I don't want a historian's opinion ... I want yours.

Ole



 Posted: Mon May 11th, 2009 07:27 pm
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barrydancer
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ole wrote: Assume that Robertson's Brigade could have taken LRT and siezed Hazlett's Battery. Would that been as disastrous as most historians make it? Here I don't want a historian's opinion ... I want yours.

Ole


Well, it certainly wouldn't have been a happy development for the Federals.  One must keep in mind, though, that the entire Sixth Corps was sitting idly just behind the Round Tops, having recently arrived after a 30+ mile march.  They were tired, but would have been an unwelcome surprise to any Confederates attempting to flank the Union position.

 



 Posted: Tue May 12th, 2009 12:54 am
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pamc153PA
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I've always been told, and have been able to easily imagine it as I have stood on LRT looking up Cemetery Ridge toward the town, that if the CSA had been able to get/take over Hazlett's artillery up there, they could pour enfilade fire up the whole Union line--with the exception of Sickles, who was hanging out in the Peach Orchard area. That, as an aside, would have made it really interesting for Sickles, to be cut off from the rest of the Union line.

LRT was truly the "end of the line," to borrow a line from the movie Gettysburg. Big Round Top (or just Round Top, then) was too wooded for Union artillery. So LRT, in the importance of needing to anchor your flank to something, was important to the Federals, besides being an almost impenetrable position. I've climbed--clawed, slipped, slid and sworn loudly--LRT from the front (west), and that was without a weapon, pack or artllery. Not a picnic.

I think that if the Confederates had taken control of the hill, the Sixth Corps in reserve would have pushed them off fairly easily, but in the meantime, not before the CSA did some real damage to the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. And who knows what happens to Sickles?

Some thoughts.

Pam



 Posted: Tue May 12th, 2009 04:49 am
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ole
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But good thoughts, Pam.

I've not been there yet. But I've been given to understand that Hazlett found a narrow spot where two of his guns were sited. But that the site was narrow and limited the use of the guns to making encouraging noise.

So the Confederates sieze the hill. Can they site Hazlett's guns any better than he could and actually threaten Meade's flank with artillery fire? I don't think so. Could they move a brigade, let alone a division over that hill to threaten Meade's flank with infantry? The VI Corps might have some influence in this decision.

A poster on another board opined that the real benefit to the Confederates having control of the hill would have been in denying control to the Federals.

But a critical threat to Meade's left flank? I just don't see it. Launch an attack from that sector? Impracticable. A couple of batteries to threaten? Not likely.

Great stories and books and books were and are sold extolling the virtues of that hill and its occupancy. In this thread, I'm questioning the romanticism with percieved practicality. I've been wrong on numerous occasions. I'm looking for being proven wrong on this one. I just don't think LRT was a significant part of the battles of Gettysburg.

Ole



 Posted: Tue May 12th, 2009 12:54 pm
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j harold 587
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I am currently reading Twilight on LRT. It indicates Hazlett did manage to get six guns up there. Four were effectively deployed. I think even if taken by CSA forces four or possibly six guns with what ever ammunition had been dragged up would have been a minor irritation to the line on Cemetery ridge, but not a game ending problem. Also as stated already the guns could not have been depressed to effectively defended their own position. Therefore the sixth core would have regained the platform for use against the Picket, Petigrew, Trimble charge.  But again four or six guns would not have altered that outcome. Col Chaimberlain was a brave leader, and a pretty good self promoter.

 



 Posted: Tue May 12th, 2009 05:11 pm
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David White
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A whole battery on LRT! I don't know, think of what Pelham did with just a section at Fredericksburg. My guess is the Federal line on Cemetary Ridge is no longer tenable at that point.



 Posted: Tue May 12th, 2009 07:43 pm
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pamc153PA
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I have to disagree, David.  Those six guns of Hazlett's might have looked impressive, and scary if they were in Confederate hands, but the reality of it is what jharold mentions from Twilight on LRT. You just couldn't depress the cannons enough to make them effective in defending LRT, considering the configuration of the top plateau there, and the steepness of the front face of the hill. Also, don't forget that only the front side of LRT was clearcut: the back side was still pretty heavily wooded. You couldn't defend that side with just artillery. If the Confederates captured those guns, it'd be easy for Federal troops (say, the Sixth Corps) to sneak through the saddle between LRT and BRT and come up from behind through the woods.

So maybe it'd be a psychological thing for the Union troops ("Oh, s***, they've turned our flank!") and maybe there'd be some long-range damage on up Cemetery Ridge, but I don't see much else. And you'd have to go pretty far beyond the back side of LRT to get in the Union rear, which means you'd come up on the reserves first--not a good thing for the Confederates, or a tenable position.

Just my opinion, based on what I know of the area, having walked it on foot.

Pam



 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 06:46 pm
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David White
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Artillery would not have been effective in the face of an immediate counter-charge by the Federals but is that what would have happened had the Confederates taken LRT? I wouldn't use the guns in a defensive posture, I would use them to attack. With no immediate Federal counter attack or infantry holding off a counter attack, those six guns could fire HE along the length of the Federal line, there would be no need to depress the guns much or be careful about cutting the fuses, because everything is going to be a hit as the shells fly along the length of the Union line. LRT absolutely dominates the ridge where most of the Union army was located. Given two hours for artillery to work its magic over Cemetery Ridge, only a fool would stay in that position and Meade was not a fool. As we all know, Meade wasn't that keen at fighting at Gettysburg anyway. It would have been the perfect opportunity to fall back to Pipe Creek to make his stand. So unless Sykes or Sedgwick make an immediate counterattack and gets past the defending infantry, it's over for the Federals at Gettysburg and I doubt Longstreet is sitting by idly waiting for that counter attack without getting more of Hood's and maybe even McLaw's men up there to face it.



 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 08:10 pm
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ole
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David: Your scenario works pretty good under normal circumstances. Hazlett found a narrow place for two of his guns (likely 10# Parrotts) and they were pointed west. The other four were scattered around and, as I understand it, quite useless.

Now it is an assumption that the six could have been sited pointing north. It's a reasonable assumption, and I don't know that it wasn't possible, but the difficulties don't end there. Who's going to site and work the guns? Infantry? Yes, they could send back for some artillerists to come up and help. How long would all that take? I'll venture hours. Meanwhile, what are Weed's and Vincent's brigades doing? What is Meade doing? What is the Union artillery up on the ridge doing? The north face was relatively clear and well within sight and range of more than a few well-practiced Union batteries.

The Rebs were not going to get their own guns up there; they must seize Hazlett's before they're spiked.

The conflict there was more accidental than Buford and Reynolds and Howard showing up where they weren't supposed to be: Gettysburg.

Another interesting speculation is that if Sickles had remained where he ought to have been and Robertson hadn't wandered off, would Lee have rolled up the Union left?

Just a thought.

Ole



 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 08:20 pm
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ole
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... and I doubt Longstreet is sitting by idly waiting for that counter attack without getting more of Hood's and maybe even McLaw's men up there to face it.
From Krick (I can't say he's unbiased when someone brings up Longstreet on the 2nd.): Longstreet was in a snit. He had, over his objections, been ordered to do thus and such. So, against his better on-scene judgement, with a touch of spite, he ordered the advance as given to him. That is, his orders did not include LRT so he wasn't about to spend much effort in taking and keeping it.

Longstreet has to get through Sickles and the subsequent reenforcements to accomplish his objective: Cemetery Hill. He doesn't care about LRT ... either taking it or keeping it.

Just a thought.

Ole



 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 09:05 pm
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The Iron Duke
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Krick is rather infamous for his opinion of Longstreet.  I hope any objectionable ACW buff would take anything he says regarding Old Pete with a pinch of salt.  It's kinda like Wiley Sword and Hood.



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 Posted: Wed May 13th, 2009 11:30 pm
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ole
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Which, Iron Duke, is where I was going. With such does reside the term, "unforgiven." It's a little hard put to say that they are wrong just because they tend to tail on the radical end.

Ole



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 12:23 am
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ethn1956
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Steven Sears says in his book that the six Union cannon on LRT fired when the Confederates started there march across the field, but that later only two cannon could continue firing until Pickett;s men reached the Emmittsburg road. He continues that those same two cannon also fired on Pettigrew's troops later on. It sounds like it would not have been possible for the guns to be sited to fire on the Union lines.



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 02:14 pm
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j harold 587
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The ledge used for an artillery platform runs parellel with Cemetery Ridge.  Because of that I doubt the guns could have been deployed even as a section to fire on the Union line. This plus the standing timber would have prevented CSA infantry from seriously menacing the rest of the Union line.



 Posted: Thu May 14th, 2009 07:47 pm
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David White
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All good points Ole and others but I was basing my comments on Harold's statment that assuming they could be brought to bear (not if they could be brought to bear)they would be a minor nuisance. Assuming all the issues you all raised were not an issue and the guns were properly manned and pointed north it would have been an untenable situation for the Federals. Here's the modern view (with too many trees) and where I'd post the guns to do my damage:

Last edited on Thu May 14th, 2009 07:47 pm by David White



 Posted: Wed Oct 21st, 2009 02:58 am
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maccars
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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 06:00 pm by maccars



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