Yesterday I shared a photo taken in 2009 that showed a view of the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg. The view was from the top of Little Round Top, the famed hill that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine defended on July 3, 1863, the second day of the massive battle. The view here is facing mostly east toward Little Round Top, and the area the 20th Maine defended was further to the right.
Try to put yourself in the picture: it was July and it was brutally hot and humid. If you were a Confederate soldier, you were ordered, over and over again, to assault Little Round Top by rushing up the hillside, trying to dislodge the Union troops waiting on the heights by the tree line. The Union soldiers could fire downhill at the exposed Confederates. There as little to hide behind as they went up the hill, attacking the Union line. Wave after wave, attack after attack took place until the Confederates were exhausted and decimated. Yet one more attack took place, only to be met at bayonet point by the 20th Maine sweeping down the hillside, killing and capturing the exhausted Rebel troops. It was a very desperate struggle, each side determined to hold the high ground because from there, artillery could command the entire Gettysburg battlefield. Lose Little Round Top, lose the battle of Gettysburg, lose the Civil War. It was that blunt.
Don’t you just love to go to places like this where great human endeavor and struggle took place? Where the history of the country, if not the world, hung on a final charge and extreme bravery? Can you imagine the courage of the men – on both sides, as they found over this patch of ground? What it must have looked like after the battle for Little Round Top was over?
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1862, sixteen crew were drowned when the USS Monitor sank during a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the comic strip, “Tarzan”, first appeared in US newspapers in 1929.