Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Gettysburg: Day 2

The 20th Maine charges down Little Round Top to route attacking Confederate forces

July 2, 1863: the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg finds the Union army commanded by General Meade entrenched on a fishhook line of hills south of town with about 90,000 soldiers. The Confederate army of General Robert Edward Lee was wrapped around the Union position with about 70,000 soldiers. 

On the afternoon of July 2 Lee assaulted the Union left flank at Devil's Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard and Cemetery Ridge. Heavy fighting continued well into the night. A decisive role in the battle was played by the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, then commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, in the defense of the hill known as Little Round Top. Chamberlain is a major character in Michael Shaara's book, The Killer Angels, the most moving and remarkable book about the Battle of Gettysburg that I have read to date. 

After several hours of Confederate attacks up Little Round Top, the 20th Maine's position, the regiment has lost a third of its men and used up almost all of its ammunition:

The bayonet charge of the 20th Maine as depicted in the film Gettysburg:

J.E.B. Stuart's three cavalry brigades, after being separated from the main army for several days, arrived in Gettysburg around noon on July 2nd and was not engaged in the battle. In the wee hours of July 3rd, General Lee met with General Jackson:

By the end of the second day, the Union forces were well entrenched on the high ground. The attacks on the left and right flanks of the Union line by the Army of Northern Virginia had not dislodged any part of Meade's army.

On third day, General Lee makes a strategic error that cost many Confederate lives, as the attack of General Pickett reaches " the high mark of the Confederacy."

That's a story for tomorrow.

If you have not, you may want to read my post, Gettysburg: Day 1

I have based these posts, in part, on: