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Home > History > Battle of Gettysburg - Chamberlain's Stand at Little Round Top

Battle of Gettysburg - Chamberlain's Stand at Little Round Top

This page describes the miraculous Union stand at Little Round Top on the July 2.

Little Round Top

Little Round Top

Little Round Top was the site of a major Confederate assault on Union positions on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. In what may have been the most intense fighting of the entire war, Union forces repulsed numerous Confederate assaults up the hill. The scene at Little Round Top was the setting for the popular Civil War novel, Killer Angels.

The 20th Maine

On 4:00 P.M., on July 2, Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee ordered a massive assault on the Union left flank. Union forces under Daniel Sickles had abandoned the grounds near Little Round Top for the higher ground of Devil's Den, leaving Little Round Top vulnerable. Various regiments were quickly dispatched to defend the hill including Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine, which was ordered to hold the position at the extreme left flank of the Union line.

Chamberlain's Men Hold

Confederate forces consisting of Alabama and Texas brigades under the command of Evander Law stormed the hill after marching 20 miles the same day. Violent clashes ensued which included hand-to-hand combat between Union and Confederate soldiers. Numerous Confederate charges and assaults up the hill were repulsed. Colonel Chamberlain, whose 20th Maine Division had run out of ammunition, withstood several Confederate assaults while incurring significant casualties. With no ammunition and massive casualties, Chamberlain knew his men could not withstand another assault. In a last ditch effort to avoid being overrun, he ordered his men to meet the next assault with a bayonet charge, an unconventional military strategy, which shocked the advancing Confederates and halted their offensive. Other Union regiments on Little Round Top held their positions as well, despite sniper fire coming from Confederates on Devil's Den. Over 1,700 casualties from both sides combined were recorded at Little Round Top.

 

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