They awoke very early that morning from their camps just east of Chambersburg, PA and by 3:30am, were marching toward Gettysburg. Because time was of the essence, the men were not allowed to stop for water, and many of them arrived on the battlefield over 12 hours later after Longstreet’s countermarch, with empty canteens. Of course, their work was just beginning.
These men would be tasked with assaulting Little Round Top, but in order to get in to position, they would have to fight their way up Big Round Top, pushing back skirmishers from the 2nd US Sharpshooters the whole way.
Finally, right about now, 150 years ago, the Alabamians were ready to begin their attack up the “back side” of Little Round Top. There to meet them was the brigade of Col. Strong Vincent – the extreme left flank of the Union army.
Of course we all know about the famous 20th Maine Infantry, holding the end of Vincent’s line. Col. Joshua Chamberlain told a very good story, and the actions of his men were brave and worthy of note, but Little Round Top hardly held the key to the Union position. Even if the Confederates making the attack hadn’t been exhausted, they were not at all supported by reinforcements, and there was an entire, fresh Union Corps sitting right behind the hill ready to take it back if needed. For readers interested in the subject, I highly recommend Garry Adelman’s brilliant work, The Myth of Little Round Top.
So after several valiant attempts spanning over 30 minutes of combat, including a few flanking maneuvers, Law’s brigade was ultimately pushed back when the 20th Maine – running low on ammunition themselves – executed a bayonet charge down the hillside, taking many of the Alabamians as prisoners.
The defense of Little Round Top had been successful.