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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers Little Round Top - Gettysburg (7/2/1863) - Nov 6th, 2003 ^ | James R. Brann

Posted on 11/06/2003 12:00:42 AM PST by SAMWolf

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Also helping to defend Little Round Top were Major Homer R. Stoughton's 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, armed with .52-caliber breechloading rifles. These sharpshooters' skirmishing abilities were unequaled in the Union Army, and a 14-man squad was attached to Company B. The men took up a position in a ravine east of Little Round Top.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Shortly after the Federals had taken up their positions, the 824 men of the 4th and 5th Texas regiments of Maj. Gen. John B. Hood's division hammered up the slope of Little Round Top, pushing toward the center and right of Vincent's line. During that assault, Captain James H. Nichols, the commander of the 20th Maine's Company K, ran to alert Chamberlain that the Confederates seemed to be extending their line toward the regiment's left. Chamberlain called his company commanders together and told them his battle plans. With the new information from Nichols, Chamberlain ordered a right-angle formation, extending his line farther to the east.

Meanwhile, Colonel Vincent tried to rally his 3rd Brigade as the 16th Michigan staggered under the heavy assault by the 4th and 5th Texas. Just when the Federals were on the verge of collapse, Colonel Patrick O'Rorke led the 140th New York Zouaves into the gap to save Vincent's brigade. Both Vincent and O'Rorke paid with their lives for their heroism.

Colonel William Calvin Oates

Elements of Hood's division, the 15th and 47th Alabama, then began to smash into the Maine troops. Hood ordered these regiments, led by Colonel William C. Oates, to "find the Union left, turn it and capture Round Top."

Twenty-five-year-old Color Sgt. Andrew J. Tozier of the 2nd Maine quickly emerged as an unlikely hero, and he was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. It had been Chamberlain's idea to elevate Tozier to the post of color sergeant for the 20th Maine, a move designed to instill a new esprit de corps in the mutineers. Color sergeant was a dangerous but coveted position in Civil War regiments, generally manned by the bravest soldier in the unit. As the 20th Maine's center began to break and give ground in the face of the Alabama regiments' onslaught, Tozier stood firm, remaining upright as Southern bullets buzzed and snapped in the air around him. Tozier's personal gallantry in defending the 20th Maine's colors became the regimental rallying point for Companies D, E and F to retake the center. Were it not for Tozier's heroic stand, the 20th Maine would likely have been beaten at that decisive point in the battle.

Sergeant Tozier

When their ammunition had almost run out, Chamberlain decided to fix bayonets and charge down into the two Alabama regiments. Chamberlain later said he communicated his decision to counterattack to Captain Ellis Spear, the acting battalion commander of the unit's left flank. Spear, however, claimed he received no such orders.

Corporal Elisha Coan, a member of the 20th Maine's color guard, claimed that 1st Lt. Holman S. Melcher, the acting commander of Company F, actually conceived the idea to advance the colors and that Colonel Chamberlain initially hesitated, fearing that it would be extremely hazardous. Coan said other officers joined Melcher in urging a forward movement.

Chamberlain -- whose right foot had been pieced by a shell fragment or a stone chip -- then limped along the regimental line giving instructions to align the left side of the regiment with the right. After Chamberlain returned to the regimental center, Melcher asked permission to retrieve his wounded from the front. Chamberlain replied, "Yes, I am about to order a right wheel forward of the whole regiment." (Chamberlain himself claimed later to have said, "yes, sir, in a moment! I am about to order a charge.")

Chamberlain ordered a right-wheel maneuver and took up a place behind Tozier. There is some disagreement about exactly what Chamberlain said to order the bayonet charge. One story is that he screamed: "Bayonet! Forward to the right!" Chamberlain claimed later that one word -- "Bayonet!" -- was enough and that it was vain to order "Forward" because no one could hear it over the noise. Nor was there time. "Right wheel" or "Bayonet! Forward to the right" was perhaps someone's post-war idea of what Chamberlain would have said if time permitted. The state-appointed Maine commission that later gathered facts regarding Maine's contribution to the Bat-tle of Gettysburg maintained that Melcher sprang forward as Chamberlain yelled, "Bayonet!" and that Chamberlain himself was abreast of the colors.

Colonel William C. Oates leads his regiment up the slopes of the Little Round Top to attack the left flank of the Union Army on the second day of the fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg.

With all the confusion and noise on Little Round Top that day, if anything other than "bayonet" had been said it probably would not have mattered, anyway. An infantryman who is out of ammunition, faced with being cut down on the next enemy charge, and hearing the metal-to-metal sound of bayonets being put on en masse knows the intent of the upcoming order without actually hearing it. In all likelihood Lieutenant Melcher conceived the idea to advance the colors to retrieve the wounded, but Chamberlain expanded upon the idea, deciding to have the whole regiment conduct a bayonet attack. In doing so, Chamberlain exercised effective battle command.

After Chamberlain ordered "Bayonet!" the Union line hesitated until Melcher sprang out in front of the line with his sword flashing. Captain Spear said he never received a formal order to charge -- he charged only after he saw the colors start forward.

The Rev. Theodore Gerrish, then a private in Company H, stated that Melcher led the men down the slope when the enemy was only 30 yards away. Corporal Coan said the men hesitated when Melcher ordered them forward because they were not sure if the colonel had sanctioned the attack. Chamberlain claimed there was no hesitation and said that the line quivered for the start. Captain Nichols wrote in 1882 that Company K never hesitated. Perhaps Company H did hesitate on the left because they were taking heavy fire when the charge started. Company K probably did not delay since the right side of the regiment was not experiencing heavy fire at the time. Most evidence indicates that Chamberlain ordered the charge, and Melcher was the first officer down the slopes. Melcher was an inspiration to the tiring regiment as he sprang a full 10 paces to the front with his sword glittering in the sunlight.
1 posted on 11/06/2003 12:00:43 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Johnny Gage; Victoria Delsoul; Darksheare; Valin; bentfeather; radu; ..
Another crisis soon faced the Maine soldiers when the left side of the regiment drew even with the right, short of its planned position. Melcher broke this momentary disruption by running down the slope screaming: "Come on! Come on boys!" with Tozier beside him and Chamberlain not far behind.

Colonel Joshua Chamberlain - his 20th Maine almost out of ammunition - orders a bayonet charge against a superior force of attacking Confederates.

Great responsibility also fell upon Captain Spear, whose flank was to start the attack -- otherwise the charge would not pivot and work to its fullest potential. But Spear gets curiously little credit for marshaling and organizing the tactics of the left flank of the 20th. Spear literally controlled half the regiment during the climactic counterattack. The lack of credit perhaps helped create the rift that later developed between him and Chamberlain.

During the charge, a second enemy line of the 15th and 47th Alabama tried to make a stand near a stone wall. For a moment it looked as though the Confederates might succeed in halting the Unionists and breaking their momentum. But, using the classic element of surprise, Captain Morrill's Company B rose up from behind a stone wall and fired a volley into the Confederates' rear, breaking the will of the enemy troops. Confederate reports showed that the Union company had been magnified into two regiments. According to Confederate Colonel Oates, it was the surprise fire of Company B that caused the disastrous panic in his soldiers. Chamberlain, for his part, wrote incorrectly to his wife that his regiment had been attacked by a whole brigade.

Chamberlain seemed to have been blessed with both good timing and luck. He not only had made the right command decisions but also had managed to survive when by all rights he should have been dead. An Alabama soldier twice failed to pull the trigger of his rifle because he had second thoughts about killing the brave colonel. Then a pistol aimed and fired by a Southern officer misfired only a few feet from Chamberlain's face.

Without the private stand of Sergeant Tozier inspiring others to close up and bolster the sagging middle of the regiment, the Confederate attacks could have eliminated the 20th Maine as a fighting force. Tozier's bravery sparked the 20th Maine and changed the course of the engagement. Without Tozier, there would not have been an opportunity for Chamberlain to attack.

Spear, who would later become a brevet brigadier general, believed that all the officers at Little Round Top shared in the battle fully and honorably, but that the bayonet charge was a success largely due to the spirit of the enlisted men. He was convinced that only the tenacity of the 358 Maine men had enabled Chamberlain to defeat Oates' two Alabama regiments.

Captain Howard L. Prince, former 20th Maine quartermaster-sergeant, considered Captain Morrill the coolest man in the regiment -- a man who had no superior on the skirmish line. Morrill led his unit at the decisive point of the bayonet charge without orders. His contingent created the impression of two regiments rushing through the woods, though it consisted only of 44 Company B soldiers and 14 U.S. Sharpshooters. It was this group that Oates believed caused panic in his men. Without Morrill's up-front leadership, Chamberlain's attack probably would have been spoiled and pushed back.

Don't Give An Inch

Others who merited more credit than they received were Gouverneur Warren, who conducted one of the best reconnoitering jobs of the war, and Strong Vincent, who unhesitatingly put his brigade on Little Round Top and rallied that brigade under intense fire until he fell mortally wounded. Colonel Patrick O'Rorke was also one of the heroes, as his 140th New York reinforced Vincent's brigade and saved it from early defeat. Both Vincent and O'Rorke gave their lives at Gettysburg, and if not for those two men and others, Chamberlain probably would be remembered today as only a minor figure in a major Union disaster.

Ellis Spear later suggested somewhat bitterly that the abundance of articles written by Chamberlain himself indirectly led to Chamberlain receiving sole credit for the victory. Much of the primary information about Little Round Top does come directly from Chamberlain, who published 25 separate writings on the battle. Chamberlain also was a member of the official Maine at Gettysburg Commission and wrote the organization's chapter on the 20th Maine.

Scenes around Little Round Top at Gettysburg, PA after the battle - early July 1863
PHOTOS: Library of Congress

The problem with becoming a legend is that deeds may become distorted inadvertently due to commercial profits, hero worship and the sheer passage of time. Many American junior officers still look up to Chamberlain. Some take his deeds out of context, however, and mythologize him.

Chamberlain's vivid personality overshadows the regiment that made him famous -- even though it was the regiment that saved the day. There is a Chamberlain museum in Brunswick, Maine; Chamberlain Pale Ale produced in Portland, Maine; and a Chamberlain Bridge exists in Bangor, Maine -- yet no commercial product commemorates the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. Chamberlain overshadows the 20th Maine in the way that George S. Patton overshadows the U.S. Third Army in World War II.

Major Holman Melcher,
20th Maine Infantry

The valorous defense of Little Round Top will always belong to the 20th Maine Infantry and to Joshua L. Chamberlain as the regimental commander. But after weighing all the evidence, it seems fair to say that without the contributions of the 2nd Maine Infantry, Andrew J. Tozier, Company B and Holman Melcher, Chamberlain clearly and convincingly would have been defeated. Strong Vincent, Patrick O'Rorke and Ellis Spear also deserve greater recognition for their contributions. Joshua Chamberlain deserves much acclaim, but not to the exclusion of many others whom history has so far -- and so unfairly -- underrated.

Additional Sources:

2 posted on 11/06/2003 12:01:32 AM PST by SAMWolf (A foot is a device for finding furniture in the dark.)
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To: All
'There never were harder fighters than the 20th Maine men and their gallant Colonel. His skill and persistency and the great bravery of his men saved Little Round Top and the Army of the Potomac from defeat. Great events sometimes turn on comparatively small affairs.'

Colonel William Calvin Oates
15th Alabama Volunteer Infantry

3 posted on 11/06/2003 12:02:07 AM PST by SAMWolf (A foot is a device for finding furniture in the dark.)
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To: All

4 posted on 11/06/2003 12:02:40 AM PST by SAMWolf (A foot is a device for finding furniture in the dark.)
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To: All
Veterans Day 2003
PDN News Desk ^ comwatch

November is Here - Veterans Day is right around the corner.

It only takes a few minutes to write a letter to the kids and share a story of why you served.

If you aren't a Veteran then share your thoughts on why it is important to remember our Veterans on Veterans Day.

It's an opportunity for us to support our troops, our country and show appreciations for our local veterans. It's another way to counter the Anti-Iraq campaign propaganda.  Would you like to help?  Are there any VetsCoR folks on the Left Coast?  We have a school project that everyone can help with too, no matter where you live.  See the end of this post for details.

Three Northern California events have been scheduled and we need help with each:
Friday evening - November 7th Veterans in School (An Evening of Living History, A Veterans Day Ice Cream Social)
Saturday - 11 a.m. November 8th: Veterans Day Parade (PDN & Friends parade entry)
Sunday November 9, 2003 Noon to 3:00 PM Support our Troops & Veterans Rally prior to Youth Symphony Concert
Each of the WebPages above have a link to e-mail a confirmation of your interest and desire to volunteer.  These are family events and everyone is welcome to pitch in.  We'd really appreciate hearing from you directly via each these specific links.  This way, we can keep you posted on only those projects you want to participate in.

Veterans in School - How you can help if you're not close enough to participate directly. If you are a veteran, share a story of your own with the children.  If you have family serving in the military, tell them why it's important that we all support them. Everyone can thank them for having this special event.  Keep in mind that there are elementary school kids. 

Help us by passing this message around to other Veteran's groups.  I have introduced VetsCoR and FreeperFoxhole to a number of school teachers.  These living history lessons go a long way to inspire patriotism in our youth.  Lets see if we can rally America and give these youngsters enough to read for may weeks and months ahead.  If we can, we'll help spread it to other schools as well.

  Click this link to send an email to the students.

5 posted on 11/06/2003 12:03:11 AM PST by SAMWolf (A foot is a device for finding furniture in the dark.)
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To: All
Bugles Across America

Bugles Across America, NFP was founded in 2000 by Tom Day, when Congress passed legislation stating Veterans had a right to at least 2 uniformed military people to fold the flag and play taps on a CD player. Bugles Across America was begun to take this a step further, and in recognition of the service these Veterans provided their country, we felt that every Veteran deserved a live rendition of taps played by a live Bugler. To this end, we are actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families

Our Organization now has 1500 bugler volunteers located in all 50 states and growing number overseas. Since the Department of Veterans Affairs is expecting more than 1/2 million veterans to pass every year for the next 7 years, Bugles Across America is ALWAYS recruiting new volunteers.

Bugler Volunteers can be male or female. They can play a traditional bugle with no valves, or they can perform the ceremony on a Trumpet, Cornet, Flugelhorn, or a 1, 2 or 3 valved bugle. The bugler can be of any age as long as they can play the 24 notes of Taps with an ease and style that will do honor to both the Veterans, their families, and the burial detail performing the service.

Thanks quietolong

6 posted on 11/06/2003 12:03:41 AM PST by SAMWolf (A foot is a device for finding furniture in the dark.)
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To: Matthew Paul; mark502inf; Skylight; The Mayor; Prof Engineer; PsyOp; Samwise; comitatus; ...
.......FALL IN to the FReeper Foxhole!

.......Good Thursday Morning Everyone!

If you would like added to our ping list let us know.
7 posted on 11/06/2003 1:56:36 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
'Morning, snippy and SAM, you guys are up awfully early!

I saw Gettysburg in the title and felt gloomy again. Last spring I finally got the DVD of Gettysburg the movie, but then someone with sticky fingers took it home with them. It's a great movie but Martin Sheen is nauseating as General Robert E. Lee in my opinion.

For the first time in my life I saw Lee without the rose-colored glasses, and was furious with him for prolonging that awful war. I don't remember who played Longstreet, but that guy was absolutely perfect. I loved that historical novel, Gettysburg, and the movie. It's the only fictionalized account of the War I've ever enjoyed, except for the Red Badge of Courage.

As you see, I get talky so early in the morning, already tanked up on coffee! LOL

Thanks for the ping, snippy!

8 posted on 11/06/2003 2:36:55 AM PST by WaterDragon
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To: SAMWolf

Good Morning SAM

9 posted on 11/06/2003 2:56:49 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: WaterDragon
Good Morning WaterDragon

'Morning, snippy and SAM, you guys are up awfully early!

LOL. We never sleep, dontcha know!

I haven't seen either of those movies but I have heard the same comments about them from SAM and others at the Foxhole.

As you see, I get talky so early in the morning...

I start getting yappy in the evenings when I'm tired, just the opposite. ;)

10 posted on 11/06/2003 3:01:13 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, Snippy and everyuone at the Freeper Foxhole. It got down to the upper 30's here last night. We also had a little bit of rain with thunder. How's it going for you?
11 posted on 11/06/2003 3:02:01 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: E.G.C.
Last week we had one day of snowfall, EGC. Very unusual for us in Salem, OR. Didn't stick though, and it's warmed up. The day it snowed, I built the first fire of the year, and also burned cinnemon candles! Beginning to have Christmassy thoughts and Thanksgiving not even here yet!

Veterans Day is coming up, though, as SAM pointed out. Lots of vets in my family, and I'm remembering them all, as well as the ones I don't know personally.

There are some good, responsible sites that are taking contributions to make today's troops' Christmas a little cheerier. If anyone makes a list of them, I'll look forward to that.

A few years back, one of the Freepers got an email from a woman who'd become aware of an elderly vet who was out of food and money and really ill. The Freeper sent on her email to others, and donations began to flow in. A Freeper who lived near by, I think, checked the situation out. The old guy was so surprised and grateful for the help, and was put in contact with some social services as well. That was a very good experience. It sometimes seems that our veterans get overlooked after they get home and get old. That's not right. It's better to remember them while they're alive.
12 posted on 11/06/2003 3:18:07 AM PST by WaterDragon
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To: SAMWolf; All
Thank you SAM for today's thread. With each story on this war we learn more and more about the individuals who fought which is so important. Good read.

Andrew J. Tozier

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company I, 20th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., 2 July 1863.

Entered service at: Plymouth, Maine.

Birth: Monmouth, Maine.

Date of issue: 13 August 1898. (took them 30 yrs to issue)

Citation: At the crisis of the engagement this soldier, a color bearer, stood alone in an advanced position, the regiment having been borne back, and defended his colors with musket and ammunition picked up at his feet.
13 posted on 11/06/2003 3:28:21 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: E.G.C.
Good morning EGC. In the mid 40s here this morning. Heading for colder temps as we wind down the work week.
14 posted on 11/06/2003 3:29:53 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: WaterDragon
It's better to remember them while they're alive.

Amen. That is what Veterans Day is all about, honoring the living veterans.

A great idea is to visit a Veterans hospital or clinic near you. I have a clinic nearby I will take some flowers to on Monday (I expect they will be closed on Tuesday). At least it will brighten up the office for their visits for a few days. A minor gesture of appreciation as I believe we can never do enough.

15 posted on 11/06/2003 3:38:07 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
That's a wonderful idea, snippy! I know there are local Veterans offices, too, where counseling is provided, lots of the Vietnam vets have needed help, in part because of the way they were treated. A bouquet would be welcome in those offices, too.

Several years ago, before I retired, I swam at the local Y, and on Saturdays got into the habit of chatting briefly with a fellow swimmer. I talked of my excitement about taking flying lessons and he talked about his father who built many of the wooden gliders for use in Europe in WWII. I told him my flight instructor was an old WASP pilot, still sharp as a nail in her mid-seventies. He asked if she knew the WASPs had finally gotten official recognition as vets, then asked her name and said he'd send her information about benefits.

Well, soon after she became seriously ill. She turned me over to another instructor and I drove up to visit her at the hospital on the weekends. One day she told me of an amazing visit from a woman who she'd trained with in the WASPs....a woman who now worked for the Veterans' Affairs, who came to see her about enrolling for benefits! She was terribly excited, and pleased. She died soon after, but was comforted that she was going to have a military burial, wear her uniform, and at the gravesite, a few of her friends did a 'fly-over.'

There's veterans of all sorts, men and women. I really do treasure them all, and feel fortunate to have known quite a few.
16 posted on 11/06/2003 4:22:00 AM PST by WaterDragon
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To: snippy_about_it
They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. —Revelation 22:4

I am living for the moment
When my Savior's face I see;
Oh, the thrill of that first meeting
When His glory shines on me.  Christiansen

To see Jesus will be heaven's greatest joy.

17 posted on 11/06/2003 4:33:29 AM PST by The Mayor (Through prayer, finite man draws upon the power of the infinite God.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All
Mornin' Snippy! Mornin' Sam!

Thanks for the post and the ping!

18 posted on 11/06/2003 4:46:02 AM PST by SCDogPapa (In Dixie Land I'll take my stand to live and die in Dixie)
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To: SCDogPapa; snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; nathanbedford
Good Morning, Good Friends.

Grits and Coffee are served! Ironically I was just talking 'bout G'burg last nite. The horseback battlefield ride is on my to-do list one day.

19 posted on 11/06/2003 4:49:53 AM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: WaterDragon
My mother served as a WAVE in WWII at Ford Island and is treated today in Virginia at her local Veteran's hospital/clinic.

They see very few women and treat her like a queen. She has nothing but praise for the staff there. Her service too has been recognized and that is a good thing. We do sometimes forget the women veterans who served as well.

While I'm at it, we often hear horror stories of the Veterans Affairs hospital and clinics and granted they could use much improvement. However, I know from too much experience both in Ohio and Virginia that the staff, many of them veterans themselves, and especially the veterans who work serving our veterans, have the very best intentions and work with what they have to treat our veterans needing their services the best they can.

There are good and bad in all the hospitals and clinics but most to blame is the funding of and administration of those hospitals. You can only do so much with the money given. It needs to be more.

</rant >
20 posted on 11/06/2003 4:50:58 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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