Day 8: Gettysburg in 1 Day? Yikes!

We spent most of Day 8 on an interesting, but long tour of Days 2 and 3 at Gettysburg.

Some of the highlights:

The Brave:

1st Minnesota Monument showing their soldiers running towards the Rebels. Taken from atop the Pennsylvania Monument.

1st Minnesota Monument showing their soldiers running towards the Rebels. Taken from atop the Pennsylvania Monument.

  • 1st Minnesota: As much as it pains me as a Packer fan to give credit to anything Minnesota… The 1st Minnesota and their countercharge towards swarms of oncoming Confederates is truly incredible. Here we focused on one soldier, Charlie Goddard and his story before, during and after the war.
  • 20th Maine: Here Colonel Joshua Chamberlain anchored the far left of the Union’s fishhook and withstood a withering series of attacks on the wooded slopes of Little Round Top. He also conducted perhaps my favorite charge of the war when he swung his men like a “barn door hinge” down at the charging Rebels which created a simultaneous frontal assault and flanking maneuver.
  • Lewis Armistead: Commanding his brigade in Pickett’s Charge, Armistead placed his black hat on his sword, raised it overhead and shouted, “Remember what you are fighting for – your homes, your friends, your sweethearts!” Where he broke the Yankee lines on Cemetery Ridge is called the ‘high-water mark’ of the Confederacy.

The Timid:

  • At various parts of the field we discussed soldiers who did not perform “heroically” for one reason or another. I participated in an interesting tour at the Future of Civil War History Conference this past March where a Gettysburg College professor explained different reasons for soldier cowardice at Gettysburg. We discussed these individual scenarios and found they were as complicated as the battlefields on which they fought.

The Controversies:

  • Yankee General Daniel Sickles and Confederate Richard Ewell both made controversial decisions (click on their names for more on their controversies) during the 3 days at Gettysburg. To their respective sides, these general’s decisions had rather unfortunate results.

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What this day on the field taught me is that on the next CW Adventure we need to hire a guide as we did at Antietam and focus on one part of the field. My initial thought is to tour the Day 2 battles in the Peach Orchard and Wheat Field and perhaps focus on the Confederate experiences there.

__________________

I believe the highlights of the day came when Mr. Collier and I enjoyed pumpkin fritters at the historic Farnsworth House, the group visited the field where a hobbled Barton Mitchell made an ill fated charge near Culps Hill and our evening visit to the Gettysburg National Cemetery (see next and final Adventure post).

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28 thoughts on “Day 8: Gettysburg in 1 Day? Yikes!

  1. I think that one of the most important events at the battle of Gettysburg was Chamberlain holding Little Round Top. I think that the key point in the article that we read about the fight on Little Round Top is that if Chamberlain’s 20th Maine and the rest of the regiments on the hill had broken the Union army had a high chance of being flanked and defeated. I also think that the other major part of the battle is the heroic charge that the 1st Minnesota made to plug the gap that Sickles had created with his advance. I believe that these two events are what saved the Union army during the battle at Gettysburg.

  2. I believe that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the greatest impact at the Battle of Gettysburg. If the 20th Maine would have been unable to fend off the Confederates, then the Union would have been flanked and could have been driven off easily after that. Joshua Chamberlain had different ideas as he used a hinge technique to send the Confederates fleeing. Without his actions, the Union might have lost Gettysburg and maybe even the war.

  3. I think that it is just amazing what some people did in times of war. For example, the 1st Minnesota. By all accounts those boys did not hesitate when they were told to go and take on a much superior force, and i think many of them knew that they were probably going to die. But they followed orders, and to me that is truly amazing

    • On that topic, I have been wondering, how many Union Citizens supported the war and if any were opposed to it did they still fight? In post WWII wars it would not be very uncommon for one to object a draft or protest against the war waging government. By the time of Gettysburg how was the home front faring for old Uncle Sam?

  4. I think that the actions of the 1st Minnesota had the biggest impact on the battle of Gettysburg because if it weren’t for them, the Union may have lost. If it were not for the 1st Minnesota, the South may have taken Cemetery Ridge, and would have been able to take the high ground. From Cemetery Ridge, the South could have gotten to Gettysburg, and pushed the Union back to Seminary Ridge and destroyed the Army of the Potomac. Therefore, the actions of the 1st Minnesota saved the Union at Gettysburg.

  5. I think Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had one of the biggest impacts on the battle of Gettysburg. I think it was Hood who was trying to flank the Yankees at Little Round Top, and if he had succeeded, he would have destroyed the Union forces. If Chamberlain didn’t order the Hinge maneuver after his troops ran out of ammunition, I think the battle would have turned out very differently.

  6. I believe that Joshua Chamberlain definitely played a huge role at Gettysburg with his quick thinking and compromising he had to do when his men were low on ammunition. The “hinge” flanking maneuver was definitely the turning point at Little Round Top. The 1st Minnesota was also key in keeping the fish hook together after Sickles decided to refuse orders and leave the fish hook vulnerable.

  7. Which of the stories, people, links do you think had the biggest impact on the battle of Gettysburg?
    By: Chas Muth

    In my opinion, the story (and link about) of Chamberlain’s 20th Maine Regiment has the most significant impact on the battle of Gettysburg. Chamberlain noticed the flaw in the fishhook (thanks to General Sickles moving without orders and then being blown apart by Confederate artillery) and reached the “Little Round Top”with the 20th Maine before the Confederates. The 20th Maine reached the high ground and set up a firing formation just seconds before the Confederates reached the top. After Chamberlain and the 20th Maine ran out of ammo and were becoming weary, he ordered bayonets to be fixed and to swing “his men like a barn door hinge down at the charging rebels.” This resulted in a “simultaneous frontal assault and flanking maneuver.” If it was not for Joshua Chamberlain holding the “Little Round Top,” Meade’s Union army at Gettysburg could have been flanked by the Confederates and could have been defeated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Overall, I think that Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the “biggest impact on the battle of Gettysburg” because without his military knowledge (from reading military textbooks) and his ability to hold the “Little Round Top,” Meade’s Army of the Potomac could have been defeated in battle and the South’s “irreversible path to defeat” may have never existed.

  8. I have to say the 1st Minnesota had the biggest impact on Gettysburg. There was a lot of heroism and courage that went into their counter-charge. If it wasn’t for them, who knows how far the rebels would have gotten into our lines.

  9. I believe the actions of Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the biggest impact on the Battle of Gettysburg. Their holding action, and the immortal charge down Little Round Top prevented the flanking and routing of the whole Union Army, preventing the Confederates from destroying the Army of the Potomac and marching on Washington. There is a reason why Chamberlain’s quote, “Fix Bayonets!” is arguably the most famous military quotes in history. Without that fate-full counter charge, the Union would have lost Gettysburg, and the war.

  10. I believe that the 20th Maine’s “hinge” attack led by Joshua Chamberlain had the most effect on the Battle of Gettysburg. The 20th found themselves running out of ammunition, so Chamberlain had one part of his squad flank to the left and they would then close in on the Confederates like a door slamming shut. They fixed bayonets, and charged the Confederates pushing them back. This ultimately put Lee in the middle of whether or not to retreat, but Longstreet suggested redeploying.

  11. I believe that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s heroic acts at Little Round Top Hill really turned the tide of the war for the Union. It proved to all the Union soldiers that they could in fact hold off the Confederates and push them out of the North. These heroic acts instilled a new confidence within the Union soldiers and ultimately won them the Battle of Gettysburg.

  12. I think that the 1st Minnesota had the greatest impact on Gettysburg. The fact that they were able to hold off about 2,000 Confederates from breaking the Union line and bought enough time for more soldiers to come in and strengthen the line probably saved the Union from losing. Without the 1st Minnesota the Confederates would have managed to break the center of the Union line, and probably win the battle.

  13. I think that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the biggest effect on the Battle of Gettysburg. One reason I believe that the 20th Maine had the largest impact on the battle was because they were holding the left flank. If their line had been broken, then the entire Union flank would have been open, and the Confederates would have been able to inflict massive damage, and they would have probably won the battle, which could have resulted in the Confederates winning the Civil War. The other reason I believe the 20th Maine had the biggest impact was because they managed to drive the Confederates back, when they were out of ammo, and only had bayonets, which would have been a devastating moral blow, along with being a major tactical loss.

  14. I’m going to go in a little bit different direction here and say that Dan Sickle’s incompetence played the biggest role in the battle of Gettysburg. Without his complete disregard for orders, and his stupid maneuver that broke the line in half, I think that Meade’s fish hook was designed well enough that it would have been able to hold against the Confederate onslaught pretty handily. But because Dan Sickles only cared about Dan Sickles, the battle was much closer and lasted much longer than it should have.

  15. I think that the 1st Minnesota had the biggest impact on the battle of Gettysburg because the charge of the Minnesota soldiers stopped the Confederate advance.The regimen twas brave and took heavy casualties from Confederates, but pushed the Confederates back.

  16. The 1st Minnesota had the greatest impact on this day of Gettysburg. IF they would have not have been there to hold off the Confederates then the day might have gone differently since they Confederates could have easily broke through our lines. The fact they managed to hold off 2000 confederates until the reinforcements came would have changed the outcome of the war if they’d have managed to break through our lines.

  17. I believe that the actions of the 1st Minnasota had the greatest impact on the battle. Had it not been for their heroic charge, the confederate soldiers could have broken the Union lines. This would have been a disaster for the Union troops, and could have possibly granted the confederates a victory at Gettysburg. However due to the bravery of the 1st Minnasota, the Union was spared time to reorganize their lines and continued to occupy the high ground, which was crutial at Gettysburg.

  18. I Think Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s had the greatest impact on the Battle of Gettysburg. They managed to save the Fish hook which was vital to the Union and he also corrected the flaws of the military command in that area. Using his military knowledge he managed to defeat the enemy forces with his very thin line of troops. Although he may have won one small conflict in the entire Battle of Gettysburg, he impacted the entire outcome of the battle. With this small victory he managed to save a very large portion of the Union’s defense. Without his military genius and the 20th Maine’s courage and trust in their commander, Gettysburg would have surely had a different outcome.

  19. Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the biggest impact on the Battle of Gettysburg. With the Union short on ammunition, Chamberlain remembered a tactic where the regiment makes a “hinge”. This confused the Confederates, and prevented them from flanking the Union. Holding Little Round Top gave the prevented Meade’s army from defeat at Gettysburg.

  20. Overall, I think that the Union success at Gettysburg was a collaborative effort. It can be attributed to a variety of good decisions and efforts on the Union side and bad ones on that of the Confederate. No person or group of people really can decisively be singled out as “the best”. I would say that 1st Minnesota, 20th Maine, and Lewis Armistead of course among others can all be considered to be part of this collaborative effort.

  21. I believe that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the greatest impact on the outcome of the battle of Gettysburg. Without their heroic actions all throughout day two, the war could very easily have ended with a different outcome. It was by their heart and effort to be the confederates to the top of Little Round Top, and then later to charge at the confederates using the hinge strategy without any ammunition was vital to keeping the fish hook together and making it harder for Lee to win the battle.

  22. I think Richard “baldy” Ewell had the greatest impact on Gettysburg. If he would of taken Lee’s advice and charged for a third time the Yankee’s high ground methodology would of crumbled in on itself. The effects of his inaction is not felt until the next two days of Gettysburg.

  23. Jerome Watrous and his Mule Train gripped me ever since I heard his story in class. It really struck me as one of those few truly glorious moments in war, where one man lead a role that didn’t involve storming the barricades, but a simple resupply mission. This article (http://unionreenactor.com/Gburg%20assets/MuleTrainHerdegen.pdf) gives a good representation to just how utterly smooth this supply run went. Just the very picture of a cavalcade of wagons trotting at full speed, with its lone envoy splitting crates left and right with a hatchet (not really easy to do, don’t ask me how I know) as bullets and cannonballs whizzed by. All for the sake of keeping a position fortified for a few more hours, (a few more nights if you were lucky). Watrous really managed to complete a mundane and deadly job in what I consider one of the most heroic rides in Civil War history. Not to mention that there wasn’t a single casualty! Well, human that is. Poor mules.

  24. Personally I believe that Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine had the most influential presence at the battle of Gettysburg due to Chamberlains “Hinge” which gave life to the Union. It is also important to recognize other retirements like the 27th Indiana & 1st Minnesota and how they contributed to the Union’s success. Specifically the 1st Minnesota was essential in filling Sickle’s gap.

  25. It is truly amazing what the 1st Minnesota was able to do considering their numbers disadvantage. Also, the 20th Maine showed great strength and courage on the Little Round Top. These individual regiments and others in specific battles throughout the war are key milestones that won the war for the Union I believe, not the overall effort.

  26. I believe that John Buford had the greatest impact at the Battle of Gettysburg. Without him taking the high ground Lee and the rest of the Confederates would have taken positions on the hills of Gettysburg.

  27. Although i believe that Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th had a great impact during the Battle of Gettysburg to secure Union victory and boost morale by holding the Confederates and keeping them from taking Little Round Top. We should not forget how much courage it took both sides and day 2 during Pickett’s charge especially the Confederates. It takes an enormous amount of courage to listen to your commanders orders and charge one of the strongest places in the Fishhook. But by the Yankees pushing away the Confederates during P the charge, pretty much secured the victory for the North.

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