Federal Plans to Capture Big Round Top on the Night of July 2

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Around 8 p.m., an order came from General Sykes to occupy Big Round Top. After a strained consultation between Colonels Rice, Fisher and Chamberlain, it was decided that Chamberlain’s 20th Maine would lead the way as skirmishers, followed by Fisher’s 5th and 9th Pennsylvania Reserves. The map shows the situation at 8:15 p.m., in almost total darkness. Yet the stars flickered between thin cirrus clouds overhead and a nearly full moon would rise at 8:38 p.m.

When Sykes’ order came [to occupy Round Top], I heard Rice ask Fisher to make the movement to seize the crest (or western slope) of Round Top. He emphatically declined … saying that his men were armed with some inefficient … “smooth-bores” … and especially that the ground was difficult and unknown to his men. … Rice then turned to me and said, ‘Colonel, will you do it?’ … It was now nearly dark … My men were exhausted with toil and thirst and had fallen asleep” – Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain, 20th Maine.

As soon as the firing ceased I called the attention of Colonel Rice to the situation of Round Top. … I at once resolved to take possession of the hill. … I asked Col. Chamberlain what guns his regiment was armed with, and he replied Springfield rifles, or muskets. … I then said, ‘I will deploy your regiment as skirmishers, as my men are armed with Harper’s Ferry altered muskets.’ ” – Colonel Joseph W. Fisher.

Our company was on picket … at the foot of the hill … ground literally covered with dead and wounded … rebs, principally Texas troops … some crying, some swearing, some praying, all wanted help” – Sergeant Erastus R. Goodrich, Company A, 44th New York.

A little after sundown the firing ceased, and I was ordered to take my company out as skirmishers. I advanced them so far as to cover the Rebel wounded. It was horrid to be there. The Rebels lay scattered all around, dead, dying and wounded. I was relieved about midnight” – Captain Charles W. Gibbs, Company I, 44th New York.

Our company went on picket … The killed and wounded rebels in front of our regiment lay pretty thick. They all fell into our hands” – Hoadley G. Hosford, Company I, 44th New York.

Detachments … buried most of our own dead, and brought in our wounded, and a greater portion of the rebel wounded [by 10 p.m.]” – Captain A. M. Judson, Company E, 83rd Pennsylvania.

“I think nearly two hours passed before the last of them [the wounded] was brought within our lines” – Thomas F. Walter, 91st Pennsylvania.

After dark, parties were sent out to recover our dead and wounded” – Captain James L. Lemon, Company A, 18th Georgia.

We laid on our arms all night” – “Mark,” 5th Texas.

We stayed on the mountain-side all night long and spent part of the night gathering up our wounded. We slept on the ground, with nothing to eat” – Private, Company H, 5th Texas.

Soon after dark … the Forty-Fourth was withdrawn from the Devil’s Den and rejoined the command” – Colonel William F. Perry, 44th Alabama.

‘Filed right’ across the front of Little Round Top” – Corporal Oscar W. West, Company H, 32nd Massachusetts.

Sources:
-Letter of Joshua L. Chamberlain to Bachelder, January 25, 1884, Bachelder Papers, II:992-993.
-Postwar Report of Col. Joseph Washington Fisher, Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, ed. by Janet B. Hewitt, Noah A. Trudeau, Bryce A. Suderow, Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, vol. 5, serial no. 5, 1995; Round Top Again, by Joseph W. Fisher, National Tribune, April 16, 1885.
-A History of the Forty-fourth Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry, by Capt. Eugene Arus Nash, Chicago, IL: R. R. Donnelly & Sons Co., 1911, p. 151.
-July 10 letter of Capt. C. W. Gibbs to his father, http://home.nycap.rr.com/civilwar/gibbsletter.htm, 05/12/2003
-Diary of Hoadley George Hosford, Gett Digital Civil War Era Collection, Gettysburg College, MS-176.
-History of the Eighty-Third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, by A. M. Judson, Erie, PA: B. F. F. Lynn, Publisher, p. 70.
-Thomas F. Walter, ‘Personal Recollections,’ part 5, http://freepages.military.rootsweb.com/~pa91/cwal5.html, 5/3/2003.
-“Feed Them the Steel,” Being, the Wartime Recollections of Capt. James Lile Lemon, Co. A, 18th Georgia Infantry, Mark H. Lemon, 2016.
-July 29, 1863 letter from “Mark,” 5th Texas, to his mother, Brake Collection, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
-Hood’s Charge at Gettysburg, Private [not identified], Company H, 5th Texas, Camp Fires of the Confederacy, ed. by Ben La Bree, Louisville, KY: Courier-Journal Job Printing Company, 1898, p. 367.
-The Devil’s Den, by Gen. W. F. Perry, Confederate Veteran magazine, vol. 9 (1901), p. 162.
-On Little Round Top, by Oscar W. West, National Tribune, November 22, 1906.
 

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Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Thanks to you, I learned that Burbank and Day climbed Little Round Top in support of Weed's brigade. That was news to me.
The Regulars moved up from the northern base of Little Round Top to the summit about 8 p.m.:

Changed our position to one about 300 yards to the left, where we encamped for the night” – Captain Julius W. Adams, Jr., 4th U.S. Regulars.

About 8 p.m. the regiment moved to the left into the wood in rear of Lieutenant Hazlett’s battery [D, 5th U.S. Artillery, then commanded by Lieutenant B. F. Rittenhouse]” – Captain Thomas S. Dunn, 12th U.S. Regulars.
 

infomanpa

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
The Regulars moved up from the northern base of Little Round Top to the summit about 8 p.m.:

Changed our position to one about 300 yards to the left, where we encamped for the night” – Captain Julius W. Adams, Jr., 4th U.S. Regulars.

About 8 p.m. the regiment moved to the left into the wood in rear of Lieutenant Hazlett’s battery [D, 5th U.S. Artillery, then commanded by Lieutenant B. F. Rittenhouse]” – Captain Thomas S. Dunn, 12th U.S. Regulars.
I'm wondering if they would have been positioned a little more to rear, rather than on the fairly steep reverse slope of LRT. If I were camping there, I would be concerned about rolling down the hill in my sleep. 😁
 

infomanpa

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
The Regulars moved up from the northern base of Little Round Top to the summit about 8 p.m.:

Changed our position to one about 300 yards to the left, where we encamped for the night” – Captain Julius W. Adams, Jr., 4th U.S. Regulars.

About 8 p.m. the regiment moved to the left into the wood in rear of Lieutenant Hazlett’s battery [D, 5th U.S. Artillery, then commanded by Lieutenant B. F. Rittenhouse]” – Captain Thomas S. Dunn, 12th U.S. Regulars.
Interestingly, I have been rereading Pfanz's Second Day book and he believes that Ayres Division (Burbank and Day) was posted by Sykes between the right of Weed's brigade and the Wheatfield Road. Phil Laino's atlas positions this division even further north, but I don't know why.
 
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