Second Confederate Attack Against Little Round Top

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
The Confederate capture of Devil’s Den and the Rose woods prompted a second advance by Robertson and Sheffield against the southwestern face of Little Round Top. However, it made little impression against Rice’s brigade and was promptly turned back. The U.S. Regulars of the Fifth Corps under Burbank and Day advanced across Plum Run valley as Caldwell’s division of the Second Corps filed into position. Map attachment depicts the situation at 6:10 p.m. on July 2.

Being joined by the Fifth Texas on my right, I again attempted to drive the enemy from the heights by assaults, but with like results” – Major John P. Bane, 4th Texas.

The regiments were again ordered forward … and regained their first position” – Major J. C. Rogers, 5th Texas.

We made two more ineffectual assaults upon this point … all terminating in great loss to us” – Member of Company I, 5th Texas.

Charged back near the same place but was again forced to retire. We found [Private] William Gaylor still behind the rock but he came out with us this time” – Private Jesse Gilley, Company E, 47th Alabama.

The brigades [Burbank and Day] crossing the intermediate swampy ground rapidly and forming on the left of a division of the Second Corps” – Brigadier General Romeyn B. Ayres.

We went forward … but in doing so our left flank was greatly exposed to the sharpshooters of the rebels, who were concealed behind rocks on our left” – Colonel Sidney Burbank.

Advanced at a double quick down a steep hill and across a marsh fifty yards wide and ankle deep with mire. During this movement the regiment suffered from a severe fire of sharpshooters” – Member of the 2nd U.S. Regulars.

Our brigade commander gave the command ‘forward.’ Away we went, over rocks and in the marsh. A dozen paces forward, and we came within this enfilading fire. Men began to fall very fast, but the line kept steadily on” – Lieutenant James Pratt, 11th U.S. Regulars.

A Lieutenant [was] temporarily attached to my company … When we made the run across the marsh, this Lieutenant was particularly vociferous, swinging his sword, etc., and in the center of the marsh he fell and was covered with mud. His sword scabbard had gotten between his legs and tripped him. All who saw his misadventure laughed” – Captain Dudley H. Chase, Company A, 17th U.S. Regulars.

Sources:
-Official Reports of Maj. John P. Bane, Maj. J. C. Rogers, Brig. Gen. R. B. Ayres.
-Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, ed. by Janet B. Hewett, part II, vol. 68, serial no. 80, Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1998, p. 647.
-Jesse Gilley, History of Thurman Earl Hendricks and 20 Others in Service of the Confederate States of America, Gen. T. J. Churchill Chapter no. 1373, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Arkansas Division, 1931, p. 212.
-Excerpts from the diary of Sidney Burbank, 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, 1995.
-The Second Regiment of Infantry, The Army of the United States, ed. by Theo. F. Rodenbough and William L. Haskin, NY: 1896.
-July 13 letter from James Pratt to his father, The Soldier of Indiana, Greg Coco Collection, Capt. John W. Ames file, Gettysburg National Military Park.
-Gettysburg, by Capt. Dudley H. Chase, U.S.A., War Papers of the Indiana Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Indianapolis, IN: 1898; Reprint, Broadfoot Publishing Company, Wilmington, NC: 1992, vol. 24, p. 303.
LittleRoundTop1810.jpg
 

infomanpa

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
The Confederate capture of Devil’s Den and the Rose woods prompted a second advance by Robertson and Sheffield against the southwestern face of Little Round Top. However, it made little impression against Rice’s brigade and was promptly turned back. The U.S. Regulars of the Fifth Corps under Burbank and Day advanced across Plum Run valley as Caldwell’s division of the Second Corps filed into position. Map attachment depicts the situation at 6:10 p.m. on July 2.
Since there is a 50 minute gap between this map and your last, I am assuming that little action was going on? I have never considered that long of lull during this phase of the battle.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Since there is a 50 minute gap between this map and your last, I am assuming that little action was going on? I have never considered that long of lull during this phase of the battle.
Here I am just focusing on the significant attacks directed against Little Round Top. Between these attacks, Confederates around Devil's Den and the woodline in Plum Run valley kept firing, while some individual soldiers from Robertson and Sheffield also remained under cover at the base of the hill and continued to fire, although some of the latter were gathered in as prisoners between semi-lulls in the action. Confederate sources speak of three separate attacks, but the initial and strongest attack was drawn out due to the delay in the 47th and 15th Alabama's advance into the action. The second and the third (final) attacks were significantly weaker and Federal accounts hardly acknowledge them as distinct events.
 

infomanpa

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Location
Pennsylvania
Here I am just focusing on the significant attacks directed against Little Round Top. Between these attacks, Confederates around Devil's Den and the woodline in Plum Run valley kept firing, while some individual soldiers from Robertson and Sheffield also remained under cover at the base of the hill and continued to fire, although some of the latter were gathered in as prisoners between semi-lulls in the action. Confederate sources speak of three separate attacks, but the initial and strongest attack was drawn out due to the delay in the 47th and 15th Alabama's advance into the action. The second and the third (final) attacks were significantly weaker and Federal accounts hardly acknowledge them as distinct events.
That makes sense. I can switch to your Wheatfield maps to see the action during that time interval.
 

bdtex

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The Confederate capture of Devil’s Den and the Rose woods prompted a second advance by Robertson and Sheffield against the southwestern face of Little Round Top. However, it made little impression against Rice’s brigade and was promptly turned back. The U.S. Regulars of the Fifth Corps under Burbank and Day advanced across Plum Run valley as Caldwell’s division of the Second Corps filed into position. Map attachment depicts the situation at 6:10 p.m. on July 2.
As someone not very familiar with the Battle Of Gettysburg, I appreciate these mini-threads you post.
 

datameister

Private
Joined
Apr 29, 2018
Location
Westfield, IN
Great maps as always Tom. I just realized last weekend that there is a gap between the right flank of the 20th Maine and left flank of 83rd PA. Of course the road passes between the two, so I am curious if one or the other is correct if at all.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
My maps don't always reflect the known minor changes in the lines. As I recall the 83rd was originally bowed out in the center and later contracted, and they covered the ground vacated by the two right companies of the 20th Maine during the latter's encounter with the 15th Alabama. During the night of July 2 and into July 3, they incorporated existing boulders into their line, interconnected by rock walls erected under cover of darkness, which further changed the positioning and appearance of their line. So these were not static lines that could be accurately depicted by post-war flank markers, whose placement no doubt did not even accord with the memory of all the participants. At best, we can say they give us only a rough idea of where a regiment stood.

We also know this: "Dedication of 83d Pa. Monument. The monument erected at Gettysburg, on Little Round Top, of the 83d Pa. will be dedicated with appropriate services Sept. 11 and 12, which are designated as 'Pennsylvania Days' ... The monument erected for the 83d Pa. is on Little Round Top, about 50 feet in the rear of the line of battle of the regiment as formed hastily on the afternoon of July 2."
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
How common was it during the civil war for a regiment to attack, withdraw, and attack again?
I can't speak to the war, but besides Robertson and some regiments of Law/Sheffield, other commands also conducted more than one attack at Gettysburg on the same day, including:

Davis' brigade, July 1.
12th North Carolina, Iverson's brigade, July 1.
O'Neal's brigade, July 1.
Daniel's brigade, July 1.
Anderson's brigade, July 2.
15th Georgia, Benning's brigade, July 2.
Walker's brigade, July 3.

20th Maine, July 2.
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
I can't speak to the war, but besides Robertson and some regiments of Law/Sheffield, other commands also conducted more than one attack at Gettysburg on the same day, including:

Davis' brigade, July 1.
12th North Carolina, Iverson's brigade, July 1.
O'Neal's brigade, July 1.
Daniel's brigade, July 1.
Anderson's brigade, July 2.
15th Georgia, Benning's brigade, July 2.
Walker's brigade, July 3.

20th Maine, July 2.

Thanks! To clarify - I meant a scenario such as that of the 15/47th Alabama where they advanced, sustained casualties, withdrew, then advanced over the same ground against the same enemy in quick succession.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
It is my understanding that the 15th Alabama actually only attacked once, excluding the ebb and flow of their line during its close engagement with the 20th Maine. As I recall the movie "Gettysburg" showed distinct charges with brief lulls, but I believe the reality is that the encounter was simply a continuous battle that was extended along the line as the right companies of the 15th Alabama moved down the slope of Big Round Top into their usual position in the line. I surmise that the 47th Alabama was forced back rather quickly when the repulse of 4-5 TX and 4 AL allowed the 44th New York and 83rd Pennsylvania to focus their attention on them - the 47th regrouped at a safe distance of 200 yards before joining the second advance about an hour later.
 

datameister

Private
Joined
Apr 29, 2018
Location
Westfield, IN
My maps don't always reflect the known minor changes in the lines. As I recall the 83rd was originally bowed out in the center and later contracted, and they covered the ground vacated by the two right companies of the 20th Maine during the latter's encounter with the 15th Alabama. During the night of July 2 and into July 3, they incorporated existing boulders into their line, interconnected by rock walls erected under cover of darkness, which further changed the positioning and appearance of their line. So these were not static lines that could be accurately depicted by post-war flank markers, whose placement no doubt did not even accord with the memory of all the participants. At best, we can say they give us only a rough idea of where a regiment stood.

We also know this: "Dedication of 83d Pa. Monument. The monument erected at Gettysburg, on Little Round Top, of the 83d Pa. will be dedicated with appropriate services Sept. 11 and 12, which are designated as 'Pennsylvania Days' ... The monument erected for the 83d Pa. is on Little Round Top, about 50 feet in the rear of the line of battle of the regiment as formed hastily on the afternoon of July 2."
You confirmed my suspicions on this. As we like to say in statistics, the point estimate is better viewed with a confidence interval to understand what is really happening.
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
It is my understanding that the 15th Alabama actually only attacked once, excluding the ebb and flow of their line during its close engagement with the 20th Maine. As I recall the movie "Gettysburg" showed distinct charges with brief lulls, but I believe the reality is that the encounter was simply a continuous battle that was extended along the line as the right companies of the 15th Alabama moved down the slope of Big Round Top into their usual position in the line. I surmise that the 47th Alabama was forced back rather quickly when the repulse of 4-5 TX and 4 AL allowed the 44th New York and 83rd Pennsylvania to focus their attention on them - the 47th regrouped at a safe distance of 200 yards before joining the second advance about an hour later.

This makes more sense with what I've gathered of the general "flow" of a battle.
 
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