Chamberlain The Art of Little Round Top

John Hartwell

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The 20th Maine's defense of Little Round Top under the command of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and particularly the regiment's famous bayonet charge, has proven one of the most popular subjects for civil war artists. This is a look at some of the better depictions.

troiani.jpg

Don Troiani
troiani2.jpg

Troiani again
gallon2.jpg

Dale Gallon
gallon3.jpeg

Dale Gallon again
gallon.jpg

DaleGallon, from the rebel's point of view​
 
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AUG

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My favorite out of these is the one by Troiani at top, titled The Lions of Little Round Top. According to one of his books, the one below it was an earlier painting he did, this one being a later, more historically accurate rendition. Here's a larger version....

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Patrick H

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This question will reveal my PURE ignorance of events at Gettysburg: Did the two sides actually come hand-to-hand on Little Round Top, or did the rebel forces withdraw right away? I know the opposing units were close enough to see each other. I wonder if they actually came hand-to-hand.
 

John Hartwell

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This question will reveal my PURE ignorance of events at Gettysburg: Did the two sides actually come hand-to-hand on Little Round Top, or did the rebel forces withdraw right away? I know the opposing units were close enough to see each other. I wonder if they actually came hand-to-hand.
According to https://www.nationalguard.mil/Resou...al-Paintings/Heritage-Series/Twentieth-Maine/

"The 20th Maine held off six attacks by the determined Alabama men, but Colonel Chamberlain knew that his regiment, low on ammunition, could not withstand a seventh. He therefore ordered a counterattack with fixed bayonets, and the 20th charged down the slopes of Little Round Top into the startled Confederates and broke their attack. The 20th Maine took 400 prisoners."​
Full Size (5711 x 4257).jpg

Dominic D'Andrea had a different interpretation​
I suspect that "400 prisoners" is a bit high. But, there were a good many taken in hand-to-hand fighting.
 
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John S. Carter

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Chamberlain romanized in painting as Washington crossing the Delaware or paintings of battles depicting events as the artist would like for it to stimulate the patron as to being there.,that is what these paintings of Chamberlain are .Artist are novelist with a paint brush ,and a canvas,attempting to present a scene or event as to please an audience.Murat painted pictures of the French Revolution very,motivational.Look at each painting which is the honest depiction?.If I choose a painting it would be Strain .For realism .
 
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E_just_E

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This question will reveal my PURE ignorance of events at Gettysburg: Did the two sides actually come hand-to-hand on Little Round Top, or did the rebel forces withdraw right away? I know the opposing units were close enough to see each other. I wonder if they actually came hand-to-hand.

They did not. In primary contemporary sources, the events in the LRT were peripheral to the whole battle and/or its outcome. It was pretty insignificant. Chamberlain really liked to make himself important and he succeed. And then the movie sealed it. There are a few interesting writings on the subject supported by primary contemporary sources...

(but the pictures are pretty, and it is a great story :wink: )
 

AUG

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Some of these are very romanticized, probably all are to at least some degree; but as with most of his artwork, Troiani put a lot of research into the second painting of his I mentioned above. According to one of his books, Don Troiani's Civil War, he tried to make the charge appear more instantaneous, as later research indicates that it was not such an organized affair by Chamberlain. Lt. Holman S. Melcher, commanding the 20th's color company and featured prominently in the painting, may have also played a role in instigating the charge and advanced right beside Chamberlain. The Confederate officer surrendering to Chamberlain is Lt. Robert H. Wicker of the 15th Alabama. Troiani also researched the ground as it would have appeared during the battle, uniforms & gear, the 20th's flag, etc. He's also done a couple other paintings featuring units fighting on the western slope of LRT, plus many other incidents at Gettysburg and other battles.
 

WJC

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Thanks for sharing these beautiful works!
Let's not get too 'hung up' on realism: works of art more frequently show us what we want to see rather than what actually happened.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I'm not sure how different they should be. Chamberlain's been suffering backlash for holding that position since well before Killer Angels. It's generally on the grounds other men had incredible fights that day too. He was a politician, haven't run into one who set out to make themselves look bad. His is an amazing story we can't dismiss just because someone chose to tell ' Gettysburg ' through his experience there.

I don't know. He didn't get shot through the hip while sitting on a rock writing his memoirs. Sometimes it's ok to memorialize remarkable men who stepped up, even if they did become politicians. This one could have sat out the war and went anyway- been paying for it ever since.
 

GwilymT

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I'm not sure how different they should be. Chamberlain's been suffering backlash for holding that position since well before Killer Angels. It's generally on the grounds other men had incredible fights that day too. He was a politician, haven't run into one who set out to make themselves look bad. His is an amazing story we can't dismiss just because someone chose to tell ' Gettysburg ' through his experience there.

I don't know. He didn't get shot through the hip while sitting on a rock writing his memoirs. Sometimes it's ok to memorialize remarkable men who stepped up, even if they did become politicians. This one could have sat out the war and went anyway- been paying for it ever since.

I agree that there’s a little too much flak and push back... did Chamberlain single handedly save the Union? Of course not. There were several actions on all three days where the fate of the rebellion and of the Union hung in the balance. That being said, Chamberlain and the 20th were stubborn that day and fought like devils. Had they been routed, it’s not out of the question that the entire brigade has to vacate LRT. Day three looks a lot different with the CSA occupying the Round Tops looking down on Cemetery Ridge.
 

redbob

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Had the Confederates taken Little Round Top, what would they have done with it and could they have possibly held on to it? In reality I feel that in the big scheme of things that it would have proved to be a rather hollow victory and of limited tactical significance.
 

John Hartwell

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Had the Confederates taken Little Round Top, what would they have done with it and could they have possibly held on to it? In reality I feel that in the big scheme of things that it would have proved to be a rather hollow victory and of limited tactical significance.
That doesn't matter in the least. What matters is what did happen there, not some speculative "might have been." The dead are just as dead, the deeds (on both sides) just as heroic, whether the fight's outcome "saved the army" or not.

That the fight was more, or less, "significant" in the long run, does not diminish the deeds of the men who fought there, and should not be used to belittle them.
 
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