Vincent or Greene

MikeyB

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
The left flank seems to get all the mainstream press so to speak driven by Killer Angels and the movie. George Greene's stand on the right flank I think is equally impressive.

My question is - which situation was a more desperate fight? Vincent on the left or Greene on the right? Would a break through on either flank have had equal significance to the Union position?
 

cwbuff

Corporal
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Location
Virginia
IMHO if Greene's line was breeched and Culp's Hill taken then it was "game over" for the Union because the key terrain on Cemetery Hill would have been rendered untenable. Plus the main Union line of communication would have been compromised. If LRT was taken, there were enough Union reserve troops nearby to drive the Confederates off of the hill. The Confederates were spent with no nearby reserve troops.
 

Tom Elmore

1st Lieutenant
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Jan 16, 2015
Vincent himself was only alive for about 20 minutes to see the first Confederate attack, which was admittedly the strongest, by five Confederate regiments (4th-5th Texas and 4th Alabama, followed closely by the 47th and 15th Alabama). It would have been bad news for the Federals to have driven off Vincent/Rice, allowing the Confederates to command the Taneytown Road, but Weed's brigade was close at hand to seal the breach, and the Regulars were not far behind, giving the Federals a decided advantage in numbers, until the arrival of the Sixth Corps before sunset.

Greene, on the other hand, contended his ground for ten hours over two days. For the first three hours (night of July 2) he was badly outnumbered, although he did receive only a little (but important) help from the First and Eleventh Corps. If he had been driven off, it might have been far worse for the Federal army if the Confederates had consolidated their position to command the Baltimore Pike, but the return of the rest of the Twelfth Corps before midnight sealed the breach on that flank.

All things considered, both situations were equally desperate and I find it difficult to choose between them. A big factor is the timing. The Confederate advantage on Culp's Hill was theoretically stronger because it could have been heavily reinforced, except the darkness limited the mobility of reinforcements. On the other flank, the arrival of the Union Sixth Corps made further gains by the Confederates very unlikely even if they had brought up reinforcements during the night - Pickett's division was out of the equation since it was too far away. For that reason alone I would consider the Culp's Hill breach to be more threatening to the Union army than the capture of Little Round Top on July 2.
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
If I am not mistaken, the Confederates who attacked Little Round Top had already been fighting and moving all day, whereas Johnson's division had simply been waiting in position until they struck Culp's Hill at seven o'clock in the evening. Therefore, Johnson's men logically should have been more rested and not low on ammunition.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
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May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
If I am not mistaken, the Confederates who attacked Little Round Top had already been fighting and moving all day, whereas Johnson's division had simply been waiting in position until they struck Culp's Hill at seven o'clock in the evening. Therefore, Johnson's men logically should have been more rested and not low on ammunition.

Johnson was also missing one brigade, Brigadier General James A. Walker's Stonewall Brigade. They were off picketing the army's far left flank until they were relieved by Stuart's troopers. They would see combat on Culp's Hill on July 3.

Ryan
 

ErnieMac

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Forum Host
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May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
I agree that Culp's Hill was more critical to the Federal defense. The biggest advantage Union troops had was George S. Greene. He was West Point educated and a civil engineer after leaving the U.S. Army in 1836. He understood the advantages of the terrain and had well built breastworks behind which he posted his troops. Vincent's troops had just arrived on Little Round Top when the Confederate attacks began. They had little time to prepare any kind of defense.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Both positions were important but Greene's defense of Culp's Hill has been overshadowed in history by the public relations campaign that Chamberlain was famous for in promoting his and the 20th Maine's fight at LRT. But I would tend to believe that holding the position at Culps' Hill (and the nearby Cemetery Hill position), were even more important than preserving the Union left flank at Round Top given its key location astride Union defense and supply lines and knowing the critical attention that Lee gave to seizing those positions in conjunction with his assaults of days 2 and 3.
 

WScott

Private
Joined
May 6, 2021
While I think it is difficult to pick one over the other I would have to go with Little Round Top being more important to the Union. I like Greene and consider him to be an outstanding General and the key to saving Culps Hill but if the South had gained Little Round Top they would have decimated the federal line all along the Ridge. This position would also have given the Confederates control of both the Emmitsburg and Taneytown Roads, important to Federal logistics / supplies.

PS, While Chamberlain may have thought he saved the Federal Army from total defeat we all know it was actually the 44th New York Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Freeman Conner (“People’s Ellsworth Regiment” tribute to Colonel Elmer Ellsworth).
 
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