Skip to comments.Gettysburg Day 2
Posted on 07/02/2012 3:30:18 AM PDT by chargers fan
Iced Earth's Song, Hold At All Costs, about Day 2.
Thanks for the post. Just came from vacation which included Gettysburg. The real Hero at Gettysburg was Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top!
That being said, Gettysburg was a sequence of small-unit actions, anyone of which, going the other way, could have changed the entire battle and war.
On the first day, Beaufort's holding the high ground, the 2nd Maine at Little Round Top, Custer's thwarting of Stuart, all of which culminated in Pickett's disasterous charge.
Robert E. Lee was an exceptional soldier, leader and really, American. But, he and his officer's were afflicted with the same disease that the Imperial Japanese Navy had in World War II..."Victory Disease". They could not imagine losing and as a result, fought where they should not have fought and abandoned their strategic plans for what they thought were tactical "sure-things".
I have walked Gettysburg, and felt the spirits there. They remain there, forever, lest we forget!
He was certainly one of them, but there were many others, too. Just as Chamberlain held the south end of the fishhook at Little Round Top, BG Greene and the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Div, XII Corps held Culp's Hill in fierce fighting on the north. That's never received the acclaim of the Little Round Top action, but holding the north end of the line was equally important.....and my great grandfather was there! What a thrill it was to walk the lines a few years ago.
Are those the troops where the Catholic Priest did the General Absolution minutes before they went into battle?
Sorry, don’t know the details, but I’m sure that was SOP.
The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, decimated on the second day at Gettysburg.
During the second day (July 2,62), the Confederates had broken through Sickles position. With a failed attempt at rallying Sickles men, General Winfield S. Hancock had ordered the First that was held in reserve nearby to counterattack and fill the gap in the Union line until reinforcements could arrive. During the attack, three companies C, F, and 2nd Minnesota Sharpshooters Co. L, totaling some 73 men, had been detached.7 Out of the 262 men remaining that attacked to delay the rebs and restore the Union position, 215 were killed, wounded, or missing. Earlier in the day, Col. Wm. Colville had been relieved of arrest and resumed command the regiment. Gen. W.S. Hancock whose order Colonel, do you see those colors? (pointing at the advancing Confederate forces) Then take them!, later stated:
I had no alternative but to order the regiment in. We had no force on hand to meet the sudden emergency. Troops had been ordered up and were coming on the run, but I saw that in some way five minutes must be gained or we were lost. It was fortunate that I found there so grand a body of men as the First Minnesota. I knew they must lose heavily and it caused me pain to give the order for them to advance, but I would have done it (even) if I had known every man would be killed. It was a sacrifice that must be made. The superb gallantry of those men saved our line from being broken. No soldiers on any field, in this or any other country, ever displayed grander heroism.
Bruce Catton stated in Glory Road:
The whole war had suddenly come to a focus in this smoky hollow, with a few score westerners trading their lives for the time the army needed They had not captured the flag that Hancock had asked them to capture, but they still had their own flag and a great name
Lt. Col. Joseph B. Mitchell in his Decisive Battles of the Civil War stated:
There is no other unit in the history of warfare that ever made such a charge and then stood its ground sustaining such losses.
The attacking Confederate forces consisted of Wilcoxs Brigade, Andersons Division, A.P. Hills Corps. Wilcox had begun the days fighting with some 1,800 men in his unit although it is not known exactly how many were left at the time of the action with the First Minnesota. There are also indications that the 39th and 11th New York Regiments began the attack on the left of the First, while the 19th Mass. and 42nd New York were on the regiments right. In all these instances these supporting units fell back before completing the charge so that the First went in on its own. The First Minnesota has the distinction of sustaining the highest regimental losses in any battle, in proportion to the number engaged, in the Civil War.
On July 3rd the First found itself on the receiving end of Picketts charge. Cos C and F had rejoined by this time and another 45 men became casualties. Thus by the end of the battle 64 men had been killed and 160 men wounded for a total of 224 casualties. By the end of July, Regimental strength stood at 175 men, but this included some of the slightly wounded who had returned to duty by this time. On top of such losses for the battle the First did manage to share in the glory of the Union Victory. Pvt. Marshall Sherman of Co. C had captured the 28th Virginias colors and Cpl. Henry OBrien spurred on the men with the colors and its shattered staff. Both would later receive the Medal of Honor for their feats.
That picture gives one of the best representations of what the forces contended with I’ve ever seen outside the movies. Thanks.
It seems to me that there are several folks here that are/were re-enactors. They’ve described the authentic uniforms and accouterments and how difficult some of that stuff is to contend with. I’m not sure that I’d know how to get my lazy butt up that hill!
I would disagree, respectfully with your assessment. Buford won the battle, by forcing Lee to engage before he was ready. Chamberlain without a doubt was a great hero, but had Lee listened to “Gloomy Pete” and withdrew to fight on ground of his choosing, the outcome of the war may have been different.
No. That was on July 3rd. Fr. Corby who went on to become the President of the University of Notre Dame, gave Absolution to the Irish brigades, in a field not far from Cemetery Ridge.
Correction. You were right, it was on July 2nd. My apologies..
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