Near Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Tenacious 20th Maine
July 2, 1863 - The Second Day
Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, U.S.A.
Commander, 20th Maine Volunteers
Late on the second day, the 358 men of the 20th Maine Volunteers found themselves anchoring the southern end of the Union line. If they could not stop the Confederate tide here on the southern slopes of Little Round Top, the Federal line might be unhinged.
For more than an hour, waves of Alabamians repeatedly stormed this hillside from below, but were repulsed each time. So deadly was the struggle that "blood stood in puddles on the rocks." When the New Englanders' ammunition was nearly spent, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain ordered a desperate bayonet charge that drove the Alabamians back for good, thus securing the Union left flank.
The short walk in front of you leads to the secluded 20th Maine monument. It rests on ground Chamberlain was ordered to hold "at all hazards."
Erected by Gettysburg National Military Park.
Location. 39° 47.431′ N, 77° 14.186′ W. Marker is near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is on Sykes Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Click for map
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Hold The Ground At All Hazards" (a few steps from this marker); Third Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker); 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); Gen. Strong Vincent (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Breastworks (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); 12th and 44th New York Infantry (about 300 feet away); Col. Strong Vincent (about 300 feet away); 9th Pennsylvania Reserves (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Gettysburg.
More about this marker. In the center of the marker is a painting depicting the fighting. Union infantry of the 20th Maine took advantage of natural defenses here to repulse superior numbers of attacking Confederates. Painting by Keith Rocco.
In the upper right is a portrait of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, a professor before the war, led the charge here that secured the Union left flank. For gallantry he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Later, he officiated the surrender
In the lower right is a portrait of Col. William C. Oates who commanded the 15th Alabama which lost 343 men and 19 officers - nearly half their strength - in an attempt to dislodge the 20th Maine. His beloved brother, John, was hit by six bullets, and fell mortally wounded here. Oates recalled, "The dead literally covered the ground."
Also see . . .
1. Little Round Top. National Park Service virtual tour stop. (Submitted on January 2, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. Report of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain. Chamberlain described adjustments to his defensive lines:
In the midst of this, an officer from my center informed me that some important movement of the enemy was going on in his front, beyond that of the line with which we were engaged. Mounting a large rock, I was able to see a considerable body of the enemy moving by the flank in rear of their line engaged, and passing from the direction of the foot of Great Round Top through the valley toward the front of my left. The close engagement not allowing any change of front, I immediately stretched my regiment to the left, by taking intervals by the left flank, and at the same time "refusing" my left wing, so that it was nearly at right angles with my right, thus occupying about (Submitted on January 2, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,689 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 2. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.