Friday, July 2, 2010

An Afternoon of Blood

One of the pivotal moments in the history of the United States occurred 147 years ago today, on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg.

On July 2, 1863, a professor at a small college in Maine, had ascended to command the 20th Maine. On the second day of the battle, Col. Joshua Chamberlain was ordered to take his regiment to defend the extreme left flank of the Union lines on a hill known as Little Round Top at all costs. Soon after taking their position, they came under a fierce assault by the Confederates, who realized that turning the Union flank at Little Round Top would let the Confederates send the Union forces scattering, and win the battle.

After repelling assault after assault, with his men exhausted and almost out of ammunition, Chamberlain realized that his men could never withstand another assault by the Confederates. Reasoning that the enemy was probably just as exhausted...and perhaps running low on ammunition themselves, Chamberlain concluded that if they could not withstand another attack...and could not retreat from their position guarding the Union flank...his only option was to attack. Ordering his men to fix bayonets, and in the face of another Rebel assault, they charged down the hill....breaking up the Confederate assault, turning the near-disaster into a rout, saving the Union from defeat on the second day of battle, and setting the stage for the fateful third day...when the Union center would face Pickett's Charge.

For his extraordinary bravery in the face of almost certain defeat, Joshua Chamberlain was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a retired public prosecutor from Michigan, writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

No comments: