Behind The Stonewall

General Hood's Launch Point (Day 2) - Gettysburg Pennsylvania

About what you are looking at...

As a point of reference, look at the artillery section (two cannons) directly across the road, with the plaque between them.  This view is looking generally southwest.  From this point, Major General John Bell Hoodís Division of Lieutenant General James Longstreetís First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia stepped off on their famous assault at about 4:30 PM on July 2nd, 1863.  If the viewer pans to the left, the position of Brigadier General Evander M. Lawís Brigade (4th, 15th, 44th, 47th, and 48th Alabama Infantry Regiments) is revealed.  This was the extreme right flank of the Army of Northern Virginia during the three days of battle at Gettysburg.  Panning back to the right, the position of Brigadier General Henry L. Benningís Georgians (2nd, 15th, 17th, and 20th Georgia Infantry Regiments), and more to the right, past the two gun section, the positions of Brigadier General J. B. Robertson, Texas Brigade (1st, 4th, 5th Texas, and 3rd Arkansas Infantry Regiments), and behind them, in the woods, the position of Brigadier General George T. Andersonís Georgia Brigade (7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 59th Georgia Infantry Regiments).    The left of both Robertson and Andersonís Brigades extended west across the Emmitsburg Road.  The section of road you see here, now called South Confederate Avenue, runs along the crest of Warfield Ridge.  Panning around to a point opposite the two gun section, one can readily see the peak of Big Round Top in the distance, and to its left, the flat crest of Little Round Top.  Almost directly between these two positions lies the Plum Run Valley, containing the wild, boulder strewn terrain marking the southern end of Houckís Ridge, culminating in the area known as Devilís Den. 

Shortly after 4:30 PM on July 2nd, Hoods men stepped off on a broad front, and headed down into the rugged terrain of Plum Run Valley.  The terrain here would funnel their attack, forcing Laws to the right, with his line extended up and over the top of Big Round Top, while G. T. Andersonís Georgians would sweep across the open fields to the east of the Emmitsburg Road below the Rose Farm, and eventually engage the Union forces in the Wheatfield.  In between would be Benningís Georgians and Robertsonís Texans, which would push up through the Triangular Filed on the near side of Houckís Ridge, and run into part of Brigadier General J. H. Hobart Wardís Brigade of Daniel Sickelsí Third Corps, Army of the Potomac.  Ward placed four of his regiments (99th Pennsylvania, 20th Indiana, 86th New York and 124th New York on a line on the end of Houckís Ridge (atop Devilís Den). After a spirited defense against overwhelming numbers, Wardís men were forced to withdraw across Plum Run Valley.   Lawís brigade swept up the Plum Run Valley, and across the western flank of Big Round Top, and encountered the brigade of Union Brigadier General Strong Vincent (20th Maine, 16th Michigan, 44th New York, and 83rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments), Third Brigade, First Division (Brigadier General James Barnes), Fifth Army Corps (Major General George Sykes), Army of the Potomac, just below the crest of Little Round Top.  This was the extreme left flank of the Army of the Potomac.  It was here that the desperate struggle ensued between the 20th Maine under Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and the 15th Alabama under Colonel John Oates.   

W. G. Davis

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