the Rescue or All is Lost!
Blood and Fire at Gettysburg"
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
as an important element of the situation, let our thought
turn to what was going on meanwhile to the right of us.
When Warren saw us started for Little Round Top, looking
still intently down, he saw Hood's two brigades breaking
past the Third Corps' left and sweeping straight for
Little Round Top. Then he flew down to bring
reinforcement for this vital place and moment. He came
upon the One Hundred and Fortieth New York, of Weed's
Brigade of our Second Division, just going into Sickles'
relief, and dispatched it headlong for Round Top. Weed
was to follow, and Ayres' whole divisionbut not
yet. Warren also laid hold of Hazlett, with his battery,
D of the Fifth Regulars, and sent him to scale those
heightsif in the power of man so to master nature.
Meantime the tremendous blow of the Fourth and Fifth
Texas struck the right of our brigade, and our Sixteenth
Michigan reeled and staggered back under the shock.
Confusion followed. Vincent felt that all was lost,
unless the very gods should intervene. Sword aloft and
face aflame, he rushed in among the broken companies in
desperate effort to rally them, man by man. By sheer
force of his superb personality he restored a portion of
his line, and was urging up the rest. "Don't yield
an inch now, men, or all is lost!" he cried, when an
answering volley scorched the very faces of the men, and
Vincent's soul went up in a chariot of fire. In that
agonizing moment came tearing up the One Hundred and
Fortieth New York, gallant O'Rorke at the head. Not
waiting to load a musket or form a line, they sprang
forward into that turmoil. Met by a withering volley that
killed its fine young colonel and laid low many of his
intrepid officers and a hundred of his men, this splendid
regiment, as by a providence we may well call divine,
saved us all in that moment of threatened doom.
To add a tragic splendor to this dark scene, in the midst
of it all, the indomitable Hazlett was trying to get his
gunsten pounder rifled Parrottsup to a
working place on the summit close beyond. Finally he was
obliged to take his horses entirely off, and lift his
guns by hand and handspike up the craggy steep, whence he
launched death and defiance wide and far around.
The roar of all this tumult reached us on the left, and
heightened the intensity of our resolve. Meanwhile, the
flanking column worked around to our left and joined with
those before us in a fierce assault, which lasted with
increasing fury for an intense hour. The two lines met
and broke and mingled in the shock. The crush of musketry
gave way to cuts and thrusts, grapplings and wrestlings.
The edge of conflict swayed to and fro, with wild
whirlpools and eddies. At times I saw around me more of
the enemy than of my own men; gaps opening, swallowing,
closing again with sharp convulsive energy; squads of
stalwart men who had cut their way through us,
disappearing as if translated. All around, strange,
mingled roarshouts of defiance, rally, and
desperation; and underneath, murmured entreaty and
stifled moans; gasping prayers, snatches of Sabbath song,
whispers of loved names; everywhere men torn and broken,
staggering, creeping, quivering on the earth, and dead
faces with strangely fixed eyes staring stark into the
sky. Things which cannot be toldnor dreamed.
How men held on, each one knows-not I. But manhood
commands admiration. There was one fine young fellow, who
had been cut down early in the fight with a ghastly wound
across his forehead, and who I thought might possibly be
saved with prompt attention. So I had sent him back to
our little field hospital, at least to die in peace.
Within a half-hour, in a desperate rally I saw that noble
youth amidst the rolling smoke as an apparition from the
dead, with bloody bandage for the only covering of his
head, in the thick of the fight, high-borne and pressing
on as they that shall see death no more. I shall know him
when I see him again, on whatever shore!
Jr., "Bayonet! Forward": My Civil War
Reminiscences, by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
(Pennsylvania: Stan Clark Military Books, 1994), pp.
||This area shows the
position of the left of the Union line in the
battle on Little Round Top.
Gettysburg National Military Park was established
Index to Chamberlain's Pages
Back | Home
Copyright © 2001 - 2009 1st Dragoon's Civil War Site. All rights reserved.