2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Thursday July 2, 1863
Union Brigadier General Gouverneur Warren & Little Round Top

Little Round Top from the Plum Rum Valley - 1863

As opposed to it's more refined and somewhat manicured appearance today, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Little Round Top presented as a much more rugged and formidable obstacle to any force attempting to storm its rocky slopes. Some years after the battle, entrepreneurs removed boulders to install, and then remove, a railroad for the even increasing number of eager battlefield sight seers. Later, additional impediments were removed to install and maintain National Military Park roads. The image above shows the heights' more menacing appearance in 1863.

Hazlett's guns on Little Round Top
(A video of the view from Little Round Top - 1.2MB File)
The view to your left of Little Round Top at sunset shows the memorial statue of General Gouverneur Kemble Warren framed by Union Lieutenant Charles E. Hazlett's guns as Warren's bronze likeness forever surveys the crest he proved instrumental in securing. As General Meade's Chief Engineer surveyed the nascent battleground from these heights, the seasoned Confederates from Major General John Bell Hood's Division, including his famous Texas Brigade, prepared to pour towards the southern terminus of the Union line. Understanding the importance of this position, General Warren sent out urgent calls in all directions for men in blue to occupy and hold these heights. He knew that the potential loss of this defensible, high ground could prove disastrous to the Union line which would be both visible and vulnerable to the north of the hill. General Warren's pleas, combined with the initiative of those receiving them, helped to divert troops to the dangerously empty hilltop. At one point, General Warren even helped to push one of these Union cannons up the rocky hill to aid in its defense.

General Gouverneur Kemble WarrenExpecting a series of furious assaults by determined men in butternut and gray, the equally stubborn Federals understood the need to hold this anchor point for the Union's left flank. If this vital crest had fallen into Confederate hands, Hazlett's guns, turned to face north, may have offered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia a clear field of fire down much of the Union line along Cemetery Ridge. With the loss of this hill, perhaps then Generals Hood and McLaws may succeed with Lee's plan to roll up the Union line and sweep the blue coats from the field. However, any Southern victory against the members of the Union's 3rd and 5th Corps would yet have to contend with the Army of the Potomac's largest unit, Major General John Sedgwick's 6th Corps. While Warren initially, anxiously surveyed the ground before him, General Sedgwick's men closed upon this location, marching up the Taneytown Road which ran north into Gettysburg, passing by the base of the eastern slopes of both Round Tops.

Sadly for the Union, Lieutenant Charles Hazlett, who would exert great effort striving to save this ground, would lose his life on Little Round Top as he leaned over to provide comfort to a dying comrade. That friend, Union Brigadier General Stephen Weed, whose brigade would rush to Little Round Top's defense, Statue of Brigadier General Gouverneur Warrenreceived his mortal wound during the intense conflict. Major General George Sykes, commander of the Army of the Potomac's 5th Corps, would express his thoughts concerning his fallen subordinates. "Night closed the fight. The key of the battle-field was in our possession intact. Vincent, Weed, and Hazlett, chiefs lamented throughout the corps and army, sealed with their lives the spot intrusted to their keeping, and on which so much depended. The general line of battle on the left was shortened, strengthened, firm...General Weed and Colonel Vincent, officers of rare promise, gave their lives to their country. The former had been conspicuous during the war, won and adorned his promotion, and surrendered it and his life on the spot he was called upon to defend." [5]