2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Thursday July 2, 1863
Culp's Hill and General George Sears Greene

General George S. Greene Monument at Gettysburg
As did Colonel Strong Vincent's Brigade on the Union left, Brigadier General George Sears Greene's brigade of about 1,500 men would face a daunting challenge at the Union line's opposite terminus on Culp's Hill**. As Major General Daniel Sickles' 3rd Corps line crumbled at the southern end of the battlefield, the Union's Commanding General George Gordon Meade ordered several brigades from Major General Henry Slocum's 12th Corps, to which Greene belonged, to draw from Culp's Hill and proceed to the southern end of the field for support. As the re-deployment progressed, General Greene's brigade found itself alone on the hill. General Greene had earlier reconnoitered the ground, expertly positioned his men, and ordered them to entrench. His foresight would serve his men well as Confederates from Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Division repeatedly, ferociously attacked the bluecoats with almost three times the number of Northern men present on this hill.

General George Sears Greene monument on Culp's HillWith the acrid smoke of thousands of muskets lingering in the air and darkness closing upon the men below, the visibility on this battered hill slowly but inexorably faded. Likewise did the opportunity for the continuation of the hammering Southern attacks. General Greene's New Yorkers held against incredible odds with Colonel David Ireland's 137th New York securing the far right. As Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain's 20th Maine had protected the far left and would not give, so the stouthearted men of the 137th would bend but did not break. The far right of the Union line would remain secure. The brigades taken from the hill would return late that night to find the breastworks below the 137th New York occupied by the southerners who sought to take this hill. General Greene's troops, reinforced by their returning comrades, would again hold their ground when fighting resumed in the early morning of the following day.

137th New York Monument on Culp's HillIn his official report, Major General Alpheus Williams would address both the contributions of the brigade and General Greene's skill in laying out the breastworks to advantage. "General Greene, in attempting to extend his brigade to occupy the entire line of breastworks, after the withdrawal of the rest of the corps, found that the enemy had already seized upon and occupied in strong force the right of the line, from which he attacked Greene's brigade with great vigor. Fortunately, this brigade occupied a portion of the breastworks, which, turning at almost right angles to the line on the right, ascended a broken and rocky slope toward our left, and presented a steep wall of rock toward the enemy. A narrow space between the angle of the breastworks and the open field toward, the Baltimore Pike was densely wooded and full of large rocks and boulders. General Greene seized with skill and judgment the advantages of this position, and held it with his small brigade against overwhelming numbers with signal gallantry and determination. At length, after three hours' night conflict, having been re-enforced by detachments from the First and Eleventh Corps, and subsequently by Kane's brigade returning to its position, General Greene succeeded in repulsing the enemy from his immediate front. This gallant officer merits especial mention for the faithful and able manner in which he conducted this defense, and protected, under difficult circumstances, a most important part of our line." [5]

Relief on the 149th New York MonumentAbove, Major General George S. Greene (his rank at war's end) is pictured pointing over the works and the hill his skill and determination helped to secure. As did the rest of his brigade, the 149th New York dug trenches and erected breastworks as ordered. A captain in the 149th would later offer a glimpse into the hell they feared this hill would become. "The pale faces, starting eye-balls, and nervous hands grasping loaded muskets, told how terrible were those moments of suspense." [C] In the picture of the relief to your right, you can see some evidence of how the men in blue constructed their cover and how the works appeared. Heavy logs allowed protection for all but the head and shoulders, allowing soldiers to fire and reload in comparative safety.

Spotsylvania recreated Breast WorksClick on the image to your right to see a reproduction of breastworks similar to those constructed by General George Greene's men on Culp's Hill. You can find several small sections of reconstructed Confederate breastworks behind the Confederate lines near the Mule Shoe Salient on the Spotsylvania Battlefield near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia.
 


61st Pennsylvania Monument at Wolf's Hill** Although Culp's Hill is frequently described as the far right of the Union line at Gettysburg, Union troops of the 61st Pennsylvania on Wolf's Hill, slightly southeast from Culp's Hill, state that they were the "extreme right of infantry of the army". After a 37 mile march to reach the battlefield, the men of General John Sedgwick's 6th Corps perhaps earned the right to say as much.

There are several monuments to the regiments in Brigadier General Thomas H. Neill's Brigade of the 2nd Division of the Union 6th Corps on Wolf's Hill. However, they are currently on private property and are not accessible without permission of the property owner.