What hasn’t been said about the infamous battle that took place in the tiny southern Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg? The Army of the Potomac clashed with the Army of Northern Virginia in a savage three day battle that resulted in horrendous loss of life. Both sides suffered substantially with more than 51,000 casualties, nearly one third of all those who fought.
Millions of words have been written about specific events of those three days. The heroic stand of Buford and his cavalry the first day. The bloody assaults at the Wheatfield where possession of the land changed hands multiple times that afternoon. The decimation of Pickett’s Charge but none may be as memorable as the fight waged by Union Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and the men of the 20th Maine at the battle for Little Round Top.
We all know the story. It was the second day of battle at Gettysburg. The Union troops grip on the high ground of Cemetery Ridge was slipping. To shore up the Union’s defensive position troops were dispersed to the hills just south of town. General George Sickles was to move his II Corps to a hill known as Little Round Top. His reinforcements would bolster a weak Union line and was ordered by the Union commander himself, General George Meade. Yet Sickles in one of the greatest blunders known to military minds took it upon himself to defy orders. He moved his troops about a mile away into a heated battle at the Peach Orchard. Sickles left the Union left flank completely open to devastation. If Confederate troops could exploit this breach the Union line would fall like dominoes losing the high ground, maybe even the entire battle to the rebels.
The vulnerability of the Union line left by Sickles at Little Round Top was soon discovered. Col. Chamberlain and his men were immediately dispensed to bolster the inadequate defenses there. It was while these troops were heading toward Little Round Top that an unimaginable event occurred.
The men had come to a fork in the road. Being unfamiliar with the territory the 20th Maine wasn’t sure which route to take. It was at this point a huge white stallion appeared out of nowhere. The horse and rider had an ethereal air about them. Some of the men later called it an eerie glow. The rider erect in the saddle wore a tri-cornered hat and old fashioned clothes. Those soldiers who got a glimpse of his face swore it was the very man who fought for and fathered this country decades before, George Washington. Although dead for 60+ years the men had seen paintings and etchings of Washington and were sure this was who was directing their path to Little Round Top. If the appearance of George Washington wasn’t enough some men said Washington raised his sword and led the troops to the appropriate position on Little Round Top. Continue reading