Facts about Big Round Top during the Battle Of Gettysburg of the American Civil War

Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Dates: July 1-3, 1863
Generals: Union General: George G. Meade | Confederate General: Robert E. Lee

Big Round Top Summary: Big Round Top is a rugged hill that formed the southern edge of the Gettysburg Battlefield during the Battle Of Gettysburg. Big Round Top was also the topographical high point of the battlefield but was unsuitable for artillery because it is steep, strewn with boulders, and wooded

Big Round Top, at the extreme left of the Union’s line that stretched from the Round Tops, along Cemetery Ridge and then “fishhooked” around Cemetery and Culp‘s hills, served as a position for members of the Federals’ signal corps until they were chased off by advancing Confederates on Day Two, July 2. During the night of July 2 and early morning hours of July 3, the 20th Maine Regiment led by Joshua Chamberlain occupied part of Big Round Top, following the intense fighting on Little Round Top.

Late in the day of July 3, Union brigadier general Judson Kilpatrick ordered the cavalry brigade of Brigadier General Elon Farnsworth to charge Confederate infantry of Major General John Bell Hood’s division who were on and near the slopes of Big Round Top. Hood had been wounded the previous day, and his division was under the command of Brigadier General Evander Law. One after another, three of the four regiments of Farnsworth’s brigade charged over broken ground into Confederate fire and were repulsed. The final regiment, the 1st Vermont, then made the attempt. Farnsworth divided it into three battalions and personally led the second battalion. The Vermonters broke through a picket line of the 1st Texas but, taking fire from all sides, had to fight their way back to their original positions. Farnsworth fell mortally wounded, shot five times, and died on the field. This ill-advised charge ordered by Judson “Kill Cavalry” Kilpatrick, which Farnsworth had vehemently opposed, essentially ended the fighting at Gettysburg.


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