The American Civil War, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Hold The Line at All Costs

Edited by: Robert Guisepi

2002

rica

Excerpts From Chamberlain's Writings


As we neared the summit of the mountain, the shot so raked the crest that we had to keep our men below it to save their heads, although this did not wholly avert the visits of tree-tops and splinters of rock and iron, while the boulders and clefts and pitfalls in our path made it seem like the replica of the evil "den" across the sweetly named Plum Run.

Reaching the southern face of Little Round Top, I found Vincent there, with intense poise and look. He said with a voice of awe, as if translating the tables of the eternal law, "I place you here! This is the left of the Union line. You understand. You are to hold this ground at all costs!" I did understand--full well; but had more to learn about costs.

The regiment coming up "right in front" was put in position by a quite uncommon order, "on the right by file into line"; both that we should thus be facing the enemy when we came to a front, and also be ready to commence firing as fast as each man arrived. This is a rather slow style of formation, but this time it was needful. Knowing that we had no supports on the left, I despatched a stalwart company under the level-headed Captain [Walter G.] Morrill in that direction, with orders to move along up the valley to our front and left, between us and the eastern base of the Great Round Top, to keep within supporting distance of us, and to act as the exigencies of the battle should require.