Gettysburg National Military Park

20th Maine Monument

20th Maine Monument

Image 1: 20th Maine Monument. This picture is of the monument to the 20th Maine. The monument is located, roughly, at the location of the regiment's colours (flags) during the battle. This image gives you a good feel for the height advantage the 20th Maine had against the opposing regiments. It was in this area that Chamberlain extended his line to the north, "refusing his line" (creating a bend in the line).

The 20th Maine is probably the most famous regiment of the Civil War. Anyone who has read Jeff Shaara's The Killer Angels, or who has watched the movie Gettysburg or Ken Burn's documentary The Civil War knows of this regiment. It held the extreme left end of the Union battle line on July 2, 1862. This fame is somewhat unfair to the other regiments that defended the hill, since the failure of any one of these regiments would not have allowed the Confederates to capture Little Round Top. Rather, the fate of the hill rested on the success or failure of the entire brigade under Colonel Strong Vincent, who was mortally wounded during the battle. Colonel William Oates, the commander of the Confederate regiments assaulting the 20th Maine, stated that had the Maine regiment given way he would have been unable to hold the hill for more than ten minutes as he was unsupported. It was, therefore, the entire brigade that held Little Round Top and saved the Union left flank, not a single regiment.

Still, the 20th Maine fought valiantly and heroically, being outnumbered by the regiments of Colonel Oates. Four times Oates' regiments (primarily the 15th and 47th Alabama) assaulted the 20th Maine's positions. Finally, tired and out of ammunition, the 20th Maine's Colonel, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, ordered the regiment to fix bayonets and descend down onto the Confederates. They charged, and after a brief struggle the equally exhausted Confederates retreated or surrendered.

20th Maine Monument, looking north

Image 2: 20th Maine Monument, looking north. Another view of the 20th Maine's monument. You can tell the slope of the hill from this picture. The trees are thicker than at the time of the battle, as the hill was a source of firewood for the people of the town.

20th Maine Monument, seen from a distance

Image 3: 20th Maine Monument, seen from a distance. This shot is of the monument, and is aimed towards the east. You can see how the hill levels off on a bit of a plateau below the spur defended by the 20th Maine regiment. This picture is roughly in the direction the 4th Alabama regiment took in its attack on the 20th Maine.

20th Maine Line Marker

Image 4: 20th Maine line marker. This is the marker for the 20th Maine's right flank. The regiment defended a line from the left of this marker. To the right was the 83rd Pennsylvania regiment. You can get a good feel for the steep slope of the hill from this picture. It was up this slope that men of the 4th Alabama and 5th Texas regiments climbed in their assault on Little Round Top. The person in the picture is my friend Chris Smith.

20th Maine Wall

Image 5: Remnant of the 20th Maine's wall. This picture shows the remains of the ad hoc wall created by the men of the regiment in order to afford some measure of protection during the assaults.

These photographs were taken with a Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR, using a Nikkor 24mm - 50mm f2.8 wide angle zoom lens or with a Sigma 150mm - 300mm telephoto zoom lens. The images were captured on Kodak Royal Gold film.