Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/189

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Gettysburg The Battle on the Right.179

getting back to the regiment. These men reported to me that Round Top was even at that late hour only occupied by a skirmish line.

By a survey of the field, made since the war by United States engineers, it has been demonstrated that Round Top is 116 feet higher than Little Round Top—the latter being 548 feet and the former 664 feet high—and only about 1,000 yards distant from the latter, which is almost in a direct line from the summit of Round Top with Cemetery Ridge, which was occupied by the Federal line of battle; so that it is manifest that if General Longstreet had crowned Round Top with his artillery any time that afternoon, even though it had only been supported by the two Alabama regiments, who had possession of it until sunset, he would have won the battle. General Longstreet, in his article of the 3d of November last, claims that Little Round Top was the key to the Federal position. In this he is evidently in error.

In the same article he also says:

"McLaws' line was consequently spread out to the left to protect its flank, and Hood's line was extended to the right to protect its flank from the sweeping fire of the large bodies of troops that were posted on Round Top. The importance of Round Top as a point d'appui was not appreciated until after my attack. General Meade seems to have alluded to it as a point to be occupied 'if practicable,' but in such slighting manner as to show that he did not deem it of great importance. So it was occupied by an inadequate force. As our battle progressed, pushing the Federals back from point to point, subordinate officers and soldiers, seeking shelter, as birds fly to cover in a tempest, found behind the large boulders of its rock-bound sides not only protection, but rallying points. These reinforcements to the troops already there checked our advance on the right, and some superior officer arriving just then divined from effect the cause, and threw a force into Round Top that transformed it as if by magic into a Gibralter."

This statement is manifestly erroneous, as I have already shown, for although Longstreet was a lieutenant-general commanding a corps, and I but a colonel commanding one regiment, my testimony is to be prefered to his, for the plain reason that I was there, on Round Top, while he was not.

Major-General G. K. Warren, in his testimony before the Committee of Congress on the Conduct of the War, volume I, page 377, says:

"I sent word to General Meade that we would at once have to occupy that place (Round Top) very strongly. He sent, as quickly as possible, a division of General Sykes' corps; but before they