It is currently Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:17 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:13 pm 
Offline
Corporal
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:21 pm
Posts: 60
Location: Upstate New York
This past summer I purchased a copy of Storming Little Round Top by Phillip Thomas Tucker. It was ten percent off, so I thought, "Hey, why not?"

The book deals with the eponymous clash on the far southern side of Gettysburg, specifically from the vantage point of the 15th Alabama and their commanding officer, Oates.

What truly surprised me about the book was the extent to which the 2nd regiment of the U.S.S.S. was involved. Though this book is not about Major Stoughton's command specifically it does include what I can only call one of the best descriptions of what the 2nd regiment went through on that crucial day that I have encountered outside of primary resources.

Tucker basically contends that encountering the sharpshooters at the stone wall at the base of Big Round Top was the first piece of misfortune that struck the Alabamians and drove down their chances of taking Little Round Top. Tucker seems to go out of his way to make the sharpshooters seem super-human...

Quote:
Pg. 143...
These elite soldiers now shot down Alabama Rebels as easily as hitting targets at a turkey shoot.


...including by referencing the words of rebel soldiers...

Quote:
Pg. 143...
One Confederate later admitted without exaggeration that "the Sharpshooters were the worst we had to contend with" at Gettysburg.


Quote:
Pg. 140...
One shocked Confederate soldier long remembered the horror which could be inflicted by the rapid fire of these crack marksmen: "Those Yankee Sharpshooters [and] they rarely missed a man at a mile..."


Another point that Tucker makes, on the same page, is that while the fight of the 1st U.S.S.S. in Pitzer's Woods was more publicized that...

Quote:
Clearly, Major Stoughton's marksmen deserve more recognition for helping to save the day at Gettysburg on the Confederate right flank rather than what the other sharpshooters accomplished in the north.


Do we agree/disagree on that point? I've often wondered if people driving around the road south of the battlefield wonder what went on at that little white farmhouse of Mr. Slyder...

Tucker shows that he understands what the purpose of the U.S.S.S. was, namely being skilled skirmishers, but he does go over the top a bit when makes a reference to the sharpshooters as being "special forces". I've never been comfortable when applying contemporary terms like "sniper" to those we represent. How do the rest of us feel about this?

Tucker then goes on to detail something that I've never seen any contemporary source point out, namely how on the verge of being overrun at the stone wall Major Stoughton creatively and decisively divided the 2nd into two groups, one that drew the rebels farther into the "Valley of Death" and into Devil's Den and another that would continue to fight the rebels all the way over Big Round Top and then into line with Company B of the 20th Maine.

Quote:
Pg. 156...
Battling these stubborn sharpshooters, who never seemed to miss a shot, while ascending the rough terrain of Big Round Top under a scorching fire was certainly "one of the most onerous labors of the war."


Question: The fate of those that fought with the 20th Maine is well known, but who did the group that fought at Devil's Den fall in with, or what was their experience? Does anyone know?

A fascinating bit of information I discovered...it is well known that the rebel water detail was captured by Federal troops, therefore denying comfort for the thirst of the tired and thirsty rebels of the 15th Alabama. According to Tucker, it's sharpshooters who capture the detail!

Quote:
Pg. 172...
But Colonel Oates was hoping against fate for the arrival of the missing canteen detail. Unfortunately for the 15th Alabama, the small detail was attempting in vain to link with the regiment, after following on the 15th Alabama's heels. However, the detail and their precious water supply would be captured by the adjutant of the 2nd United States Sharpshooters and a dozen green-coated sharpshooters on the south side of Big Round Top.


Unfortunately, Tucker does not cite this interesting bit of trivia. Anyone ever come across the letters of the unnamed adjutant? Anyone else come across this being referenced anywhere? It would be a great bit of trivia to point out at Little Round Top in April (well, for those who will be there, I'm leading a mission trip to Washington D.C. that week, maybe see you on the way back!).

The next mention of the efforts of the sharpshooters on that vastly important day is in conjunction with Company B of the 20th Maine. As you no doubt remember Col. Chamberlain has sent this company out to his far right to ensure that the 20th would not be enveloped, and it is with that company that some sharpshooters fall in after fighting the Alabama troops clear over the summit of Big Round Top. A curious question comes to mind when Tucker states...

Quote:
Pg. 281...
Captain Park estimated that two Union regiments were behind the stone fence only a short distance to the east, after spying two unit battle flags about 150 yards beyond the 20th Maine's left flank. These two distinct banners ascertained by Captain Park were evidently those of the 2nd United States Sharpshooters and the forty-three soldiers of Company B, 20th Maine.


These brings a few questions to my mind...

1.) It was my understanding that the battle flags of the two U.S.S.S. regiments very rarely ever left their camps and headquarters. With both regiments, including Berdan himself, out fighting on that day I could see the flags being carried into battle, but do we know for sure it happened? This was once again an un-cited example in the book.

2.) If the regimental flag was in fact there, does that mean that Major Stoughton was at LRT?

3.) Why would Company B of the 20th have its own battle flag rather than say, company guidons or flank markers?

Tucker did an excellent job or reporting on the actions of the sharpshooters in defending the Sugar Loaf Hills and interrupting the advance of Law's brigade and the 15th Alabama in particular. I can't recommend the book far beyond that, as it pretty much devolves into a smearing of the 20th Maine in general and Chamberlain in particular. He also forgets to reference a lot of details that are important to his arguments. Then again, I've never written a scholastic book so I can't say anything.

I leave this topic to you good folks by quoting Colonel Oates...

Quote:
Pg. 309...
"Had General Longstreet been where the attack [on Lee's right] began, he would have seen the necessity of protecting my flank from the assault of United States sharpshooters. Had that been done, I would, with the six hundred veterans I had, have reached Little Round Top before Vincent's brigade did and would easily have captured that place, which would have won the battle."

_________________
Mr. Jason G. Wolczanski
Co. C, 2nd U.S.S.S.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:13 pm 
Offline
Sergeant
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:35 pm
Posts: 102
Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
It's always great to some credit go to the 2nd Regiment on the 2nd Day of Battle at Gettysburg. As was stated by your quote from Tucker
Quote:
Clearly, Major Stoughton's marksmen deserve more recognition for helping to save the day at Gettysburg on the Confederate right flank rather than what the other sharpshooters accomplished in the north.


Now if I can do my best to answer your questions,

I do remember reading a Col. Oates book about how he saw the Battle Flags of the 2nd United States Sharpshooters behind him while Col. "Gloryhound" Chamberlain made his charge. As far as I remember that Company C's in US regiments were the Colour Company of the Regiment. So that meant that Company C of the 2nd Regiment or elements of it were the ones behind the 15th Alabama that help in the capture of the regiment.

As far as Major Stoughton being there I don't know about that part. The one thing that I would find interesting is if Col. Peteler had made back to the 2nd Regiment in time from Washinton City, to see what he would have done in the Battle of Gettysburg?

As for the fighting of the 2nd Regiment around Devil's Den, I saw a painting a few years back that I had to do a double take,
https://imaging.somersetdesigngroup.com/merchandiser/zoomflash/FlashZoom.html?shpimg4070.jpg,700,40
Notice the Berdan in the foreground of the painting? I don't know were the reference came from for the artist but it would be interesting.

_________________
Joseph Edwards
The Deadeye Mess
Company C 2nd United States Sharp Shooters


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:31 pm 
Offline
Corporal
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 9:21 pm
Posts: 60
Location: Upstate New York
KangViper wrote:
As far as I remember that Company C's in US regiments were the Colour Company of the Regiment. So that meant that Company C of the 2nd Regiment or elements of it were the ones behind the 15th Alabama that help in the capture of the regiment.


That's funny, I've never stopped to consider that there may be a difference between U.S. and volunteer regiments in that regard.

KangViper wrote:
The one thing that I would find interesting is if Col. Peteler had made back to the 2nd Regiment in time from Washinton City, to see what he would have done in the Battle of Gettysburg?


One of the more interesting parts of the Civil War "hobby" is pondering "what-if" and "alternate history" scenarios. It certainly makes one wonder.

KangViper wrote:
Notice the Berdan in the foreground of the painting? I don't know were the reference came from for the artist but it would be interesting.


Boy, "historical print" artists sure like to see us dead! I can think of another painting I've seen that features another sharpshooter that's gone to glory. Note how the sharpshooter in this picture died clasping a revolver...I'd like to see the artists references as well... :roll: ...

Thanks for your reply!

_________________
Mr. Jason G. Wolczanski
Co. C, 2nd U.S.S.S.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:24 am 
Offline
Private
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 1:26 pm
Posts: 32
KangViper wrote:
Notice the Berdan in the foreground of the painting? I don't know were the reference came from for the artist but it would be interesting.

Boy, "historical print" artists sure like to see us dead! I can think of another painting I've seen that features another sharpshooter that's gone to glory. Note how the sharpshooter in this picture died clasping a revolver...I'd like to see the artists references as well... :roll: ...

Thanks for your reply!


If you zoom in on the image smaller details can be seen. The details that the artist has given about the fallen USSS man indicates to me that he was an officer. Check out his shoulder boards and belt buckle. Stevens tells us that USSS officers frequently carried rifles. I would agree with you KangViper and Nearsighted, there is no baldrick on this man. What is the historic reference? No sword or rifle is seen.

_________________
D. Bolda
Co. F, 1st USSS "F-troop"
Great Plains region


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2009 9:50 pm 
Offline
Sergeant

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 252
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters.

Brad Schmehl is the artist who painted this interpretation of the events before Devil's Den. This is the commentary that accompanies the painting on the Somerset gallery website: http://www.somersetfineart.com/ps-4070- ... hmehl.aspx

Devil's Den - Gettysburg by Bradley Schmehl ~ July 2nd, 1863- 4:30 pm--
As we view the scene before us, we are standing near the bank of Plum Run Creek, which is behind us and looking north-northwest at the Devil’s Den. We see an officer urging on the men of the 17th Georgia. They are contending with infantry fire from the front (the crest of Little Round Top) and left flanks (Houck’s Ridge, where the 99th Pennsylvania has wheeled to there left rear and is raining down heavy fire on the Rebs), as well as canister fire from a two-gun section of Captain James Smith’s 4th New York Light Artillery.

The 17th Georgia, from Benning’s Brigade, Hood’s Division, were in the second wave of Confederate troops to sweep through the “Slaughter Pen,” the boulder-strewn gorge through which Plum Run Creek flows, just to the south of the Den. Along with the 2nd Georgia, they had attempted to reinforce and bolster the attack of the 44th and 48th Alabama of Law’s Brigade, which has now stalled completely.

The dead Yankees in the painting belong to the 4th Maine, which was pushed out of Devil’s Den by the 44th Alabama earlier in the fight. The surviving men of the 4th Maine now huddle several tens of yards in the rear of the Georgians. The green-coated captain in the right foreground is from the 2nd U. S. Sharpshooters, one of two regiments of crack shots raised by Colonel Hiram Berdan in 1861. They were deployed as skirmishers this day, before Hood’s division began its assault and part of the regiment has retreated through Devil’s Den.



I encountered Mr. Schmehl's original oil painting of this scene in a shop adjacent to Thom Winter's establishment in the now defunct Colt Museum circa 2000-1. I'm not sure where Mr. S got his information from, but based upon my research there was no 2nd Regt. USSS officer who was KIA that day--certainly none even wounded in the vicinity of the Slaughter Pen, where this action is portrayed. The account also suggests that both the 1st and 2nd USSS were deployed to confront Hood's division, when in actuality it was Major Homer Stoughton's command and skirmishers from Ward's brigade.

The only officer that I am aware of who was stricken and left behind enemy lines was Capt. McLean of Co. D. 1st USSS (NY) who was gravely wounded shortly before the withdrawal from Pitzer's Wood after engaging Cademus Wilcox's Florida Brigade at roughly 12:30-1:00 pm the same day. McLean died of complications shortly after the amputation of his wounded limb on July 4th. Throughout, he was attended by Pvt. Kipp, who volunteered/was volunteered to remain with the wounded officer and was paroled.

I believe the painting may be either a case of mistaken identity/location; or artistic license. If the later, I find this to be a very unfortunate detraction from an otherwise fine painting.

Bill Skillman
Randolf Mess
Hudson Squad (150)


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group