It was 145 years ago today that one of the more heroic and decisive – if also perhaps too well-known – actions in our nation’s Civil War took place. If you’ve seen the movie Gettysburg, then you know just what I’m talking about: The daring and desperate charge by the 20th Maine volunteer infantry regiment from its position on the far left flank of the Union line.
Led by Colonel (and future Governor) Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th Maine swung down Little Round Top in the late afternoon of July 2 and captured numerous members of a Confederate raiding force that threatened a critical breakthrough in its own desperate Pennsylvania invasion. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine’s successful counter-charge played a pivotal role in setting the stage for General Robert E. Lee to dare the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge the following day.
Huzzah to Colonel Chamberlain and his 358 men, 131 of whom were killed or wounded atop Little Round Top that day. And to other lesser known regiments who paid an especially brutal price in the three-day fight at Gettsyburg, especially the 24th Michigan and 1st Minnesota.