(This story is as historically accurate as I could make it. I used many documents and websites. However, don’t use this as study material for History class or something.)
July 2, 1863. The defense of Little Round Top and the charge of the 20th Maine that would save the left flank of the Union army.
“This is the left of the Union line. You are to hold this ground at all costs!”
You are to hold this ground at all costs.
The noise. Imagine popping popcorn, yes. Now make those pops cracks, and multiply the sound so loud it made your ears ring and your knees shake. That is the sound of musketry. The sound that every single soldier in the thin line that was the 20th Maine experienced as they held the very end of the Union fish-hook. They were stretched out as far as they could go behind a rocky stone wall that provided very little protection from the absolute destruction they were undergoing.
The air was blanketed with white smoke, so thick that some soldiers gave up aiming and just fired down the slope. Bullets whizzed past, thick as hail, a deadly reminder there was an enemy combatant through that semi-transparent wall. Men were struck with bullets left to right falling instantly (Some not so lucky and left screaming as they suffered), their comrades shaking as they struggled to get the ramrod into the barrel of their gun; shell shocked to the brink of insanity. Gunpowder stained clothes, faces, and hands black as charcoal. Bullets ricochet off of rocks and trees. Yet one man remained calm and collected. His name was Joshua Chamberlain.
His men were running out of ammunition, and he could tell. Sweat-from both stress and the heat of the gunfire-caked and ran down his face. They would have to do something… And the only thing he had in mind was dangerous. He called up Captain Ellis Spear, the acting battalion commander of the unit’s left flank. Chamberlain was in pain-his right foot pierced by a shell fragment or a stone chip. It was either from artillery or a bullet resounding off of something too close for comfort.
“Give the order to fix bayonets,” He stated firmly. His voice was solemn and he sounded close to tears of exhaustion.
“W-wha-charge?” Spear spluttered, looking at him as if he had two heads.
“Were going to fix bayonets and charge, right wheel, coming down the hill,” He croaked, making small motions with his hand as to further describe the order. He continued to explain his plan, the soldiers close enough to hear turning and listening with as much awe as Spear contained. He reached the end and paused, then turned and looked at Spear.
“Go,” He thundered.
Spear turn and ran down the line, ready to relay the orders.
Meanwhile, Chamberlain limped along the line, giving orders to align the left flank with the right.
Finally stopping, Joshua looked into the fog and took a deep breath, then shouted, “BAYONETS!”
All along the line there was metallic sliding and clinging as bayonets were pulled, being twisted onto the end of every soldiers’ musket. Some sat there in disbelief, already knowing the order that was to come after; charging meant certain death (Most likely), or certain victory. It was a 30/100 chance of pushing back the enemy, and they all knew it. Each soldier tensed up and awaited further orders. Chamberlain drew his sword.
“Right wheel,” He screamed, swinging his sword around gallantly and nodding-
He never got out the words ‘CHARGE!’ as the men already knew what was to come next and were eagerly-too eagerly-waiting. The colors started forwards, then came an avalanche of hollering blue demons.
Chamberlain ran with his men, more and more falling the closer they got to the Confederate line down the hill. When they got close enough the occasional soldier would stop; loose a shot at the enemy, then continue on hopping over felled trees and rocks and such. Sargent Tozier, fighting with the 20th Maine, encouraged the men to tighten up their ranks and keep the middle from sagging as they charged. He was the main reason they were able to drive back the Confederates during the charge.
Now imagine being a part of one of the two Alabama regiments at the bottom of the hill. Gunfire from the enemy ceases, then after a short pause, you can hear yelling and whooping and hollering-getting closer and closer. Then out of the fog comes a line of men, dressed in blue, muskets armed with sharp bayonets pointed right for your heart. That was what caused the Confederates to retreat, the true fear struck into the hearts of the men.
Let this be a lesson to you:
Fire and willpower in the heart of anybody can lead to great things.