Sunday, July 01, 2012

July 2012 Monthly Travel Photo: Little Round Top from the Valley of Death

An unique look at how geography impacted my family tree and why a good genealogist would study geography.

A see of blue uniforms, including my ancestor, swarmed down Little Round Top into the Valley of Death.  They were easy pickings.  Photo by Catholicgauze, directed and inspired by Catholicgauzette
On this Gettysburg hillside in the evening of July 2, 1862, one of my ancestors, marked his 366th day in the Union army by leading his men down from Little Round Top into the "Valley of Death".  Their mission was to clean out areas known as the Wheatfield and Devil's Den which were taken by Confederates earlier that day.  The hope was they could push the Confederates away from the critcal hills known as Big and Little Round Top.  These hills served as the southern flank of the Union line and protected the army's connection to Washington.

The view from Little Round Top down into the Valley of Death from the 17th United States Infantry's position.  This is what my ancestor saw (along with smoke and an army of Confederate soldiers).  Photo by Catholicgauze
Within 15 minutes, 150 of the 260 men of the 17th United States Infantry were dead or wounded.  According to a family historian, my ancestor, Edward, was shot in the lung and was taken to a farm house half of a mile away which served as a hospital.  The hospital was already full of wounded from fighter earlier on the second day.  He fought for his life through July 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th.  He died on the eighth, five days after the end of the battle.

View Edward at Gettysburgh in a larger map

View Edward at Gettysburgh in a larger map

At the end of the second day of the battle Confederate General Robert E Lee decided to focus all his attention on breaking the center of the Union line, away from the Round Tops.  The fighting which killed Edward proved to be a sideshow, perhaps even unnecessary.

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