THE 20TH MAINE AT LITTLE ROUND TOP.
each member and his answr taken down, and when it came to Newton, who was the first in rank, he voted in pretty much the same way as I did, and we had some playful sparring as to whether he agreed with me or I with him; the rest voted to remain.
The next question written by Butterfield was, "Should the army atack or wait the attack of the enemy?" I voted not to attack, and all the others voted substantially the same way; and on the third question, "How long shall we wait?" I voted, "Until Lee moved." The answers to this last question showed the only material variation in the opinion of the members.
When the voting was over General Meade said quietly, but decidedly, "Such then in the decision"; and certainly he said nothing which produced a doubt in my mind as to his being perfectly in accord with the members of the council.
In 1881 (eighteen years after the battle-I was shown in Philadelphia, by General Meade's son [Colonel George Meade], a paper found amongst General Meade's effects after his death. It was folded, and on the outside of one end was written, in his well-known handwriting, in ink, "Minutes of Council, July 2d, '63." On openeing it, the following was found written in pencil in a handwriting [general Daniel Butterfield's] unknown to me:
Minutes of Council, July 2d, 1863.
Page 1, Questions asked:
1. Under existing circumstances is it advisable for this army to remin in its present position, or to retire to another nearer its base of supplies?
2. It being determined to remain in present position shall the army attack or wait the attack of the enemy?
3. If we wait attack, how long?
Page 2, Replies.
Gibbon: 1. Correct position of the army, but would not retreat. 2. In no condition to attack, in his opinion. 3. Until he moved.
Williams: 1. Stay. 2. Wait attack. 3. One day.
Birney: Same as General Williams.
Sykes: " " "
Newton: 1. Correct position of the army, but would not retreat. 2. By all means not attack. 3. If we wait if will give them a chance to cut out line.
Howard: 1. Remain. 2. Wait attack until 1 P. M. to-morrow. 3. If don't attack, attack them.
Hancock: 1 Rectify position without moving so as to give up field. 2. Not attack unless our communications are cut. 3. Can't wait long; cant' be idle.
Sedgwick: 1. Remain. [2.] and wait attack. [3.] At least one day.
Slocum: Stay and fight it out.
[On the back, or first page of the sheet]:
Slocum stay and fight it out. Newton thinks it a bad position; Hancock puzzled about practicability of retirng; thinks by holding on inviting # to mass forces and attack. Howard favor of not retiring. Birney don't know. Third Corps used up and not in good condition to fight. Sedgwick doubtful whether we ought to attack. # Effective strength about 9000, 12,500, 9000, 6000, 8500, 6000, 7000. Total, 58,000.
Minutes of Council, held Thursday, P. M., July 2d, 1863. D. B., M. G., C. of S. [Daniel Butterfield, Major-General, Chief of Staff].
The memoranda at the bottom of the paper were doubless made while the dicussion was going on, and the numbers at the foot refer probably to the effective strength of each corps.##
Several times duringthe sitting of the council repors were brought to General Meade, and now and then we could hear heavy firing going on over on the right of our line. I took occasion before leaving to say to General Meade that his staff-officer had regularly summoned me as a corps commander to the council, although I had some doubts about being present. He answered, pleasantly, "That is all right. I wnated you here."
Before I left the house Meade made a remark to me which surprised me a good deal, especially when I look back upon the occurrence of the next day. By a reference to the votes in council it will be seen that the majority of the members were in favor of acting on the defensive and awaiting the action of Lee. In referring to the matter, just as the council broke up, Meade said to me, "If Lee attacks to- morrow, it will be in your front." I asked him why he thought so, and he replied, "Because he has made attacks on both our flanks and failed, and if he concludes to try it again it will be on our center." I expressed the hope that he would, and told General Meade, with confidence, that if hedid we would defeat him.
#The words in italics, noted as illegible in the "Official Records," have been deciphered on a careful examination of the original document deposited by Colonel George Meade with the Penn. Hist. Society.-EDITORS.
##A careful study of the original suggests that these notes "at the bottom" (on the back) were made before the questions were formulated. See p. 313.
THE 20TH MAINE AT LITTLE ROUND TOP.@BY H. S. MELCHER, 20TH MAINE REGIMENT.
THE Confederate force designated to take possession of Little Round Top appears to have been Robertson's brigade, consisting of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Texas and the 3d Arkansas; and Law's brigade, consisting of the 4th, 44th, 48th, 47th, and 15th Alabama, both of Hood's division. The former was to assault in front, while Law's brigade was to attack in the rear of the hill [see p. 318]; but Robertson, finding he could not cover the entire front with his brigade, detached the 44th, 48th, and 4th Alabama from Law's brigade about the time they arrived at the foot of Round top in their advance and connected them with Robertson's line, then well in front of Little Round Top. This left the 47th and 15th Alabama to carry ou the flanking movement alone, which they did, passing up the southern side of RoundTop, and halting some ten minutes on the crest for rest. This halt proved fatal to the success of their undertaking, as it enabled our brigade (Vincent's)
@Condensed from the "Lincoln County News," Waldoboro, Maine, March 13th, 1865.-EDITORS.