Corps, occupied the left of the Union
position, forming an advanced line extending through the Devil
's Den, along the Emmetsburg
road, across Plum Run
to the spur of Round Top
. This advanced line, Sickles
's first position, has been the subject alike of adverse criticism and approval by military authorities.
It was to turn this line and obtain possession of Little Round Top
, the key of the Federal
position, that Longstreet
made the memorable assault, early in the afternoon, upon the lines of Sickles
The Third Corps was the extreme left, its infantry in front and behind it artillery,—several Massachusetts batteries, among them Bigelow
's and Phillips
's, and several companies under Capt. McGilvry
Later, the Fifth Corps arrived and were in position, and afterward the left wing was further reinforced by the infantry of the Sixth Corps.
Before this line was a ravine, and beyond the ravine, sloping down to a stone-wall, was a wheatfield.
There was a skirmish at noon near the Emmetsburg
road, for the possession of some cattle.
This brought on the engagement of the day.
Nothing could exceed the vim, the terrible energy of the Confederate
Between two and three o'clock their legions, with that yell whose echo was infernal, poured over the wheatfield, over the stone-wall, past the ravine, striking with direful effect the divisions of the Third Corps, who fought with a valor never surpassed, realizing that a repulse at this point would result in yielding to the enemy the key of the Federal
position—the Round Tops
Here Gen. Sickles
lost his right leg while holding the heroic Third to the awful task that had devolved upon it and its associate corps.
For two hours the conflict raged in this quarter, two divisions of the Fifth Corps having meanwhile arrived, and having been engaged upon the right of the Third.
But the lines were scattered and driven back; several thousand arms had been lost.
A little after five o'clock, a Confederate charge upon the First Division of the Third Corps on the extreme left, drove back the Federal infantry and threatened the batteries to which we have alluded as being behind the divisions of the Third Corps.
Orders were sent to Capt. Bigelow
, whose battery was upon the extreme left, to hold his position at all hazards until two other batteries should be sent to support