Which hill was most crucial to the Federal victory at Gettysburg and why (i.e. Culp’s Hill, Cemetery Hill, etc…)?
Culp’s Hill. Early on and later it would have turned the flank and made it impossible for Union forces to remain.
I second Joe here. Everything else is academic if Greene’s boys (with help) don’t hold Culp’s Hill.
Most important to the outcome of the battle: Cemetery Hill, which 1) Provided the Federals the hill-mass salient that Lee felt forced to spread his Army around on exterior lines, to the point where the assaults of 2-3 July could not be coordinated by his lieutenants; 2) Provided the Federals a terrific platform for southwest-facing artillery to crush the left wing of Longstreet’s assault of 3 July; 3) Permitted the Federals to rapidly shift their reserves unobserved, reducing the risk of thinning out those troops holding unthreatened portions of their line.
I think either flank attack, (Little Round Top or Culp’s Hill) as the Union Army command was very.
much at that time in the ‘ Invincible Bobbie Lee’ mind set. Weather the confederates could have effectively followed up or not, I suspect the command structure would have retreated. The ‘boys’ if left to their own devices likely would have fought it out.
LIttle Round Top, but not so much for flanking the Union line. If Oates’ 15th Alabama had captured Little Round Top from Chamberlain’s 20th Maine, it would have provided cover for Lee’s army to swing around what would have remained of the Army of the Potomac’s left flank and positioned itself it a strong defensive posture between the AOP and Washington, DC, also cutting the Baltimore Pike, the main supply route for the AOP. The politicians in Washington would have become nervous and ordered Meade to attack the Confederates in a replay of Fredericksburg which could have come to be known as Sedgewick’s charge rather than Pickett’s charge as the VI Corps was the last to come onto the field as Pickett’s Division was the last Confederate unit to arrive to be used in a final assault.
Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill. The fight for the right flank was so important (and is often overshadowed by the guy from Maine on the left flank). The conflict on Culp’s Hill was tremendous. And I find myself holding my breath in history books when the Louisiana Tigers are ready to turn the guns on Cemetery Hill…the II Corps brigade dashes in to save the Union (July 2). Marvelous, indomitable heroism!
Both are crucial. If the Union lost one, the other would be untenable, and be lost too.
Little Round Top was more important than Culp’s Hill. Any artillery on Little Round Top would immediately command the southern end of the Union line as well as command any troops on Cemetery ridge. Culp’s Hill was strategic but heavily wooded and could not provide artillery an immediate command of the battle field. Therefore, Little Round Top is the most strategically important hill at the battle of Gettysburg.
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