Question of the Week: 6/29-7/5/20

Let’s talk about high ground at Gettysburg…

Which hill, ridge, or knoll do you think was the most important? Why?

11 Responses to Question of the Week: 6/29-7/5/20

  1. The entire diabase rock ridge that the Union occupied….Cemetery Hill Cemetery Ridge and Culp’s Hill, aka the ‘fish-hook”, all high ground, the position the Rebels could not force the Union out of, was the important terrain feature of the battlefield.

    Of that ground, occupying Culp’s Hill, with its proximity to the Baltimore Pike, which was the way the Union would leave Gettysburg if forced out, was the key hill. On the flank of Cemetery Hill, if the Rebels had taken it, the Union would have been forced to retreat.

    1. I agree. Howard and other Union officers certainly recognized the vital importance of Cemetery Hill. I believe that an aide to Howard called it “the only position” or words to that effect.

      1. Hancock The Superb, recognized the importance of Culp’s Hill and how it made Cemetery Hill, vulnerable.

  2. Interesting question, and a tough one. If the Confederates had taken Cemetery Hill on that first day, would the Union forces have still stayed there around Gettysburg and undertook a large engagement? Meade had wanted to do battle south of Gettysburg, in Maryland. Lee wanted Cemetery Hill but he also wanted to AVOID a ‘general engagement’. But most if not all of the prominent high ground played vital roles in the 3 days of battle there. Gettysburg’s high ground landmarks are as famous as many of the generals who fought there. Interesting that the Confederates actually occupied Cemetery Hill on June 26 for a brief while. If only they knew!

    But as for the question itself, everything pertaining to Cemetery Hill set in motion everything else that was to follow. So I’ll go with that.

  3. A very tough question. I’m going to give three. The loss of any one of the three would make it tough to keep the other two. Culp’s Hill, Cemetery Hill, and Little Round Top.

  4. Whatever “high Ground” Capt Samuel Johnston thought he was on when he reported to Lee on the first night that he had trotted to the top of Round Top and had a commanding view, and there were no Federal Troops south of Cemetery Hill. On top of that the Signal Corp on Round Top notified Meade of the presence of Longstreet’s Corp, so the element of surprise was lost too.The next day Longstreet had to countermarch because there was nothing but Federal troops along a long line that stretched down the Emmitsburg Rd. to Sherfy’s peach orchard. This significantly delayed the planned time of attack, and allowed the Union army to fortify Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!

%d bloggers like this: