Culp's Hill - Part 2

From Behind Greene's Line

    From the top of Culp's Hill, or the upper hill, which is off the picture to the left, the Union line ran south along the a descending slope.  The line was on the opposite side of - and roughly parallel to - this modern park service road.  The steep hillside to the front of Greene's 1,350 man brigade would hinder Confederate attacks, and of course log breastworks awaited any Southerner who reached the top.  Here, where the picture was taken, the slope has leveled out a bit, and on the right, you can see the road briefly disappear then reappear as it bends left.  This is the area of the saddle between the upper and lower portions of Culp's Hill.  Pardee Field, the scene of potentially decisive combat, is visible through the trees. 

    With Longstreet's attack threatening the Union center with collapse, all of XII Corps except Greene's brigade was removed from Culp's Hill and sent toward Cemetery Ridge.  Although Meade is often praised for this use of interior lines, it nearly cost him Culp's Hill and the battle.  The upper hill was, of course, still manned by Greene's brigade, and despite its being in only a single thin line, this secure position resisted several Confederate attacks, but even after Greene stretched his line further downhill, the trenches on the lower hill, starting at about the top of this hill (i.e. in front of about halfway across Pardee Field), were completely undefended.

Pardee Field

    On the right, you can see the park service road as it curves down to the lower portion of Culp's Hill.  The Union troops which were sent toward Cemetery Ridge had been on the opposite side of the road facing downhill, to the right.  The prominent stone wall roughly paralleled the front line and is thought to have been the location of the support line.  Now, with Greene's line stretched further downhill, the 137th NY now manned the line near the road on the extreme right of the picture, and maybe beyond.  There was no support line.

    Edward Johnson's attacking Confederate division was unsuccessful on the steep slopes of the upper hill.  However the left flank brigade, that of "Maryland" Steuart, brigade, overlapped the right flank of the 137th NY here on the lower hill and forced it back over Pardee Field.  The regiment's new line was roughly parallel to, and beyond, the road visible in the center of the picture.  It was perpindicular to the rest of the Union line, which it met at a traverse near the curve in the road on the right of the picture.  Reinforcements were sent from the upper hill, and units sent toward Cemetery Ridge were now returning.  This crisis of the Culp's Hill battle was passed.  Through all of this action, it was getting dark, leading to much confusion.

    Part of Steuart's brigade settled into the captured Union entrenchments near the modern park service road for a stressful night uncomfortably close to the enemy.  The next morning, Johnson again mounts a failed attack on the fortified position on the upper hill.  Near the southeastern corner of the hill, the refused left flank of the Confederate line would be attacked.

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