** Please check out my tribute page to two of my Civil War relatives who never made it home **

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 28, 2012

Cannon in desperate need of attention -- photo taken in 2003
Of the many Union artillery pieces that helped win the battle of Gettysburg, some of the most famous belonged to Lt. Charles Hazlett’s Battery D 5th U.S. Artillery. These cannon might be considered the inanimate “Saviors of Little Round Top,” working in tandem with men like Col. Chamberlain of the 20th Maine and Col. Strong Vincent of the 83rd Pennsylvania. The story of how Hazlett’s Battery got to Little Round Top is quite interesting in and of itself.

If you’ve stood at the summit of this most important Union “high ground” and noticed the steepness in both directions, you might have wondered how the artillery got up here. Not in the usual way. It was nearly impossible to guide horses across the rugged terrain, making it imperative for soldiers to literally pull and shove the artillery pieces of Battery D to the summit. I can’t imagine how difficult this task must have been . . . especially in the July heat.

The cannon of Battery D overlooked Devil's Den
Once at the top, Hazlett’s battery went to work. The view from Little Round Top must have been as amazing in 1863 as it is now. Hazlett and his subordinates fired off round after round at Southerners coming up the hill and swarming the Plum Run valley soon to be known as the Valley of Death. His guns likely found more targets hiding within the boulders of Devil’s Den and coming across the distant Triangular Field. On the next day, July 3rd, this battery helped repel Confederate actions before and during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge.

A reproduction “Hazlett’s Battery” at Little Round Top, consisting of Parrott Rifles, shows the pieces’ original position. It is easy to see the advantage this battery would have had and to understand why capturing and destroying them would have been virtually impossible without holding the high ground --- unless the Southern artillery had reached that far. A large marker with a bronze plaque explains the chain of command and how the artillery here was engaged. The top photo, taken after a cold October sunset, shows one of the artillery pieces as it appeared in 2003.



Co. C, 16th Vermont Infantry

Born April 30, 1839 (in Qu├ębec) --- Died July 03, 1863 at age 24

Pvt. Ashley led a rather interesting life before enlisting in the Union army. Born in Canada, he came to the United States as a youngster and lived first in Pennsylvania and later in Vermont. He married Marie Dubay and became the father of a daughter and a son before losing his life on the fields of Gettysburg. Pvt. Ashley died at age 24 and is buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery’s Vermont section. A photo of him can be found here.

(c) 2012 Skies of Blue and Gray

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