Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Second Day

How many times did the Confederates charge?

To the best of our knowledge, Oates’ Alabamians charged five times. Each attempt was more difficult and desperate than the preceding, partly because there were so many dead and wounded men in the way. Chamberlain’s Maine soldiers, too, gained some confidence each time they repelled an assault. Even so, it would only have taken one success, one charge that carried the Confederates to the top, for the Union army to have been in severe straits.

Having repulsed five Confederate attempts, Chamberlain found that his men were out of ammunition. One more Confederate charge, and he would be overrun. Therefore, he drew up his men in an oblique column, and, pulling his sword, led them in a bayonet charge down the hill. The Confederates had been on the offensive all day long, and the sudden turnaround threw them into confusion. Exhaustion helped as well in repelling the last Confederate attempt.


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