John Bell Hood

General John Hood / General Hood

Confederate General John Bell Hood led a division under General James Longstreet and was one of his most trusted commanders. Hood arrived on the battlefield on the morning of July 2, 1863 after marching more than 20 miles in the July heat the day before and was put into action on the main Confederate assault later that day.

Hood took up a position on the extreme right flank of the Confederate army and would feature prominently in General Robert E. Lee’s plan of attack on Gettysburg day 2. Early that morning, Lee met with his commanders and after reviewing the Gettysburg battle plans, Hood had objections. He had scouted the Union position on their extreme left and wanted to move around their flank and attack from the rear.

John Bell Hood, General John Hood, General HoodGeneral Hood would have to lead his men through Devil's Den over rough ground strewn with huge boulders, and do so in full view of the enemy. Although Longstreet was in agreement with Hood, he reminded him that they were Lee’s orders, and that he would carry them out as was planned.

Hood reluctantly agreed and when the assault commenced at 4pm, his men were engaged in heavy fighting almost immediately. There were Union sharpshooters hiding behind boulders and trees and they could see the Confederate troops advancing from quite a distance away. Although Hood’s troops were taking casualties, they did make progress in pushing the Union forces back.

An artillery strike near Hood wounded his left arm severely to the point where he had to be removed from the battlefield. This was a great blow to his troops who were accustomed to Hood leading from the front. Brigadier General Evander Law would assume command in Hood’s absence and organize the attacks on the union left. General John Hood would survive to fight again months later but never did regain the use of his arm which rested in a sling for the remainder of his life.

Between the Confederate troops and victory stood Little Round Top. It was left undefended when Union General Daniel Sickles moved his corps forward to occupy higher ground. This move that was initiated without permission from Union commanding General George Meade put the Union left flank at great risk and forced them to adjust troops positions to reinforce.

Union General Gouvenour K. Warren noticed that the critical point on Little Round Top was undefended, and he sent for help. One of his aides came across Colonel Strong Vincent and his men composed of various regiments including the famed 20th Maine took up defensive positions on the hill.

Just then, Hoods division made up of the 4th & 5th Texans began their assault on Little Round Top. The fighting was fierce and casualties were heavy on both sides. Time-after-time the Confederates stormed up the steep slope and each time they were pushed back. Finally, the Confederate attacks stopped completely as the troops were either too exhausted to fight, or were captured on a counter-charge by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine.

Although General John Bell Hood and his men failed in their attack on the Union left, many circumstances came into play to help decide the outcome. Fighting against incredible odds and and terrible ground, the Confederates showed their mettle, but ultimately failed in their objective on Gettysburg day 2.

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