"On the whole this was an admirable position to fight a defensive battle...."
1st Lt. Frank A. Haskell, U.S.A.
Aide to Brig. Gen. John Gibbon
You are standing on Little Round Top looking north and west over the center of the battlefield. Much of the fighting on the second and third days of battle was visible from here.
The Union line of defense began here at the Round Tops and ran north along Cemetery Ridge to the edge of town, then curved east over Culp's Hill (not visible), forming a "fishhook." Since it was an interior line, it was at least a mile shorter than the Confederate line, and required fewer soldiers to maintain. The higher elevations of the Union line gave the Federals better fields of view, greater ranges for cannon, and required the Confederates to attack uphill which slowed them down.
The Confederate line of battle extended along Seminary Ridge (to your left) and then curved east through town, paralleling the Union line.
(Key Points Referenced):
(1) South Mountain
(2) Emmitsburg Road
(3) Seminary Ridge
This long, low ridge was part of the Confederate army front on July 2 and 3. General Lee used the wooded ridge both days to screen the movement of his troops.
(4) Copse of Trees
This small clump of trees marks the Confederates deepest penetration into the Union lines during "Pickett's Charge" on July 3. It also marks the approximate center of the Union line.
(5) Pennsylvania Memorial
This impressive landmark on Cemetery Ridge stands 110 feet and can be seen from many parts of the battlefield. Dedicated in 1910, it bears the names of each of the 34,530 Pennsylvanians who participated in the battle.
(6) Cemetery Hill
Site of historic Evergreen Cemetery over looking the town of Gettysburg. Union troops rallied here late on the afternoon of July 1, then held the commanding ground during the remainder of the battle as part of the "fishhook" line.
Four months after the battle, President Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery on this hill.