July 2, 1863 - Second Day
"General Longstreet was delayed by a force occupying the high, rocky hill on the enemy's extreme left...."
General Robert E. Lee, C.S.A.
Commander, Army of Northern Virginia
After an early morning reconnaissance, General Lee made plans for the battle's second day. He would attack the Union line at both ends - a diversionary attack on the northern
end at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, and a major attack here at the southern
end that would "roll up" the Federal left.
Corps commander on this end of the field was Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, Lee's "old war horse." However it took Longstreet several hours to maneuver his 15,000 troops into position, using routes that would conceal them from Union lookouts on Little Round Top. The Confederate infantry assault did not begin until 4:00 p.m.
In the meantime, the Union Third Corps under Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles had moved - without orders - to the high ground along the Emmitsburg Road, west of Little Round Top. Maj. Gen. John B. Hood's Confederate Division, which compromised Longstreet's right, swept out of the woods behind you and over the fields in front of you against Sickles' artillery and infantry. If successful, they could seize the strategic, yet undefended Round Tops.
(References to key points in the photo of the landscape):
(1) Little Round Top
The Federals occupied this rocky hill moments before Longstreet's Confederates struck. With its natural defenses and commanding view, it became a strong anchor for the Union line. Little Round Top is one mile from here.
(2) Big Round Top
The Federals left this wooded hill undefended until the evening of the second day.