The view from the 20th Maine's position as the 15th Alabama began its assault
The wall where the 20th Maine and the 15th Alabama struggled
At the beginning of the second day of battle, the rocky, bare little hill now known as Little Round Top was occupied by only a few Federal signalmen. Riding the lines, the chief engineer of the Army of the Potomac General Gouverneur K. Warren noted the hill was an ideal position for artillery to enfilade the entire federal line. He ignored the larger hill just to the south as it was too densely wooded for any meaningful strategic advantage.
With Confederate activity in the area, Warren on his own and without orders extended the Federal line to include the Little Round Top. On the far left of the extension rested the brigade of Col. Strong Vincent. At the end of the brigade line among the trees of the southeast slope spread the 20th Maine. The absolute end of the Federal line, Col. Joshua Chamberlain, a professor from Bowdoin College with only text book knowledge of tactics, and his men were ordered to hold at all cost.
Following a circuitous route over the Big Round Top, the men of Evander Law's 15th Alabama charged up the Little Round Top to face the Maine men. The fate of the battle and arguably the entire war rested in the bloody struggle between a few hundred farm boys from Alabama and a few hundred lumberjacks and fishermen from Maine.
After withstanding three assaults, Col. Chamberlain ordered a charge and the 20th Maine swept the Alabamians from the hill. The left of the Federal line held.