Date of Graduation

1992

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the contribution made by General George Sears Greene and his brigade to the ultimate Union victory at Gettysburg on July 2-3, 1863. The thesis is that the possession of Culp's Hill by Union forces was essential to Union victory at Gettysburg and that Greene's brigade was primarily responsible for holding that key terrain on July 2, 1863, as well as contributing significantly to its defense on July 3. Furthermore, the nature of the fighting, which, more than any other fighting at Gettysburg, resembled modern warfare, will be detailed. To provide a better understanding of Greene's brigade, information pertaining to each regiment's organization and previous military experience before the Battle of Gettysburg will be featured as well as their history once they were reorganized as the Third Brigade of the Second Division of the Twelfth Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac under the command of General Greene. Of particular interest is Greene's brigade's experience during the Battle of Chancellorsville, the brigade's first battle as a unit. After the Battle of Chancellorsville, the movement of Greene's brigade from the banks of the Rappahannock River in Virginia, to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is detailed. Once the men of Greene's brigade arrived at Gettysburg on the evening of July 1, 1863, their participation in the battle and their contribution to the ultimate Union triumph are discussed. In researching the history of Greene and his men, this study is based mostly on primary source material. Letters, diaries, memoirs, speeches, and personal reminiscences of the participants are utilized. Furthermore, regimental histories and the battle reports contained in the Official Records of the War of the Great Rebellion were consulted. The struggle for Culp's Hill was one of the most significant episodes of the Battle of Gettysburg. If Union forces had lost control of Culp's Hill, it would have seriously compromised the position of the Army of the Potomac and may have resulted in yet another Union defeat. That the hill was held was largely due to General Greene and his men. On the evening of July 2, Greene's brigade, although greatly outnumbered, defeated the attacking Confederate forces and saved Culp's hill from capture. The turning point of the Battle of Gettysburg occurred on Culp's Hill as Confederate forces were stopped on the evening of July 2, and forced to reluctantly retreat the next morning after seven hours of sustained combat, the longest sustained combat during the entire battle. In both of these actions Greene's brigade was involved. Simply stated, no Union brigade fought longer under direct assault than Greene's brigade and no brigade contributed more to the ultimate Union victory at Gettysburg than the officers and men of Greene's brigade.

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