One of the things that I always notice when visiting Gettysburg National Park is- you can pretty much guarantee crowds at two spots- the Visitor Center and Little Round Top. Especially since Ken Burns Civil War and the Gettysburg movie both in the early 90’s- a lot of people just love Joshua Chamberlain. The thing I always find odd is- every time I have been to Little Round Top- maybe 5% of the people who make the stop there- actually go down to where Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were holding up the extreme left of the Union defense. Do the tourists just think- “Little Round Top- this is all Chamberlain territory?” Last year on one of the ranger led tours the ranger mentioned that most people coming to Gettysburg are not that well acquainted with the battle. That has to be the answer as to why they don’t venture a few hundred yards across the road and visit the land of the 20th Maine. If you take a ranger led tour of Little Round Top of course they take you down there.
Not to knock Chamberlain at all- but Chamberlain didn’t as Burns stated “save the Union that summer afternoon.” If the 15th Alabama had been successful in defeating the 20th Maine- they were going to roll up the entire Union army? Keep in mind also that Chamberlain would live another 50 years after the battle and changed his story at times over the years. Equally heroic at the other end of the line at Culp’s Hill was Col. David Ireland of the 137th New York. Ireland’s story isn’t told like Chamberlain’s -in part because he didn’t live a long life to tell the story and write books- he died in September 1864.
I bought the Chamberlain t-shirt at the Gettysburg Museum of History in downtown Gettysburg a couple years ago.