June 17

This Day in History

Civil War

Jun 17, 1837:

Union Colonel Strong Vincent is born

On this day in 1837, Strong Vincent is born in Waterford, Pennsylvania. After working as a lawyer, he went on to become a hero at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where he was mortally wounded defending Little Round Top.

When hostilities erupted between the North and the South in April 1861, Vincent left the law to become an officer in the Erie Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. By early 1862, he rose to commander of the 83rd Pennsylvania. Vincent served in several campaigns with the Army of the Potomac, fighting at Yorktown, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. He was promoted to colonel after Yorktown, and prior to Gettysburg, Vincent was given command of the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Fifth Corps.

On the night of July 1, 1863, Vincent and his men were hurrying toward the battlefield under a bright moon. When the soldiers passed through a small town near Gettysburg, the regiment bands began to play and residents came to their doors to cheer the Yankee troops. Vincent remarked to an aide that there could be a worse fate than to die fighting in his home state with the flag overhead.

The next day, as Vincent and his brigade were arriving behind the Union lines, General Gouverneur K. Warren frantically summoned Vincent's force to the top of Little Round Top, a rocky hill at the end of the Federal line. Warren observed that the Confederates could turn the Union left flank by taking the summit, which was occupied by only a Yankee signal corps at the time. So Vincent and his men hurried up the hill, arriving just ahead of the Rebels. The brigade held the top, but just barely. The 26-year-old Vincent was mortally wounded in the engagement and died on July 7. He was promoted posthumously to brigadier general.

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