Tuesday, June 18, 2013

38th PA - 9th PA Reserves Monument

This monument is one of my personal favorites.  It was dedicated in 1890 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and depicts a Union soldier, hat removed and head bowed, standing over the grave of one of his fallen comrades.  The 38th PA, or 9th PA Reserves, was attached to Fisher's 3rd Brigade of Crawford's 3rd Division, Sykes 5th Army Corps.  At Gettysburg, the 9th PA Reserves took only a small part in the closing actions on the southwestern slopes of Little Round Top on July 2, but their monument speaks volumes to the common experience of soldiers on both sides during the battle and war.  The regiment lost 5 men wounded as it moved to the saddle between Little Round Top and Big Round Top that evening, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Snodgrass.  It is quite possible that many of the stone walls around the monument were built in part by the regiment on the evening of July 2/morning of July 3 as fortifications.  Before Gettysburg the regiment was in all the major actions of the Army of the Potomac, suffering immensely during the Peninsula Campaign and in Meade's assault at Fredericksburg in December of 1862.  As is shown on the monument, in total, of over 1,000 men that enlisted in the regiment, over half became casualties during the war.  The monument stands to this day as a testament to the experience of the common soldier in a war filled with so many tragic scenes.  

From the address given at the dedication of the monument by Sergeant Major A.P. Morrison, "Twenty-six years have swiftly rolled away, old comrades of the Ninth, since we stood here on this very spot in battle line, bearing our part in that momentous three-days struggle between the armies of the North and South, which history has already recognized and recorded as one of those great battles of the world, which change or fix and determine the destinies of nations, and the character of their civil institutions for all time."

"Here on this bloody field of Gettysburg, the surging tide of "Secession" was stayed and turned back and the "union" of these states was saved from impending dissolution, and for all time made sure and strong.  Here the most costly sacrifice of patriot blood was poured out a willing offering by the nation's sons, to the end that this great nation might live, and continue to live on and on to the last syllable of recorded time."

"...About 10 o'clock that night, our line being established and our pickets set a few yards in advance, we lay down, each soldier in his place and "with all his armor on" ready for any night attack the rebels might attempt, and not-withstanding an occasional shot from a picket post to remind us of impending danger, and the pitiful moaning of the wounded all around us, we slept as only exhausted soldiers can.  With the earliest dawn of day on July 3rd, our line was up and on the alert.  How vigorously you all worked, comrades, on this stone wall!  A labor of love it was, of love of life, of honor, of country for well you knew how this low breast-work, rude and rough in form might help to gain and save them all, in the storm of battle that then seemed sure to burst upon us ere the sun was high."

"...And may I not now, after the lapse of these many years, adopt the beautiful language of Edward Everett, the venerable and eloquent orator on the occasion of the dedication, a quarter of a century ago, of yonder National Cemetery to the sacred dust of the martyr heroes who gave up their lives, 'that wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of that great warfare are read, and down to the last period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates The Battle of Gettysburg." (From Nicholson - Gettysburg Battle-field Commission, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Vol. I, pp 236-242)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

93rd Pennsylvania Monuments

This Pennsylvania unit has two monuments on the battlefield less than a half mile apart.  The 93rd Pennsylvania was commanded at Gettysburg by Major John Nevin as a part of Colonel David Nevin's Third Brigade, Frank Wheaton's Third Division, John Sedgwick's Sixth Corps.  It played a brief role in the Federal counterattack on the evening of July 2 along Plum Run where it lost 10 men wounded (1 mortally).  The original monument was dedicated on October 30, 1884 along the Weikert Lane, across from the northern end of Crawford Avenue.  It sat on a large rock base (the same one the current monument is on) which is now in largely broken pieces near the newer monument along the lane, still with the visible markings. The newer monument was made possible by appropriations from the State of Pennsylvania to all the state units that fought at Gettysburg.  This newer monument was dedicated on September 11, 1889 with an address given by Chaplain J.S. Lame; "The memory of the hero is the treasure of his country."  As is the case for many other PA units on the field, with the ability to place a grander monument, the less ornate originals were moved. The original, older monument in this case was moved back along Sedgwick Avenue near the top of Munshower Hill.

The 1889 Monument...you can see the inscription on the rock at the bottom which held
the first monument and is visible in the picture above.
Original Monument to the 93rd PA on Munshower Hill, dedicated in 1884 along Weikert Lane

Monday, December 24, 2012

1st Maryland Battalion CSA (2nd MD)

1st Maryland Battalion - CSA
     The 1st Maryland Monument is located along Slocum Avenue on the lower summit of Culps Hill.  It was with great resistance by Union Veterans that this monument was finally erected and dedicated on November 19, 1886 at the cost of about $1,000.  It is the only Confederate regimental monument erected by a Confederate veterans association.  Another point of controversy was a smaller marker honoring the most advanced position of the regiment which was inside Federal breastworks.  Finally after much fuss, the veterans were allowed to place their marker about 50 yards from where their larger monument stands, inside the breastworks.  These triumphs for the old Confederate veterans were not without concessions though.  Because there were two Federal regiments on the hill both with the 1st MD in their name (1st MD Eastern Shore and 1st MD Potomac Home Brigade of Lockwood's Brigade), the Confederate 1st MD Battalion was required to change their name to the 2nd MD CSA on their monument, which they did.  On the monument, above this new name, in lighter carving, is the original name as well.
Smaller advanced Marker
     The regiment belonged to Steuart's Brigade, Johnson's Division of Ewell's Second Corps.  It was involved in the fighting on Culps Hill on both July 2nd and 3rd with the latter being the most violent on their numbers.  They suffered severe casualties on July 3rd and for the battle lost 56 killed, 118 wounded and 15 missing for a total of 189 casualties of the 400 taken into battle.  Their Colonel (Herbert) was mortally wounded on the 3rd and command fell to Major William Goldsborough who left a vivid account of the action that day.

"Slowly I moved down the column, with feelings I had never before experienced on the battle-field, for I felt I had but a minute more to live; and as I gazed into the faces of both officers and men, I could see the same feeling expressed, for all were alike aware of their danger. But no coward's glance met mine. There was no craven in those ranks. They had sneaked to the rear the day before. But the compressed lip, the stern brow, the glittering eye, told that those before me would fight to the last. Reaching my post, I looked up the line, and there stood the brave Steuart, calmly waiting for the troops to get in position.

'Fix bayonets,' was the command, quietly given; and the last act in this bloody drama was about to be enacted. It was a dreadful moment, but one brief second of life yet left! The sword of the General is raised on high! 'Forward, double-quick!' rings out in the clarion tones, and the race to meet death commenced. The fated brigade emerged from the woods into the open plain, and here-oh God! What a fire greeted us, and the death-shriek rends the air on every side! But on the gallant survivors pressed, closing up the dreadful gaps as fast as they were made. At this moment I felt a violent shock, and found myself instantly stretched upon the ground. I had experienced this the feeling before, and knew what it meant, but to save me I could not tell where I was struck. In the excitement I felt not the pain, and resting upon my elbow, anxiously watched that struggling column. Column, did I say? A column no longer, but the torn and shattered fragments of one. But flesh and blood could not live in such a fire; and a handful of survivors of what had been a little more than twelve hours before the pride and boast of the army, sought to reach the cover of the woods.

But that merciless storm of bullets pursued them, and many more were stricken down. Among those who escaped, with a slight wound, was Adjutant Winder Laird, who, as he passed where I lay, caught me up and carried me to the shelter of the woods.

Faint and sick from the loss of blood, I fell into a stupor, from which I was aroused by the voice of Lieutenant Thomas Tolson.
'Can I do anything for you sir?' he kindly inquired.
'Tell Captain Murray to take command of what remains of the battalion,' I directed.
'Alas, sir, Captain Murray has fought his last fight, he fell dead, close to my side, late in the charge,' he answered.
Colonel Herbert's prophecy was fulfilled.”
          - Major William Goldsborough, 1st MD Bat.

Major William Goldsborough, 1st MD Bat