Stone Sentinels, battlefield monuments of the American Civil War
USA Flag

72nd Pennsylvania
Volunteer Infantry Regiment

"Third California Regiment"
"Baxter's Fire Zouaves"
"Philadelphia Fire Zouaves"

 

Second Corps HQ Flag Second Division, Second Corps Flag

 

Two monuments to the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteers are south of Gettysburg at The Angle.

 

The main monument is at the stone wall of The Angle. (39.813359° N, 77.236317° W; map) A secondary monument is 70 yards to the east. (39.813032° N, 77.2357° W; map)

 

The regiment was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Dewit Clinton Baxter. He was wounded on July 2, and Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Hesser then took over.

 

The placement of the 72nd's monument was at the center of a controversy that eventually reached all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It grew from the fact that the starting position of the 72nd during Pickett's Charge was not at the stone wall at the Angle, but in a support position a short distance back at the crest of the ridge, at the location marked by its secondary monument.

 

After Pickett's men broke the Union line and advanced past the wall General Webb, the new commander of the brigade, tried to advance the 72nd. He was unable to do so, struggling unsuccessfully with the color-bearer and finally giving up and going over to the nearby 69th Pennsylvania.

 

The 72nd would not advance but it also would not retreat, and suffered heavily in its exposed position at the crest of the ridge in a close range firefight. Finally, as Union reinforcements closed in from all sides, the 72nd pushed forward to the wall, overwhelming Pickett's survivors.

 

The rules of the battlefield commission stated that units must place their monuments on their main line of battle, which was interpreted as the rearward position. But the 72nd's veterans insisted that their monument be at the wall where their fighting ended. They even purchased a small plot of land on the far side of the wall, which was not yet park land, to place the monument in case the ruling went against them. But after three years of deliberations the court ruled in favor of the veterans, and the monument was dedicated at The Angle on July 4, 1891.

 

Medal of Honor

Sergeant Thomas Horan of Company E was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing the regimental flag of the 8th Florlda Infantry on July 2nd

 

See Lt. Colonel Hesser's Official Report for the 72nd Pennsylvania at the Battle of Gettysburg

 

 

From the front of the main monument:

 

72nd Pennsylvania Infantry
Philadelphia Fire Zouaves
Mustered in Aug. 10, 1861
Mustered out Aug. 24, 1864
Total enrollment —— 1600
Killed and mortally wounded 195
wounded ---- 558
Died of disease & in rebel prisons 70
Captured or missing ---- 165
Total loss ---- 988

2nd Corps

 

From the left side:

 

July 2, 1863.
The Regiment reached this Angle at 1 a.m.,
took position in rear of this monument
supported Cushing's Battery
A, 4th U.S. Artillery
.
At 6 p.m. assisted in repulsing
an attack of the enemy and in
making a counter-charge, driving
them beyond the Emmitsburg road,
capturing 250 prisoners.

2nd Division

 

From the right side:

 

July 3, 1863.
The Regiment assisted in repulsing the
the charge of the enemy on the angle at
3 p.m. and in capturing many standards
and prisoners

During the cannonading which preceded the charge
the regiment was in line 60 yards to the left and rear
of this monument when the rebels forced the troops
from the first line the 72nd fought its way to the front
and occupied the wall

Present at Gettysburg 458, killed & mortally wounded 62
Wounded 133 ---- Missing 2

Total of killed, wounded and missing 197.

72nd Penna. Infantry

 

From the rear:

 

Yorktown.
Fair Oaks.
Peach Orchard.
Savage Station.
Glendale.
Malvern Hill.
Chantilly.
Antietam.
Fredericksburg.
Chancellorsville.
Gettysburg.
Mine Run.
Wilderness.
Spottylvania.
North Anna.
Tolopotomy.
Cold Harbor.
Petersburg.

2nd Brigade

 

From the secondary monument:

 

Erected by 72nd Regt. P.V.

The ground of the last assault
the Philadelphia Brigade
Gen. Alexander Webb
held this angle July 2d and 3d 1863
casualties in the battle 495
----
The 72d Penn. Vol's
"Philadelphia Fire Zouaves"
Colonel D.W.C. Baxter
lost 10 officers and 182 men
out of 473 present for duty
the regiment erects this tribute
to the memory of fallen comrades
Philadelphia Brigade.

 

Arrow
72nd Pennsylvania monument
(above) Main monument to the 72nd Pennsylvania at Gettysburg
(below) The secondary monument for the regiment is 70 yards to the east of the main monument. 72nd Pennsyvania marker

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