The monument to Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade is southwest of Gettysburg on West Confederate Avenue. (Tour map: West Confederate Avenue – Pt. 4) A marker is also on Emmitsburg Road. (Tour map: Peach Orchard)
The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Brigadier General William Barksdale, a United States Congressman known as one of the most radical of the secessionist “fire-eaters.”
Barksdale’s Brigade was part of Longstreet’s attack on July 2nd. Leaving the woods near the location of the monument, it surged into the Peach Orchard with Barksale leading them on horseback, hat off and white hair flying.
The charge smashed through Union lines for a mile until it met a counterattack by a Union Second Corps brigade under Colonel George Willard – troops that Barksdale’s Brigade had helped to capture at Harper’s Ferry in 1862.
The Union counterattack stopped Barksdale’s advance. He was wounded three times, the last a mortal wound to the chest, and his men were forced to leave him on the field as they pulled back. Barksdale was taken to a field hospital at the Hummelbaugh farmhouse where he died on July 3rd.
From the monument:
July 2. Arrived about 3 P. M. and formed line here. Advanced at 5 P. M. and took part in the assault on the Peach Orchard and adjacent positions vigorously pursuing the Union forces as they retired. The 21st Regiment pushed on past the Trostle House and captured but were unable to bring off 9th Mass. Battery and I Battery 5th U. States. The other Regiments inclining more to the left pressed forward to Plum Run where they encountered fresh troops and a fierce conflict ensued in which Brig. Gen. Wm. Barksdale fell mortally wounded.
July 3. Supported artIllery on Peach Orchard Ridge. Withdrew from the front late in the afternoon.
July 4. In position near here all day. About midnight began the march to Hagerstown.
Present 1598 Killed 105 Wounded 550 Missing 92 Total 747
From the marker:
July 2. Arrived about 3 P. M. and formed in line. Advanced at 5 o’clock and took part in the assault on the Peach Orchard and adjacent position pursuing the Union forces as they retired. The 21st Regiment pushed beyond the Trostle House and captured but were unable to bring off Bigelow’s and Watson’s Batteries. The other Regiments inclining to the left pressed forward to Plum Run where they encountered Union troops and a fierce conflict ensued in which Brig. Gen. Wm. Barksdale fell mortally wounded.
See more on the history of the infantry regiments in Barksdale’s Brigade: