There are two monuments to Davis’ Brigade at Gettysburg. One is on North Reynolds Avenue west of town (Tour map: Reynolds Avenue North) and the other on West Confederate Avenue southwest of Gettysburg. (Tour map: West Confederate Avenue – Pt. 2)
The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Brigadier General Joseph R. Davis, a Mississippi state senator and lawyer who was also nephew to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The family connection caused some problems with charges of nepotism, but they were apparently overlooked, since Davis’ background as prewar commander of a militia company hardly qualified him for brigade command in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Davis’ was one of two Confedarete brigades that began the Battle of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1. Its first fight turned ugly, with half the brigade trapped in the Railroad Cut north of Chambersburg Pike and taking heavy casualties, including many prisoners and a regimental flag.
After being allowed to rest on July 2nd, Davis’ Brigade was part of Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd, again taking heavy casualties.
After the battle Davis became too ill to remain in the field. Combined with the brigade’s reduced size, this led Lee to consider breaking up the brigade. But, almost certainly due to the family connection, he left the brigade intact. Davis returned to command it until the end of the war.
From the North Reynolds Avenue marker:
July 1. Formed west of Herr’s Tavern crossed Willoughby Run about 10 A. M. Advanced in line and soon encountered artillery supported by 2nd Brigade 1st Division First Corps. The engagement was stubborn. The advance was made to the railroad cut after a short interval the attack was renewed at the cut and the Brigade was forced back losing many killed and wounded. A large force advancing on the right and rear opening a heavy flank fire the order was given to retire. About 3 P. M. the Brigade again moved forward with the Division and reached the suburbs of the town. The Brigade in the advance in the morning reached the railroad cut.
July 2. Not engaged.
July 3. Formed part of the column of Longstreet’s assault.
July 4. The Brigade took up the line of march during the night to Hagerstown.
From the Confederate Avenue marker:
C. S. A.
Army of Northern Virginia
Hills Corps Heth’s Division
2nd, 11th, 42nd Mississippi
55th North Carolina Infantry
July 1. Formed line west of Herr’s Tavern and crossing the Run at 10 A. M. dislodged 2nd Maine Battery and the 2nd Brigade 1st Division First Corps. Threatened on the right it wheeled and occupied railroad cut too deep and steep for defense whereby it lost many prisoners and a stand of colors. Joined later by the 11th Regiment previously on duty guarding trains the Brigade fought until the day’s contest ended.
July 2. Lay all day west of the Run. At evening took position near here.
July 3. In Longstreet’s assault the Brigade formed the left center of Pettigrew’s Division and advanced to the stone wall south of Bryan Barn where with regiments shrunken to companies and field officers all disabled further effort was useless.
July 4. After night withdrew and began the march to Hagerstown.
Present on the first day about 2000 Killed 180 Wounded 717 Missing about 500 Total 1397