There are two Monuments to the 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg. One is west of town on Meredith Avenue (39.834715° N, 77.254605; Monument map: Stone/Meredith Avenues) and the other south of town at the Angle. (39.813574° N, 77.235641° W; ; Monument map: Hancock Ave. at The Angle; Google maps to both monuments)
Both were erected in 1985 by the State of North Carolina. They are identical in appearance but have different inscriptions on their tablets.
The regiment was commanded by Colonel Henry K. Burgwyn, Jr. until he was killed on July 1st. Captain H.C. Albright then took command.
The 26th brought 800 men to the field, with 588 men becoming casualties during the fighting on July 1st. The colors had been shot down fourteen times. Company E was left with twelve men, all but two lightly wounded, and Company F consisted of a single sergeant, Robert Hudspeth.
During the charge on July 3rd 99 more men were lost. Eight more color bearers were killed or wounded. Sergeant Hudspeth and the handful of detached men of Company F he had managed to scrape together all became casualties.
The information from the marker at the Angle may not be accurate.The 26th may not have been in front of Onley’s gun, but rather some ways to the north, in front of the 12th New Jersey. The 26th’s final color bearer of the day, accompanied by a sergeant, carried the 26th’s colors up the slope to the stone wall defended by the Jerseymen, who in respect for their courage held their fire and helped them to safety over the wall.
Since then a dispute has raged between partisans of North Carolina and Virginia over whose charge went farthest on July 3rd. There will probably never be an answer, if one is really needed. But one fact is without question – no regiment on either side at Gettysburg suffered more casualties than the 26th North Carolina.
From the monument at Meredith Avenue:
North Carolina Regiment
Pettigrew’s Brigade Heth’s Division Hill’s Corps
Army of Northern Virginia.
Henry King Burgwyn, Jr.
John Thomas Jones Major,
John Randolph Lane Lieutenant Colonel.
Pettigrew’s Brigade moved toward Gettysburg early on the morning of July 1 and shortly after noon deployed in line of battle on the ridge 60 yards west of here. The 26th North Carolina stood on the Brigade’s left flank, facing these woods and the 24th Michigan of Meredith’s Iron Brigade. The order to advance was made about 2:30 p.m. On nearing Willoughby Run the Regiment received a galling fire from the opposite bank. By Maj. Jones account the “fighting was terrible” with the forces “pouring volleys into each other at a distance not greater than 20 paces.” After about an hour the Regiment had incurred very heavy losses, Col. Burgwyn had been mortally wounded and Lt. Col. Lane injured. The attack continued until the Union troops fell back through the streets of Gettysburg and took up positions south of town.
On July 9 Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew wrote that the Regiment had “Covered itself with glory… It fell to the lot of the 26th to charge one of the strongest positions possible… with a gallantry unsurpassed.” Addressing his remarks to Zebulon Baird Vance, who had served as Colonel of the 26th until his election as Governor in August 1862, Pettigrew concluded that “Your old comrades did honor to your association with them, and to the state they represented.”
Erected by the State of North Carolina 1985.
From the monument at the Angle:
Although nearly destroyed during its successful attack against Meredith’s Iron Brigade on July 1, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Regiment joined in the Petigrew-Pickett Charge on the afternoon of July 3. Advancing under solid shot, spherical case, canister, and musketry the Regiment charge to within ten paces of the stone wall to their front.
The scene was described by an artilleryman of a Rhode Island battery: “. . . As a regiment of Pettigrew’s Brigade (the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina) was charging. . .and had almost reached the wall in front of us, Sergt. M.C.Onley cried out. . .’Fire that gun! Pull! Pull!’ the No. 4 obeyed orders and the gap made in that North Carolina regiment was simply terrible.” Under this galling fire, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina was compelled to retire with the Brigade from this point to Seminary Ridge.”
“The men of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment would
dress their colors in spite of the world. “
Erected by the State of North Carolina 1986
Praised for its “exhaustive scholarship” and its “highly readable style,” Covered with Glory chronicles the 26th’s remarkable odyssey from muster near Raleigh to surrender at Appomattox. The central focus of the book, however, is the regiment’s critical, tragic role at Gettysburg, where its standoff with the heralded 24th Michigan Infantry on the first day of fighting became one of the battle’s most unforgettable stories. Two days later, the 26th’s bloodied remnant assaulted the Federal line at Cemetery Ridge and gained additional fame for advancing “farthest to the front” in the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge.