There are two monuments to Willard’s Brigade on the Gettysburg battlefield. A standard War Department brigade headquarters monument is on Hancock Avenue. (39.811809° N, 77.235409° W; Tour map: Hancock Avenue at Ziegler’s Grove) A unique brigade monument is on Sickles Avenue near the Klingle farm. (39.80668° N, 77.244846° W; Tour map: Emmitsburg Rd. & Sickles Ave.)
The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel George L. Willard of the 126th New York, who had taken command three days before the battle when Brigadier General Alexander Hays was promoted to division command.
Colonel Willard was killed at the end of the attack on July 2nd. His monument is in the Plum Run swale east of the Codori farm buildings. When Willard was killed Colonel Eliakim Sherril took command. Sherril was mortally wounded during Pickett’s Charge, and Lt. Colonel James Bull took command. In the words of their division commander, General Hays, “The history of this brigade’s operations is written in blood…”
From the Hancock Avenue marker:
July 2. Took position in the morning along Cemetery Ridge at right of the Angle. Near sunset went to the left to support Third Corps. Charged Brig. Gen. Barksdale’s Brigade in the wooded swale at the head of Plum Run forcing it back and capturing many prisoners. The 39th New York recaptured Battery I 5th U. S. from the 21st Miss. Col. Willard was killed and Brig. Gen. Barksdale mortally wounded. At dark the Brigade returned and was held in reserve.
July 3. Engaged on the skirmish line with much loss. At 3 P. M. after a terrific cannonade of two hours the Brigade was moved up to the line of the Second Brigade and assisted in repulsing Longstreet’s assault in which Col. Sherrill was mortally wounded. A large detail from the Brigade under Capt. Armstrong of the 125th New York and the 8th Ohio on the skirmish line withdrew to the right and poured in a deadly fire upon the left of the assaulting lines and then charging captured prisoners and flags.
Casualties Killed 11 Officers 128 Men Wounded 26 Officers 516 Men Captured or Missing 33 Men Total 714
From the Sickles Avenue monument:
The 3rd. Brigade of the 3rd. Division, 2nd. Corps was conducted by General Hancock at seven o’clock P.M., July 2nd. 1863, from near Ziegler’s Grove to the rear of a bushy swale along Plum Run; the 39th N.Y. commanded by Major Hugo Hildebrand, faced left to guard against a flank and rear attack, the 125th N.Y. commanded by Col. Levin Crandall, took position on the left, the 126th N.Y., commanded by Col. C.D. MacDougall, on the right, and charged the 13th. 17th. and 18th Miss. regiments of Barksdale’s Brigade in line in the thicket and drove them through the swale and up the slope toward the Emmitsburg Road to within 317 Yards, due east from this position when the enemy artillery fire became very severe and the Brigade retired to the swale where Col. George L. Willard commanding the Brigade was killed. After being relieved at dark the Brigade returned to near its former position on Cemetery Ridge.