The monument to the 8th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry is west of Gettysburg on South Reynolds Avenue. (South Reynolds Avenue tour map) It was dedicated in 1891 by the State of Illinois.
The monument was erected in 1890 on the original location of the monument of the 8th New York Cavalry, which was moved 100 feet to the south to “accurately mark the regiment’s main battle line on July 1, 1863.” The name on the rear of the monument, “David Diffenbaugh,” is that of the only member of the regiment killed at Gettysburg.
The 8th Illinois Cavalry had 491 men at Gettysburg. David Diffenbaugh was killed, 5 men were wounded and 1 man was missing.
Their regimental commander at Gettysburg was Major John Lourie Beveridge, a lawyer from Evanston who went on to become Sheriff of Cook County, congressman, and Governor of Illinois.
The claim of “first shot” made for Lt. Jones was disputed by the 9th New York Cavalry, and despite rulings by the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, has remained in conflict to this day. Lt. Jones erected his own “First Shot” monument on Chambersburg Pike in 1883.
From the front of the monument:
8th Illinois Cavalry
First line of battle July 1, 1863
Occupied until relieved by 1st Corps.
One squadron picketed ridge east of Marsh Creek and supported by another squadron met enemy’s right advance,
Lieut. Jones, Co. E, fired first shot as the enemy crossed Marsh Creek Bridge
From the rear of the monument:
On reforming line Regiment took an advanced position on Hagerstown Road. Late in the day delayed enemy’s advance by attacking his right flank thereby aiding the infantry in withdrawing to Cemetery Hill. In the evening encamped on left flank.
Buford’s Division retired toward Westminster
Location of the monument
The monument to the 8th Illinois Cavalry is west of Gettysburg on the east side of Reynolds Avenue about 100 yards south of Chambersburg Road (U.S. 30). (39°50’08.9″N 77°14’58.0″W)