About the monument to the 140th New York
The granite monument stands just over eight and one half feet high at the spot where Colonel Patrick O’Rorke was killed. The Maltese Cross symbol of the Fifth Corps in incised into its front cap. Bronze tablets are set into each side and a bronze bas-relief of Colonel O’Rorke is set into the front of the monument. (The bronze of O’Rorke’s nose has been polished for luck by generations of visitors; but the National Park Service asks that you refrain from rubbing if you visit – it wears away the bronze.) The monument was dedicated by the State of New York in 1889.
The 140th New York at the Battle of Gettysburg
The 140th New York was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Patrick Henry O’Rorke, a native of Ireland who had moved to Rochester, New York as a child and had been first in his West Point class (USMA1861). O’Rorke was killed on July 2nd on Little Round Top. Lieutenant Colonel Louis Ernst, a native of Germany who had become a Rochester hardware merchant, took command of the regiment when O’Rorke fell.
The 140th was marching across the north slope of Little Round Top to the support of Sickle’s 3rd Corps on July 2nd. It was intercepted by General Gouverneur Warren, who was desperately improvising a defense of the vital hill. By luck, Warren had commanded the brigade in the past and was well known to Colonel O’Rorke. When Warren said, “Paddy, give me a regiment!” O’Rorke was quick to oblige.
After cresting Little Round Top O’Rorke dismounted and led the regiment in column of fours toward the Confederates threatening to break the Union line, drawing his sword and shouting, “Down this way, boys!” As the men began to form a line and O’Rorke shouted, “Here they are men, commence firing!” a Confederate about forty feet away shot O’Rorke in the neck. O’Rorke went down but so did the Confederate; after the fight seventeen bullet wounds were counted in his body.
The addition of 500 men to the Union line was decisive and the Confederate assault fell back. Although the flank held by the 20th Maine was still in danger, the center of the Union line on Little Round Top was secured.
There is also a monument to the 140th New York on the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia.
From the front of the monument:
Col. Pat’k H. O’Rorke
Killed July 2, 1863
From the left (north) side:
140th N.Y. Infty.
3rd Brigade 2nd Division 5th Corps
July 2 & 3, 1863
From the right (south) side:
Number engaged 526
Casualties 26 killed 89 wounded 18 missing
From the rear:
July 2nd and 3rd 1863
See more on the 140th New York Volunteers in the Civil War