The monument to the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Infantry is on the west side of Gettysburg at the intersection of Chambersburg Street, West Street and Springs Avenue. (39°49’51.5″N 77°14’13.1″W; map) A tablet showing where the regiment met Early’s Confederates is three miles west of town on the north side of US 30. (39°51’11.6″N 77°17’08.6″W; map)
The 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Militia Infantry was organized at Harrisburg on June 22nd in response to Lee’s invasion of the north. It was commanded by Colonel William S. Jennings. Jennings was a factory owner and personal friend of Pennsylvania’s Governor Curtin, who had served as an officer in the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry in the early days of the war and commanded the nine-months 127th Pennsylvania Infantry, during which time he was wounded in the foot at Fredericksburg.
The regiment consisted of 750 hastily trained farmboys, college students and middle aged shopkeepers sprinkled with a handful of veterans. One company was from Adams County, including a group from Gettysburg.
The clashes of the untrained militiamen with Jubal Early’s veteran rebel cavalry and infantry west and north of Gettysburg turned out as badly as could be expected. Several Pennsylvanians were shot and more than a hundred rounded up as prisoners. The latter were paroled after a stern lecture from Early himself, who told them, “You boys ought to be home with your mothers and not out in the fields where it is dangerous and you might get hurt.”
The survivors of the regiment pulled back to defend Harrisburg, but they were spared further conflict when the rebels withdrew to Gettysburg. The 26th Militia were mustered out on July 31.
From the tablet at the base of the monument:
Reached Gettysburg June 25 in advance of the Army of the Potomac. On the morning of June 26 marched out the Chambersburg Pike and met the rebel column at Marsh Creek and forced by overwhelming numbers to withdraw in the afternoon. On the Hunterstown Road had a severe engagement with the rebel cavalry inflicting upon them some loss. Reached Harrisburg June 28 having marched sixty consecutive hours and skirmished with the enemy. June 30 advanced from Harrisburg after the rebels in retreat.
From the tablet:
Met the advance of
Early’s Division C.S.A.
at this place
on the morning of June 26, 1863