“Third California Regiment”
“Baxter’s Fire Zouaves”
“Philadelphia Fire Zouaves”
Two monuments to the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteers are south of Gettysburg at The Angle.
The main monument is at the stone wall of The Angle. (39.813359° N, 77.236317° W) A secondary monument is 70 yards to the east.(39.813032° N, 77.2357° W; Tour map: Hancock Avenue at The Angle; Google maps to both monuments)
The regiment was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Dewit Clinton Baxter. He was wounded on July 2, and Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Hesser then took over.
The placement of the 72nd’s monument was at the center of a controversy that eventually reached all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It grew from the fact that the starting position of the 72nd during Pickett’s Charge was not at the stone wall at the Angle, but in a support position a short distance back at the crest of the ridge, at the location marked by its secondary monument.
After Pickett’s men broke the Union line and advanced past the wall General Webb, the new commander of the brigade, tried to advance the 72nd. He was unable to do so, struggling unsuccessfully with the color-bearer and finally giving up and going over to the nearby 69th Pennsylvania.
The 72nd would not advance but it also would not retreat, and suffered heavily in its exposed position at the crest of the ridge in a close range firefight. Finally, as Union reinforcements closed in from all sides, the 72nd pushed forward to the wall, overwhelming Pickett’s survivors.
The rules of the battlefield commission stated that units must place their monuments on their main line of battle, which was interpreted as the rearward position. But the 72nd’s veterans insisted that their monument be at the wall where their fighting ended. They even purchased a small plot of land on the far side of the wall, which was at the time still privately owned, to place the monument in case the ruling went against them. But after three years of deliberations the court ruled in favor of the veterans, and the monument was dedicated at The Angle on July 4, 1891.
Sergeant Thomas Horan of Company E was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing the regimental flag of the 8th Florlda Infantry on July 2nd
|See Lt. Colonel Hesser’s Official Report for the 72nd Pennsylvania at the Battle of Gettysburg|
From the front of the main monument:
72nd Pennsylvania Infantry
Philadelphia Fire Zouaves
Mustered in Aug. 10, 1861
Mustered out Aug. 24, 1864
Total enrollment —— 1600
Killed and mortally wounded 195
wounded —- 558
Died of disease & in rebel prisons 70
Captured or missing —- 165
Total loss —- 988
From the left side:
July 2, 1863.
The Regiment reached this Angle at 1 a.m., took position in rear of this monument supported Cushing’s Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery.
At 6 p.m. assisted in repulsing an attack of the enemy and in making a counter-charge, driving them beyond the Emmitsburg road, capturing 250 prisoners.
From the right side:
July 3, 1863.
The Regiment assisted in repulsing the the charge of the enemy on the angle at 3 p.m. and in capturing many standards and prisoners
During the cannonading which preceded the charge the regiment was in line 60 yards to the left and rear of this monument when the rebels forced the troops from the first line the 72nd fought its way to the front and occupied the wall
Present at Gettysburg 458, killed & mortally wounded 62
Wounded 133 —- Missing 2
Total of killed, wounded and missing 197.
72nd Penna. Infantry
From the rear:
From the secondary monument:
Erected by 72nd Regt. P.V.
The ground of the last assault the Philadelphia Brigade Gen. Alexander Webb held this angle July 2d and 3d 1863
Casualties in the battle 495
The 72d Penn. Vol’s
“Philadelphia Fire Zouaves”
Colonel D.W.C. Baxter
lost 10 officers and 182 men out of 473 present for duty,
The regiment erects this tribute to the memory of fallen comrades.
See more on the 72nd Pennsylvania in the Civil War