The monument to Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade is southwest of Gettysburg on West Confederate Avenue. (West Confederate Avenue – Pt. 4 tour map) There is also a position marker on Emmitsburg Road. (Peach Orchard tour map)
Barksdale’s Brigade was part of Longstreet’s attack on July 2nd. Leaving the woods near the location of the monument, it surged into the Peach Orchard with Barksdale leading them on horseback, hat off and white hair flying. The charge smashed through Union lines for a mile until it met a counterattack by a Union Second Corps brigade under Colonel George Willard – troops that Barksdale’s Brigade had helped to capture at Harper’s Ferry in 1862. The Union counterattack stopped Barksdale’s advance. He was wounded three times, the last a mortal wound to the chest, and his men were forced to leave him on the field as they pulled back. Barksdale was taken to a field hospital at the Hummelbaugh farmhouse where he died on July 3rd.
From the monument
July 2. Arrived about 3 P. M. and formed line here. Advanced at 5 P. M. and took part in the assault on the Peach Orchard and adjacent positions vigorously pursuing the Union forces as they retired. The 21st Regiment pushed on past the Trostle House and captured but were unable to bring off 9th Mass. Battery and I Battery 5th U. States. The other Regiments inclining more to the left pressed forward to Plum Run where they encountered fresh troops and a fierce conflict ensued in which Brig. Gen. Wm. Barksdale fell mortally wounded.
July 3. Supported artIllery on Peach Orchard Ridge. Withdrew from the front late in the afternoon.
July 4. In position near here all day. About midnight began the march to Hagerstown.
Present 1598 Killed 105 Wounded 550 Missing 92 Total 747
Location of the monument to Barksdale’s Brigade
The monument is southwest of Gettysburg on the west side of West Confederate Avenue. It is across the avenue from the State of Mississippi monument, just north of Millerstown Road. West Confederate Avenue is one way southbound here.
Position marker on Emmitsburg Road
From the marker
July 2. Arrived about 3 P. M. and formed in line. Advanced at 5 o’clock and took part in the assault on the Peach Orchard and adjacent position pursuing the Union forces as they retired. The 21st Regiment pushed beyond the Trostle House and captured but were unable to bring off Bigelow’s and Watson’s Batteries. The other Regiments inclining to the left pressed forward to Plum Run where they encountered Union troops and a fierce conflict ensued in which Brig. Gen. Wm. Barksdale fell mortally wounded.
Location of the marker
The marker is south of Gettysburg on the west side of Emmitsburg Road across from the Peach Orchard. It is about 75 feet south of the intersection with Millerstown Road/Wheatfield Road. (39°48’05.3″N 77°15’01.0″W)
About William Barksdale
Brigadier General William Barksdale commanded the brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg. Barksdale was a lawyer, newspaper editor, and United States Congressman known as one of the most radical of the secessionist “fire-eaters.” Barksdale was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee in August of 1821. He graduated from the University of Tennessee and became a lawyer in Mississippi, but gave up his law practice to become the editor of a pro-slavery newspaper. During the Mexican war he became a captain and quartermaster in the 2nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1853. Barksdale left Congress in January of 1861, becoming colonel of the 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. He took over brigade command when Brigadier General Richard Griffin was mortally wounded at Savage’s Station in June of 1862, and in August of 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general. He led his brigade in all the campaigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, and was best known for defending the riverfront at Fredericksburg in the Battle of Fredericksburg and during the Chancellorsville Campaign.
See more on the history of the infantry regiments in Barksdale’s Brigade
by Phillip Thomas Tucker