The monument to Brockenbrough’s Brigade is southwest of Gettysburg on the west side of West Confederate Avenue. (West Confederate Avenue – Pt. 2 tour map)
The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel John M. Brockenbrough of the 40th Virginia Infantry. Colonel Brockenbrough had “temporarily” commanded the brigade for much of the time since Brigadier General Charles Field had been wounded at the Second Battle of Manassas. Field would eventually return from his convalescence, so Brockenbrough was not promoted to general nor was another brigadier appointed to the command, which was still officially known as “Field’s Brigade.”
The brigade was worn down by the time of the Battle of Gettysburg and performed poorly. In a serious tactical error, it was posted on the vulnerable extreme left flank of Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd. Exposed to intense fire from the front and side, it broke well short of Union lines and ran off the field, the first of the brigades in the charge to retreat.
Brockenbrough, who may not have been commanding it during the charge, was replaced as brigade commander immediately after the battle and left the army in January of 1864.
From the monument:
C. S. A.
Army of Northern Virginia
Hills Corps Heth’s Division
40th 47th 55th Regiments and
22nd Battalion Virginia Infantry
July 1. Crossed the Run at 2 P.M. between Chambersburg Pike and Reynolds Woods. Engaged Union forces on McPherson ridge and with other troops on left drove them back to next ridge capturing two flags and many prisoners with some sharpshooters in the barn. Soon afterwards the Brigade was relieved by Pender’s Division.
July 2. Lay in the woods west of the Run. In the evening took position near here.
July 3. In Longstreet’s assault this Brigade was on the left flank of the column and as it approached the Union position was exposed to a severe fire of musketry on the left flank and artillery and musketry in front. It pushed beyond the Emmitsburg Road but was met by a heavy front and flank fire from the Union lines north of the Bryan Barn and compelled to fall back.
July 4. After night withdrew and began the march to Hagerstown.
Present on the first day about 2000 Killed 180 Wounded 717 Missing about 500 Total 1397