There are two Monuments to the 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment at Gettysburg. One is west of town on Meredith Avenue. (Stone & Meredith Avenues tour map) The other is south of town at the Angle. (Hancock Ave. at The Angle tour map) Both were erected in 1985 by the State of North Carolina. They are identical in appearance but have different inscriptions on their tablets.
The 26th North Carolina was commanded at Gettysburg by Colonel Henry K. Burgwyn, Jr. He was killed on July 1st and Captain H.C. Albright took command. The 26th brought 800 men to the field. Five hundred eighty-eight men became casualties during the fighting on July 1st in a brutal battle of mutual annihilation with the 24th Michigan Infantry. The colors were shot down fourteen times. Company E was left with twelve men, all but two lightly wounded, and Company F consisted of a single sergeant, Robert Hudspeth.
During the charge on July 3rd 99 more men were lost. Eight more color bearers were killed or wounded. Sergeant Hudspeth had managed to scrape together a handful of detached men from Company F. They all became casualties.
A dispute has raged ever since between partisans of North Carolina and Virginia over who went farthest on July 3rd. There will probably never be an answer, if one is really needed. But one fact is without question – no regiment on either side at Gettysburg suffered more casualties than the 26th North Carolina.
Monument to the 26th North Carolina Infantry on Meredith Avenue
From the monument on Meredith Avenue
North Carolina Regiment
Pettigrew’s Brigade Heth’s Division Hill’s Corps
Army of Northern Virginia.
Henry King Burgwyn, Jr.
John Thomas Jones Major,
John Randolph Lane Lieutenant Colonel.
Pettigrew’s Brigade moved toward Gettysburg early on the morning of July 1 and shortly after noon deployed in line of battle on the ridge 60 yards west of here. The 26th North Carolina stood on the Brigade’s left flank, facing these woods and the 24th Michigan of Meredith’s Iron Brigade. The order to advance was made about 2:30 p.m. On nearing Willoughby Run the Regiment received a galling fire from the opposite bank. By Maj. Jones account the “fighting was terrible” with the forces “pouring volleys into each other at a distance not greater than 20 paces.” After about an hour the Regiment had incurred very heavy losses, Col. Burgwyn had been mortally wounded and Lt. Col. Lane injured. The attack continued until the Union troops fell back through the streets of Gettysburg and took up positions south of town.
On July 9 Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew wrote that the Regiment had “Covered itself with glory… It fell to the lot of the 26th to charge one of the strongest positions possible… with a gallantry unsurpassed.” Addressing his remarks to Zebulon Baird Vance, who had served as Colonel of the 26th until his election as Governor in August 1862, Pettigrew concluded that “Your old comrades did honor to your association with them, and to the state they represented.”
Erected by the State of North Carolina 1985.
Main to the 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg on Meredith Avenue
The Meredith Avenue monument to the 26th North Carolina Infantry is west of Gettysburg on the west side of Meredith Avenue, a continuation of Stone Avenue. It is about 500 yards south of Chambersburg Road (U.S. 30). Stone and Meredith Avenues are one way southbound. (39°50’05.0″N 77°15’16.6″W)
Monument to the 26th North Carolina at The Angle
The information from the marker at the Angle may not be accurate. The 26th may not have been in front of Onley’s gun, but rather some ways to the north, in front of the 12th New Jersey. The regiment’s final color bearer of the day, accompanied by a sergeant, carried the 26th’s colors up the slope to the stone wall defended by the New Jersey regiment. In respect for their courage the Jerseymen held their fire and helped them to safety over the wall.
From the monument at the Angle
Although nearly destroyed during its successful attack against Meredith’s Iron Brigade on July 1, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina Regiment joined in the Petigrew-Pickett Charge on the afternoon of July 3. Advancing under solid shot, spherical case, canister, and musketry the Regiment charge to within ten paces of the stone wall to their front.
The scene was described by an artilleryman of a Rhode Island battery: “. . . As a regiment of Pettigrew’s Brigade (the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina) was charging. . .and had almost reached the wall in front of us, Sergt. M.C.Onley cried out. . .’Fire that gun! Pull! Pull!’ the No. 4 obeyed orders and the gap made in that North Carolina regiment was simply terrible.” Under this galling fire, the Twenty-Sixth North Carolina was compelled to retire with the Brigade from this point to Seminary Ridge.”
“The men of the Twenty-Sixth Regiment would
dress their colors in spite of the world. “
Erected by the State of North Carolina 1986
Location of the monument to the 26th North Carolina Infantry at The Angle
The monument to the 26th North Carolina Infantry at The Angle is south of Gettysburg about 25 yards west of Hancock Avenue. It is about 130 yards north of the Copse of Trees and just to the west of the Rhode Island Battery A monument. Hancock Avenues is one way northbound. (39°48’48.9″N 77°14’08.3″W)
Praised for its “exhaustive scholarship” and its “highly readable style,” Covered with Glory chronicles the 26th’s remarkable odyssey from muster near Raleigh to surrender at Appomattox. The central focus of the book, however, is the regiment’s critical, tragic role at Gettysburg, where its standoff with the heralded 24th Michigan Infantry on the first day of fighting became one of the battle’s most unforgettable stories. Two days later, the 26th’s bloodied remnant assaulted the Federal line at Cemetery Ridge and gained additional fame for advancing “farthest to the front” in the Pickett-Pettigrew Charge.