See the view from the top!
The State of Pennsylvania Monument is the largest monument on the Gettysburg battlefield. The roof of the monument provides an outstanding view of Cemetery Ridge, one of the most hotly contested parts of the field on July 2 and 3, 1863.
Access to the rooftop viewing area is by a narrow spiral staircase in the northwest corner of the monument, An iron gate is used to close off the area when it is not open for viewing.
The view moves clockwise around the roof as you scroll down
Hancock Avenue heads directly toward the monument along the high ground of Cemetery Ridge, which gently slopes off to the right (west). Hancock Avenue angles off to the viewer’s right while Humphreys Avenue angles to the viewer’s left. Neither of these roads were here at the time of the battle.
The large monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry stands at the intersection of the roads, marking the starting point of that regiment’s charge on July 2. From this point south along the crest of Cemetery Ridge a formidable mass of Union artillery assembled on July 2 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Freeman McGilvery of the Artillery Reserve. All or part of eight batteries formed here facing toward the Confederate threat to the viewer’s right. These batteries also played a major role during Pickett’s Charge on the July 3, savaging the flank of Pickett’s Division as it moved diagonally across their front.
In the center distance are the buildings of the George Weickert farm. The smaller of the two hills beyond the Weickert buildings is Little Round Top, about 1.25 miles (2 km.) distant from the viewer. On July 2 this was the southern point of the Union line. The larger hill to the right is Big Round Top.
The view looks across Hancock Avenue toward the fields that were fought over during the Confederate attack on the afternoon of July 2. At the bottom right of the photo is the monument to Pennsylvania’s Independent Batteries C&F, who held this position on July 3.
The line of trees on the right side of the photo follows the swale that is the headwaters of Plum Run, which continues south past the Trostle Farm, whose buildings can be seen in the distance. The stream continues south past the Devils Den and to the east of Big Round Top, the large hill on the left side of the horizon. The smaller hill to its left is Little Round Top. The buildings just in front of it are the George Weickert farm.
The view looks across the fields toward the trees that line the headwaters of Plum Run. The Trostle farm buildings can be seen through the trees a little to the left of center. In the distance beyond the Trostle farm is the Peach Orchard.
The Confederate attack on July 2 swept across the Peach Orchard and the Trostle farm and reached these fields before it was stopped by Union counterattacks. The 262 men of the 1st Minnesota Infantry (whose monument is out of frame to the left but can be seen in photo 1 above) launched a desperate charge against two Confederate brigades and stopped them at the swale until reinforcements could arrive.
A counterattack by Union Colonel George Willard’s brigade of the Second Corps threw the Confederates back to Emmitsburg Road, whose white fence line can be seen in the far distance. Colonel Willard’s monument is the white speck at the end of the two track leading out to the swale on the right side of the photo. He was killed by an artillery shell at the end of the successful attack as his brigade withdrew to the Union lines reforming on Cemetery Ridge.
The monument to Pennsylvania’s Independent Batteries C&F is at the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial on the west side of Hancock Avenue. They were overrun on July 2 in the Peach Orchard and their survivors were moved here on July 3, where they defended against Pickett’s Charge.
The view looks across Hancock Avenue and the headwaters of Plum Run. In the distance the fence lines along Emmitsburg Road can be made out, along with as the white farmhouse and red barn of the Klingle farm buildings. The trees in the far distance are on Seminary Ridge, the Confederate starting positions on July 2 and 3.
On the far side of Hancock Avenue from left to right are monuments to the 4th United States Artillery, Battery C, flanked by two 12-pounder Napoleons, the monument to the 1st Regular Brigade of the Artillery Reserve of the Army of the Potomac, and the monument to the 9th Michigan Battery, flanked by two 3″ Ordnance Rifles.
The view looks across Hancock Avenue. Emmitsburg road is in the distance, crossing behind the prominent red Codori barn on the right side of the photo and trackable by the white fences on the left of the photo.
Just above the parked car on the west side of Hancock Avenue is the monument to the 1st Regular Brigade of the Artillery Reserve. The five brigades of the Army of the Potomac’s Artillery Reserve performed well at Gettysburg, allowing fresh batteries to replace batteries that were out of ammo or who had been roughed up in the fighting. Next along Hancock Avenue is the monument to the 9th Michigan Battery, flanked by two 3″ Ordnance Rifles. Although the battery was designated as horse artillery and was assigned to the Cavalry Corps, it was stationed here to support the infantry of the 1st Corps during Pickett’s Charge.
Next along the avenue is the diamond shaped monument to the 17th Maine Infantry. This regiment from the 3rd Corps (whose corps symbol is the diamond) had fought in the Wheatfield on July 2 at the site of its primary monument, losing about a third of its men, and was stationed here on July 3 to support the artillery line. Just before the intersection with Pleasonton Avenue is the monument to the New Hampshire Sharpshooters, three companies of men attached to Berdan’s Sharpshooter regiments in the 3rd Corps. Farther around the curve of Hancock Avenue and just below the Codori barn is the monument marking the location where Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock was wounded during Pickett’s Charge.
Other monuments are visible in the far distance. One is especially significant. To the right of the center the white column nestled in the tree line about a mile away is the monument to the State of Virginia, which includes the statue of General Robert E. Lee. The tree line was the starting point of the Confederate attacks on both July 2 and 3, and the point to which the defeated attackers withdrew at the end of the fighting.
Hancock Avenue continues across the view in a large curve while Pleasonton Avenue comes in from the right (east), connecting with Taneytown Road outside the park boundaries.
The bright red Codori Barn is at the upper left of the view. This is where Confederate Major General George Pickett stationed himself as his division moved from left to right across the scene to attack the Union lines at the Copse of Trees, visible on the extreme right. As Pickett’s men moved across the field three regiments of the Union Vermont Brigade swung out of the Union line that roughly followed Hancock Avenue until they were at right angles with the Confederate attack, delivering brutally effective flanking fire into the Pickett’s men.
Ten monuments are close enough to be easily identified. At the very left of the photo is part of the monument to the New Hampshire Sharpshooters, three companies of men who were attached to Berdan’s Sharpshooter regiments in the 3rd Corps.The small white square below the Codori barn is the monument marking the location where Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock was wounded during Pickett’s Charge. Hancock commanded the section of the Union line along his namesake Avenue on July 2 and 3 and was instrumental in holding back the Confederate attacks of both days. Badly wounded in the final minutes of Pickett’s Charge, he refused to be removed from the field until the he was sure the attack had been defeated.
Farther along the curve and on the near side of Hancock Avenue is the slender white shaft of the 14th Vermont Infantry. To its right the small rectangle of white is the monument to the 16th Vermont Infantry. To its right is the mounted tablet that is the monument to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division of the 1st Army Corps, also known as the 2nd Vermont Brigade, the parent organization for the Vermont regiments. The very tall spire is the State of Vermont monument. To its right is the monument to the 13th Vermont Infantry. Across Hancock Avenue from the tall State of Vermont Monument is a small white speck; this is a position marker for the 13th Vermont, one of three that traces the regiment’s course in its swinging flanking move that helped doom Pickett’s Charge.
Pleasonton Avenue runs across the scene, connecting Taneytown Road (to the right) with Hancock Avenue (to the left). The white monument to the right of the tree facing Pleasonton Avenue is to the Federal Cavalry Corps, which was commanded by Major General Alfred Pleasonton, the namesake for the avenue. The cannon barrel of his headquarters monument is across the avenue.
In the distance on the left Hancock Avenue climbs Cemetery Ridge between the Copse of Trees (immediately behind the tall white spire of the United States Regulars monument) and Zieglers Grove (to the right of the avenue). Cemetery Hill is on the horizon in the center of the photo. The small white building below Cemetery Hill on the right is the house of Lydia Leister, Meade’s Headquarters during most of the battle.
The monument to the 84th Pennsylvania Infantry is in the lower left of the photo. This regiment was not on the battlefield, but was guarding wagon trains to the rear. The area north of Pleasonton Avenue has a number of monuments like this, such as the monuments to the three regiments of Colonel Pennock Huey’s cavalry brigade, (from right to left) the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, 4th New York Cavalry and 2nd New York Cavalry. Huey’s Brigade was also not on the Gettysburg battlefield – they were picketing roads around Manchester, Maryland, covering the army’s line of supply – but they played an important role in the campaign and were allowed to place their monuments in this rear area.
Humphreys Avenue comes in from the right (south) to intersect with Pleasonton Avenue, which leads to the left back to Hancock Avenue and the the right to Taneytown Road. The red barn of the Fry farm and the tree line in the distance show the location of Taneytown Road, which is outside the park boundary. The hill in the far distance above the barn is Culp’s Hill, the right flank of the Union line during the battle. The tablet at the intersection of the roads is the headquarters marker for Huey’s Cavalry Brigade, whose three monuments are in a row behind it.
The view looks across the fields along Pleasonton Avenue toward Taneytown Road in the distance. This was the rear area behind the Union lines, relatively sheltered from the battle, filled with reserves and the wounded.
The castle-like monument beside Pleasonton Avenue honors the 15th and 50th New York Engineer Regiments. Further along the avenue are smaller monuments to the Engineer Brigade and the United States Battalion of Engineers. None of these units were at Gettysburg but all were heavily involved in supporting the Army of the Potomac, primarily building and maintaining pontoon bridges across the Potomac used by the army on its march from Virginia.
Past the engineer monuments and almost hidden by the trees is the farmhouse of Jacob Hummelbaugh. This was a field hospital for the Union Second Corps, and handled many of the casualties from the fighting on both July 2 and 3. Confederate Brigadier General William Barksdale was brought here after he was mortally wounded leading his brigade and would die here on July 2.
The enclosed area to the right of center is the National Park maintenance compound. Nerve center for the staff that work to keep the battlefield in good maintenance in spite of its hundreds of thousands of visitors, the complex also includes workshops that can provide major repairs to the monuments and artillery pieces on the battlefield.
Humphreys Avenue is visible in the lower right of the photo, with the rest rooms hiding behind the pine tree. Taneytown road crosses the view in the center distance, and the National Park Service maintenance facility is on the far left.
This is the only view from the Pennsylvania Monument in which no other monuments can be seen. No fighting occurred here during the battle, but located as it was immediately behind the Union line of battle it was filled with units in reserve, wounded men, and reinforcements coming and going. On July 3 it was swept by overshoots in the great artillery barrage preceding Pickett’s Charge. Today it is a favorite spot for demonstrations and reenactors.
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