The monument to the 2nd Division of the 5th Corps is south of Gettysburg on Houck’s Ridge off Ayers Avenue. Two brigades of the division consisted entirely of United States Regular Infantry. (Ayers Avenue – Loop tour map)
The division arrived on the field midday on July 2nd. The 3rd Brigade was sent to Little Round Top, arriving just in time to turn back the Confederate attack from the Devil’s Den and secure the flank of Vincent’s brigade.
The two brigades of Regulars were ordered across Plum Run and onto Houck’s Ridge. They advanced to the Wheatfield as Caldwell’s Division of the 2nd Corps was being pushed out. Then they were forced to withdraw under a deadly fire from front and flank. The withdrawal was disciplined, with the men turning to fire volleys at their pursuers. One onlooker wrote, “For two years the U.S. Regulars taught us how to be soldiers; in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg they taught us how to die like soldiers.”
From the monument
Army of the Potomac
Brig. General Romeyn B. Ayres
July 2. Moved from the Baltimore Pike near Rock Creek about 3 P. M. left in front to the support of the Third Corps line preceded by the First Division. The Third Brigade halted at Little Round Top and occupied the summit and north slope just in time to repel an attack on the right of the Third Brigade First Division. Here Gen. Weed fell mortally wounded. The First and Second Brigades crossed Plum Run to the hill beyond and formed in two lines. The First Brigade in rear fronting the Wheatfield through which the First Division Second Corps was advancing at right angle. About sunset the troops in front and on the right retired before a fierce assault on the front and flank and these two Brigades were compelled to retire with heavy losses to Little Round Top pursued by Wofford’s Georgia Brigade and portions of Semmes’ Kershaw’s and Anderson’s Brigades. Later the First and Second Brigades took position in the woods in rear of the Third Brigade.
July 3. Remained in same position.
July 4. The First Brigade made a successful reconnaissance.
Casualties Killed 10 Officers 154 Men Wounded 56 Officers 746 Men Captured or Missing 63 Men Total 1029
Brigadier General Romeyn B. Ayers
Brigadier General Romeyn B. Ayers commanded the division at the Battle of Gettysburg. Ayers (West Point Class of 1847) was a career Army officer from upstate New York. He commanded artillery from Bull Run until Fredericksburg, then was given command of a brigade of regular infantry at Chancellorsville. Meade’s promotion to army commander moved Sykes to command of the 5th Corps and Ayers to command of the Regular Division. Ayers continued in command of the division until March of 1864, when the restructuring of the Army of the Potomac moved him back to brigade command. He returned to division command for the Petersburg campaign and until the end of the war. He stayed on with the army after the war as a lieutenant colonel, and died with the rank of colonel in 1888.
Location of the monument
The monument is south of Gettysburg on Houck’s Ridge. A mowed path leads about 300 feet from the loop of Ayers Avenue to the monument