There are two monuments to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Corps (Willard’s Brigade) on the Gettysburg battlefield. A standard War Department brigade monument is on Hancock Avenue. (Hancock Avenue at Ziegler’s Grove tour map) A unique brigade monument is on Sickles Avenue near the Klingle farm. (Emmitsburg Rd. & Sickles Avenue tour map)
Colonel George L. Willard commanded the brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was the colonel of the 125th New York Infantry Regiment. Brigadier General Alexander Hays was promoted to division command three days before the battle, and Willard took over the brigade as senior colonel.
Colonel Willard was killed at the end of the Confederate attack on July 2nd. His monument is in the Plum Run swale east of the Codori farm buildings. Colonel Eliakim Sherril took command of the brigade when Willard was killed. Sherril was mortally wounded during Pickett’s Charge, and Lieutenant Colonel James Bull took command. In the words of their division commander, General Hays, “The history of this brigade’s operations is written in blood…”
From the Hancock Avenue marker
July 2. Took position in the morning along Cemetery Ridge at right of the Angle. Near sunset went to the left to support Third Corps. Charged Brig. Gen. Barksdale’s Brigade in the wooded swale at the head of Plum Run forcing it back and capturing many prisoners. The 39th New York recaptured Battery I 5th U. S. from the 21st Miss. Col. Willard was killed and Brig. Gen. Barksdale mortally wounded. At dark the Brigade returned and was held in reserve.
July 3. Engaged on the skirmish line with much loss. At 3 P. M. after a terrific cannonade of two hours the Brigade was moved up to the line of the Second Brigade and assisted in repulsing Longstreet’s assault in which Col. Sherrill was mortally wounded. A large detail from the Brigade under Capt. Armstrong of the 125th New York and the 8th Ohio on the skirmish line withdrew to the right and poured in a deadly fire upon the left of the assaulting lines and then charging captured prisoners and flags.
Casualties Killed 11 Officers 128 Men Wounded 26 Officers 516 Men Captured or Missing 33 Men Total 714
Location of the War Department monument
The monument is south of Gettysburg on the east side of Hancock Avenue. It is south of the Bryan farmhouse. (39°48’55.0″N 77°14’06.8″W)
From the Sickles Avenue monument
The 3rd. Brigade of the 3rd. Division, 2nd. Corps was conducted by General Hancock at seven o’clock P.M., July 2nd. 1863, from near Ziegler’s Grove to the rear of a bushy swale along Plum Run; the 39th N.Y. commanded by Major Hugo Hildebrand, faced left to guard against a flank and rear attack, the 125th N.Y. commanded by Col. Levin Crandall, took position on the left, the 126th N.Y., commanded by Col. C.D. MacDougall, on the right, and charged the 13th. 17th. and 18th Miss. regiments of Barksdale’s Brigade in line in the thicket and drove them through the swale and up the slope toward the Emmitsburg Road to within 317 Yards, due east from this position when the enemy artillery fire became very severe and the Brigade retired to the swale where Col. George L. Willard commanding the Brigade was killed. After being relieved at dark the Brigade returned to near its former position on Cemetery Ridge.
Location of the Sickles Avenue monument
The monument is south of Gettysburg on the east side of Sickles Avenue. It is about 550 feet south of the intersection with Emmitsburg Road. (39°48’24.1″N 77°14’41.5″W)