The brigade was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel John Rutter Brooke of the 53rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, as senior colonel in the brigade. Brooke was badly wounded at both Gettysburg and Cold Harbor but would go on to be one of the last surviving Union Civil War generals, dying in 1926 when he was 88.
Caldwell’s Division of the 2nd Corps was ordered south from its position on Cemetery Ridge to support the fragmenting Union left flank during Longstreet’s attack on July 2nd. Brooke’s Brigade attacked into the Wheatfield, then drove through the Rose Woods, halting on their western edge where it dueled with Semmes’ Brigade.
It was the furthest advance by any of Caldwell’s brigades. But with no support, dwindling ammunition and Confederates closing in on his exposed left flank, Brooke was forced to withdraw after a quarter hour of heavy fighting. The brigade’s withdrawal back across the Wheatfield was costly, but Brooke proudly reported that they retired firing, bringing most of their wounded. Brook himself was wounded and had to be helped off the field.
During Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd the brigade watched from its position on Cemetery Ridge as the Confederate attackers marched toward them. They then angled away toward the Copse of Trees before they were within small arms range.
From the monument
July 2. Arrived early in the morning took position on the line from Cemetery Hill to Round Top and was the right Brigade of Division. Between 5 and 6 P. M. went with Division to Wheatfield and advanced in reserve until the Division had forced back the Confederates to the further end when the Brigade advanced on the left of Third Brigade across a marsh to crest of a wooded hill. The Union line along the Emmitsburg Road having soon thereafter been forced back by Brig. Gen. Semmes’s Brig. Gen. Kershaw’s and Brig. Gen. Wofford’s Brigades which advanced in front and on the left flank the Brigade retired with the Division and resumed its former place in Corps line.
July 3. Constructed entrenchments and remained in former position until the close of the battle.
Casualties Killed 8 Officers 46 Men
Wounded 38 Officers 246 Men
Captured or Missing 51 Men Total 389
Location of the monument to the 4th Brigade 1st Division 2nd Corps
The marker is in the Rose Woods on the east side of Brooke Avenue. It is about 0.45 mile past Sickles Avenue. Brooke Avenue is a continuation of Ayers and Cross Avenues. All are one way west and north. (39°47’42.9″N 77°14’49.4″W)