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Sculpted by Gary Casteel


1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

 

The 32nd Massachusetts Infantry served as a member of Sweitzer’s Brigade in Barnes’ Division of the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, a Fighting 300 Regiment.

 

On June 29, 1863, the 32nd, now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George L. Prescott, was ordered to Gettysburg and arrived on July 2nd.  The regiment was relatively rested after their short, three-day march, and was eager to join the fight.  Called upon to plug a critical gap in the 3rd Corps line, the 32nd and other elements of the 5th Corps were ordered into a valley below Little Round Top and up onto a “stony ridge” overlooking the Wheatfield.  As the men anxiously marched through these fields, any views of the early fighting that afternoon would have been obscured behind this tree line, but the ominous sounds of battle would be all too familiar to the 32nd.  Once the men cleared the tree line, they would be thrust into the heart of a Confederate assault just west of the Wheatfield in the Devil’s Den region.

 

Just prior to the attack on Little Round Top, General Daniel Sickles had, without orders, decided to advance his 3rd Corps from its original position atop Little Round Top out onto what he considered the more easily defensible (yet far more exposed) ridgeline along the now famed Peach Orchard.  In doing so, he had stretched his lines so thin that he created a gap in the Union left flank.  Confederates under General James Longstreet threatened to exploit this gap and punch through the Union line.

 

As the Confederates began their attack late that afternoon, the 32nd advanced into the Wheatfield, where they received a staggering blow from the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th South Carolina regiments under Major General Joseph Kershaw, which felled large chunks of the 32nd’s line within mere minutes.  However, not long after this first blow, the Union line to the right of the 32nd, made up of the 62nd Pennsylvania and the 4th Michigan, began to crumble and retreat. Fearing that they would be cut off from the main Union line if they did not retreat from the overwhelming Confederate tide, these soldiers felt they had no choice.  However, their retreat left the 32nd essentially abandoned by its fellow comrades.  Panicked and pressured by the heavy small-arms fire of Kershaw’s approaching forces, the 32nd began to turn and fall back. According to the regimental logs, an unnamed Lieutenant Colonel saw the 32nd starting to flee and ordered the men to stand their ground.  Despite the charging column of Confederates closing in on the lone Massachusetts men, the regiment dutifully reformed and marched back into the bloodied Wheatfield to counter the Confederate attack.

 

The unsupported Massachusetts men suffered their heaviest casualties of the war in the four hours of bloody fighting in the Wheatfield, and during the battle, the Wheatfield changed hands six times.  Finally, at 8 o’clock that evening, the 32nd mercifully received an official order by General Sykes to retreat behind Little Round Top.  As the bloodied Massachusetts men caught their breath and began to account for friends and comrades, they discovered a shocking 81 men killed, wounded, or missing–more than a third of the regiment’s 227 men.

 

The monument’s location marks the position held by the 32nd Infantry in the afternoon of July 2, 1863, when attacked by Kershaw’s Brigade during the Confederate assault.  This monument was dedicated on October 8, 1885 and is located on Sickles Avenue.

32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

SKU: 1081
$295.00Price
  • Size:  7 ¼” x 6” x 7”

    Weight:  6.6lbs

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