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Sculpted by Gary Casteel

 

1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

 

One of Antietam’s most memorable stories involves the 51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Late in the morning of September 17, 1862, after two unsuccessful tries to seize the lower bridge across Antietam Creek (later known as the Burnside Bridge), Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside ordered Brig. General Samuel Sturgis to take fresh troops and renew the attack on the bridge.  Sturgis then ordered one of his 9th Corps brigade commanders, Col. Edward Ferrero, to make the advance on a two-regiment front.  Ferrero selected what he considered the toughest of his troops to lead the charge--the two 51sts (the 51st New York and 51st Pennsylvania Infantry regiments).  

 

According to Lieutenant George Whitman, brother to Walt Whitman, Ferrero told them that they were General Burnside’s personal choice for the job.  As Stephen W. Sears noted in his work, “Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam” (1983): “One of them [Pennsylvania soldiers] called out to Ferrero to ask if they would get their whiskey ration back if they took the bridge.  The 51st Pennsylvania was something of a fractious, hardcase outfit, and as punishment for some misconduct or other Ferraro had cut off the liquor ration often issued to the troops after a battle or a hard march.  ‘Yes, by God!’ he assured them, and that earned him a cheer.”

 

Shortly thereafter, Col. John F. Hartranft led his 51st Pennsylvanians toward the bridge, moving boldly down the slope toward the crossing.  As soon as the troops came into the open ground in the valley, they received withering fire from the enemy.  A fence lining the road was a serious impediment, and in crossing it, the men were especially exposed.  The column, with New Yorkers on the left and Pennsylvanians on the right, moved forward, making straight for the bridge.  Initially swinging off to the left and right, respectively, the troops found cover and returned fire.  After some time, the 51st New York joined by the 51st Pennsylvania rushed in a solid column across the bridge under the two regimental flags carried side by side.  

 

Upon reaching the opposite bank, a regiment was quickly advanced, and took position on the heights commanding the bridge and its approaches, driving out the enemy and rendering the crossing for infantry secure.   

 

The 51st Pennsylvania was posted some distance below the bridge on a second range of hills that overlooked the creek.  It was soon hotly engaged with the enemy under cover of a stone wall, and in a cornfield on its left.  Soon exhausting their ammunition, the men held their position with the bayonet until relief came.  The loss of the regiment was one hundred and twenty-five.

 

Days later, the 51st Pennsylvania received its reward—a full keg of whiskey.

 

For many years, this monument, along with those of the 35th Massachusetts and the 21st Massachusetts, were mounted on the corners of the Burnside Bridge.  In the early 1960s, auto traffic was moved to a new bridge upstream, the Burnside Bridge was restored, and the monuments were moved to the east bank.

 

This monument was dedicated in 1906 and is located on the east side of Burnside’s Bridge over Antietam Creek.

51st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (Antietam)

SKU: 1134
$150.00Price
  • Size: 2 ¾” x 3 ¼” x 6”

    Weight:  1.75lbs