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Sculpted by Gary Casteel

 

1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

 

In the early afternoon of July 1, 1863, Brigadier General Henry Baxter’s brigade, including the 90th Pennsylvania, was dispatched to defend the right flank of the Union against the Army of Northern Virginia’s Second Corps.  As Private Frank Jennings of the 90th later wrote, “I never saw the men more willing to fight than they were at Gettysburg.”

 

As the brigade moved to Oak Ridge, under fire of the Confederate guns placed on Oak Hill and Confederate skirmishers firing on the units from behind a stone wall near the Mummasburg Road until they were forced out by Company K of the 12th Massachusetts, the 90th PA took its place “behind a stone wall that ran parallel to the road” to the right of the 12th Massachusetts and engaged the returning skirmishers.  Baxter’s brigade, consisting of just over 500 men, now faced Robert Rodes’ division, the largest division in the Army of Northern Virginia, numbering just under 8,000 men.

 

Col. Edward Asbury O’Neal’s brigade consisted of the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 12th, and 26th Alabama regiments.  Sending the 3rd Alabama to march with Daniel’s brigade and keeping the 5th Alabama to help Blackford’s Sharpshooters cover a gap between his brigade and Doles’ brigade, O’Neal sent the other three forward.  O’Neal’s men began their march forward at about 2:00 PM.  Their exposed left flank was raked by fire from Capt. Hubert Dilger’s Ohio battery of the 11th Corps.  In position to meet this advance was the 90th Pennsylvania.

 

As the Confederate infantry approached, Baxter moved the 12th Massachusetts and the 90th Pennsylvania to the crest, but when the 6th Alabama was seen approaching the right of the brigade, Baxter refused the 90th Pennsylvania to meet the attack.  As O’Neal’s men advanced along a railroad cut that passed by the McLean Farm and its red barn, it was the 200 men of the 90th Pennsylvania, facing the Mummasburg Road and O’Neal’s approaching men, who took on O’Neal’s three attacking regiments, supported by the 12th Massachusetts.  The Union troops were outnumbered, but the terrain favored them.  O’Neal’s men were on a lower elevation, trying to attack uphill against the Pennsylvanians, and their left continued to catch fire from Dilger’s battery.  Taking cross fire, the three Alabama regiments were forced to retreat. 

 

At this point, Gen. Alfred Iverson’s men went forward, without skirmishers in front.  As Iverson’s men came across the Forney Field, the men of the 90th shifted to the left when the 12th Massachusetts moved to its left.  Iverson’s brigade, 96 officers and 1,220 men consisting of the 5th, 12th, 20th, and 23rd North Carolina regiments, had no idea the 90th Pennsylvania and the rest of Baxter’s men were behind that stone wall.  As they came alongside, they received an education in lead.  Baxter’s men, including the 90th, rose up and poured a volley into the left flank of Iverson’s men.  Major Alfred J. Sellers of the 90th later recalled, “We delivered such a deadly volley at very short range that death’s mission was with unerring certainty.”

 

Seeking shelter in a depression in the field, Iverson’s men tried to fight back but they couldn’t.  “The casualties from the Union fire were so terrible that shattered regiments seeking shelter moved toward a shallow dip, about 80 yards from the Union line.  It was the only point of cover along the Confederate line.  Unfortunately, the dip did not provide enough protection, and ‘every man who stood up was killed or wounded.’  The Confederates received fire without being able to return it effectively. … The 12th Massachusetts and 90th Pennsylvania opened up a raking fire on Iverson’s left.”  At this time, the men of Iverson’s brigade began surrendering in large numbers.  Seeing this, Baxter yelled out, “Up boys, and give them the steel!” 

 

The 88th Pennsylvania, 97th New York, 83rd New York, and 11th Pennsylvania jumped the stone wall and rushed out into the gully.  Some men of the 90th also took part in this charge.  The men of Baxter’s brigade took hundreds of prisoners from the survivors of Iverson’s shattered brigade. 

 

O’Neal’s brigade reformed and attacked again, and again without their commander leading them.  Seeing this second movement forward, the 90th refused its line again.  Major Sellers wrote, “The right for a few moments faltered.  Mustering up sufficient courage, I rushed to the front waving my sword, and it had the desired effect, our line established.  We sent our compliments, Buck and Ball with a yell.”  After the war, he recalled that moment, “Although not in command, I rushed to the front, superintended the movement, and quickly established the line in its new and more advantageous position.”  He also said the line in this configuration “enabled us to pour an effective fire” into O’Neal’s men as they marched forward this second time.  Sellers would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that afternoon.  He took charge while Col. Lyle was occupied elsewhere along the line and directed the refusal of the line and led a counterattack that repulsed O’Neal’s men a second time.

 

Superior numbers finally told, though.  The vastly outnumbered Federals could only last so long against Lee’s largest division and Ramseur’s brigade swept across the field.  The Federals were forced to retreat, but not before Stewart’s guns were safely withdrawn.  The 90th retreated through the town of Gettysburg, where many were captured, and made their way to Cemetery Hill.  Of the 208 men the 90th brought to Gettysburg, 8 were killed, 45 were wounded and 40 were missing, a 45% casualty rate.

 

The monument was dedicated on September 3, 1888 and is located on the east side of Doubleday Avenue in between Mummasburg Road and the observation tower.

90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

SKU: 1102
$290.00Price