72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument

The 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument[1] is an 1891 statuary memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield. It is located on Cemetery Ridge, by The Angle and the copse of trees, where Union forces including the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry beat back Confederate forces engaged in Pickett's Charge.

72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument
Coordinates39°48′46.8″N 77°14′10.6″W
LocationGettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
Dedicated dateJuly 4, 1891 (1891-07-04)

The monument was the subject of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case over control of the battlefield. It is depicted on the 2011 "Gettysburg" America the Beautiful quarter commemorative coin.

The regiment erected an earlier monument in 1883. To avoid confusion, that is now usually referred to as the "Philadelphia Brigade" Monument.


The 72nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanded by Colonel DeWitt Clinton Baxter and also called "Baxter's Philadelphia Fire Zouaves," was recruited among firemen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2] Their dress uniforms were modeled on those of the Zouaves, a North African Berber tribe famous for its ferocious fighting.

The 72nd played an important role in beating back Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. At the beginning of the Confederate advance across the valley, the 72nd was posted in support and to the rear of the batteries upon Hancock's front. "As the enemy drove in the brigade pickets from the Emmitsburg Road, [sic] the regiment was rushed to the front line, striking the assailants at the famous stone wall and the clump of trees."[3] That morning, the Fire Zouaves had numbered 458 officers and men. After the fury of the conflict, there were but 266 of the 72nd left for further duty.

First monument

In 1864, Pennsylvania granted a charter to the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association for promoting and protecting "memorial structures."[4] The GBMA subsequently asserted that it had exclusive authority to approve the design and location of all Gettysburg monuments, including on battlefield land not owned by the GBMA.[5] In 1896, the GBMA's land holdings totalled 522 acres (0.816 sq mi);[6] Gettyburg National Military Park now totals 3,965 acres (6.195 sq mi).

In 1883, the first "72nd PA Infty"[1] monument was approved, and the GBMA placed it on the "Roberts Line … where their heavy losses were".[7] This location seems to have been a "safe" choice by the GBMA, since there remained nagging questions about when early or late in the battle the 72nd had joined in the worst of the fighting.[8]

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Members of the regiment vehemently disagreed with the placement of the monument. The GBMA-chosen location was nearly 70 yd (64 m) behind the Union front line, instead of right at it. Much of the battlefield land was still in private hands, and the 72nd bought a 900 sq ft (84 m2) tract at the Union front line, on which to erect a second monument. Significantly, the regiment also bypassed the GBMA, obtaining approval for the second monument from a different Pennsylvania commission.[9]

In July 1888, the GBMA denied permission for the 72nd to build the second monument on its own land. On December 12, 1888, the GBMA had the 72nd's Captain John Reed arrested for trespassing, after "he had started men at work laying a foundation for the [second] monument of the Seventy-second Regiment".[10] The unit's 1889 history, The Seventy-second Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, at Bloody Angle, published the unit's actions on July 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg.

GBMA v. 72nd PA Regiment
In October 1889, Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association v. Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment[11] heard testimony regarding the regiment's Pickett's Charge location(s).[12] The Pennsylvania Supreme Court subsequently "reaffirmed"[1] for the 72nd, finding that the authority of the state commission established by a state act superseded any GBMA organizational authority for monument locations (e.g., for US regulars and other states' units): "the Commonwealth … has the right to designate the position where any of her regiments specially distinguished themselves" (Justice Sterrett).[13]

Gettysburg's local newspaper, The Star and Sentinel, editorialized that the Commonwealth was "in the position of a cheat," for ruling that Pennsylvania units were not required to follow GBMA decisions, as other states' units were.[7]

Second monument

The approximately-13.5 ft (4.1 m) monument consists of a two-part, stepped, polished-granite shaft set on a two-part, rough- and finish-cut stepped base, and topped by a lifesize bronze sculpture. The "Fire Zouave" figure is in close combat with the enemy, swinging his rifle as a club. The monument was designed by Captain John Reed (the 72nd veteran who was arrested), but only the last name of the sculptor is known: Stephens.[14] The sculpture was cast by the Bureau Brothers Foundry in Philadelphia.[15]

About 1000 people attended the July 4, 1891, monument's dedication,[16] and Edward McPherson accepted it on behalf of the GBMA.[17] The GBMA later had second thoughts on August 25, its executive committee recommended a marker be placed to indicate the GBMA bore "no responsibility for the location of the monument as now placed."[18]

The 72nd's ownership of its statuary tract proved crucial in preventing the Gettysburg Electric Railway from building a tourist trolley across the field of Pickett's Charge. The 72nd denied right-of-way across its tract, forcing the trolley company to find another route (behind the Union line).[19] To reiterate that its tract remained private land, in June 1893, the 72nd marked the boundaries with stone markers, placed a no trespassing sign, and erected a flag pole with the Stars and Stripes (44 stars).[20] The association held the statuary tract until March 20, 1911, when trustees for the survivors' association of the "Seventy-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers" deeded it to the War Department.[21]

The 2011 "Gettysburg" America the Beautiful Quarter was developed "in consultation with representatives of Gettysburg National Military Park." The reverse of the coin features an image of the 72nd regiment's statuary monument.[22] The Codori Barn, visible in the background, was not built until 1882.[23]

High winds blew the 1,500 lb (0.68 t) Fire Zouave sculpture off its pedestal on June 25, 2013, just a week before the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.[24] National Park Service personnel hoisted the slightly-damaged sculpture back onto its pedestal the next day, and restored it over the winter.[25]

See also

External images
1904 image of statuary
HMdb image & text below statue
Both 72nd monuments in 1 image


  1. "List of Classified Structures". NPS.gov. Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2011-05-02. p. 5:
    • MN226: "72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument". Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2011. 1 of 110 MN to PA. Dedicated 07/04/1891. Indicates advance post of 72nd PA infty (PA Zouaves) July 3, 1863, during repulse of Armistead's Brigade. … Monument is a two-part stepped polished granite shaft topped by a bronze statuary of a "Fire Zouave" in swinging rifle position and set on a two-part 5.9x4.9 foot rough and finish cut stepped base. The base has bronze tablets. The shaft has an incised inscription. Sculptured by __ Stephens. Located on the former Webb Avenue in the Angle. It is the only monument on the battlefield that’s location was reaffirmed by a Pennsylvania State Supreme Court decision. NOTE: Isbell, 2006, claims the "monument is as designed by Private [sic] John Reed".
    • MN227: "72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument". Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2011. Indicates position held by 72nd PA Infty Jul 3, 1863, standing in-line, firing volleys into Armistead's line advance. Located junction Webb Ave & Hancock @ copse of trees.
  2. "72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument, (sculpture)". Save Outdoor Sculpture, Pennsylvania survey. SIRIS. 1995. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  3. Frank H. Taylor, Philadelphia in the Civil War, 18611865 (City of Philadelphia, 1913), p. 92.
  4. "Gettysburg National Park". The First Battlefield Parks, 1890-1899. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  5. "Another Gettysburg Battle: Veterans Opposed in Their Selection of a Monument Site" (Google News Archive). The Philadelphia Record. July 21, 1888. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
  6. Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association (February 4, 1896), Deed Book XX: Deed [to United States of America], Adams County Courthouse
  7. "The Seventy-Second Monument Placed" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 7, 1891. Retrieved 2011-04-24. Pennsylvania has thus been placed, by somebody, before her sisters in the position of a cheat—at which disgrace both the pride and the principle of our Commonwealth will sternly revolt. … It gave the project the sanction of a charter to an Association of [Pennsylvania] citizens for the purpose of promoting and protecting such "memorial structures as a generous and patriotic people may aid to erect in commemoration of the heroic deeds, struggles and triumphs of the brave defenders of the Union." … Of the 22 members of this [Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association] all are Grand Army men except four. In the Army, they filled all positions from Major General to private.
  8. Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1861-1865. When the advance of the Confederate column across the valley began the 72d was posted in support and to the rear of the batteries upon Hancock's front. As the enemy drove in the brigade pickets from the Emmitsburg road, [sic] the regiment was rushed to the front line, striking the assailants at the famous stone wall and the “clump of trees.” NOTE: Several sources identify the 72nd's advance was after the Union line had been breached, e.g., "Just as the Confederate resistance began to crumble, the 72nd lurched into battle. (Isbell, 2006)
  9. "Row Over A Monument" (Google News Archive). The Philadelphia Record. December 13, 1888. Retrieved 2011-05-01. Captain Reed, representing the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment, was to-day arrested on a capias in trespass sworn out by the Battlefield Memorial Association, and put under $500 bail. …if every regiment should be allowed to place its memorial wherever it desired there would be nothing historically correct about marking the positions of the various commands, and more monuments would be located on Seminary Ridge, in the midst of the Confederate lines, than on the Union line. (New York Times article)
  10. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Cv8yAAAAIBAJ&sjid=eQAGAAAAIBAJ&pg=1649%2C2114130
  11. Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association v. Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania January 24, 1896).
  12. "They Were In The Bloody Angle" (Google News Archive). The Philadelphia Record. October 13, 1889. Retrieved 2011-05-01. Examiner McClain continued … Acting Sergeant Major Alexander W. Given, of the 114th Regiment, and Private James R. Johnson, Adjutant Charles W. West and Major Samuel Roberts, of the Seventy-second, the evidence of all going to show that the place occupied by the regiment was that claimed by its Memorial Committee.
  13. "The Gettysburg Monuments" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. July 16, 1889. Retrieved 2011-05-01. …appropriation was made "for the purpose of perpetuating the participation therein and marking by suitable memorial tablets of bronze or granite the position of each of the commands of Pennsylvania volunteers engaged in the battle." … five commissioners … "to select and decide upon the design and material for monuments to mark the position of each Pennsylvania command upon the field." … the survivors of the Seventy-second Regiment … and the commissioners wished to place it at a certain spot on the battlefield and the officers of the Memorial Association designated another spot "283 feet distant therefrom" … But on an appeal to the Supreme Court Justice Sterrett has delivered … "the Commonwealth … has the right to designate the position where any of her regiments specially distinguished themselves
  14. This may have been sculptor Frank Stephens, instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and former brother-in-law of Thomas Eakins.
  15. 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument from SIRIS.
  16. "In Honor of Dead Heroes: Soldiers' Monuments Dedicated on the Field of Gettysburg" (PDF). New York Times. July 5, 1891. Retrieved 2011-05-01. About a thousand people witnessed the ceremonies, at which Capt. John Reed presided. The Rev. Charles H. Thomas made the opening prayer and Capt. Reed presented the monument in the name of the committee to the regimental association. Remarks were made by Gen. James C. Lynch, Capt. W. W. Ker, and Capt. W. W. Wiltbank. The monument was unveiled by Mrs. Mary Lee, an old army nurse, aged eighty, and Sergt. Mullin of Cushing Battery fired a salute. A display of day fireworks concluded the exercises.
  17. "Its Monument Dedicated" (PDF). The New York Times. September 25, 1891. Retrieved 2011-05-01. After [other units did] repel Pickett's charge, and had captured a large number of prisoners, the Seventy-second valiantly proceeded to the position which Gen. Webb had ordered them to take. …the monument was erected on the main line to the disgust and indignation… Gettysburg has been considerably agitated over the matter.
  18. Buehler, C H; GBMA Exec. Com. chairman (August 25, 1891). Report…on the 72nd Penn'a Regiment Case (1982 transcription of attachment to GBMA minutes) (Report). Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  19. Hensel, W. U., PA District Attorney (August 7, 1893), Gettysburg Trolley: Attorney General Hensel Refuses to Interfere (letter), Gettysburg Times (published August 15, retrieved 2011-05-24, refusal of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regiment Association to allow the railway to pass over a small plot of ground owned--but not used--by this association
  20. "The Electric Line on the Battlefield: The Seventy-Second's Committee" (Google News Archive). The Star and Sentinel. June 20, 1893. Retrieved 2011-05-02. W. W. [Captain] Ker, Esq., '[Captain]' John Reed and Sylvester Byrnes, representing the Seventy-second regiment … the regiment's plot of ground … surveyed and the corners distinctly marked with stakes … In the centre a pole was planted and a flag run up. A contract was made with J. W. Flaharty for corner-stones. An iron railing will be erected around the enclosure.
  21. Seventy-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (March 20, 1911), Deed Book 66: Deed [to United States], Adams County Courthouse, p. 442 cited by: United States military reservations … (Google Books). 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2011-04-19.)
  22. "The Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter". USMint.gov. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  23. "Town and County:Local Flashes" (Google News Archive). Gettysburg Compiler. June 14, 1882. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  24. "Famous Gettysburg statue damaged in storm," WHTM ABC 27, June 26, 2013.
  25. Marc Charisse, "Gettysburg statue damaged in storm," Archived 2014-07-30 at the Wayback Machine The Evening Sun, June 27, 2013.
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