This monument, dedicated in November 1888, marks the area where the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry "Bucktails" were positioned through its most intense fighting on the First Day of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1, 1863). Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Walton Dwight, the unit, part of the 2nd Brigade of the Third Division of the I Corps, arrived on the field by traversing Emmitsburg Road, and deploying north and west of the McPherson farm house west of the town of Gettysburg, linking with the 150th Pennsylvania on their left, and the 143rd Pennsylvania on their right. Here they received a great barrage of artillery from Confederates on Herr Ridge, which caused them a number of casualties (Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A was split in half and killed by a shot that also killed two other men), which prompted Lieutenant Colonel Dwight to move the regiments colors 50 yards north of the unit. The move effectively fooled the Confederates for a time, and drew their fire away from the main body. When the Confederate infantry attacked from Oak Hill, they were repulsed several times by the 149th Pennsylvania, who even effected two successful charges past the unfinished Railroad Cut north of them. However, the increasing pressure put on them by the numerically superior Confederates caused the Union lines to collapse, and the 149th Pennsylvania’s position became outflanked and untenable. With the regiment’s colors still far in front of them, Colonel Dwight ordered a retreat, rather than try to recover the flags, knowing that such an attempt would destroy his regiment (he wrote in his after-battle report “I lost the colors but saved the regiment”). He had been severely wounded in the leg while a portion of his unit was in the Railroad Cut, and for a time the unit had no effective field officers, due to all having been either killed or wounded. During the confused retreat, the regiment’s Company D, which had been detached to this point as the provost guard for the 1st Division, arrived on the field, and put up a heroic 20 minute stand near the Shultz House on Chambersburg Pike, which gave retreating troops more time to get away (a small monument marks the site of their stand today). Company D’s Captain James Glenn took command of the survivors upon finding out of that he was the only unwounded officer of the regiment, and led those he could find through the town to Cemetery Hill south of Gettysburg. Like many Union units that day, the 149th lost a number of men captured when victorious Confederates overwhelmed the town itself. By the end of July 1 the remnants were stationed on the Union left, but were soon moved to the center, where on the Third day they helped support the repulse of Pickett’s Charge (a third monument for the unit was placed in this area). The regiment came to Gettysburg with 460 effective men. It lost 66 killed or mortally wounded (including Color Sergeant Henry Brehm, who was mortally wounded trying to save the regiment’s colors), 159 wounded, and 111 missing or captured, for a total of 336 out of the 460. (bio by: Russ Dodge)
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Witnessing these hallowed lands of battle even 149 years later is a life changing experience. Blessings for all who endured those anguished days, thank you for your sacrifice for our country. -
Anne Shurtleff Stevens Added: Jun. 7, 2015