Battlefield Markers & Monuments: A Conclusion

Our official blog series “Battlefield Markers & Monuments” concludes this evening, but of course you’ll continue to find articles about historical sites and markers throughout the coming months on Emerging Civil War. We hope you’ve enjoyed the details about markers and monuments.

As blog editors, we like to choose topics for the series and then let our writers interpret the details, writing specific on aspects of their own interest and research. Not all the articles in this series focused on battlefield markers and monuments, but all the posts highlighted historic markers or monuments related to the Civil War. Mission accomplished! We always appreciate the insight of our authors.

Woodson’s Missourian Battlefield Marker at New Market, Virginia

We learned about stone blocks and bronze artwork placed to commemorate historic events, brave deeds, and courageous individuals. We explored accounts about the actions that inspired the markers and monuments. We discussed details regarding the dedications or quiet placements of the silent sentinels.

Thank you to all the ECW members and guest authors for sharing their research, observations, and writing with us. It’s been an enlightening and informative experience to read facts and perspectives on some of the famous and lesser-known markers and monuments connected to the Civil War. We hope you’ve found a few new locations to visit and a new curiosity to discover the stories behind the stone and bronze.

If you want to indulge in all the articles from the series, you can find the entire three weeks of posts here: markers-and-monuments-17 

Irish Brigade Monument at Antietam

Have you been inspired to explore more battlefield/historical markers and monuments and their history? Do you have a Civil War related marker or monument in your hometown? Do you know its history?

Battlefield Markers & Monuments: Wisconsin Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park

Emerging Civil War welcomes back Paige Gibbons-Backus

Growing up in Wisconsin, I have always been interested in history, and while Wisconsin has some interesting Civil War history such as the Iron Brigade, “Old Abe”, and Camp Randall, it really was not a main focus. To get my Civil War history, I have always traveled east to places like Charleston, Richmond, or Gettysburg, but I never really spent much time learning about the western theater of the war.

20th Wisconsin Monument

I finally had my first opportunity on a recent trip to New Orleans and Mississippi in September 2016 when we stopped at Vicksburg National Military Park. Driving down the long, curvy park road surrounded by monuments, hills, and ridiculously tall grass, one monument really stuck out to me: the Wisconsin Memorial. The monument was dedicated in 1911, and compared to many of the other monuments along the park road, it is enormous; 122 feet in height, with four sets of stairs leading to a column with a bronze statue of “Old Abe”, mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, at its peak. Around the column stands various statues and reliefs, many of which focus on reconciliation. However, what stood out the most were the names of the 9,075 soldiers who had fought at Vicksburg, and among them, there with the 20th Wisconsin Company H, was Calvin Hyde, my fourth great-grandfather.

There is always a sense of pride when seeing your ancestor’s name on a monument for his service, let alone connected to such an impactful event as the Civil War. I knew my ancestor had fought in the Civil War, but his whole service took place in the western theater, not in the more famous eastern engagements such as Fredericksburg, Manassas, or Gettysburg. Calvin Hyde resided in Ripon, Wisconsin (where my family still lives today) and enlisted in the Twentieth Wisconsin Infantry. His regiment was organized into service at Camp Randall, in Madison, Wisconsin (now largely part of the University of Wisconsin’s football stadium), and set out in August 1862. The regiment joined General Herron’s Brigade and left for Missouri on September 6th to participate in the campaign then being conducted against the Confederates by the Army of the Frontier. As a result, they took part in the battle of Prairie Gove on December 7th, 1862, then moved on to Springfield, Missouri. They were later transferred to Vicksburg on June 15th, 1863 and remained there until the surrender on July 4th, 1863.

Vicksburg Park

Vicksburg was a vital part of the war effort in the western theater because it attempted to  control the Mississippi River. Control of the river would allow the occupying forces to more easily transport supplies, soldiers, and wounded throughout the west. By 1863, Vicksburg was one of the last major Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi River. When two assaults on the once thriving town failed, General Grant decided to besiege the city. From May 18th to July 4th, 1863, the city was surrounded by more than 70,000 troops, trapping not only soldiers, but women and children as well who burrowed into caves in the hills for protection. After months of bombardments, shortness of supplies, and illness, the Confederates surrendered, transferring control of the town and the Mississippi River to the Union for the rest of the war.

Wisconsin Monument

Throughout the siege at Vicksburg, the 20th Wisconsin was situated on the extreme left flank of the entrenching forces, (in an area now off the battlefield park and surrounded by shopping centers). They did not see much action, but instead, their main duties consisted of picket duty and labor on the trenches. However, records from one commander, Colonel Bertram, reported that on June 23rd, a few men from Companies B and D were able to sneak close to the Confederate fire pits, capturing thirteen soldiers and killing one. For the rest of the men of the regiment, they labored or spent a lot of their time in the hospitals due to disease, including Calvin Hyde, who was hospitalized for some time due to dysentery. Despite this, the 20th Wisconsin fared well during the siege, only suffering two casualties: Peter Nimm, of Company H, and J. Champeny of Company C, who died in a hospital.

After the Siege of Vicksburg, the 20th Wisconsin headed west on several expeditions, including across the Rio Grande into Mexico, January 1864, and finished out their service in Galveston, Texas, performing garrison duties until their discharge July 15th, 1865. As for my ancestor, he lived the remainder of his days back in Ripon Wisconsin, doing what many do best in that state: farming.

Calvin Hyde’s name is listed here.

Many would just see the Wisconsin memorial simply as another monument in a sea of monuments along the battlefield drive. However, the personal and family connections make it something incredibly special to me, not only because I am a history nerd, but because we have no remnants of Calvin Hyde’s Civil War days, and this was the first time I could see and touch sometime tangible from his service.

Question of the Week: 11/6-11/12/17

We’ve been sharing some of the history surrounding markers, monuments, or memorials on battlefields or at historic sites.

Is there a particular battlefield or historic marker that has been helpful or especially meaningful in your Civil War studies? Why?

Battlefield Markers & Monuments: From Civil to World War – The Missouri State Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park

Emerging Civil War welcomes back guest author Kristen M. Pawlak (Trout)

On the northeast sector of Vicksburg National Military Park near the Stockade Redan, sits the Missouri State Memorial, the only memorial there that is dedicated to both Federal and Confederate troops who served in one of the most consequential campaigns in the Western Theater. Made of Missouri red granite, the memorial is 42-feet tall (representing the 42 Missouri units engaged in the campaign) with two flanking wings depicting each side’s role in the siege. On the center pylon, the Spirit of the Republic stands upon a pedestal underneath a granite relief of the Missouri State Seal. Two bronze reliefs are on the wings of the memorial; the right wing depicts the Confederate defense, while the left illustrates the attacking Federals. The Missouri State Memorial is not only significant as a piece of art, but most importantly, also as a symbol of brotherhood, reconciliation, and unity in postwar America.

The Missouri State Memorial at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. (Image Courtesy of Iron Brigader)

On October 17, 1917, over fifty-four years after the Siege of Vicksburg, hundreds of veterans and civilians alike gathered around the new memorial, to, as inscribed in bronze, “commemorate and perpetuate the heroic services, the unselfish devotion to duty, and exalted patriotism of the Missouri soldiers, both Union and Confederate.” The ceremony of the monument was quite reconciliationist in spirit, with a particular focus on the theme of “brother against brother.” The memorial was strategically placed between Union and Confederate lines, where Missourians literally fought fellow Missourians. The symbolism of brotherhood became, like many memorial dedications in the postwar era, “the possibility of patriotic reflection, when orators declared that America’s greatness was revealed in this uniting of former enemies.”[1] These same messages used to showcase reconciliation amongst Missouri veterans once divided by civil war were also used to push unity and patriotic themes as the United States had, just months prior, declared war on Germany.

Lieutenant (later Captain) Menomen O’Donnell of the 11th Missouri Infantry (US) received the Medal of Honor for actions during the May 22, 1863 assault near the Stockade Redan. The memorial recognized the actions of brave Missouri troops, just like O’Donnell and his unit. (Image courtesy of Deborah Maroney and Irish American Civil War).

By the time the Missouri State Memorial was dedicated and erected at Vicksburg National Military Park, the United States had been at war for over six months, preparing for the deployment of four million military personnel to the Western Front and the Atlantic Ocean. As the nation’s “boys in blue and gray” erected monuments to their fallen comrades and of their courageous actions on the battlefield, they and others who partook in the commemorations looked to the ongoing conflict overseas to help in the war effort and to connect the past with the present.

“The sons and the grandsons of those soldiers […] are now at cantonments and in training as soldiers of the United States,” W. T. Ripley of the Vicksburg Park Commission told the crowd. He went on to say, “After their training is ended and when, somewhere in France, these young Missourians go over the top of the parapet and charge the Germans, let them start the Rebel Yell, the fiercest battle cry that ever leaped from the lips of fighting men.”[2]

General of the Armies John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force during the Great War, was the son of a Union veteran from Missouri. (Image Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica).

Today, when visitors stroll through Vicksburg National Military Park and stumble upon the Missouri State Memorial, they may not know the deeper history and context of both the monument and its dedication. It is not just a monument to a state – instead, it is a monument that represents brotherhood, reconciliation, suffering, courage, and national unity amongst Missourians, who, from 1861-1865, were bitterly divided. It is also a testament to postwar reunion; though engaged in civil war over fifty years before, the symbols of reunification and “shaking hands over the bloody chasm” unite the next generation of American soldiers to fight a greater enemy abroad.

Kristen M. Pawlak (Trout) is the Development Associate for Stewardship at the Civil War Trust. She also sits on the Board of Directors at the Missouri Civil War Museum, and actively volunteers with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2014 with a BA in History and Civil War Era Studies, and is currently pursuing her MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at Webster University. From St. Louis, Kristen has a fond interest in the Civil War in Missouri, Civil War medicine, and the war experiences of soldiers.

[1] Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 1-2.

[2] “New York and Missouri Memorials Dedicated,” The Vicksburg Herald (Vicksburg, MS), October 18, 1917.

Battlefield Markers & Monuments: What’s On The Blog Series Header?

What’s the small battlefield monument image on the blog series header?

Short Answer: 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Located at The Angle on Cemetery Ridge, this monument is actually one of two at Gettysburg for the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry. Recognizable and well-photographed, it was dedicated in 1891 and has its own controversial history.

72 PA at Gettysburg

This Pennsylvania regiment had a unique history. Recruited in Philadelphia in 1861 by Colonel Edward Baker and originally called the 3rd California, they formed a regiment in Baker’s “California Brigade.” Named for one of the Union states in the far west though recruited in a Pennsylvania city, the brigade’s name and regiment numbers were quickly changed to “Philadelphia Brigade” after Baker’s death at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff (October 1861). The “3rd California” became the 72nd Pennsylvania, nicknamed “Baxter’s Fire Zouaves.”

The regiment fought in the Peninsula Campaign, Seven Days Battles, Chantilly, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and the Chancellorsville Campaign before their role at Gettysburg. In July 1863, the unit served in the General Alexander Webb’s second brigade in General John Gibbon’s second division of General Winfield S. Hancock’s II Corps of the Army of the Potomac. On July 3, 1863, the regiment waited on Cemetery Ridge, just east of the landmark known as The Angle where the Confederate assault aimed its attack.

As the survivors of the Confederate brigades reached the stonewall, fierce fighting ensued at The Angle. When Confederate General Lewis Armistead crossed the low wall, he saw a broken battery (Cushing’s guns) and a lone reserve regiment: the 72nd Pennsylvania. The Zouaves fired on the approaching Confederates. General Webb ordered the regiment to charge into The Angle, but perhaps un-hearing or perhaps not realizing Webb was their brigade commander, the regiment refused to move. When their color sergeant William Finecy dashed forward with the flag, shouting “Will you see your color storm the wall alone?” they followed into the hand-to-hand melee. They charged to the stonewall and, joined by other regiments and General Hall’s brigade, eventually succeeded in repulsing the Confederate assault. At Gettysburg, the 72nd began the fight with 380 men and lost 192 as casualties.[i]

Clearly, this Pennsylvania regiment had played an important role in the effort to defeat the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. What wasn’t so clear in later decades was the location for their monument and determining “how much honor” the regiment should receive.

When Gettysburg received many of its monuments in the later part of the 19th Century, the Battlefield Commission declared that unit memorials were supposed to be placed at the unit’s main location during the fight. Some interpreted that to mean the rear position of the 72nd, not a place of prominence at the stonewall. However, the veterans didn’t like the original position and wanted to be remembered and memorialized for their action at the wall. It was a three year legal case, ending in court with a judge ruling in favor of the forward position. Finally, on July 4, 1891, the 72nd Pennsylvania monument was dedicated at The Angle. (About 70 yards east of their statue is a small monument/marker, showing their original position before the charge.)

Did the 72nd Pennsylvania single-handedly change the course of Gettysburg? No. Did they cause their general a lot of frustration by initially refusing to move? Yes. However, they held their original position and eventually followed their colorbearer into the brutal fight, joining other Union regiments in a counter-attack which effectively ended the Battle of Gettysburg and, arguably, changed the course of the war.

The 72nd Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg’s Angle features a defiant soldier in the traditional Zouave Uniform worn by the regiment. He raises his rifle in a desperately courageous pose, frozen in bronze and ever-ready to strike back at the now unseen foe.



A.C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, 2013, Alfred A. Knopf.

N.A. Trudeau, Gettysburg: A Testing Of Courage, 2002, Harper Collins.

[i] These casualty numbers are referenced from Noah Andre Trudeau’s Gettysburg: A Testing Of Courage, page 569. Casualty numbers often vary and can be challenging to establish with exact, unfailing accuracy due to the reports and sources available.

Battlefield Markers & Monuments: An Ocean Without Monuments

We’re featuring another post from the Emerging Civil War Archives for our Battlefield Markers & Monuments series.

In today’s archived article, Dwight Hughes shares his perspective on the lack of monuments or markers commemorating the Civil War conflict at sea.

No Monuments On The Ocean