The 114th PA at Chancellorsville, Overlooked in Plain Sight

Chris@114thPAThe Chancellorsville monument to the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry is arguably the battlefield’s most visible monument—and, ironically, the least accessible. The granite tablet sits next to the eastbound lane of Route Three, facing the forest rather than the road, maintaining both a high profile and public anonymity. I’ve had to bushwhack here from the open ground at Fairview: through the pathless woods, across a low swampy area, and around various bits of highway trash.

Better known as Collis’ Zouaves, the 114th PA is better memorialized in this area for its action on December 13, 1862 at the Slaughter Pen Farm during the battle of Fredericksburg. Their colonel, Charles Collis, won the Medal of Honor for the action. Collis later commissioned painter Carl Röchling to capture the regiment’s colorful assault in a painting that now hangs on display in the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center. 

At Gettysburg, Collis’s Zouaves are commemorated with a handsome statue marking their precarious position along the Emmetsburg Pike as part of the Peach Orchard action.

114th PA Monument Dedication C-ville

Veterans from the 114th PA at the 1899 dedication of their unit’s monument at Chancellorsville (photo courtesy Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park)

In contrast, their marker at Chancellorsville—installed on May 2, 1899—looks like a modern tombstone, and it sits in the wrong location. The regiment actually fought a couple hundred yards closer to Hazel Grove to the south. No documentation exists to explain the monument’s errant placement, but locating it near the road ensured that passersby along the Orange Plank Road would see it. (That was the same principle that guided the 1888 placement of the Jackson wounding monument on the opposite side of the road, a few hundred yards west.) According to former Park Service Historian Don Pfanz, Collis admitted in his speech that the 114th PA’s monument had been placed incorrectly, “suggesting that when the battlefield became a National Park the monument could be moved to its proper location.” The Park came, but the monument stayed.

On May 2, the regiment had moved south toward Cathareine’s Furnace to harass the tail of Jackson’s flanking column. On May 3, they shifted back toward Hazel Grove, sent in to replace Thomas Ruger’s brigade. Here’s how Don Pfanz described the action:

Ruger’s men had gallantly turned aside several Confederate thrusts that morning, but it was now running short of ammunition. As they advanced, the men of the 114th came under a heavy fire from Confederate infantry protected by earthworks. The Zouaves charged the works and using only bayonets drove the defenders back. Meanwhile, the rest of the brigade was not faring so well. Determined assaults by Stephen D. Ramseur’s and J. H. S. Funk’s brigades forced Graham’s brigade back, including Collis’ men, who were compelled to relinquish their hard-won trenches….

114th PAI’ve passed the monument for the 114th PA a bizillion times, but because of its location along busy Rt. 3, with no nearby pullover for parking, I’ve never had the chance to actually visit it. Don’s excellent monument study for the park includes the history of this monument and a transcription of its bronze table, but I want to see the monument for myself.

On its east-facing side—away from the road—the monument lists the names of the 3 officers and 35 men of the regiment killed on May 3:

MAJOR JOSEPH S. CHANDLER.
CAPTAIN FRANK ELIOT, CO. F.
LIEU’T. GEORGE M. CULLEN, CO. G.

HENRY STEELMAN, CO. A.     WILLIAM STRATTON, CO. E
SERG’T ALFRED TRICKER, CO. B.              WILLIAM WHITING, CO. E
JOHN ALQUESHOUSE, CO. B.              SERG’T JOHN BUSSINGER, CO. F
ALBERT HOLWORTH, CO. B.              BENJAMIN DAVIS, CO. F.
JOHN J. SPRINGER, CO. B.              GEORGE HOWELL, CO. F.
SAMUEL T. SAPP, CO. B.              WILLIAM PLEWS JR., CO. F.
EDWARD SINMS, CO. B.              GEORGE RUTTER,  CO. F.
SAMUEL N. WHITESELL, CO. B.              GEORGE REAVER,  CO. F.
GEORGE LUTZ, CO. C.              GEORGE W. YOUNG,  CO. F.
MARTIN A. SHIMP, CO. C.              JOHN J. GEMPSHORN, CO. G.
JOHN B. WILSON, CO. C.              SERG’T PENROSE B. HEAD, CO. H.
CORP’L WILLIAM CUMPSTON, CO. D.              HARVEY MARSHALL, CO. H.
ALBERT COLSHER, CO. D.              SERG’T DAVID F. EDGAR, CO. I.
GEORGE A. DOBLER, CO. D.              VANLEER E. BOND, CO. I.
FRANK MC. GRADY, CO. D.              JAMES BRYAN, CO. I.
SIMEON DAVIS, CO. E.              CHARLES F. MAHAN, CO. I.
HENRY DIDLINE, CO. E.              AUGUSTUS RHINEFELDT, CO. I
DAVID C. HUTCHINSON, CO. K.

Despite the noise of the traffic zooming by on Rt. 3, my attention is drawn instead to the stand of woods south of the road. So many unwritten, unremembered stories from May 3, 1863, haunt those woods. Here, Collis’ Zouaves actually have a marker to commemorate their story and yet, because of the marker’s inaccessibility, that story remains as unremembered and unrecognized as all the others. Coming to read the names gives me the chance, if just for a few minutes, to remember these men and recall their story.

So that’s my invitation to you on this anniversary of the battle of Chancellorsville, wherever you are: Surely there’s some marker or monument or memorial that you pass by all the time—take a moment to finally stop. Check it out. Read the text. Recite the names. Remember the stories.