Friday, July 20, 2012

2nd Rhode Island Infantry Monuments at Gettysburg

I spent today touring Gettysburg National Military Park, the site of one of the most famous and important battles of the Civil War.  The battle here took place on 1 July - 3 July 1863 and was a decisive battle for the Union. Interesting, the Union won the battle at Vicksburg Mississippi on the same day, and although the war lasted another 2 years, the tide had turned for both sides. General Robert E Lee retreated from Gettysburg with the remnants of the Confederate Army after this battle and never again invaded a Union state. In the northern newspapers, the victory for the north at both Vicksburg and Gettysburg resulted in the phrase "The Glorious Fourth". I had heard this phrase used in relation to the 4th of July, but did not know it originated in the year 1863. As the Park Ranger mentioned, this term was not used in the South!

One of the reasons I wanted to revisit Gettysburg (I had been here years earlier with my kids) was to see the places my great-great-grandfather, Zophar Skinner and his unit, the Rhode Island 2nd Infantry Regiment, Company C were during the Gettysburg battle, and to trace the role his regiment played at Gettysburg. I knew that most Regiments had monuments here noting their battlefield locations during the 3 days of the battle and I wanted to find the 2nd Infantry's monuments.

One of the Park Rangers  had a loose leaf book that gave the details of the state regiments and the location of Regimental or State monuments. His data page for Rhode Island showed that the 2nd Infantry had 348 men and suffered 7 losses, and that there were two regimental monuments documenting the location of the Regiment during the last two days of the battle. The unit was mostly held in Reserve on the 2nd day of the battle, and moved up to the center of the line late in the afternoon of the last day.
Monument near Little Round Top
Battle plaque near Little Round Top
"Army of the Potomac
Sixth Corps  Third Division
Col. Henry L. Eustis
7th  10th  37th Massachusetts
2d Rhode Island Infantry

July 2  Arrived about 2 P.M. from Manchester MD and late in the day
  moved to the northeast slope of Little Round Top and held in
  reserve bivouacking for the night with First Brigade in the rear

July 3 Moved to the right Centre and reported to Major Gen.                 
  J. Newton and was held in reserve during the battle.
  Not engaged but subject to artillery fire

Casualties  Killed 3 men    Wounded 2 officers    39 men captured
or missing 25 men      Total 69"

Momument near Codori Farm, Emmitsburg Road in the center of the battlefield
Inscription on the monument near Codori Farm

"Skirmish Line
2nd R.I. Volunteers
Col. Horatio Rogers Jr.
2nd Brig. 3rd Div.
6th Corps
July 4, 1863"

I have a copy of Zophar's 1863 diary at home, and the entries for the days surrounding the Gettysburg Battle are in this post.

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