1st Minnesota Infantry Monument - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 48.396 W 077° 14.101
18S E 308673 N 4408681
Quick Description: 1 of 3 Civil War Monuments to Minnesota of the GBMA Era (1863 - 1895). Indicates regiment position when ordered to counterattack 2 CSA Brigades. Suffered heavy losses. Located on South Hancock Ave. near intersection w/ Humphreys Ave.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 12/22/2012 10:13:29 PM
Waymark Code: WMFZDG
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 9

Long Description:

The 1st Minnesota Infantry served as a member of Harrow’s Brigade in Gibbon’s Division of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac, a Fighting 300 Regiment. The unit was commanded by Colonel William Colvill (1830-1905), a lawyer and newspaper editor in Red Wing. Colvill was wounded at Glendale and again on July 2 while here @ Gettysburg. Colvill who was hit three times and severally wounded. He was shot in the shoulder and the ankle. One bullet entered the top right shoulder and tore across his back, clipping off a part of his vertebra and lodging under his left scapula. Both wounds would force Colvill to use a cane the rest of his life. In his post-war life he was a state legislature and state attorney general. Under Colvill's command 420 men were engaged at Gettysburg and among them, 50 were killed and 173 were wounded and 1 went missing. From my experience, this regiment suffered HUGE losses compared to their counterparts who also fought here at Gettysburg. The 83.1 percent casualty rate stands to this day as the largest loss by any surviving military unit in U.S. history during a single day's engagement. The unit's flag is now in the Minnesota Capitol's rotunda. In 1905, Colvill traveled to the Soldiers Home in Minneapolis to attend a reunion of the veterans of the First Minnesota. While there, he died in his sleep on June 13. He is buried in the Cannon Falls Community Cemetery in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge was present for the dedication of a statue that was placed next to his grave.

As already reported, Colonel William Colville led the men into action and was wounded during the July 2 charge. Captain Nathan Messick took over command only to be killed the next day during the repulse of Pickett's Charge. He was briefly followed by Captain Wilson B. Farrell, who was also killed, and finally by Captain Henry C. Coates. The men of the 1st Minnesota are most remembered for their actions on July 2, 1863, during the second day's fighting at Gettysburg, where the regiment prevented the Confederates from pushing the Federals off of Cemetery Ridge, a position that was to be crucial in the battle.

The 1st Minnesota Infantry Monument is located at the intersection of South Hancock Avenue and Humphreys Avenue (the two roads make a "y"), on the east or left side of the road when traveling north on Hancock Avenue. This area is known as Cemetery Ridge. The Pennsylvania Memorial is 380 feet due north of this position. Parking is available along Hancock Avenue at enlarged shoulder cutouts on the side of the road, directly across from the other various monuments. The best parking is on Humphreys Avenue at a dedicated parking lot across from the Pennsylvania Monument. Be sure to keep vehicles off the grass or you will be ticketed by park police. I visited this monument on Thursday, July 5, 2012 in the later part of the afternoon. I was at an elevation of 575 feet, ASL. I used a Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.

This monument is one of the more memorable memorials at the battlefield. It is just so huge and distinct. From what I read, the 1st Minnesota Infantry Monument marks the spot where the Union charge began. The bronze infantryman with fixed bayonet indicates the direction of the charge, which is to the west. The Draw the Sword site helped out by the NPS narrative and the SIRIS site offers the following description: Atop a tall square base stands a bronze figure of a infantryman advancing toward the enemy with his rifle raised. The granite base is adorned on the side with a bronze relief plaque depicting a group of infantrymen engaged in battle. The front of the base is adorned with a bronze seal. The base rests on three steps.

The monument was dedicated on July 2, 1897 by the State of Minnesota. The monument is composed entirely of granite and has some bronze elements including a stunning relief tablet. The monument has the following dimensions: Overall: The sculpture is approximately 8 feet 4 inches x 3 feet 5 inches x 1 foot 6 inches and the base. For some reason, the NRHP narrative fails to list the height which naturally means the usual sources are rendered impotent or paralyzed to give that information (no one is able to provide original information); I will take the leap. My best approximation: the height of the monument including the base is 22 feet (bottom of base to tip of statue). The monument was sculpted by Jacob Fielde (1859 - 1896). There are lengthy inscriptions on the front and proper right sides which read:

(Front):
First Regiment
Minnesota Vol's
1st Brigade 2nd Div 2nd Corps
April 29 1861 - May 4 1864
Bull Run, Balls Bluff, Berryville, Yorktown, West Point, Hanover Court House, Fair Oaks, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, Malvren Hill, 2nd Malvern Hill, Vienna, South Mountain, Antietam, Charlestown, Asby's Gap, Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights, Haymarket, Gettysburg, Auburn, Bristow Station, Mine Run and numerous skrimshes

Erected by The State of Minnesota a.d. 1893

(Right):
On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles Third Corps having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse. As his men were passing here in confused retreat two Confederate brigades in pursuit to gain time to bring up reserves and save this position Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy. The order was instantly repeated by Col. Wm. Colvill and the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades. Breaking with the bayonet the enemy's front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there. The remnant of the eight companies nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time and till it retired on the approach of the reserve. The charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position and probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed and wounded. More than 83 percent. 47 men were still in line and no man missing. In self-sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col. Wm. Colvill, Lt. Co.. Chas. P. Adams and Maj. Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt. Joseph Periam, Capt. Louis Mullen and Lt. Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett's Charge losing 17 more men killed and wounded.


The 1st Minnesota Infantry Monument is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. The monument is identified as structure number MN265.

From the Nomination Form:
1 of 3 Civil War Monuments to Minnesota of the GBMA Era (1863 - 1895). Indicates regiment position when ordered to counterattack 2 CSA Brigades. Suffered heavy losses. Located on South Hancock Ave. near intersection w/ Humphreys Ave.

Short Physical Description:
Monument base 18'x16', rough-cut, stepped finish base to 3 part shaft. 1st part-excised state name, 2nd part-bronze tablets, relief & shield on 4 sides, 3rd part excised cloverleaf pattern. Capped w/ running infantryman w/ exposed bayonet-represents troop action.

Long Physical Description:
N/A


My Sources
1. NRHP Nomination Form
2. SIRIS
3. Stone Sentinels
4. Virtual Gettysburg
5. Draw the Sword
6. Historical Marker Database
7. Wikipedia

Website pertaining to the memorial: [Web Link]

List if there are any visiting hours:
8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.- November 1 through March 31 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.- April 1 to October 31


Entrance fees (if it applies): 0

Type of memorial: Monument

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