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?

10 Responses to Question of the Week: 11/6-11/12/17

  1. The stone marker located at the corner intersection of Benchmark Rd and Tidewater Trail, Route 2. Marks the spot of John Pelham’s small artillery battery. Also located here is a single 12 pound cannon facing the direction of Slaughter Pen farm. This small marker and site provides great visual emphasis, showing the strategical point of artillery fire that held back union lines at the Slaughter Pen fighting during the Battle of Fredericksburg on Dec 13, 1862. Further down Tidewater Trail is Slaughter Pen Farm that can be visited which also has many historical markers and informational pedestals. Job well done by Civil War Trust and local philanthropists saving preserving these spots, especially the John Pehlam site. It is a bustling sprawling area that would have otherwised swallowed up the sites with commercial and residential growth.

  2. There are two monuments at Gettysburg which were placed in the modern era, well, something on the order of 30 years ago. One commemorates the 26th NC actions on McPherson’s Ridge, and the other is in front of Arnold’s battery on Cemetery Ridge. It claims to mark the advance of NC troops “furthest to the front.” They were placed there and paid for through the efforts of the late Archie K. Davis, a retired banker and a revered figure in Winston-Salem, NC. After retirement from Wachovia Bank, Archie obtained a Masters Degree in History from Wake Forest University and wrote the biography of the “Boy Colonel” of the 26th NC , Henry Burgwyn. I met Archie at the Cemetery Ridge monument by chance one trip, and he confided proudly to me that “It was in front of the Virginians!” So the all important fact of being ahead of the Virginians was established forever on the battlefield, which I thought was a charming story.

  3. I find the memorial to the 11th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg particularly poignant. The memorializing of their regimental dog on it always reminded me of what humans are capable of even under the most deadly and dire of circumstances. ‘Sally’s’ history and legacy are interesting in their own right, and it continues to touch me that the men of that unit decided (unanimously at that) to include her on their monument.

  4. The 13th Vermont Regiment’s Monument at Gettysburg for the interesting story behind it. LT Stephen Brown stands atop the stone with a sword in his hand and a hatchet at his feet. On the march to Gettysburg, his brigade ( 2nd Vermont) commander, BG George Stannard prohibited his soldiers from falling out to refill their canteens and posted guards at each water source along route to take names. It was a hot day, and before long the troops under LT Brown were out of water. To take care of the thirst of his command, Brown collected their canteens and went for water. The guard posted at the water source took Brown’s name, and later Stannard had him arrested, ordered him to surrender his sword and march at the rear of the column to Gettysburg.

    Three regiments of the 2nd Vermont Brigade (including the 13th Vermont) were posted on Cemetery Ridge just south of the copse of trees on the afternoon of July 3rd. As Pickett’s brigades shifted left to hit the center of the Union line, Kemper’s Brigade on Pickett’s right flank exposed its flank to Stannard’s Brigade. Needing every man’s service, Stannard lifted the arrest order on Brown and told him to retrieve his sword. But Brown’s sword was in the brigade wagon train back in Emmitsburg. When the 13th wheeled right and tore into Kemper’s flank, Brown armed himself with a camp hatchet to replace his missing sword. Throwing himself into the melee, Brown grabbed a Rebel officer who, under threat of having his head split open with the hatchet, surrendered his own sword to Brown.

    After the war, the 13th’s veterans had no trouble deciding to put LT Brown on the lasting memorial to their role at Gettysburg with hatchet in hand. However, the retired generals who were appointed to approve the monuments rejected the celebration of the deeds of an officer who disobeyed orders. The compromise between the veterans and the generals resulted in Brown forever holding the captured Confederate sword, with the dropped hatchet at his feet. A great story to introduce curious Vermonters about what happened at Gettysburg 154 years ago.

  5. South Mountain is special to me when I was there I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. So it has been meaningful and helpful to me because now when I walk I actually look where I’m stepping first ????

  6. Hmm… I’m looking forward to seeing the 27th Indiana Infantry Monument at Gettysburg. After studying that regiment’s fateful charge into an open field near Culp’s Hill, I’ve decided I need to see the actual location.
    One of my most memorable stories of finding a historic marker would be searching for Colonel Pendleton’s marker in Woodstock, Virginia. I had a delightful time getting directions from the locals, and they were much better informed than any GPS system! I found the marker. Details and photo in this blog post, if your interested.

    1. Thanks for sharing the links to your Sandie Pendleton story and Lexington visit. After a recent visit to Lexington, we were content on finding Pendleton’s grave after visiting Jacksons. Googling the gravestone picture and then spending considerable time inside the cemetery, it was on the final walk out my observant wife finds his grave near the main entrance. Right under our noses during our walk in. So focused on Jacksons grave directly ahead, we easily walked right past it at the beginning of our visit. You are SO RIGHT about these visits about slowing down and taking time to look in all directions. Its often the subtle quiet features that can be missed if not careful. Thanks again for sharing your stories.

  7. Awash in memorials at Gettysburg, as I always am, on one visit of the sites marking the Second Day Confederate attack on the Union left, the group I was with stumbled across the monument to the 5th New Hampshire Volunteers, near the intersection of Sickles Ave. and Ayers Ave. It’s north of Devil’s Den and near the Wheat Field. (check it out at

    I was incredibly moved by its natural and rugged composition, two large, unsculpted boulders from the battlefield supporting a flat, octagonal stone shaped from N.H. Granite. Atop that, appearing to be precariously balanced, sits a third large and irregularly-formed boulder, also unsculpted, save a regimental shamrock emblem roughly carved on its surface. There are some bronze plaques with names of the men who were killed and mortally wounded in the fight and other information, but the natural power and beauty of the primitive stones dominate.

    To me, it seemed the most meaningful monument on the battlefield. It made a visceral statement about the war and the men from the regiment who fought that day. It was a powerful symbol to the primitive brutality of the Second Day at Gettysburg (and the Civil War, in general) and seemed a fitting memorial to the soldiers of the unit that, over the course of the war, suffered more battle deaths that any other Union regiment.

Please leave a comment and join the discussion!