The Normal School Company

The 44th New York has a distinctive castle-like monument on Gettysburg’s Little Round Top. Visitors can climb up and get a fine view of that sector, and it is a popular stop. It is visible from many parts of the field, and a good marker of the hill’s summit.

Yet few visitors seem to pay attention to the plaques inside the castle, which showcase the regiment, known as “Ellsworth’s Avengers”, and its members, recruited all over New York State. One plaque in particular is quite often overlooked, the one describing the unique origins of the 44th’s Company E.

Company E was known as the Normal School Company, and came from a cadre of professors and students from the New York State Normal School in Albany. Founded inĀ  1844, it was one of the oldest state-sponsored education schools in the nation.

The Normal School Company joined the 44th New York in October 1862, to replace losses from earlier battles. The captain was Rodney G. Kimball, a professor from the Normal School. These men participated in all of the 44th’s battles from Fredericksburg through Petersburg, including Gettysburg. Five of the company’s men lie in Gettysburg National Cemetery, and five more in Fredericksburg National Cemetery.

More information about the school, the men, and the company may be found here.

Today the New York State Normal School is known as the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY-Albany), or UAlbany for short. This author received a master’s degree from there in 2004. Every time I go to Gettysburg I take a moment to pay tribute to the Normal School Company atop Little Round Top.

4 Responses to The Normal School Company

  1. Company E, 17th Michigan Infantry was also known as the Normal School Company. Recruited largely from students and faculty of the Michigan Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University). The barracks they were first mustered into still stands in Ypsilanti, MI along with a nearby historical marker.

  2. Thanks, Chris, for a nice reminder of the importance of a too often overlooked Capital District replacement entity of soldiers, many of whom could probably have paid the necessary fee to avoid serving at all. I think most people from the Albany area make time at Gettysburg to say a special greeting to one of “our” companies on Little Round Top.

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