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Near Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Farnsworth's Cavalry Charge

July 3, 1863 - Third Day

 
 
Farnsworth's Cavalry Charge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 11, 2008
1. Farnsworth's Cavalry Charge Marker
Inscription. "...each man felt, as he tightened his saber belt, that he was summoned to ride to death."
Capt. H.C. Parsons, U.S.A.
1st Vermont Cavalry, Farnsworth's Brigade

One of the last, and most futile, engagements at Gettysburg occurred here at the end of the third day. Union cavalry commanded by Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick had moved into this area to harass the rear and right of the Confederate line. To the north, the Confederates in Pickett's Charge had been badly beaten, but the Southern position here remained strong.

About 5:00 p.m., Kilpatrick ordered Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth to lead a cavalry charge against a line of Confederate infantry in the fields and woods surrounding the Slyder Farm in front of you. Farnsworth protested, believing it would be suicidal for cavalry to attack foot soldiers over ground obstructed by fences, boulders, ditches, and timber.

Kilpatrick, who boasted cavalry could "fight anywhere except at sea," would not reconsider. Farnsworth obeyed and rode off with some 300 troopers. Encountering deadly fire on all sides, horsemen were shot from their saddles like ducks in a shooting gallery. General Farnsworth fell on the rugged hillside to your right with five mortal wounds, and, it is said, with his saber raised.
 
Erected by Gettysburg National
Farnsworth's Charge Wayside image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 11, 2008
2. Farnsworth's Charge Wayside
On the left is "The Wounded and Dead" wayside. On the right is "Farnsworth's Cavalry Charge."
Military Park.
 
Location. 39° 47.133′ N, 77° 14.793′ W. Marker is near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is on South Confederate Avenue, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Located at a wayside pull off between Bushman Hill and Big Round Top in Gettysburg National Military Park. Marker is in this post office area: Gettysburg PA 17325, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Wounded and the Dead (here, next to this marker); William Wells (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Brigade (about 500 feet away); Battery E, Fourth U.S. Artillery (about 800 feet away); 5th New York Cavalry (approx. 0.2 miles away); 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Regiment Vermont Cavalry (approx. 0.2 miles away); Third Division (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Gettysburg.
 
More about this marker. In the upper center and right is a painting depicting the charge. Union cavalry of Farnsworth's Brigade hurdle obstacles and whirl to avoid Confederate marksmen. General Farnsworth (center) was knocked from his horse twice, the second time mortally wounded. 65 troopers were killed, wounded, or missing. Painting by Gil Cohen.

In the lower center is
Start of Farnsworth's Charge image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 11, 2008
3. Start of Farnsworth's Charge
Looking north from the waysides. The Slyder Farm buildings are in the far center. Plum Run passes to the right near the tree line. Under the traditional interpretation of the charge, Farnsworth and Major William Wells lead one battalion each charging down the west side of Plum Run (directly to the front in this view). Captain Parsons (quoted on the marker) charged on the east side of the run.
a portrait of Farnsworth. Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth had held the rank of general only four days when he rode to his death here at the age of 25. He had no formal military training, and had risen to high rank on ability. When ordered to make the fatal charge, he asked his superior, "General, do you mean it?... these men are too good to kill."
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. South Cavalry Battlefield markers and monuments.
 
Also see . . .
1. Farnsworth's Charge. National Park Service page discussing the gallant, but ill-fated charge of the brigade. (Submitted on January 21, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. A Defense of the "Traditional Approach". Historians Eric Whittenberg and J. David Petruzzi wrote this essay to defend the "traditional" interpretation of the Farnsworth Charge. As mentioned, the charge has received much attention in the pages of Blue and Gray Magazine. (Submitted on January 21, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,532 times since then and 159 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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