Cumberland Township in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Bloody Wheatfield
— July 2 1863 - Second Day —
Pvt. James Houghton, USA
4th Michigan Infantry
In the summer of 1863, the golden wheat grew tall here. But at 4:30 p.m. on July 2, the Wheatfield was transformed into a whirlpool of death. Over a period of 2-1/2 hours this ground changed hands six times as Confederates of Longstreet's Corps attempted to smash the loosely-knit Union line.
The Confederate attackers came from your rear and left; Union reinforcements moved into the area from your front and right. In the various actions, soldiers found ready-made defenses at the stone wall behind you, and on the "stony hill" to your left. With each new attack, casualties mounted.
When the Union advance position at the Peach Orchard (1/2-mile northwest of here, to your left) collapsed about 6:30 p.m., Confederates began to surround the Wheatfield. The Federals fell back toward Cemetery Ridge, leaving pools of blood along their retreat route. By nightfall, the ravaged Wheatfield belonged to the Confederates.
Erected by Gettysburg National
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is July 2, 1863.
Location. 39° 47.776′ N, 77° 14.602′ W. Marker is in Cumberland Township, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. Marker is on Sickles Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Located at stop 9, the Wheatfield section, of the driving tour of Gettysburg National Military Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Gettysburg PA 17325, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Second Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker); 4th Michigan Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); Third Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker); 62nd Pennsylvania Infantry (within shouting distance of this marker); 17th Maine Infantry (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 57th New York Infantry (about 400 feet away); 115th Pennsylvania Infantry (about 400 feet away); 148th Pennsylvania Infantry (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cumberland Township.
More about this marker. In the center of the marker displays a painting by Gil Cohen depicting the aftermath of battle in the Wheatfield on the evening of July 2.
On the upper right is a painting of the Irish Brigade receiving absolution. Just before entering the desperate fight in the Wheatfield, Union soldiers of the Irish Brigade receive absolution from their sins. Father William Corby, their chaplain, commended their souls to God, and exhorted them not to turn their backs on the enemy. Maj. St. Clair Mulholland remembered the "awe-inspiring" scene. "I do not think there was a man in the brigade who did not offer up a heartfelt prayer. For some it was their last..."
On the lower right is a portrait. Only a few yards from where you are standing, Col. Harrison H. Jeffords used his revolver to re-capture the colors of his 4th Michigan Regiment. A moment later a Confederate thrust a bayonet into his body, mortally wounding him.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. The Wheatfield virtual tour by markers.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 6, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,183 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 6, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 4. submitted on January 4, 2009, by Henry T. McLin of Hanover, Pennsylvania.