Cumberland Township near Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Sacrifice of the 1st Minnesota
July 2, 1863 - Second Day
"Every man realized in an instant what that order meant - death or wounds to us all, the sacrifice of a regiment to gain a few minutes' time..."
Lieut. William Lochren, U.S.A.
1st Minnesota Infantry
Late on the afternoon of July 2, after the collapse of the Union line at the Peach Orchard, Confederate infantry in front of you threatened to pour through a gap in the Union line here. When Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Union Second Corps, rode up to assess the situation, only one regiment was at hand to stop the Confederate tide - the 1st Minnesota.
"My God, are these all the men we have here?" Hancock asked. It was, but they would have to do. "Charge those lines!" shouted Hancock, and immediately the lone regiment swept down the slope "double quick." With levelled bayonets, the Minnesotans crashed into Brig. Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox's Alabamians who outnumbered them 4-to-1.
The charge broke the Confederate ranks and stalled the Southerners long enough for Union reinforcements, but at a terrific cost. According to a regimental officer, of the 262 Minnesotans in the charge, only 47 escaped death
Erected by Gettysburg National Military Park.
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. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 39° 48.4′ N, 77° 14.105′ W. Marker was near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in Adams County. It was in Cumberland Township. Marker was at the intersection of Hancock Avenue and Humphreys Avenue, on the left when traveling north on Hancock Avenue. Located south of the Pennsylvania Memorial in Gettysburg National Military Park. Touch for map. Marker was 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 location. That Order Meant Death (here, next to this marker); 12th Massachusetts (here, next to this marker); First Regiment Minnesota Volunteers (a few steps from this marker); 88th Pennsylvania Volunteers Position (a few steps from this marker); 90th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (within shouting distance of this marker); Battery B, First Pennsylvania Light Artillery (within shouting distance of this marker); Batteries C & F, Pennsylvania Independent Light Artillery (about Pennsylvania Remembers (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gettysburg.
More about this marker. In the center is a painting depicting the 1st Minnesota's Charge. Col. William Colvill (with hand raised at center) leads the 1st Minnesota Infantry in a daring bayonet charge against Wilcox's Confederate Brigade (left). More than 200 Union officers and men were killed or wounded in the charge. The Confederates also suffered heavy losses.
On the right side is a photo of Cpl. William N. Irvine of the 1st Minnesota Infantry who survived the charge here, but died less than one year later at Petersburg.
Below the painting is a drawing of the 1st Minnesota Infantry Monument which marks the spot where the Union charge began. The bronze infantryman with fixed bayonet indicates the direction of the charge.
This marker was replaced by a new one named "That Order Meant Death" (see nearby markers).
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2023. It was originally submitted on February 1, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,175 times since then and 105 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 1, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 3. submitted on February 2, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 4. submitted on February 1, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 5. submitted on January 24, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia.