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Monuments at Gettysburg – 29th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on September 9, 2014

029thPA-Inquirer-1889-09-11-001aThe 29th Pennsylvania Infantry  Monument at Gettysburg, pictured above in a drawing that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1889, was actually the second monument to that regiment that was placed on the battlefield.  The first was erected in 1885 and is close to the second, southeast of Gettysburg, on Culp’s Hill and Slocum Avenue.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania dedicated the second monument in 1889.

A photograph of the 1889 monument can be seen at Steve Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site.  Also on that site is a photograph of the first monument.

A full description of the 1889 monument, its GPS coordinates, a picture, and some of the history of the  29th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.  Also found on that same page is similar information about the 1885 monument.


The following was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 September 1889:

The 29th, first known as the Jackson Regiment, was organized for three years’ service by John K. Murphy…. 

Long and brilliant services, including the unfurling of triumphant banners on Lookout Mountain, were performed by this regiment, which was the first in United States service which was enrolled as a veteran volunteer regiment after its term of service expired, and which during its four years’ fighting lost 147 of its 2,517 members.  In the beginning of 1863, William Rickards assumed command.  At Gettysburg on the morning of 2 July, the 29th took position on Culp’s Hill.  during the day it was mistaken for the enemy and fired upon. On the third day the 29th occupied a position in the line in a hollow, protected by a ledge of rocks, where it did fearful execution upon the attacking rebel force.  The next day 50 of the enemy were found dead in front of General Geary’s division alone.


A portrait of Colonel William Rickards has not yet been located.

The following information was found on the web site MilitaryHistoryOnLine and was supplied to the site by Jim Rickardsin 2004:

Col. William Rickards Jr., of Philadelphia, was a jeweler by trade when the war started. He was mustered into service in July 1861 as captain of Company I. Captured by Confederate forces in May 1862, he was exchanged in August and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1862. In May 1863 he assumed command of the 29th as colonel. He led the regiment in the defense of Culp’s Hill at Gettysburg, at the night battle in Wauhatchie, Tennessee, and in the attack at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. His troops were the first to reach the top of the mountain in the Battle Above the Clouds, planting the ‘Stars and Stripes’ on the mountain’s summit. While leading his troops in an assault on a Confederate defensive position in a skirmish at Pine Knob near Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, on June 15, 1864, he was severely wounded with a gunshot to the chest. While recovering, he was promoted to brevet brigadier general and honorably discharged in November 1864.  After the war, he moved to Franklin, Venango County, Pennsylvania, where he worked as manager of an oil drilling business and later became a dentist. He died at the age of 75 on 25 May 1900, in Franklin, Pennsylvania.


It appears from the Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers that there were several persons named William Rickards in the 29th Pennsylvania InfantryThe Pension Index Cards confirm this in that there are two records for a veteran of that name readily fond in Fold3 – one of whom applied for a pension based on service in Company K as Captain and Company E.  This William D. Rickards applied on 24 April 1872 and received a pension; his widow applied after his death, and she too received a pension.  The other whose card was found was William J. Rickards, who himself did not apply, but on 29 May 1905, a widow applied.  No pension was received for the widow.  These two cards from Fold3 are pictured below.



The Ancestry.com version of these same cards (not pictured) indicates in the case of the former, that the widow’s name was Hannah J. Rickards and she applied for a pension on 14 January 1896 from Pennsylvania.  Since Colonel Rickards died in 1900, this clearly is not the same one who commanded at Gettysburg.  In the case of the latter, the application was made from Michigan and the widow’s name was Henrietta Broadhead.  According to Bates, that William J. Rickards was only a Private in Company E; during the war he deserted but later returned to be mustered out with his company on 17 July 1865.  He too could not have been in command at Gettysburg.

The correct Pension Index Card, found on Ancestry.com, is for the William Rickards who was a Colonel in the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry and is shown below.  His wife/widow’s name was Eliza A. Rickards and she applied on 12 June 1900, less than 3 weeks after Col. Rickard’s death.


According to information found on Findagrave, Colonel Rickards is buried at Franklin Cemetery in Franklin, Venango County, Pennsylvania.  At the time of this writing, no one has posted a picture of his grave marker.



Around the base of the Pennsylvania Memorial at Gettysburg are a series of plaques which, by regiment and company, note the names of every soldier who was present at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The plaque for the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry is pictured above.  By clicking on the plaque it should enlarge so the names can be more clearly read.  If a name does not appear, it could be that the soldier did serve in the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

In light of the discussion above which essentially concluded that there were three William Rickards in this regiment, it can be noted at the top of the above plaque, Colonel Rickards is named as the head of the regiment, there is a Captain W. D. Rickards named at the bottom in Company K, but there is no William J. Rickards listed in Company E.  This latter one was identified by Bates as a deserter.


Some of the information for this post was obtained from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


2 Responses to “Monuments at Gettysburg – 29th Pennsylvania Infantry”

  1. Jim Rickards says:

    Re: The confusion about the 3 soldiers named William Rickards who served in the 29th: The colonel, William Rickards Jr., was a first-cousin of Capt. William D. Rickards, whose father George was a younger brother of the colonel’s father, William, Sr. William J. Rickards was the eldest son of Capt. William D. Rickards. While he did desert, according to the records, he returned to the regiment, served out his term of enlistment and was honorably discharged. He died at 35 in 1875.
    Hannah was Capt. Rickards’ second wife. His first wife, Margaret, died in the 1880s. Eliza Tucker Rickards, the colonel’s wife, died in 1923 at the age of 83.

  2. Scott D. Hann says:

    I understand that J. Howard Wert, in his 1890 work about Gettysburg and its monuments, related a story of finding mutilated human remains on the rock on which the 29th PA monuments now sits. Can anyone add to this story? Thanks.

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