Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Monuments at Gettysburg – 56th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on November 9, 2014


The 56th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located west of the town of Gettysburg on Reynolds Avenue.  It was dedicated as part of the group of monuments paid for by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1889.  The drawing of the monument (above) is from the Philadelphia Inquirer article describing the monument dedications.  For a picture of the monument, see Steven Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a photograph, and some of the history of the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.


On 11 September 1889, the Philadelphia Inquirer included the following information on the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry in its article on the monument dedications:

Guarding Every Fence Panel.

The 56th Regiment was from Philadelphia, Luzerne, Indiana, Centre, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, and Wayne Counties.  It was the 56th, under Colonel Sullivan A. Meredith, that was ordered by McDowell to see that “no corn was taken from Citizen Huffman at Belle Plains if he had to put a guard at every fence panel.”  This regiment opened first fire at Gettysburg, Colonel Hofmann commanding, the position being on Oak Ridge.  They did fierce fighting there, and after withdrawing to Seminary Ridge on the 2nd, they occupied the angle at the summit of Culp’s Hill in the woods, and poured a murderous fire upon the advancing rebels.  On the 3rd they supported the batteries in the cemetery. 

The exercises of the 56th Regiment will be:  Call to order, Lieutenant T. D. Cunningham; prayer, Rev. Dr. H. W. Knight; address, General J. W. Hofmann; benediction, Rev. Dr. W. Knight.

The comrades will assemble at 9 A.M. 11 September, at the rooms of Corporal Skelly Post, No.l 9, G.A.R., to proceed to the grounds where the memorial has been erected on Reynolds Avenue.



John William Hofmann (1824-1902)

John William Hofmann was from Philadelphia and was 39 years old when he took command of the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry as its Colonel, the rank he held at the Battle of Gettysburg.  On 1 August 1864, he was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General, about 5 months after his service in the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry ended.  His first service in the Civil War was with the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry, Company E.

Hofmann died on 5 March 1902 and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia.  Additional information about him can be found at his Findagrave Memorial.

Note:  John William Hofmann spelled his name as it is presented here, not as it is found in many histories, “Hoffman.”  He is also sometimes found in the records as J. William Hofmann, John W. Hofmann, and J. W. Hofmann.


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 56th Pennsylvania Infantry is pictured below.  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 56th Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days in Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.



The news clipping is from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.



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