Civil War Blog

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Monuments at Gettysburg – 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on December 5, 2014

The 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located south of the town of Gettysburg at The Angle.  It was dedicated in 1887 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  No drawing of the monument was available in the Philadelphia Inquirer article describing the regimental histories and ceremonies that took place in 1889.  For a picture of the monument, see Steven Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a photograph, and some of the history of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.  This web site also explains the conflict the regiment had in placing its monument on the battlefield and how that conflict was resolved.


On 11 September 1889, the Philadelphia Inquirer included the following information on the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry  in its article on the monument dedications:


They Had No Breastworks.

The 72nd was only slightly engaged on the 2nd at Gettysburg, on the 3rd was fearfully exposed, for though in second line of battle and somewhat sheltered by the crest, yet the solid shots and shells made sad havoc in their ranks, neither of the lines at this point being fortified. The troops had occupied this position nearly forty hours before the cannonade opened, and the want of fortifications has been credited to culpable negligence.  Their dedicatory services will be held at 9 o’clock A.M. on the 12th instant, Captain William W. Ker being the orator on the occasion.  The monument is not yet erected, the position of it still being in litigation, but they will temporarily erect the statue, that of a Zouave with clubbed musket, on the contested ground or on a plot that they have purchased.


Dewitt Clinton Baxter (1829-1881)

DeWitt Clinton Baxter commanded the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg.  He was born on 9 March 1829 in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  He was wounded on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge.


According to information on the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (above) available from the Pennsylvania Archives, Colonel Baxter began his service in the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry on 10 August 1861 and was mustered out of service of that regiment on 24 August 1864.  On 13 March 1865, he was breveted Brigadier General.

Dewitt Clinton Baxter died on 9 May 1881, according to his Findagrave Memorial, but his Pension Index Card from Fold3 indicates he died in 1888.  He is buried at Lawnview Cemetery, Rockledge, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.



After Colonel Baxter was wounded on 3 July 1863, Theodore Hesser (c. 1829-1865) took over for him.  Hesser had joined the regiment on 10 August 1861 and was at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment.


Lieutenant Colonel Hesser was a resident of Philadelphia.  He did not survive the war.  According to the Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Card (above), he was killed in action at Mine Run, Virginia, on 27 November 1865, and was buried in Virginia.  No Findagrave Memorial has been found.


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 72nd 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 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days in Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.



The news clippings are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.



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