Civil War Blog

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Monuments at Gettysburg – 81st Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on December 20, 2014

The 81st Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located south of the town of Gettysburg in the wheat field.  It was dedicated in 1889 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  See Steven Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS coordinates, a photograph, and some of the history of the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry also can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.


On 11 September 1889, the Philadelphia Inquirer included the following information on the regiment:


Where the 81st Fought

On the 1st of July, as the 81st was on its way to Gettysburg, and escort of cavalry was met bearing the body of General Reynolds, who had fallen that morning.  At evening the regiment arrived upon the field and was posted two miles in the rear of the town.  On the 2nd, it moved to a position in the cemetery.  At 11 o’clock in the morning it was ordered forward to the brick kiln near the Emmitsburg Road.  It saw the hardest of the fighting in the wheat field and in the rocky and wooded eminence beyond, where the ground was disputed with stubbornness rarely equaled.


Henry B. McKean

The commander of the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry was Colonel Henry Benjamin McKean, until the day before the Battle of Gettysburg, when he was transferred to the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry to substitute for its sick commander.  Although McKean saw service with the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg and did not command the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry in that battle, his name still appears on the plaque for the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry as its commander (see below) and does not appear on the plaque for the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry.


Second in command, 45-year old Lieutenant Colonel Amos Stroh of Carbon County, Pennsylvania, commanded the 81st Pennsylvania Infantry at Gettysburg.  He first enrolled as a Captain of Company G in that regiment on 16 September 1861 at Wilkes-Barre.  On 17 April 1863 he was transferred to headquarters with the promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.  After the Battle of Gettysburg, on 22 July 1863, he resigned.

According to pension records, he first applied on 19 July 1878.  At that time he was about 50 years old.  Pension records also state that he died in 1900, although other records seem to contradict this.  At this time, not much more is known about his personal life – whether he was married or had children.  No widow applied for pension benefits.

According to newspaper accounts, Amos Stroh died in Pittston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in late October 1898.  His obituary in the Wilkes-Barre Times did not mention his Civil War service.


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 81st 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 81st Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days in Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.



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


One Response to “Monuments at Gettysburg – 81st Pennsylvania Infantry”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I just wanted to notify the site that Henry Benjamin McKean was not the colonel of the 81st Pennsylvania. It was Henry Boyd McKeen of Philadelphia. He was born on September 18, 1835 and a graduate of Princeton in 1853. He enlisted with the 81st PA as 1st Lt. and Adjutant on October 27, 1861. He was promoted to Major on June 1, 1862 and wounded at Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862. His Lt. Colonel commission dates to the day after his wound. He was then promoted to Colonel of the regiment on November 24, 1862 and again wounded twice at Fredericksburg and again at Chancellorsville. At Gettysburg, under Colonel Cross’ orders he commanded the 148th PA until Cross went down and then he took command of the brigade (writing the official report). He commanded a brigade until he was killed in action at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864 and is buried at Woodlands Cemetery in Philadelphia.

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