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Civil War Blog

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Monuments at Gettysburg – 90th Pennsylvania Infantry

Posted By on January 13, 2015

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The 90th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument at Gettysburg is located northwest of the town of Gettysburg on Doubleday Avenue.  Known as the “Granite Tree Monument,” it was dedicated in 1888 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and was one of two monuments for the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry that were erected that year.

The drawing of the monument pictured above is from a Philadelphia Inquirer article of 11 September 1889.

A picture of the monument can be seen on Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg Web Site which has more information about the monument and the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry.

A full description of the monument, its GPS Coordinates, additional photographs, and some of the history of the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry, can be found on the Stone Sentinels Web Site.

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In addition to reporting on the dedicatory exercises, the Philadelphia Inquirer, in its article of 11 September 1889, gave a brief history of the regiment:

The 90th at Gettysburg.

The position of the 90th regiment was on the new line to the left of the Tayneytown Road, facing the Emmitsburg Pike, where slight breastworks were thrown up.  Upon reaching this position, Colonel Lyle was ordered to assume command of the 1st Brigade, Major Sellers taking command of the regiment in the absence of Lieutenant Colonel Leech on account of sickness.  The 90th entered the battle with 191 men and lost in killed, wounded and missing, 100.  Chaplain Horatio S. Howell was among the killed, falling in the retreat through the town on the evening of the first day.  Captains J. T. Durang and W. P. Davis and Adjutant D. P. Weaver were among the wounded, and Lieutenant E. J. Gorgas was taken prisoner.  From Cold Harbor, where the regiment arrived on 6 June, until the 16th when it crossed the James and joined in the operation before Petersburg, it was kept constantly employed in marching and intrenching, upon the right flank of the army, as it moved forward.  In the following operations at Yellow Tavern on the Weldon Railroad, the brigade was formed in line of battle at noon, 18 July, on the right of the road facing a wood, through which it advanced.  The enemy was found in force, but after receiving several volleys and finding the left flank exposed, a retrograde movement was ordered.  In executing this Lieutenant John T. Reilly and a number of men were captured.

The dedication of “Boulder” Monument, to mark the position of the 90th Regiment on the afternoon of 2 July 1863, on Hancock Avenue, half way between Cemetery Hill and Round Top, will include:  Invocation, Rev. Dr. William Aikman; presentation of Memorial to the Battlefield Association, Chairman Comrade Hillary Beyer; unveiling, Thomas E. Berger; acceptance on behalf of Battlefield Association, John M. Krauth, Esq., of Gettysburg; poem composed and dedicated to the 90th Regiment, by Florence McCurdy, read by Rev. J. K. Demarest; dedicatory address, A. J. Sellers, president of the association.

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The 90th Pennsylvania Infantry was commanded at Gettysburg by Colonel Peter Lyle, a cigar maker of Philadelphia.  Lyle had previously served as Colonel of the 19th Pennsylvania Infantry from 17 April 1861 through his discharge on 29 August 1861.  At the age of 39, he took command of the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry at Philadelphia on 10 March 1862, was wounded at Antietam on 17 September 1862, and recovered sufficiently to lead the 90th at Gettysburg.  When the brigade to which the 90th was attached needed a commander at that battle, he turned command of the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry over to Major Alfred J. Sellers.  Major Sellers served with distinction earning the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in “repulsing the enemy.”

On 13 March 1865, Peter Lyle was breveted Brigadier General, the rank at which he left the service.  However, he continued to serve in the Pennsylvania National Guard and was involved in putting down the riots of 1877 which in part resulted in an illness that led to his death on 17 July 1879.

Gen. Lyle applied for a pension on 5 December 1878 based on his Civil War service in both the 19th Pennsylvania Infantry and the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry.  At that time his resources had dwindled due to bad investments in Maryland and he was fully supported by the generosity of his friends.  Unfortunately for Gen. Lyle, the pension, although approved, failed to receive the required official signatures and he died not receiving any of the money due him.  Friends of Lyle continued to pursue the pension but it was not until 1890, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer of 13 December, that $4000 was finally released, which was “applied in part to reimbursing friends who provided pecuniary assistance to the departed soldier when unable to earn a livelihood. ”

Peter Lyle is buried at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.  For more information about the career of Colonel Lyle, see his Findagrave Memorial.

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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 90th 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 90th Pennsylvania Infantry, but was not part of the regiment during its days at Gettysburg.  There could also be errors on the plaque.

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