Don't mess with the 72nd!

Mosin

Sergeant
Annual Winner
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Location
under the bridge
This originates from oldpete63's post "The Sunset That Never Ends" in CWT photo contest forum.
I was going to post this over there but seeing this is Gettysburg related....

Report of Executive Committee of the Gettysburg Battlefield Mem. Association on the 72nd Penn'a Regiment Case,August 25th 1891.

To the Directors of the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association:

GENTLEMEN: The principal incident of the year, since the last annual meeting of the Board, was the close of the controversy which related to the location of the monument of the 72d Pennsylvania Regiment. In view of the great importance of the questions involved, and the expenditures caused by the litigation, the Executive Committee feel it a duty to make a special statement on the subject.

The first monument of the 72d was erected by funds raised by private subscription, and was located, by choice of the Regiment, immediately on the line of Hancock Avenue. This spot is a little in advance of the position of the left of the Regiment, as then claimed by the survivors. This slightly advanced position was because of the peculiar conformation of the ground, and the advantage of a substantial rock foundation. The dedicatory ceremonies took place about ten years ago. There were present on the occasion Gen. Alex. S. Webb, their Brigade Commander, Col. C. H. Banes, the Adjutant General, and all the then surviving officers, who, by their participation in the ceremonies, gave their endorsement to the site then selected.

The second monument, which was erected under State authority, has been placed 166 feet in advance of the other, about 20 feet from the Stone Wall, which during the third day's fight was covered by Cushing's Battery. Either one location or the other is incorrect. The Regiment absurdly insists that both are correct.

The subject first came before the Association at its annual meeting, July 3, 1888, when the Regiment asked authority to place its monument on the first line of battle, where it now is. The Association having heard a statement of the case, directed that the monument be placed on the line of battle occupied by it on the east side of the Avenue, in compliance with the rules of the Association, and that it be authorized to place a marker at the advanced position attained by it, with a proper inscription, subject to the approval of the Committee on location and legends.

This was not satisfactory to the Regiment, who had previously sought the authority of the State Monument Commission. That Commission, when it met the Committee of survivors on the field, located the monument as indicated by the Association, and a stake was driven to mark the location; but at a subsequent meeting, at Harrisburg, it passed another resolution, the precise terms of which are unknown, as either the record of this action was never made, or it was mislaid or lost. It appears, however, to have been to the effect that the monument might be located twenty feet behind the front line, if such position should prove to be consistent with the rules of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. No notice of this action was given to the Association or any of its officers or members.

In December, of 1888, representatives of the 72d Regiment came upon the battle-field, and, under this authority, began to erect a foundation on the last mentioned spot. As no one connected with the Association, then knew of this last action of the Commission, the act of the representatives of the 72d was regarded as a trespass, and they were arrested and enjoined from proceeding further.

Thereupon, on the 7th of January, 1889, the Committee of the 72d filed a bill in the Adams County Court, praying that they be permitted to erect their monument on the spot last indicated by the Commission. The Association demurred to this bill. The Court sustained the demurrer, and dismissed the bill. On appeal to the Supreme Court this judgment was reversed, the bill was reinstated, and further proceedings ordered in accordance with the rules in equity proceedings.

In this opinion, the Supreme Court construed the appropriating act of 1887, making, as we believe, by inadvertence, a very serious error. The act defined the jurisdiction and duties of the Commission over locations. The words used are: "To mark the position of each of the Commands of Pennsylvania Volunteers engaged in the battle of Gettysburg." This act was drawn by a member of our Association, who, in this important clause, used phraseology in precise harmony with the rules theretofore applied by the Association to all other States which had located monuments, and which, if properly interpreted, would have secured absolute uniformity of marking for all the States. The words used are precise, and have a technical meaning. The duty of the Commission was to locate the monuments so as to mark "the position" of each Pennsylvania Command engaged in the battle. The Regiment cannot be regarded as having any "position" other than that held by it as part of its Brigade organization, except when on detached duty for which the rules of the Association otherwise provide. No other spot accidentally occupied by it during the progress of a battle can be regarded as its "position," which would necessarily locate it at the side of its comrades with whom it was arrayed in line of battle. This is so manifestly true and wise that the inadvertence of the Supreme Court in overlooking it is extraordinary, and can hardly be explained except on the theory that not one of its members had had army service or had ever seen the field, or realized the importance of this principle to its honest and accurate marking. More remarkable still, the Supreme Court overlooked entirely this exact phraseology when it came to construe the law, and actually imported into the Act vital words which are not in it. The Court says that the "people of this Commonwealth intended by this Act to appropriate money to designate and by suitable monuments mark spots of 'special interest,' conspicuously occupied by their Regiments while engaged in battle." But, as a matter of fact, the Legislature did not so say. The language used by the Supreme Court is not in the Act of 1887, nor is any language akin to it. On the other hand, the language used in the Act is wholly inconsistent with the thought expressed by the Court. The monuments were to be so placed as to mark "the position" of each Pennsylvania Command engaged in the battle of Gettysburg. It was not to mark any and every spot on which each Command may have been engaged in the battle, but to mark "the position" of each Command which participated in the battle of Gettysburg. This was the clear intention of the Act; and not otherwise could an accurate, scientific, impartial, or honest marking of the field be executed. In point of fact, the words, "spots of special interest," used by the Court as a part of the Act of 1887, are to be found only in the charter of the Association, passed twenty-seven years ago, or in 1864. The Supreme Court ruled the Association out of the case, as without power over the location of these monuments. But it ruled into the case from the Association's charter of 1864 pregnant words which exclusively refer to its duties and applied them as though they were a part of the Act of 1887, to the material enlargement of the Commission's powers over the location of these monuments. This extraordinary act is incapable of rational explanation. It must have been due to confusion or to accident. If intentional, it was judicial jugglery. But whether accidentally or otherwise, the violence thereby done to the truthfulness of the field was the same; for this decision, thus erroneously based, became the cover behind which the other mischiefs were executed.
The case, having been thus returned to the Adams County Court, followed the usual order of equity proceedings. An Examiner and Master was appointed to take testimony. He reported in December, 1890. His findings were all against the Association.

1st. It was found that the Commission had definitely located the monument where it now is, because the condition annexed, (viz: consistency with the rule of the Association applied to all other monuments) was an illegal condition, as, under the Act of 1887 the Association had nothing to do with the location of monuments. The second location, as made by the Commission, was, therefore, held to be final and unconditional.

2d. It was found that "official notice" of this selection and location had been given to the Association, when made. No falser finding was ever made since Courts began. This finding was essential to the case of the 72d, as, in equity, a failure to notify would, if found, have been a defect fatal to their case. As examination of the record will show that the finding of the Master was not in proof, but that it was a bold and baseless inference.

3d It was found that the spot designated for the monument was "that position in which the 72d Regiment did a part of their best fighting." Here is an attempt to reconcile the fact with the law; but, as we have seen, no such meaning can be attached to the word "position," as a temporary or accidental occupancy of a special spot during the progress of a battle. Such a spot is appropriately indicated by a marker, as something not to be forgotten; but it is wholly misleading when marked as a Brigade position, according to which the troops were organized.

These findings of the Master were resisted by the counsel of the Association before the Adams County Court, which, however, wholly and in every part, sustained the Master. This, in view of the manifest unfairness and weakness of the Master's findings, was a surprise to many. It was perhaps unfortunate for our Association that the Master, in the case, would have been the son of the Presiding Judge. The opinion of the Court seems to give evidence of the resentment felt at the sharp criticism of counsel on the Master because of his unfair and illogical findings.

The Association took an appeal to the Supreme Court, without much hope of reversal, by reason of the rule of that Court not to review the findings of a Master and a lower Court when in harmony, except under extraordinary circumstances. The Court heard the case in June last, at the close of the legal year when they were wearied and the heat was great. The case was argued on Monday and decided on Wednesday. As the printed record covered 450 pages it is manifest that the Court declined to break its rule, though the gravest interest of other States, and the highest honor of our own were directly involved. The appeal was summarily dismissed, the decree of the lower Court was affirmed and the case definitely closed.
Within a few weeks the Regiment dedicated its monument with peculiar ceremonies: a leading feature of which was an assault upon the Association for its effort to apply to that Regiment the rule which had been applied to every other Regiment from Pennsylvania and every other State. In these exercises the Master gave the sanction of his participation, and the Presiding Judge honored the occasion with his presence-a circumstance we record with regret, as it disturbs the serenity with which we might otherwise acquiesce in the judgment reached.
This mislocation of the 72d monument is the only break in the harmony of the entire field. It is the only act done for which we feel that an apology is required to be made to any one. In so locating it, law was misunderstood and misinterpreted; facts were misunderstood, and inferences were unjustifiably drawn. The Association sought by every means in its power to save our Commonwealth from an error which puts it in a false position before the entire Army of the Potomac and therefore before the whole country. It failed, and those who are responsible for the wrong must bear the odium which will unquestionably attach to the act of discriminating between soldier comrades, to the advantage of one regiment and to the disadvantage of every other.

This paper would be incomplete without a reference to the State Monument Commission who united with the Association in the proceedings before the Courts, and against whom as well as ourselves the decree of the Court was directed. They have stated to us, in their interview at our morning session, that in finally conceding the location made they yielded to the superior power of the Court, but that they are of opinion that the location is unhistorical, incongruous and improper. It thus appears that this location was made without the actual concurrence of either the Commission or of the Association, and was effected as the result of the series of errors herein recited. The question therefore arises whether the Association ought not, in suitable form, to place upon the face of the field itself a proper marker to indicate that they have no responsibility for the location of the monument as now placed. Action to that effect is recommended.

C.H. Buehler,
Chairman, Exec. Comm.

The 72nd Pennsylvania Monument Controversy
http://www.morningsidebooks.com/40 - Neu.pdf
 

Lefty

Corporal
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
They (The 72nd) weren't quite in "the rear with the gear" but it's still very, very debatable as too whether or not that monument deserves to be where it is. Ask Sgt. Mjr. Stockton of the 71st.

Now the 69th PA..... Those Philly Irish hell cats stood their ground.
I am NOT disparaging the 72nd in any way with my comments. Webb (MOH winner) had something to say about it and his portrait stautue is in the "rear". ?????
 

Mosin

Sergeant
Annual Winner
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Location
under the bridge
Can someone help out here?
I think the LOC has this photo identified incorrectly.
They have it as "Union Volunteers at Bloody Angle". They have the veterans identified as the 12th PA volunteers.
I think it is the 72nd PA. First of all the 12th PA volunteers were not even at Gettysburg. They were only a three month regiment at the beginning of the war. Now the 12th PA reserves/41st PA Infantry were at Gettysburg but they were station on Big Roundtop so I don't see how it would be them. The 72nd makes sense to me. The picture was taken at the angle, the 72nd fought at the angle.
Also, there may be another clue but it is hard to discern. On the photo below I have outlined in red what may possibly be the 72nd PA monument but it is hard to tell.
Whaddya think?

72ndpaveterans-1.jpg
 

oldpete63

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Good catch - I blew up the photo, and you can definitely see the legs of the statue and the upraised arms, as per the 72nd's monument. Plus - the 5th man from the right, kneeling, has a trefoil badge on his lapel - thus Hancock's 2nd Corps.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
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May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
They (The 72nd) weren't quite in "the rear with the gear" but it's still very, very debatable as too whether or not that monument deserves to be where it is. Ask Sgt. Mjr. Stockton of the 71st.

Now the 69th PA..... Those Philly Irish hell cats stood their ground.
I am NOT disparaging the 72nd in any way with my comments. Webb (MOH winner) had something to say about it and his portrait stautue is in the "rear". ?????

Didn't Webb curse them out for not advancing and then rode forward to help out with the 69th? I always found it funny that their monument depicts a soldier with a clubbed musket when they didn't advance until the attack was broken.

R
 

oldpete63

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Yep - that's why so much controversy on the placement of the monument - Monument rules (If I recall correctly) the monuments were to be placed where the battle line was formed - not the actual point of attack - so even if they skedaddled (which I'm not inferring the 72nd did) - the monument goes there - that was part of their argumentand they won. And as per Lefty - those 69th boys had to be men of steel to stand their ground like that.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
Yep - that's why so much controversy on the placement of the monument - Monument rules (If I recall correctly) the monuments were to be placed where the battle line was formed - not the actual point of attack - so even if they skedaddled (which I'm not inferring the 72nd did) - the monument goes there - that was part of their argumentand they won. And as per Lefty - those 69th boys had to be men of steel to stand their ground like that.

No question they fought hard, they just refused to charge into the scrum. Frankly, I can't really blame them all that much.

As for the 69th, weren't they the only Union regiment to lose prisoners to the Confederates on July 3rd? I could swear I read that somewhere.

R
 

Mosin

Sergeant
Annual Winner
Joined
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Location
under the bridge
Yep - that's why so much controversy on the placement of the monument - Monument rules (If I recall correctly) the monuments were to be placed where the battle line was formed - not the actual point of attack - so even if they skedaddled (which I'm not inferring the 72nd did) - the monument goes there - that was part of their argumentand they won.
Not sure I'm understanding this correctly. I thought the 72nd were originally held in reserve of the 71st and 69th. Not until the 71st gave way did Webb order the 72nd to the wall which they at first refused but eventually made their way to.
The way I understand it the 72nd never fell back they just refused to go forward (at first).
The 72nd thought their monument should be in the same line of battle as the 69th and 71st but they were in line behind them up where Hancock ave. is today. They have a secondary marker in this location.
 

Lefty

Corporal
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
As per Webb......

Part of the problem was that as a staff officcer he had never commanded so much as a company in battle before Gettysburg and suddenly he's a brigade commander. The men didn't know Webb by sight as he was only about a week into his command.

When Webb tried to grab the colors from the 72nd's color Sgt he wasn't even recognized. Webb should've followed proper channels and given the order to advance to the senior field officer in charge of the 72nd. The color Sgt wouldn't budge and certainly wasn't giving any stranger, general or not, the 72nd's colors.

The officers all knew Webb...Webb was the martinet pr!ck that, only days before, had forced them to wear their insignia instead of masquerading as privates in battle but to the rank & file Webb could've just as easily been the man on the moon.

After advancing from just east and rear of the copse... (near the Chief Tanamend 42nd NYVI teepee/monument).... the 72nd was quickly caught in a firefight about 20-25 odd yards or so from the wall in rear of their monument location. Webb wanted them to go to the wall but they balked. They were veterans and they sure as hell weren't going to retreat but it made no sense to advance as both sides were dropping like flies at his point. I don't fault the 72nd for anything. They deserve plenty of credit. They were also instrumental in repulsing Wright's Georgian's on July 2nd

Thing is, strictly speaking, their monument should be back in the vicinity of Cushing's batteries guns and not jutting up against the wall. The brigade line rule adopted by the Park commisioners seemingly doesn't apply here. (i.e. location of Webb's 106th PA monument near the copse)

Check out the casualty figures for the Philadelphia brigade at Gettysburg. You guessed it....The 72nd had both the most casualties and the highest casualty percentage (50.5%) of all four regts in the brigade. Most affecionados of the battle would assume it was the 69th PA that got hit hardest...I know I did. :wink:
 

oldpete63

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
No question they fought hard, they just refused to charge into the scrum. Frankly, I can't really blame them all that much.

As for the 69th, weren't they the only Union regiment to lose prisoners to the Confederates on July 3rd? I could swear I read that somewhere.

R
Hmmm - got me on that - here's a great article on the 69th PA - had to use a link:

http://www.gdg.org/Gettysburg Magazine/scott1.html
 

Mosin

Sergeant
Annual Winner
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Aug 7, 2010
Location
under the bridge
I don't need anymore proof than that, thanks a bunch Will.
I figured there had to be something on the ribbons to distinguish who they are.
I just couldn't get a clear enough image to do so.

Mosin
 

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