Historical Markers
Gettysburg Campaign [Eleventh Corps] Historical Marker
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Gettysburg Campaign [Eleventh Corps]

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
Pennsylvania Route 134 at Barlow

Dedication Date:
December 12, 1947

Behind the Marker

Oliver Otis Howard in uniform.
"Christian General," Oliver Otis Howard
One of the three corps that composed the Left Wing of the Army of the Potomac (under command of markerGeneral John F. Reynolds was the Eleventh Corps, commanded by Oliver O. Howard, who had lost his right arm at the Battle of Seven Pines in 1862. Deeply religious, Howard opposed gambling and drinking– and thus was not very well-liked by many of his soldiers. An abolitionist before the war, Howard in its aftermath would become head of the Freedmen's Bureau and a founder of the Washington D.C. University for African Americans that was named after him.

But in June 1863 Oliver Howard was not a happy general, for his corps was marching north under a dark cloud. At Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May, his corps anchored the right flank of the Army of the Potomac.
Haupt Quartier No. 344 Nord 3te Strasse, zwischen Callowhill u. Vine des deutschen Feld-Regiments, Col. Henry Bohlen. [Poster] Regiment: Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 75th (1861-1865) Commanding officer: Bohlen, Henry, Col. Also associated: Matzdorf, H., Major
German-language recruitment poster, Philadelphia, PA, 1861.

Howard seemingly ignored warnings from headquarters that his position might be attacked. And when Stonewall Jackson's men erupted out of the woods in a surprise attack, they routed most of the regiments in Howard's corps, drove them from their campsites, and took their artillery and supplies.

Many in the Union army looked down on the Eleventh Corps. After all, some complained, the corps was largely composed of German-Americans. In fact, many of the New York and Pennsylvania regiments in the corps were composed of German-Americans, but regiments from Illinois, Ohio, and Connecticut were also predominantly German.

While most of these German soldiers were native-born Americans, a large number had come to America after the failed European revolts in 1848. The officers gave their commands in German, which was the language of choice for many of the soldiers.
Photograph of Carl Shurz in uniform.
General Carl Shurz, circa 1863.

On June 30, Howard's corps went into camp around Emmitsburg, Maryland. Upon request from General Reynolds, Howard and some of his staff officers rode over to see Reynolds at his Moritz Tavern headquarters to exchange views and read correspondence from army headquarters.

Early on July 1, Howard read more dispatches from Reynolds, forwarded them to other officers, and then prepared his corps for the short march toward Gettysburg so that his troops would be within supporting distance of the First Corps.

Howard sent Brigadier General Francis C. Barlow's First Division up the road from Emmitsburg in advance of the corps. Barlow, a frail-looking, twenty-eight-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer, did not care much for his troops. He mistrusted his German soldiers and worried yet again, that they would not fight well.

His two brigades were led by Leopold von Gilsa and Adelbert Ames. Like Barlow, Ames had been transferred into the Eleventh Corps as a result of his good combat record. Ames had been colonel of the 20th Maine, which now was led by Joshua Chamberlain, who would win enduring fame at Little Round Top the next afternoon. Ames would win renown too, but not in a way he expected-when he died in 1933 at age ninety-seven, he was the last surviving Civil War general.

Behind Barlow came the other two divisions of the corps. When he saw Barlow's march slowed by muddy roads (a result of the occasional showers that morning) and by wagons of the First Corps, Howard diverted the rest of the corps on a road that led eastward from the Emmitsburg Road over to the direct road from Taneytown to Gettysburg.
A drawing on olive paper of the attack of the Louisiana Tigers on a Battery of the 11th Corps.
Attack of the Louisiana Tigers on a Battery of the 11th Corps. at Gettysburg

A professional soldier from Prussia, Brigadier General Adolph von Steinwehr, led Howard's Second Division, also composed of two brigades. In command of the Third Division was General Carl Schurz, a German refugee from the revolution of 1848. His two brigades were led by Alexander Schimmelfennig and Wladimir Krzyzanowski.

The Eleventh Corps arrived at Gettysburg during a lull in the fighting. Howard sent his First and Third Divisions north through town to protect the right flank of the First Corps, and placed von Steinwehr's division on Cemetery Hill, a prominent hill just south of town that made a good defensive position. (In 1864, Howard would receive the thanks of Congress for selecting the battlefield.)
Photograph of Waud as he sits on a boulder with a sketch book propped on his knee.
Gettysburg, Pa. Alfred R. Waud

Gettysburg, like Chancellorsville, proved disastrous for the Eleventh Corps. No sooner had it deployed than fresh Southern troops–markerJubal Early's Division –arrived on the field via the Harrisburg Pike from Heidlersburg and flanked the Yankee line, forcing a retreat through town to Cemetery Hill. Many soldiers fought bravely, but the Southerners' attack carried the day. General Barlow, trying to rally his fleeing troops, was shot down and left wounded on the field.

Survivors from both Yankee corps rallied on cemetery Hill as markerGeneral Winfield S. Hancock arrived to take command. General Meade had personally ordered Hancock to take command at Gettysburg and decide whether or not the place was a good battlefield.

Even before receiving Hancock's approval, Meade decided to fight at Gettysburg and ordered his army to march with all haste to the town. Here, in the area near this marker, Hancock's own Second Corps went into bivouac on the evening of July 1. The battlefield lay just ahead, but Meade halted the corps here to prevent any nocturnal enemy flanking move. The Second Corps would move to the field at first light on July 2.
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