In the summer of 1862 the 68th Pennsylvania Infantry was formed in the areas surrounding Philadelphia. The men were also from Montgomery and Chester counties, adjacent to Philadelphia. On August 4th the first company was mustered with the entire regiment in service by September 1st. The quotation below is from the west side of the monument (on Wheatfield Rd) and sums up the total enrollment for the war:
Recruited in the counties of Philadelphia Montgomery and Chester
Mustered in September 2nd 1862
Mustered out June 9th 1865
Total enrollment 1049
Killed and died of wounds 10 officers, 58 men, Total 68
Wounded 11 officers and 155 men, Total 166
Captured or Missing 3 officers 100 men, Total 103
The Union retreat at Chantilly and consequent casualties caused the summoning of the 68th PA Infantry to Washington DC. They met the minimum number requirement but were not at full capacity. It is here that the full regiment was uniformed, armed, then sent across the Potomac to await orders.`
The 68th Pa Infantry saw several engagements before they fought in Gettysburg. Their first battle was at Fredericksburg on December 12-15 of 1862. Here they supported Randolphs’ First Rhode Island Battery. During this engagement they lost about 40 soldiers.
During the 1st day of fighting at Gettysburg, the 68th was in Emmitsburg MD heading north to Gettysburg. They arrived after the fighting on the 1st day had concluded and would begin fighting at 9 Am the following day (July 2) at the Peach Orchard under command of General Sickles. The Confederate attacks would take a heavy toll on the regiment until relief was brought by the arrival of the 5th corp and reformation of a new line along the fish hook. As surviving senior colonel, Andrew H Tippin took command of the 1st brigade and Milton S. Davis took command of the regiment, being attached to the 3rd Corps they were under the command of General Sickles. Andrew H Tippin later wrote in his journal:
“After remaining in this position some time, the brigade was moved farther to the front, immediately in rear of Clark’s battery, deployed in line of battle, and ordered to lie down. We remained in this position nearly two hours, suffering severely from the destructive fire of the enemy’s batteries posted on our left and front. I was then ordered to move my regiment forward into a peach orchard, and fronting a road running parallel with the enemy’s front. We had been in this position but a short time when significant movements on the part of the enemy made it evident we were about to be attacked. Soon he advanced. I ordered the men to reserve their fire until reaching a certain point, when a destructive fire was opened, the enemy halting and dropping behind a fence. Receiving re-enforcements, and heavy masses of his infantry coming down on our right, I ordered my command to fall back to the position in the rear of the batteries, which was done in good order. Here I met General Graham, who ordered me at once to engage the enemy coming down on our right flank, which was promptly done under his directions.”
On the third day the regiment was held in reserve. While they were not directly engaged, they did receive artillery fire from the Confederate bombardment. They would suffer approximately 60% casualties.
The 68th was part of the Union pursuit of the Confederate retreat and would eventually be sent to other battles including The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cold Harbor. Their last offensive of the war was of the assault on Petersburg on April 1st 1865. They were mustered out of service on June 9th 1865. From the east side of the monument, a list of their engagements:
There are two monuments to the 68th in Gettysburg. The one pictured above is across the road from the Peach Orchard. This monument was dedicated in 1888 by the state of Pennsylvania. The other monument is located on Emmitsburg Rd. It was dedicated in 1886 by the survivors of the regiment.
Andrew H Tippin Journal – http://www.civilwarhome.com/tippingettysburgor.html
Chronology of the 68th PA Infantry – http://civilwarintheeast.com/us-regiments-batteries/pennsylvania/68th-pennsylvania-infantry/