The Sacrifice of North Carolina at the Battle of Gettysburg
The Army of Northern Virginia was comprised of men from all over the Confederate States at the Battle of Gettysburg. With some 28,000 casualties, the losses that stemmed from General Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North were felt greatly throughout the Confederacy. Those sacrifices hit North Carolina especially hard. Etched into stone by the North Carolina State Monument at Gettysburg is a reminder that, “One Confederate soldier in every four who fell here was a North Carolinian.” North Carolina suffered the highest number of casualties of any Confederate state at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The North Carolina State Monument statue depicts a wounded officer pointing the way forward for his comrades as they prepare to charge.
Of the nearly 14,000 Tar Heels that entered battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, some 6,000 became casualties. Author Shelby Foote provides an incredible example of this carnage in his book, Stars In Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign. Foote notes that on the first day of the battle, two center companies of General James Pettigrew’s 26th North Carolina “set new records for battlefield losses.” One of the companies “took 83 soldiers into the fight and emerged with only 2 unhit.” The other “went in with 91, and all were killed or wounded.” This was the harsh reality of the brutal fighting that took place on the fields of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863.
Another angle of the soldiers on the North Carolina monument charging towards the Union position.
Like so many others during the American Civil War, North Carolinians suffered greatly for the causes that they believed in. The North Carolina State Monument at Gettysburg conveys that message to all who visit this hallowed ground. It reads, “To the eternal glory of the North Carolina soldiers. Who on this battlefield displayed heroism unsurpassed sacrificing all in support of their cause. Their valorous deeds will be enshrined in the hearts of men long after these transient memorials have crumbled into dust.”
Stars In Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign by Shelby Foote.