Hailing from Castine, Charles Tilden commanded the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment during its Götterdämmerung at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. (Photo courtesy of the Maine State Archives)
From time to time we will wander to Gettysburg and visit the monuments left there by Maine units.
Today let’s walk where the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment fought and died.
Late afternoon on July 1, 1863, Col. Charles Tilden and his 16th Maine were west of Gettysburg, holding a line that essentially stretched from the Chambersburg Pike north to the Mummasburg Road. The former highway runs almost due west from Gettysburg, the latter road approximately northwest.
As the Union lines buckled, Tilden and his regiment were ordered north to the Mummasburg Road to hold off some 20,000 advancing Confederates. We will fight that battle with the heroic Tilden and his boys in a future “Maine at War” column; for now, let’s walk along Doubleday Avenue (a Park Service road) and see where our boys made their stand.
On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, the 16th Maine Infantry fought Confederate infantry advancing toward Gettysburg from the west (South Mountain on the horizon). Initially formed to the south (left) of this vantage point, the 16th Maine stood in regiment line and shot it out with thousands of enemy troops. The shadow is cast by one of three lookout towers at Gettysburg National Military Park. The pavement is Doubleday Avenue, built long after the war ended. (Brian Swartz photo)
The 16th Maine Infantry Monument was erected where the regiment fought in midafternoon on July 1, 1863. Located on Doubleday Avenue, the monument is best photographed in the morning on sunny days. (Brian Swartz photo)
A close-up of the 16th Maine Infantry Monument on Doubleday Avenue at Gettysburg. (Brian Swartz photo)
About 4 p.m. on July 1, 1863, the 16th Maine Infantry was sent to the intersection now formed by the Mummasburg Road (running right to left) and Doubleday Avenue (running lower left to upper right); the latter road did not exist then. To battle Confederate infantry now engulfing his regiment, Tilden formed his men into an inverted V, with the left flank standing along the stone wall and the right flank standing along the Mummasburg Road. In the distance is the Eternal Peace Memorial. (Brian Swartz photo)
Located alongside Doubleday Avenue, this monument is the left flank marker for the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment. The view is toward the southwest and the Chambersburg Pike. (Brian Swartz photo)
This small 16th Maine Infantry monument was placed “inside” the triangle formed by the Doubleday Avenue-Mummasburg Road intersection. The National Park Service lookout tower and Gettysburg College are visible in the background. The view is toward the southeast. (Brian Swartz photo)
The right flank marker of the 16th Maine Infantry was placed along the Mummasburg Road. In the background at upper right is the regiment’s second, smaller monument. Ironically, 16th Maine survivors intended to place this small monment at another site just to the south (left). Another Union regiment set up its monument on the spot first, however, and some 16th Maine boys stewed about it in their circa-1888 correspondence.
Brian Swartz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.