While every regiment at Gettysburg deserves acclaim and should always be remembered, there are particular units that hold a special place in my heart. One of these is the 24th Michigan Infantry of the “Iron Brigade of the West.” The fighting between this unit and the 26th North Carolina, which took place at Herbst Woods along McPherson's Ridge, was possibly the most vicious of the entire battle. Before my most recent Gettysburg trip I was looking at old photos and noticed a 2006 shot of the 24th’s secondary monument at Culp’s Hill. Various denominations of loose change were scattered across the flat top of the monument as a sign of respect, remembrance, or pride, or perhaps all three. When I planned my most recent trip in 2013, I knew I had to do the same.
It wasn’t much. There were six pennies, some well-worn, but it wasn’t visual pizzazz I was looking for. I wanted to honor the dead. I wanted to feel as if I was doing my part in keeping the 24th Michigan’s memory alive. Also, I hoped that other visitors who stopped by this secluded site at the bottom of Culp’s Hill just above Stevens Knoll might see that someone cared enough to leave the pennies. Maybe they’d even want to learn more about the unit. Maybe they’d bring a memorial of their own.
This particular marker dates only from 1995 and marks the spot where, after being nearly annihilated on July 1, 1863, survivors of the 24th Michigan entrenched in a defensive position. The first day of Gettysburg marked a zenith . . . never again would the Iron Brigade have the manpower to be the driving force they once were, yet their legend would live on. In fact, in 1865, the 24th was honored with the invitation to guard President Lincoln’s body en route to his funeral service.
Co. F, 38th North Carolina Infantry
Born 1824 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 39
(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray