Size: 4¼” x 4¼” x 10½&rdquo
1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas
On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, Sergeant Frank Riley and 200 men of the 12th New Jersey Volunteers jumped over a low stone wall at Gettysburg and charged into the pages of history. General James Longstreet’s Confederates attacked the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, where the 12th New Jersey and other members of the famed Second Corps were positioned. Confederate brigades on the right end of the southern line successively attacked in hopes the Union line would shift troops from its right to meet the attack, allowing the Confederates to smash the weakened Union center. As the Confederate attack reached the center of the Union line, Confederate General Carnot Posey’s Mississippians moved into the Bliss barn. Seeing this, Union General Alexander Hays ordered four companies of the 12th New Jersey to recapture the crucial position. Rebel sharpshooters had taken a position at the farm and the 12th was one of the units detailed to flush them out. They formed at the base of the Emmitsburg Road where they were sheltered, then they charged forward.
In the face of murderous fire, the Jerseymen fixed bayonets and jumped over the stone wall. Sgt. Riley and his four companies of men, companies B, E, G, and H, were cheered as they double-timed 400 yards across open fields to the Bliss barn, named for owner William Bliss, which was occupied by Confederate soldiers. As they advanced, the 12th came under heavy fire from Posey’s men, and three of its company commanders were killed or wounded. As one Jerseyman reported, the Rebels were “raking us awfully”.
The 12th halted within a few yards of the Bliss barn and blasted the Confederates with a withering volley of “buck and ball”—shotgun-like blasts that swept the rebels. Those Confederates not killed either fled or were captured. In a letter penned soon after the battle, Riley wrote that the rebels did not surrender “until we were pouring into the doors and windows, and almost meeting them face to face, [only then] did they cry out for quarters: ‘We surrender Yanks, don’t shoot!’” However, as more Confederates closed in, the men of the 12th were forced to withdraw with their prisoners to Cemetery Ridge.
The next morning the five remaining companies of the 12th braved the Rebel fire and again took the Bliss house and barn near Gettysburg. The 12th suffered 40 men killed or wounded in the attack on the Bliss barn, yet they killed, wounded, or dispersed a large number of Confederates and captured 92 rebels, including seven officers.
This heroic action by the 12th New Jersey, though little recognized, is believed by some historians to have had a decisive effect upon the battle and, consequently, the Civil War. This group of farmers and small merchants from the Garden State’s southern counties not only helped thwart the Confederate assault on July 2, but also helped stop Pickett’s Charge on the third and final day of the battle. When the Confederates approached within 50 yards, the 12th let loose a blast of “buck and ball,” leaving a gaping hole in the rebel line. “It looked like murder,” 12th regimental surgeon Alvin Satterthwait of Somerset County later wrote. Despite their losses, the 12th captured nearly 600 Confederate prisoners and seized four enemy flags.
The Bliss Farm fight is depicted in a bas relief on the main 12th New Jersey monument located on Cemetery Ridge.
This monument was dedicated on May 26, 1886 and is located on Hancock Avenue across from the Brian Farm.