Father William Corby Statue - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 48.206 W 077° 14.061
18S E 308721 N 4408328
Quick Description: This statue & its relationship to the Irish Brigade of the Civil War is an important cultural landmark of the early American-Irish legacy. The site of the statue indicates where Father Corby stood granting absolution to Union II Corps before battle.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 11/24/2012 1:27:37 PM
Waymark Code: WMFRP8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 4

Long Description:

William E. Corby was born in Detroit on October 2, 1833, and attended Notre Dame, entering the novitiate in 1856 and taking his final vows in 1859. Although Father Corby accompanied his men on many battlefields, giving comfort to the wounded and absolution to the dying, perhaps his greatest moment came at Gettysburg. Little more than 500 men remained of the original 3,000 veterans of the brigade, but they were to be sent to the rescue of the crumbling Union flank in a vicious maelstrom that would become known to history as The Wheatfield.

Father Corby donned his stole and mounted a large rock as the men of the brigade knelt, Catholic and Protestant alike. He offered absolution to the brigade, reminding them of their duties, warning them not to waver and to uphold the flag. Their attack bought precious time for the Union defenses but cost them dearly, with over one third of the brigade becoming casualties in a few moments.

The statue is located on the right or east part of Hancock Avenue if traveling north toward the Pennsylvania Monument which looms hugely in the distance. This part of the battlefield is the south section of Cemetery Ridge. Parking is available at small, cutout shoulders along the road, some wide, some narrow. Be sure to stay off the grass or you will be ticketed by park police. I visited this monument on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 5:29 P.M. I was at an elevation of 565 feet, ASL. I used a Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.

Due to the uniqueness and strong feelings associated with this monument, the America Guide Series decided to include this and a handful of other monument to highlight. The listing reads as follows:
5. The STATUE OF FATHER CORBY, S. of Pennsylvania monument, near junction of Hancock and United States Aves.' is a bronze memorial to Father William Corby of New York, chaplain of the Irish Brigade. He is pictured with his right arm raised - in the act of giving absolution to the troops - just as he stood facing the brigade a few moments before the 'Fighting irish' left the main body of the Union forces to help occupy Little Round Top on the afternoon of July 2. --- Pennsylvania: A Guide to the Keystone State, 1940; page 232

The Draw the Sword site helped out by the NPS narrative and the SIRIS site offers the following description: A standing portrait of Father Corby with his proper left hand on his chest and his proper right hand raised in a blessing. His hat and gloves rest on the ground near his proper left foot. The sculpture is installed on top of a stone boulder. The monument was erected using funds raised by Maj. St. Clair Mullholland (commander of the 116th Pennsylvania at Gettysburg), mainly from the Catholic community. Tradition states that the statue is placed upon the actual boulder on which Corby performed the Absolution. An identical copy of this statue is located at Notre Dame. It was dedicated in 1911. The memorial marks the spot where Father Corby granted absolution to soldiers of the Union II Corps prior to their entering battle in the Wheatfield.

This monument was dedicated on October 29, 1910. There was just a hundred-year anniversary celebration of the dedication of the monument. The monument is composed entirely of bronze and rests on a stone boulder and has the following dimensions: the sculpture is approximately 7 feet 8 inches in height and the base is approximately 9 feet 2 inches in diameter. The monument was sculpted by Samuel Murray (1870 - 1941). There is an inscription on a plaque at the base of the statue and another on a separate marker to the right of the statue, all of which read:

(Plaque at Statue Base)
To the memory
Rev. Father William Corby, C.S.C.
Chaplain 88th Regiment New York Infantry
2nd Brigade 1st Division 2nd Corps
The Irish Brigade
July 2nd 1863

(Side Marker Stone):
Reverend William E. Corby, C.S.C.
Congregation of Holy Cross
This memorial depicts Father Corby,
a chaplain of the Irish Brigade,
giving general absolution and blessing
before Battle of Gettysburg,
July 2, 1863
President, University of Notre Dame
1866-72, 1877-81

Plaque donated June 1863 by
the Philadelphia Alumni Club
of the University of Notre Dame

The Father William Corby Statue is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. The monument is identified as structure number MN269-A.

From the Nomination Form:
1 of 15 Civil War Monuments to officers & individuals. Indicates site Father William Corby stood granting absolution to Union II Corps soldiers. Located on east side of S. Hancock Avenue, S of NY Auxillary Mn. Flank Marker 1' S of Boulder.

Short Physical Description:
Bronze statue that has a commemorative marker. Statue is a bronze figure of Father Corby situated on a boulder. All 7'8" H. Bronze plaque appears in rock S of statue. Added maker w/bronze tablet is 1'4"x8"x2' H.

Long Physical Description:

My Sources
1. NRHP Nomination Form
3. Stone Sentinels
4. Virtual Gettysburg
5. Draw the Sword
6. Historical Marker Database
7. Wikipedia

Website with background information about this Waymark: [Web Link]

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