The Wheatfield - U.S. Civil War - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 47.832 W 077° 14.695
18S E 307799 N 4407659
Quick Description: An often overlooked & well-hidden, yet significant monument records the location and events of a makeshift field hospital established on the front lines near the Wheatfield during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/24/2013 8:34:01 PM
Waymark Code: WMHMXK
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
Views: 6

Long Description:

Doc's Rock, is dedicated to the surgeons of the 32nd MA, who set up field hospital in the area. The monument was dedicated in October 8, 1885 by the Veteran Association of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. This overlooked marker is a bronze-inscribed tablet attached to a boulder to show the location of the aid station and is located on the north side of Sickles Avenue across the road from the bigger and better known monument (with the likeness of an Irish wolfhound on the front of it) called the Irish Brigade Monument (MN156-A). As stated, the monument marks the location of a temporary field hospital of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment that was directly in harms way during the seesaw battle for the Wheatfield on July 2, and honors their Surgeon, Zabdiel Boylston Adams. The regimental monument, in the shape of a pup tent, is located further up the road on the left (more about that below). During the fighting, the area changed hand four different times, finally becoming no man's land. This must have been a brutal place to perform amputations. It was very much a makeshift hospital behind those rocks – Adams had to use a large boulder as a surgical table.

The 32nd Massachusetts Infantry served as a member of Sweitzer’s Brigade in Barnes’ Division of the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, a Fighting 300 Regiment. The nucleus of the regiment was a battalion of six companies raised in September 1861 to garrison Fort Warren, the largest fortification in Boston harbor. The battalion was originally known as the 1st Battalion Massachusetts Infantry or the Fort Warren Battalion. The regiment took part in 30 battles overall including the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Gettysburg, and numerous engagements during the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. In the Overland Campaign, during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, the unit was heavily engaged and suffered 54 percent casualties—its worst casualties of the war. After the Confederate surrender, the 32nd Massachusetts participated in the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, D.C., then returned to Boston and was disbanded on July 11, 1865. All totaled, the regiment lost during its service 5 Officers and 139 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 143 Enlisted men by disease for a casualty total of 289 men.

The regiment was commanded by Colonel George L. Prescott (1829-1864), a Lumber dealer from Concord. Prescott was mortally wounded on June 18th at Petersburg, and died the following day. Under Prescott's command, the regiment had 406 men engaged at Gettysburg and among them, 13 were killed, 62 were wounded and 5 went missing.

The principal interest of this waymark, Dr. Adams, the regiment's surgeon, graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1853, then worked in Europe and aboard an immigrant ship, before returning home to practice at an insane asylum and finally to found his own practice. But when the Civil War came, the devout abolitionist quickly offered his services as a doctor, first with the 7th Massachusetts and then the 32nd Massachusetts with whom he found fame at Gettysburg, after duty at a long run of battles, including First Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

At Gettysburg there was a problem with his sight. Adams worked day and night through the end of the battle and beyond caring for both Union and Confederate wounded. He worked so hard, one website states – that he suffered temporary blindness and exhaustion. He was honorably discharged. Having returned to Boston after Gettysburg, he was not content to sit out the rest of the war. He enlisted in the 56th Massachusetts, not as a surgeon, but as an infantry officer. In the very next major battle after Gettysburg, at the Wilderness in Virginia in 1864, he was badly wounded in the leg and captured. He was then sent to Richmond’s Libby Prison, where he passed part of the time by carving a chess set, now on exhibit at a museum in Massachusetts. Eventually Adams was paroled and discharged because of his wound.

He limped for the rest of his life, but it was a fruitful life of medical practice in Boston and in Framingham, Mass., where he gained a reputation as an ardent pioneer of preventative medicine, particularly vaccination.He died in 1902 after a fall into a dam. He was 73. Dr. Adams settled and practiced in Framingham and founded the Framingham Union Hospital. As a long and active library trustee, he suggested the first bookmobile service by street railway. He also sponsored the installation of an indoor toilet and electricity in the Edgell Memorial Library. He observed that people would stay later for meetings if there were electric lights. SOURCE

According to his biography by Charles Peabody, "Zab" is the only doctor to be honored with a plaque on a Civil War battlefield. He set up a field hospital at Gettysburg as close to the front line as he could to quickly tend to the wounded just yards away from that little pup tent monument called the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry Monument. This monument is a tent that can sleep four (although it is solid granite). On it, hangs a canteen and is marked with the Fifth Corps’ Maltese Cross. The monuments to the 32nd Massachusetts can be found by following the Sickles Avenue around Devil’s Den, past DeTrobriand Avenue into the Rose Woods, right past the Irish Brigade monument. Across the road from the 32nd's monument and behind the 5th Michigan Infantry Monument sits the large rock with a plaque fastened tightly to it. It was here that Adams cared for the wounded of the 32nd Massachusetts. The monument is located on the right or north side of Sickles Avenue while traveling northwest. The monument is just before the beginning of The Loop, aptly named considering the road looks like a teardrop. This area is heavily wooded. There is a tremendous amount of monuments here as well. Parking is available along the side of the road at intermittently enlarged shoulders. Take care to park in the white lines or on asphalt widened shoulders and not park on anything remotely green looking as Park Police will happily ticket you. I visited this site on Monday, July 1, 2013 on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg @ 5:48 PM, EDT & @ an altitude of 532 feet, ASL. As always, I used my trusty and oft abused Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.

The inscription on the tablet reads:

Behind this group of rocks, on the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, Surgeon Z. Boylston Adams placed the Field Hospital of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Div., 5th Army Corps. Established so near the line of battle, many of our wounded escaped capture or death by its timely aid.

Sources:
1. Stone Sentinels
2. Virtual Gettysburg
3. Draw the Sword
4. Historical Marker Database
5. Acton Memorial Library - Civil War Archives

Address:
Gettysburg National Military Park The Wheatfield Sykes Avenue, Near the Loop Gettysburg, PA 17325


Name of War: United States Civil War

Type of Documentation: Historic Marker/Interpretive

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