Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Strong Vincent & the 83rd PA

The monument to the 83rd PA Infantry on the south slope of Little Round Top was dedicated on September 12, 1889. The statue "unofficially" depicts Col. Strong Vincent, the once regimental commander and then brigade commander. Due to early battlefield regulations, the veterans of the 83rd were not really given official permission to have the likeness of Vincent on their monument. Instead, they had sculpted this "Union Soldier" to represent their fight. Hmm. Looks a bit like their commander, wouldn't you say?

It's always very cool to see how visitors honor their ancestors who fought in the battle. These flowers and note were left at the base of the 83rd PA monument. This one is left for Private Philip Grine.

Strong Vincent was 26 years old at the time of the battle. He was from Erie, PA and was a law graduate of Harvard. He had left for the war the day after he was married. Right before Gettysburg, Vincent had learned that his wife was expecting their first child. When the colonel went into battle on July 2, 1863, he was wielding not his sword, but a riding crop his wife gave him as a parting gift.

Near the summit of the hill, Vincent mounted a boulder, waving his wife's gift at the enemy and yelling, "Don't give an inch!" He was mortally wounded seconds later.

So, was Vincent wounded in this designated location? This image is courtesy of Stone Sentinels.

...Or is this the spot? We may never know. This boulder is beside the 44th NY castle on Little Round Top. This image is courtesy of the Battle of Gettysburg Resource Center and J.D. Petruzzi. You can learn more about rock carvings like these in JD's new book.

Some history of the regiment...

This is my favorite print of Strong Vincent. This one is entitled Hold the Ground at All Hazards, by Keith Rocco. Joshua Chamberlain is to the left and Lt. Holman Melcher is above Chamberlain. Vincent's brigade was summoned to the top of Little Round Top only ten minutes before the enemy assault. Vincent's initiative to move his men there ultimately saved the hill from immediate capture.

This one is entitled Don't Give an Inch! by Don Troiani. Notice the ridding crop in both paintings. Vincent was struck in the groin after yelling this to the men of the 16th Michigan, who were on the verge of breaking.

This statue of Vincent was dedicated in 1997 in front of the Erie, PA library. A fitting memorial to a local hero. Strong Vincent High School also stands in his memory in Erie. It is most appropriate that a school be named after a brave scholar such as Vincent.


  1. Strong Vincent is a hometown hero here in Erie. The placement of the statue in front of the Public Library was not without controversy. The five person committee that oversaw the library and maritime museum at the time were not very receptive to the statue being placed on library grounds.In the end a little press about it in the local paper and news channels turned things around. The statue, sculpted by Michael Krause now stands prominently in the front of the library. The original Keith Rocco painting pictured, along with a restored State Color of the 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry are on display in the geneology room at the library. Along with these items is the origial "Gen. Strong Vincent is wounded" monument which was vandalized years ago at Gettysburg. Great stuff. ~Gary

  2. Gary,

    what was the argument against the statue ??


  3. Bill, The Vincent Committee made a presentation to the Joint Operating Committee (JOC)of the Bayfront Complex. The complex is made up of the Raymond Blasco Memorial Library and the state's Maritime Museum. The Vincent Committee felt the statue should go in front of the library (south side). The JOC felt the north side (actually the back of the building) would be best as it would be near the berth for the reconstructed Brig Niagara and keep with the military theme. One member said as far as he was concerned the north side (back side) of the building is the front. That's a crazy statement because people enter the building from the south side which is the front of the building. The JOC wanted to keep with the maritime theme and surroundings of the building (a crock IMO). In short if it would have been totally up to these folks the statue would not be there today, they just didn't want it there. ~Gary

  4. Just goes to show that there is always a story behind a monument...Gettysburg or not. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks, Gary. Hard for me to believe that there would be any controversy over a Vincent statue in Erie.