Making Connections: The Statue of Liberty and Gettysburg

Occasionally park employees are called away on special assignments, or “details,” to other national parks to lend assistance for special events, disaster recovery or other projects.  I just spent ten days at the Statue of Liberty National Monument helping with the re-opening of the Statue after a year-long project to improve public safety and accessibility to the statue.  (And yes, I did get stuck in New York City during superstorm Sandy, but that’s another story.)

Liberty Island in 1933

I was thinking about this blog while I was in New York and decided to ask one of the many excellent Park Rangers at the Statue about the connections between the story of the Statue of Liberty and the Battle of Gettysburg.

First, the background:  The Statue of Liberty is built upon Fort Wood and the island now known as Liberty Island was once known as Bedloe’s Island.

In 1807 the United States Army began administering Bedloe’s Island as a military post and they began constructing the “Works on Bedloe’s Island,” later known as Fort Wood.  The 11-point star fort was part of the protection of New York Harbor.  It was garrisoned with artillery and infantry until the outbreak of the Civil War.  During the Civil War Fort Wood served as a recruiting station and ordnance depot.   A small garrison was also maintained at the fort during this time.

This information and much more is available on the park’s website at:  http://www.nps.gov/stli/historyculture/liberty-island-a-chronology.htm

The broken chains at the Statue of Liberty’s feet.

Park Ranger Lawrence “Lee” Fahley is the park’s “go to” ranger for Civil War history and he provided me with the following:

Lieutenant Henry W. Halleck, later General-in-Chief for President Lincoln, supervised the replacement of the red sandstone bricks with granite for Fort Wood during 1841 to 1845.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee spent several years in New York Harbor early in his military career. From 1841 to 1846 he was stationed at Fort Hamilton where he inspected the forts in the harbor. Robert prepared plans for Fort Totten, located on the East River in Queens, in 1857.

First Lieutenant John F. Reynolds, later Major General, spent several months stationed at Fort Wood in 1854.

William Brumby-Private-11th U.S. Infantry Regiment-Company E, was transferred to the U.S. Army Convalescent Hospital on Bedloe’s, later Liberty Island, after the Battle of Gettysburg with a serious wound to his right hand, where a large number of bones were broken.

Some additional soldiers who were wounded at the battle of Gettysburg and then transferred to the hospital on Bedloe’s Island are:

Joseph Schrader/Schroeder-12th Corp-gunshot to the right heel.

George M. Adams-1st Minnesota Infantry-wounded in the right shoulder during a charge on July 2nd – arrived on Bedloe’s Island in December 1863.

Luke B. Gray – Private – 14th Vermont Infantry, Company K – wounded in the instep by shell fragments on July 3rd – transferred by steamboat to Bedloe’s Island and the hospital.

126th New York Infantry Regiment – 15 men with various wounds

Anthony G. Hayward – private – 27th New Jersey Infantry, Company C

Lieutenant J.R. Boyle – Confederate 12th South Carolina Volunteers – July 1st diary entry: “I received a grape shot in my right leg below the knee, which shattered the bone into splinters, the shoe on that foot flying off some distance.”  I n October 1863, he was transferred from David’s Island, New York, to Bedloe’s Island for three weeks.   

Doctor John Shaw Billings – surgeon for the Army of the Potomac – spent three months at the hospital in 1864.  Later his plans for Johns Hopkins Hospital were accepted and the building was built.

Not long after the re-opening events at the Statue of Liberty last Sunday, the wind and rain preceding Hurricane Sandy started to hit the New York harbor.  The re-opening events took place as scheduled but the very next day the storm hit and the park was closed.  Due to conditions created by Hurricane Sandy, Statue of Liberty National Monument will be closed until further notice.

Special thanks to Lee Fahley, Park Ranger/Interpreter at the Statue of Liberty National Monument for help with this blog.  Please join us in sending thoughts and well wishes to Lee and the rest of the staff and families at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island and so many other units of the National Park system in New York and New Jersey and elsewhere as they recover from Sandy.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, November 1, 2012

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