Rebuilding Stone Walls at Gettysburg

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Looking west from Taneytown Road toward Cemetery Ridge and the Copse of Trees. Pallets of stones will be used to rebuild missing walls.

Since 2000, Gettysburg National Military Park has undertaken numerous and significant projects to rehabilitate the battlefield to its 1863 appearance.  Projects have included removal of non-historic trees, planting of wooded areas that no longer had trees, health cuts to improve historic woodlots, re-planting historic orchards, building fences, removal of modern buildings, overhead utility lines, and more.

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Newly completed stone wall near Ziegler’s Grove (Wall B in the map below).  Note the more formal wall design which the War Department improved.

Now we’ve started rebuilding missing stone walls at Gettysburg at five sites along Cemetery Ridge and on the David McMillan farm near present day West Confederate Avenue.

These projects improve the visitor experience on the battlefield and overall understanding of the fighting of the battle. By seeing the open terrain, fences, fields and farm lands, visitors get a better sense of the opportunities and obstacles faced by the soldiers and their commanders.  In the Civil War, if you couldn’t see it, you couldn’t shoot it, so the long views we’re re-opened at Gettysburg help tell the story of sweeping infantry charges, and the artillery positions that dueled with each other and sent iron missiles into the infantry formations.

Orchards could provide cover and concealment.  Fences were often obstacles and stone walls could provide cover.  All of the elements affected the fighting of the battle and each one contributes in important ways to our visitors being able to see the battlefield through the soldiers’ eyes.

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The stone wall along the Leister Farm Lane is now under construction.  It will have an average height of about 30 inches (based on nearby walls) and will have a wooden rail (rider) fence on top of it.

Stone walls were originally created by farmers as they cleared their fields and pastures, placed as boundaries for fields and sometimes heightened with split rail “riders.” Using horses and rope slings, the largest rocks were dragged from nearby fields to the edge with medium-sized to smaller stones carefully stacked on top to add height.   Many of the original surviving stone walls in the southern end of the park still have look this way. The walls along Taneytown Road and adjacent to Culp’s Hill have boulders built into them too. By the mid-1850’s, years of farming and clearing fields yielded substantial walls throughout Adams County. Little did the farmers know, prior to 1863, that their well-constructed walls would be used by two armies during a major battle where in several cases these stone walls defined the Union and Confederate battle lines.

Soldiers alternately added to or tore down the walls in the path of the battle. Barricades and defensive works built during the battle were typically composed of medium-sized to small stones, easily picked up from the surrounding area or lifted from nearby walls.

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NPS crews working along the Leister Farm Lane – the Leister Barn is on the right.

But the soldiers knew that small stones only made their defensive work a hazard, since the small rocks could easily become projectiles if hit by a ball or shell fragment. It was backbreaking work, sometimes accomplished while under fire and the barricades built by soldiers of both armies still define the lines of battle today at Little Round Top and Culp’s Hill.

Many of Gettysburg’s historic stone walls disappeared over time. Our work to bring them back is based on research using historic maps, namely the Bachelder Isometric map (1863-1864), the G. K. Warren Map (1868), the U.S. War Department survey maps of 1893-1895, and rigorous research that has been completed by National Park Service (NPS) historians over the past three decades. Additionally, the photographic work of Alexander Gardner, Matthew Brady, Frederick Gutekunst and others guide this effort.

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Wall A and Wall B (on the map above) were both located on the property of David Ziegler. Ziegler owned a number of acres of meadow in 1863 just to the west of the Taneytown Road. According to the Warren Map a wall ran along the northern edge of the field, with another running north-south along its western boundary.  Just to the south was property owned by Peter Frey, and to the southwest the farm of Abraham Brian. William Kepler, of the 4th Ohio, recalled that his unit “marched forward into position between Woodruff’s Battery and the Taneytown road, on the brow of the hill in Zeigler’s Grove, with a rise of ground to the right toward the Cemetery.  From this point but little could be seen in any direction, whilst the occasional crack of a rifle could be heard, and whizzing of a ball through the air.  The men soon busied themselves getting their arms in the best possible order….The position of the brigade was soon changed by the left-flank, until it was clear of a ravine and in the rear of Woodruff’s Battery.”[i]

Leister Farm Lane (“C” on the map above) ran just to the south of Ziegler and Frey fields. Along the northern stretch of Lydia Leister’s property was a farm lane that allowed access from the Taneytown Road to her barn and western fields. It would have been used by many of the high-ranking officers of the Union Army, along with elements of the 2nd Corps, Artillery Reserve, Ambulance Corps and other regiments and batteries that needed to access Cemetery Ridge. A soldier in the 14th Connecticut recalled that his regiment moved into “a field opposite Meade’s headquarters on the Taneytown road.” He remembered that his regiment “….moved across the road, and passing over the wall at the low place below the cottage …advanced up the field and filing right past the barn to the field beyond the barn lane was placed in rear of the brigade on the slope at rear of the Brian premises….”[ii]

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Warren Map, Cemetery Ridge

The stonewall lining the Leister Farm lane is visible on the Warren Map, John Bachelder’s 1864 Isometric Map, and is barely visible in photographs of Meade’s Headquarters taken within days of the battle by Alexander Gardner. At the time of the battle this was most likely a low-stone wall with a wooden rider across the top. The original wall was removed in the early 1930’s by the War Department following the reconfiguration of Meade Avenue, which once connected the Taneytown Road with Hancock Avenue.

Like the Leister Farm Lane, the Peter Frey Farm Lane (“D”and “E” on the modern map above) provided access to the property from the Taneytown Road and would have been utilized by elements of the Army of the Potomac during their occupation of Cemetery Ridge. This wall is prominently visible in Bachelder’s Isometric Map, as well as the G. K. Warren Map.

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Frey and Leister Farm Lanes on the Isometric Map

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On Seminary Ridge the park will be adding 340 feet of stonewall on the David McMillan property (See map above). This wall, which in 1863 ran east to west along the southern boundary of the McMillan Orchard before transitioning into a Virginia worm fence, is clearly indicated on the Warren Map.

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The park is rebuilding the yellow section of this wall at the McMillan farm.

For most of these stone walls there is no photographic evidence of what they looked like, how high they were built, and whether they were stacked elegantly or thrown hastily together by the farmer clearing his fields. Few, if any, would have survived the battle unscathed. The walls being rebuilt are not meant to be a perfect recreation of what once existed, but rather a representation.  Their height, configuration, and proportions are modeled after similar walls photographed following the battle as well as those that have survived intact the ravages of time and progress.

img_6595The project is funded by the NPS.  The NPS Historic Preservation Training Center is doing the work, using 1200 tons of field stone which came from eight counties in Pennsylvania. The materials cost $198,000.  The work will continue for the next 1-2 months, depending on the winter weather.

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Katie Lawhon and Christopher Gwinn, December 1, 2016

[i] William Kepler, History of the Three Months’ and Three Years’ Service…of the Fourth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the War for the Union (Cleveland: Leader Printing Company, 1886), 126-127.

[ii] Henry S. Stevens, Souvenir of Excursions to the Battlefields by the Society of the Fourteenth Connecticut Regiment and Reunion at Antietam September 1891 (Washington: Gibson Brothers, 1893), 11.

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Winter Programming at Gettysburg National Military Park

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Winter Lecture Series 2017
Controversies, Myths, and Misconceptions: Refighting the Civil War

Winter is a great time to visit and explore Gettysburg National Military Park. On January 7, 2017, the annual Winter Lecture Series begins. Featuring some of the best National Park Service Rangers and Historians from across the region, this 11-week series of hour-long talks will examine some of the more controversial and complex aspects of the of the American Civil War. From Emancipation to the legacy of George McClellan, the Lincoln Assassination to the battle of Gettysburg, the history of the American Civil War is fraught with myths, misconceptions, and controversies. The Winter Lecture Series is held at 1:o0 p.m. on weekends in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center from January 7th through March 12th, 2017.

For a complete schedule of all programs and featured speakers, check the park website or call the Visitor Information Desk at 717-334-1124 ext. 8023. Can’t make it to Gettysburg? All Winter Lectures will be filmed and made available on our park YouTube page: youtube.com/GettysburgNPS 

 Sat. Jan. 7
Longstreet’s Counter-march – In one of the more controversial moments of the battle of Gettysburg, Confederate General James Longstreet’s men did not attack until mid-afternoon on July 2nd.  This delay possibly cost victory for the Confederacy.   Join Ranger Matt Atkinson and explore what we do and do not know about the fateful march.  – Matt Atkinson, GNMP

Sun. Jan. 8
A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation remains one of the most misunderstood and controversial events of the American Civil War. Many today still debate its legality and what it accomplished. Did Lincoln truly believe in the document, or was it simply a war measure meant to end the war quicker? What did the Emancipation Proclamation do and what did it mean? Join Ranger Dan Vermilya to address these questions and more, as we discuss what Lincoln called “the central act of my administration, and the great event of the 19th century.” – Daniel Vermilya, Gettysburg NMP

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Sat. Jan. 14
Is Gettysburg America’s Epic Tale, Central to Our National Identity?
 Throughout the history of civilization, the most significant nation-states and empires have celebrated an epic war story that formed the core of their identity. Whether it was Homer’s Iliad in Greece, Virgil’s Aeneid in Rome, the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt or England’s Beowulf and King Arthur, all of these informed and instructed successive generations what it meant to be Greek, Roman, Hebrew or English. Each one imparted great stories that promoted collective heritage and instilled moral lessons on how to live a noble and virtuous life. Each epic story embodied the essence of the people portrayed within its pages. Can the same be said for the Battle of Gettysburg? Does the battle encapsulate the nature of what it is to be an American? -Troy Harman, GNMP

Sun. Jan. 15
Mary Surratt: Guilty or Not Guilty
In 1865, Mary Surratt became the first woman executed by the Federal Government. Join Ranger Karlton Smith and examine Mary Surratt’s guilt or innocence in connection with the Lincoln Assassination conspiracy. Was she completely innocent or did she, as stated by President Andrew Johnson “keep the nest that hatched the egg?”- Karlton Smith, GNMP


Sat. Jan. 21
If These Things Could Talk: New Acquisitions
The American Civil War spawned a technological revolution of military arms and equipment. Join Ranger Tom Holbrook and examine original objects from the park’s museum collection, many of which have never before been publicly displayed.  – Tom Holbrook, GNMP 

Sun. Jan. 22
The Battle of Monocacy: The Fight that Saved Washington D.C – 
On July 9, 1864 Union troops led by General Lew Wallace clashed with Confederate veterans commanded by General Jubal Early. The fighting that would rage outside of Frederick, Maryland that day would be remembered as the battle that saved Washington D.C. – Tracy Evans, Monocacy National Battlefield

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Sat. Jan. 28
Debacle at Balls Bluff: The Battle that Changed the War
On October 21, 1861, Union and Confederate forces fought a bloody battle outside of Leesburg, Virginia.  The Union defeat that resulted sent shock-waves throughout the country. Corpses floated down the Potomac River as far as Washington DC, the Union commander was imprisoned, and the powerful Committee on the Conduct of the War was created. Join Historian Christopher Gwinn for a look at this momentous and controversial battle.   – Christopher Gwinn, GNMP

Sun. Jan. 29
“Vincit Qui Patitur”: The Life of an American Armsmaker -Colonel Samuel Colt
The American Civil War saw transformative industrial development on an unprecedented scale.  Inventor Samuel Colt obtained his first revolver patent at the age of 22; and during the Civil War, his company manufactured and sold over 375,000 of “The World’s Right Arm” to the Union. You may know the guns. But just who was this Hartford boy-genius, and what is his story? – Bert Barnett, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 4
“…one of the most brilliant victories of the war turned into one of the most disgraceful defeats….” The Fatal Halt at Cedar Creek

Following one of the riskiest and most audacious assaults of the entire American Civil War, Lt. Gen. Jubal Early and his Army of the Valley seemingly won an improbable victory at Cedar Creek.  Yet by nightfall, the Confederate army had suffered a near complete defeat and was in full retreat.  What caused this stunning reversal was the most controversial decision Early made during the entire 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, if not his entire military career.  Known simply as “The Fatal Halt,” this decision instantly generated acrimonious debate that continued for decades.  – Eric Campbell, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP

Sun. Feb. 5

“The Dawn of Peace”- Grant, Lee and the Lore of Appomattox
On April 9, 1865, a stoic General Robert E. Lee examined the terms written by General Ulysses S. Grant, leaned over the table and signed his name in agreement. It was the end of the Army of Northern Virginia and signpost of the last gasp of the Confederacy. What the two generals took away from their meeting in Wilmer McClean’s parlor and the events that followed have been revered and retold, sometimes quite differently from the reality of the occasion. Legends are often more intriguing than reality and we’ll examine a few of those legends, separating fact from fiction in the troubled peace that followed.  – John Heiser, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 11
The Controversial Court Martial of Fitz John Porter – After the Battle of Second Manassas, Porter garnered much of the blame for the defeat.  He was subsequently court martialed and cashiered for his conduct during the battle.  He spent the next 25 years trying to exonerate his name.  Join Matt Atkinson and explore this interesting and controversial topic. – Matt Atkinson, GNMP

Sun. Feb. 12
“A Simple Hop, Skip, and Jump?” Burnside and His Bridge at Antietam: A Reexamination
Major General Ambrose E. Burnside ranks among the most maligned generals of the American Civil War and much of the criticism leveled against him stems from his actions during the September 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam, and especially his efforts at storming the Burnside Bridge. But is this popular criticism of Burnside fair? Join John Hoptak for a new look at the role and actions of Ambrose Burnside and the soldiers of his 9th Corps during the war’s Bloodiest Day. – John Hoptak, GNMP

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Sat. Feb. 18
On the McClellan Go Round—George McClellan and the Antietam Campaign
George Brinton McClellan—one of the Civil War’s most controversial and disliked generals—has been the subject of scorn and derision for decades. Frequently near or at the top of “worst generals” lists, historians typically use words such as coward, traitor, or foolish to describe this former commander of the Army of the Potomac. But is the story we all seem to know so well correct? Does George McClellan deserve the reputation he has today? Join Ranger Dan Vermilya for a look at McClellan’s actions in the pivotal Antietam Campaign, the most important of McClellan’s military career, to see why when it comes to the “Young Napoleon” history tends to be ruled by perceptions and not realities.  – Daniel Vermilya, GNMP

Sun. Feb 19
Longstreet & Huger: The Battle of Seven Pines, May 31 – June 1, 1862
The battle of Seven Pines cannot be considered a Confederate success. Who was to blame? Was it James Longstreet, Benjamin Huger, or someone else? This program will examine some of charges and counter-charges made at the time and in the years since the battle and will explore how historians have interpreted the event.  – Karlton Smith, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 25
A Load of Buell? Another Look at The Cannoneer
Many stories have been spun about the American Civil War; some of them better than others.  In the modern marketplace, everything from AK-47 wielding Confederates to a vampire-slaying Lincolns permeates the battlefields in search of profit.  With this as a backdrop, let us re-evaluate the scorned story of one soldier of the Union in “A Load of Buell?”  – Another Look at The Cannoneer.– Bert Barnett, GNMP

Sun. Feb. 26
Thomas Francis Meagher – Angie Atkinson, GNMP
From his exile to Van Diemen’s Land to the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, Thomas Francis Meagher’s life was captivating and mystifying. Dedication to his men was unquestionable, but rumors of over indulgence darkened his reputation both on and off the battlefield. Join Angie Atkinson as she delves into Gen. Meagher’s complicated history and examines some of the lingering questions regarding his leadership, actions, and untimely passing.

Sat. March 4
“In violation of the laws and customs of war:” Andersonville and the Trial of Henry Wirz
The American Civil War claimed the lives of nearly 700,000 Americans. 13,000 of those deaths occurred in one place, more deaths than on any battlefield of the war. That place was Andersonville Prison. Upon the war’s conclusion, the Federal Government wanted answers to the atrocities committed at this Confederate-operated prison while bringing the perpetrators of such war crimes to justice. Their answers were found in the camp’s prison stockade commander: Henry Wirz.
– Caitlin Brown, GNMP

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Sun. March 5
“It was, indeed, a scene of unsurpassed grandeur and majesty” – An Audio-Visual Presentation of the National Park Service’s Coverage of the 150thAnniversary of the American Civil War. Over the past six years, the National Park Service has covered the commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War through extensive photography and video projects. From behind the camera, Jason Martz and a team of passionate and dedicated staff and volunteers have spent countless hours capturing these once-in-a-lifetime events. They have been used for immediate use on web and social media sites for a worldwide audience and have been saved and cataloged for ages to come. Beginning with the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in July, 2011, and ending with the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, Jason will highlight some of the most remarkable and stunning pictures and videos from the past five years.  – Jason Martz, GNMP

Sat. March 11
How Does The Civil War Qualify as the First Modern War?
For 5,800 years of recorded history, wars were fought with pre-modern forms of transportation and communication, where the world was powered by windmills, watermills, literal horse power and human muscle, However, this all changed with the invention of the steam engine and its implementation in the 19th century. In fifty short years, macadamized roads, canals, steam trains, steam boats, steam presses and telegraph communication revolutionized the transfer of energy and power. By the 1850s, every aspect of western civilization looked and functioned differently than it had for thousands of years. It was in this milieu the Civil War was fought. What did the first modern war look like and how did it differ from previous wars? How did wartime observations by foreign emissaries alter the course of future wars?
– Troy Harman, GNMP

Sun. March 12
RAIN DATE

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The Gettysburg Battlefield Book Series

Every Saturday, January 7th to March 11th
11:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Ford Education Center
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Gettysburg National Military Park is pleased to announce the selections for the 2017 Gettysburg Battlefield Book Series! Meeting 11:00 AM -12:00 AM, every Saturday from January 7 to March 11 this series will examine significant works of history and literature on topics related to the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. We invite you to read along over the course of the winter before attending the informal one hour discussions in the Ford Education Center of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The Park staff will lead the meetings, providing a brief overview of that week’s topic and discuss the chapters read.

From January 7 to February 4 we will examine our first book, The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. Winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it is an account of the battle of Gettysburg from the perspective of some of the key figures who were involved in the climactic event.

We hope you will join us this winter, read along, and share your thoughts and perspectives on these two fascinating books.killer-angels

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
January 7 – February 4

January 7            Part 1: June 30
–  with Ranger Chris Gwinn

January 14          Part 2: The First Day
– with Ranger Daniel Vermilya

January 21          Part 3: The Second Day
–  with Ranger John Nicholas

January 28          Part 4: The Third Day
 with Ranger Caitlin Brown

February 4          A Conversation with Jeff Shaara

 

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Sickles at Gettysburg by James Hessler
February 6 – March 11th

February 11            Chapter 1-3: (Pages 1-68)
with Ranger Chris Gwinn

February 18           Chapter 4-7 (Pages 69-142)
with Ranger Daniel Vermilya

February 25          Chapter 8-11 (Pages 143 – 212)
with Ranger Matt Atkinson

March 4             Chapter 12-15 (Pages 213-300)
with Ranger John Hoptak

March 11        Chapter 16-Epilogue (Pages 301-406)    A Conversation with James Hessler

Karen Wood

 Winter Reading Adventures

For children ages 5 to 10, and their families!
Every Saturday, January 7th to March 11th
11:00 AM – 11:45 AM
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Our new Winter Reading Adventures program is for kids who LOVE to read, parents who WANT their kids to love to read, and for budding history buffs everywhere! Best of all, it’s FREE!

Each Saturday morning, a park educator will read aloud a picture book, or parts of a chapter book (see this winter’s exciting titles below), followed by an indoor game, activity, or visitor from the past… and then instructions for an outdoor winter adventure with your family!

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

  1. READ a new book with a park educator.
  2. MEET a guest from the past, or CREATE something special from the book.
  3. EXPLORE an extra special place at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Some of our winter reading adventures include: Marching like a Civil War soldier;Cooking up some corn bread, Singing campfire songs like “Goober Peas”; Going on a museum treasure hunt; Meeting General Robert E. Lee; Dressing up like President Lincoln; Or trying out a hoop skirt and corset!

WHO?                   YOU!  Children ages 5 to 10 and their families.
WHAT?                Winter Reading Adventures program, a FREE history book club just for kids!
WHEN?                Every Saturday morning at 11:00 from January 7 through March 11.
WHERE?             Theater inside the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor                                   Center

Discounts for your entire purchase, including the weekly book selections, are available for participants in our Museum Bookstore, helping them to achieve their school’s independent reading objectives.  PLUS kids who participate in five or more winter reading adventures will receive a special SOLDIER’S HAVERSACK to carry their new books around!

So get your kids reading, get your kids outdoors, and get your kids into history… and have a family winter reading adventure with us at Gettysburg National Military Park!

January 7, 2017                 B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet by Patricia Bauer

January 14, 2017               The Patchwork Path by Bettye Stroud

January 21, 2017               Civil War on Sunday (Chapters 1-5) by Mary Pope Osborne

January 28, 2017              Civil War on Sunday (Chapters 6-10) by Mary Pope Osborne

February 4, 2017               Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds
by Marissa Moss and John Hendrix

February 11, 2017             Pink & Say by Patricia Polanco

February 18, 2017            I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer

February 25, 2017            Voices of Gettysburg by Sherry Garland

March 4, 2017                    The Silent Witness: A True Story of the Civil War
by Robin Friedman

March 11, 2017                   The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale by Trinka Hakes Noble

Message to parents:  The Civil War was a real event and horrific in nature… and it was brought about by issues such as slavery that will be new and somewhat difficult for young children to grasp.  Some of our book selections introduce and discuss these topics in an age-appropriate way, but we recommend that you spend some time after the program answering any questions they might have and exploring the issues with other books. 

 Mid-Winter Reminder

Farms of Gettysburg

Sunday, March 12th to  Sunday, April 2nd
1:00 PM – 1:45 PM
Ford Education Center
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Before it was a battlefield it was a home. Join a Park Ranger in the Ford Education Center at Gettysburg National Military Park and discover the fascinating stories of the Farms of the Battlefield, and the people who called them home.

Sunday, March 12 –Lydia Leister Farm

Leister House- Meade's HQ

Saturday, March 18 –William Culp Farm

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Sunday, March 19 –George Weikert Farm

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Saturday, March 25 – Basil Biggs Farm

Frey Farm

Sunday, March 26 – Abraham Brian Farm

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Saturday, April 1 –Moses McClean Farm

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Sunday, April 2 –  Joseph Sherfy Farm

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The new scene at Gettysburg’s Wills Woods and Spanglers Spring

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The park recently demolished this modern house and garage along Mummasburg Road.

Contractors working for Gettysburg National Military Park have recently finished the demolition of modern structures in two key locations on the Gettysburg battlefield.

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The garage along Mummasburg Road prior to demolition.

 

James J. Wills’ Woods

The first site is along Mummasburg Road where a modern house and garage had been purchased by the park sixteen years ago, but the seller retained a life estate.  The property is less than an acre, situated along Mummasburg Road west of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.  In 2013, the park got full possession of the property and started a process required before demolitions can take place.

The park has now demolished the modern house and garage on this .83 acre parcel. Historically, the land was part of James J. Wills’ woods, which served as cover for Rode’s Division as they prepared to attack Union positions on Oak Ridge on July 1st, 1863.

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Demolition underway along Mummasburg Road.

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The house site viewed from Mummasburg Road after the demolition was completed, taken in early November 2016.

The Welcome Traveler campground site near Spanglers Spring

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This modern house and non-historic barn, on the right, were part of the Welcome Traveler campground that operated until the early 1990s along Baltimore Pike not far from Spanglers Spring.

This year we accomplished our goal of returning the former Welcome Traveler property to its battle-era appearance. In 1994, the NPS acquired a 19.5 acre property known as Welcome Traveler, a privately operated campground on Baltimore Pike not far from Spanglers Spring.  The property included a house and barn that were not from the battle era.

For a while the park used the buildings for administrative purposes. Gettysburg National Military Park interns lived in the house every summer for decades and we stored maintenance equipment and supplies in the barn.

 

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The house at the Welcome Traveler site during demolition.

The land was the site of a major concentrated Union position July 2 – 5, 1863 when Union Infantry massed here preparatory to a Union offensive against Confederates in the Spanglers Spring area. A valiant attack by the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment occurred on the eastern portion of this tract.

More land preservation needed at Gettysburg

The congressionally authorized boundary of Gettysburg National Military Park is 6,033 acres.  Inside the boundary, there are still 865 acres not yet protected from development by the federal government.  Our partners at the Civil War Trust and the Gettysburg Foundation play a key role in helping us acquire privately owned lands inside the park boundary.  It is a long process that requires willing sellers and no small amount of funds.

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The final clean-up of the former Welcome Traveler site included removing debris, re-seeding, and re-locating a utility pole.

Katie Lawhon, November 10, 2016

 

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Public Historians Wanted! Internships at Gettysburg National Military Park

mattAre you interested in a career with the National Park Service? Do you enjoy talking to people from across the country and around the world? Would you like to share your interest in history and help others appreciate the stories of this park? Gettysburg National Military Park offers public history internships to motivated, enthusiastic individuals who seek to share their talents and gain valuable experience working at one of America’s iconic historic sites.

We want you to enjoy your internship and be successful. Interns receive over 40 hours of formal training as well as on-the-job training as part of their internship. Training is in subjects such as: researching, informal interpretation; operating visitor facilities, organizing and presenting effective formal interpretive talks, interpretive techniques, and digital interpretive media. A typical internship in the Division of Interpretation consists of three things. Interns serve as front-line representatives of the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, greeting visitors, providing park information and conducting informal interpretation. This offers experience in meeting and greeting the public, providing information/orientation to the park and area, as well as an understanding of what it is visitors seek in a visit to the park.

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Interns are also responsible for researching, preparing and presenting formal interpretive programs and living history demonstrations relating to the Battle of Gettysburg, the American Civil War and the themes evoked by the National Cemetery and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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A third project is often assigned that matches the specific talents and goals of the intern. Previous projects have included interpretive writing, transcriptions of archival materials in the park library, working with the park’s Social Media Team, and creating first person living history programs.

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Internships are typically offered in the summer months when the park is busiest, and a typical internship lasts 10-12 weeks. Interns work 40 hours each week, and weekend work can be expected. Positions are unpaid, although the park provides free housing and a cost of living stipend. Our interns are in public contact positions and serve as representatives of the National Park Service. Therefore are all interns required to wear a uniform (usually khaki pants and a dark blue shirt). Currently we provide a uniform allowance to cover this cost.

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To apply for an internship at Gettysburg National Military Park you should submit a resume, cover letter and reference list by December 31. Your resume should include your name, address, email & telephone number, the names of any colleges or universities attended, and a brief synopsis of your work experience. Your cover letter should address why you want an internship at Gettysburg National Military Park, and how it relates to your career goals. Even more importantly, it should demonstrate your writing skills.

Please send your application materials, by Dec. 31, 2016 to:
Internship Program
Attention: Barbara J. Sanders
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike Gettysburg, PA 17325

You can also email your application by sending it to: barbara_sanders@nps.gov

If you have further questions please contact Education Specialist, Barbara Sanders by phone at 717-338-4422 or by email @ barbara_sanders@nps.gov

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The Spirit of John Muir: Live at Gettysburg!

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The Spirit of John Muir: Live at Gettysburg! Saturday, October 29 at 3:30 PM at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
 
In continued celebration of the Centennial of the National Park Service, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park are pleased to host a special performance of John Muir Live! featuring award winning performer Lee Stetson. 
 
Join iconic author, adventurer and environmental advocate John Muir as he celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Follow in Muir’s footsteps as he retraces some of his grandest adventures in California and beyond, from Mount Shasta, where he spent a “perilous night” simultaneously freezing in a blizzard and boiling in hot springs; to Yosemite Valley, where he climbed a 500-foot ice cone and rode an avalanche down a canyon wall. Muir‘s experiences bring to life the National Park story and speak to the preservation of not only our wilderness and natural parks, but our battlefields and historic sites as well.

Actor and historian Lee Stetson, re-enacts remarkable escapades, all liberally salted with Muir’s wilderness philosophy and infused with the invigorating joy of fully experiencing and embracing an unpredictable wilderness.  

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Mr. Stetson’s portrayal of John Muir has been presented in Yosemite National Park since 1983, to many thousands of visitors.  Additionally, the Muir shows have toured throughout the world to universities, parks, museums, wilderness and environmental organizations throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Scotland and Japan. Mr. Stetson has performed more than fifty major roles from Shakespeare to Simon.  His credits include his portrayal of John Muir in Ken Burns’ critically acclaimed series The National Parks – America’s Best Idea.

This free hour long performance takes place at 3:30 PM at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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Fall 2016 Operational Update

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Lt. William R. Warner, 13th Massachusetts Infantry

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Lt. William R. Warner

William R. Warner enlisted early in the war, July 16, 1861, at Fort Independence, Boston Harbor.   At age nineteen, he was one of the many recruits that rushed to defend the flag and stamp out the Rebellion.  Probably because he was a clerk prior to the war, Warner entered the service at the rank of sergeant.  He stood at 5’ 11” inches tall having a “light” complexion, black eyes, and dark hair.   On March 1, 1863, he was promoted to orderly sergeant and on June 30 entered the officer ranks as a 2nd Lieutenant.

 

The 13th Massachusetts marched onto the fields of Gettysburg as veterans.  The regiment “saw the elephant” early in the war at Beller’s Mill, near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  (good luck finding anything on that one)  They wore out a good pair of shoes chasing “Stonewall” Jackson up and down the Valley in the spring of ’62.  Later that year, the regiment fought with John Pope’s Army at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas before being reorganized into the Union First Corps for the Maryland, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns.

On June 30, Warner and his comrades were in Emmitsburg, Maryland with the intrepid John Reynolds leading their column north in pursuit of Lee.  They would not have to wait long to find him.  It is here that we pick up with Warner’s narrative of events.

Wednesday, July 1  1863

Started on march to Gettysburg about   a.m.  In obedience to orders from Col. Leonard, I turned over my gun & equipment to Co. K. and reported to Capt Cary of Co G as 2nd Lt. but minus sword or arms of any kind.   Gettysburg was distant about nine miles. We had a shower while on way.  The 1st & 3rd Divisions of our Corps marched in advance of us.

Some distance before reaching G. we began to hear the guns opening the conflict, and later we were met by an Aid with message “that we were wanted & that Buford with Cavalry was engaged.”  Soon in some way rumor reached us that Gen Reynolds was wounded and before we entered the outskirts of G. we heard that he had been Killed.  We turned off of pike to the left, at a brick house( I think) through an orchard and pushed on towards a large Seminary on the crest of a ridge.  Here we halted perhaps half hour but long enough to throw up some breastworks of considerable strength, for hearing brisk fighting, not far in front of us, & extending well to our
right, and seeing (as well as feeling) every indication that a great battle was about to be fought, every man worked willingly & rapidly in effecting some slight protection,  Then, orders came to move, and we quickly crossed a road (on our right from Seminary) keeping under the slope which was thinly covered with woods.  Here, by the roadside, I notice the first man, whom I knew, belonging to our Division, who was wounded, Capt, J. O. Williams of 12th Mass. Passing through the woods, we attempted to form a line at a stone wall- possibly we were halted there a few moments to allow stragglers to get up- then across an open field to another piece of woods, and hardly before we could realize it we were in the midst of a battle.

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The 13th Massachusetts belonged to Gabriel Paul’s brigade.  The brigade remained in reserve near the Seminary until being summoned to relieve Henry Baxter’s men along the north face of Oak Ridge (near the present observation tower).  The regiment held the extreme right of the First Corps line along the Mummasburg Road.

 

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Capt. William Cary

I had thought very little about it, I mean in the matter of dwelling upon it, & dreading it, and when once engaged, had no time to think.  My first impulse, was to pick up a gun & some cartridges, and I loaded & fired several time, Sergeant Wheeler of Co. K, was almost the first man I saw struck, – He fell over backwards, a ball having ploughed his forehead, -About the same moment, six or seven of the tallest men of Co K. on the right were wounded Harvey Ross, H. Culling. John Flye, M. O. Laughlin, Melville Walker.

 

In Company, G. which I was stationed with, I noticed Corp H. A. Sanborn who had just returned to Regt, on recovery from a wound at Antietam, As he was struck, he turned to the rear, & stood as if hesitating a moment and then fell.  In Co H. S.A. Hayes, a middle aged man (who had been detailed as Teamster, until within a short time) was shot & cried out, “Who will take care of my children now.”

In some Company, J. M. ________, a tall slim young man with very black hair & dark features fell & I recall vividly the ghastliness of his face contrasted with his dark hair, as I noticed him for a moment,  In Company to right, which was The Color Col. Sergeant Roland B. Morris Carrying the Colors was shot down. Every man in the Regiment will recall the piercing shrieks of agony, which were wrung from him.  I mention these men among the many others of the Regt who fell at same time, because I happened to notice them, more especially.

At the left of the Regiment passing back & forth stood Major Gould,  His voice could scarcely be gould_j_p-majorheard amid so much noise of fire-arms, & tumult , but when it could be heard, it was, “Do your duty – noble sons of Massachusetts – do your duty- “Remember you states &c &c.”

One can hardly tell, how long we remained at this point, but at the time Morris fell we were pushing toward the road which lay in front of us, & where we swept in a body of rebel prisoners of an Alabama Regt.  As the fire slackened, with numbers largely reduced by Killed, wounded & those who had gone to rear with wounded & prisoners, we withdrew from extreme advanced position back across the open field to the first piece of woods we passed through & where part of our Brigade then faced in another direction.  From the crest of the ridge, we saw considerable bodies of the enemy, moving to our left (toward Seminary where from the heavy firing, we knew our troops were being badly pushed,  Looking to the front & more especially to the right where there had been a gap between us & 11th Corps, – we could see the 11thCorps withdrawing closely followed by long lines of the enemy,  we knew it could only be a question of a few minutes before the orders must come for removal from this exposed position.  When orders came, flags were followed, (ours in hands of Capt Howe & David Schloss) but Regiment Organization was impossible.  When we came in full sight of Seminary the last Battery was retreating at full speed toward the town.

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David Schloss, 13th Massachusetts

 Making as short a cut as possible, toward G. we came to RR. Embankment, on top of which we attempted to push way . As a volley would come from one side, numbers would leave embankment in hope of shelter on other side, then a volley from that side (Seminary side) and others would rush down the left side.

Coming to a culvert under the track, We noticed it already packed full with stragglers of men who hesitated to go farther.  Before we reached culvert, Schloos carrying State Flag was knocked down by the arm of a soldier of 14th Brooklyn who was torn to pieces by a shell & whose brains were scattered over the flag.

On one of the streets of G. I met Lt Whiston with half dozen or more swords in his hands, which he taken from prisoners,  He offered me one, but having already picked one up , I declined his offer.  Why he failed to escape I cannot see, unless his bundle of swords overloaded him, but he was taken prisoner & carried to Richmond.  Before reaching the centre of G. – with others, I left the streets passed through some back yards.  Seeing a _______of rain water, without stopping for cup, I dipped my hands into the water & drank.  A shell came shrieking over, and we ducked still lower.  With water dripping we rushed on, into the street & dense throng all pushing toward Cemetery Hill.

In the Square, I saw an officer mounted upon a fine horse (equipment yellow) struck by a shell & thrown –horse & rider against the sidewalk, up to the side of the house no one stopped to look at him, Bullets shot & shell were pouring in from both directions and looking up the side streets we could see the reb soldiers standing & firing.

As we approached the Cemetery we came under cover of the guns of 11th Corps, already in position & out of the reach of the enemys fire, So our pace slackened.  We finally rallied around our Division flag.  

That night we spent on Cemetery Hill to the left of the Cemetery facing towards the town.

Our Regt        numbering    men. 

Our Brigade      “

The Officers of Co K. Lt Whiston & Lt Samuel Cary, both having been taken prisoners,  I was assigned to that Company again.

 

The 13th Massachusetts entered the battle with 284 men present for duty.  That night only 99 answered the roll call.

Matt Atkinson
Park Ranger

The Park thanks Brad Forbush for the generous use of the images and Mr. Eric Locher for donating a copy of Warner’s memoirs .

 

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Into the Fight with the 4th Texas

 

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I had the opportunity recently to delve into the regimental files here at the park library and do a little digging on the 4th Texas Volunteer Infantry.  Being one of the more famous Confederate units to take part in the battle of Gettysburg, most students of the Civil War will recognize the regiment as part of the famed Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Closely associated with  John Bell Hood but commanded at Gettysburg by Jerome Robertson, the 4th brought roughly 415 men into the fighting on July 2nd, 1863 and ultimately sustained a loss of about 27%, or 112 of those engaged.

In revisiting the regiment, and combing through the files collected by previous historians at Gettysburg National Military Park, I was reminded of the many poignant and descriptive first hand accounts these Texans had left behind. Taken as a whole, the memoirs, diaries, letters, and official reports attributed to the unit comprise some of the most descriptive testimony of the fighting on the 2nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and more particularly, the struggle for Little Round Top. Through the recollections of soldiers like Val Giles, John West, Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, and others the sensory experience of combat comes alive, as does the feelings and experiences of the soldiers in the regiment. When paired with the preserved battlefield landscape, their stories and memories become palpable and tangible. Walking the route of the assault of the 4th Texas on July 2nd, with accounts in hand, is an easy way to cox from the landscape the history of what happened here. Inspired by the accounts I read, I set out to do just that this morning.

Christopher Gwinn
Supervisory Ranger

img_1632“We were put into the fight about 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the 2d, having marched all night on the 1st and laid in line of battle all the morning of the 2d, and my first lesson as a recruit was to lie for about half an hour under what the most experienced soldiers called the worst shelling they ever witnessed. Several were killed and many wounded in a few feet of me, and the infernal machines came tearing and whirring through the ranks with a most demoralizing tendency.” – John West, 4th Texas

img_1631“We were some hours getting into position, but finally formed in an open field, under the declivity of a gradually rising hill in our front, upon the top of which the artillery was posted.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“The enemy shells screamed and bursted around us, inflicting considerable damage. It is very trying upon men to remain still in the ranks under a severe cannonading. One has time to reflect upon the danager, and there being no wild excitement as in a charge, he is more reminded of the utter helplessness of his present condition.
– Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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About 4.30 p.m. the 2d instant, we were ordered to advance on the enemy, who occupied the heights about 1¼ miles distant, the Fifth Texas, the directing battalion, on my right, and the First Texas on my left. – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas

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“The long cry of Attention! Brought every man to his feet, and the details were made to pull down the fence in our front. Everyone knew what it meant, and it was really a relief to move forward. The word ‘Forward’ was given, and on we moved.”
– Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“And forward we went. The word was passed down the line, “Quick, but not double quick,” but we moved as fast as we could. Off went blankets, knapsacks and all surplus baggage, and yelling and screaming we rushed on the batteries—one on a lofty eminence beyond a rock fence and a small branch, the other back of it on quite a mountain about three hundred yards farther off and a little to the right—were full three quarters of a mile from us when the word “forward” was given.”
– John West, 4th Texas

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“So soon as we cleared the brow of the hill and became exposed to the enemy’s artillery, off we went, not at an orderly double quick, but in a wild, frantic, desperate run, yelling, screaming and shouting; over ditches, up and down hill, bursting through garden fences and shrubbery, occasionally dodging the head as a bullet whistled by the ear.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“Arriving in a road, we halted a minute or two, reformed and started again. On we go with the same speed, jumping over and plunging through creeks, pulling through mud, struggling through underbrush, still keeping the loud, irregular and terrible Confederate yell.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“Shells and grape shot, canister and Minnie balls, came hurtling through our ranks, bursting screaming, whistling – still that same wild, reckless, unhesitating rush towards enemy guns.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“I met the enemy in full force in a heavy, wooded ground, sheltering themselves behind rocks, from which, after a sharp contest, he was driven to the heights beyond, in our front and in close proximity to the mountain, and there I was pained to learn that the gallant Lieut. Col. B. F. Carter was severely wounded while crossing a stone wall near the base of the mountain.” – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas

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“Suddenly we find ourselves at the base of a range of hills – a rough, woody, rocky country. Here the great severity of the Federal Infantry stopped our progress, and then commenced a rapid, continuous and murderous musketry fight; we at the base, they on the sides and top of the hills…” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

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“The side of the mountain was heavily timbered and covered with great boulders that had tumbled from the cliffs above years before. These afforded great protection to the men. Every tree, rock and stump that gave any protection from the rain of Minie balls that was poured down upon us from the crest above us, was soon appropriated.”
– Val Giles, 4th Texas

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“There were places full ten or fifteen feet perdendicular around which we were compelled to go, and the entire ascent would have been difficult to a man entirely divested of gun and accouterments. It was a mass of rock and boulders amid which a mountain goat would, have revelled, and being subjected to a fire on our left flank, made it a most dangerous and unsafe place for a soldier, and many a fellow reminded me of the alliteration, “Round the rude rock the ragged rascal ran.” – John West, 4th Texas

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“Finding it impossible to carry the heights by assault with my thinned ranks, I ordered my command to fall back in the skirt of timber, the position then occupied being enfiladed by the batteries on the left and exposed to heavy fire of musketry in my immediate front.”
– Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas

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“From behind trees and huge rocks we poured in our fiery discharges; the din was incessant and deafening.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas

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“Being joined by the Fifth Texas on my right, I again attempted to drive the enemy from the heights by assaults, but with like results. Again, being re-enforced by the Forty-eighth Alabama, commanded by the gallant Colonel [James L.] Sheffield, and the Forty-fourth Alabama, whose commander I did not learn, we again charged their works, but were repulsed, and then, under the order of General Law, I ordered my command to fall back under cover of the timber, on a slight elevation within short range of the enemy.” – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas

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“By this time order and discipline were gone. Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as the officers. Nobody paid any attention to either.”
– Val Giles, 4th Texas

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“During this musketry engagement we were within from twenty five to fifty yards of the enemy. The trees were literally barked, and thousands of bullets flew to atoms against the hard rocks. Our line was compelled to retire, and left me wounded in the hands of the enemy.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas

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“At the dawn of day, I had a stone wall about 2 feet high thrown up, which afforded some protection to the men occupying the position…”– Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas

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“At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officers on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling him to go to a country not very far away from us at that time.” – Val Giles, 4th Texas

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Gettysburg’s New Foundation Document

ela_sunrisesort-10To effectively manage a national park and plan for its future, a basic understanding of its resources, values, and history is needed – a foundation for planning and management. These are called foundation documents. Foundation documents are at the core of each park’s planning portfolio. Foundation Documents for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site were completed in August and are now available on the park websites.

The core components of a foundation document include a brief description of the park as well as the park’s purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, other important resources and values, and interpretive themes.

Here is an overview of Gettysburg’s Foundation Document:

_01PURPOSE – The purpose of Gettysburg National Military Park is to preserve, protect, and interpret for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and their commemorations.

SIGNIFICANCE – Upon the fields and rolling hills and in the streets of town, more soldiers fell at the Battle of Gettysburg than in any other battle fought in North America before or since. The culmination of the Gettysburg Campaign, this three-day battle fought on July 1–3, 1863, thwarted the political and military aims of the Confederacy and its second invasion of the North during the American Civil War.

In dedicating the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, which gave meaning to the sacrifices of the dead at the Battle of Gettysburg and inspired the living to continue the “unfinished work” of the war to affirm “a new birth of freedom” for the nation.

The Battle of Gettysburg was quickly recognized as a defining event in the nation’s history, which led to early and ongoing efforts to preserve the battlefield landscape, including its topography and terrain.

Commemorating the events of the Battle of Gettysburg, a National Military Park was established, resulting in a landscape of monuments, memorials, and markers that record the history and emotions of Civil War veterans and others who wanted to leave this legacy for future generations.

The momentous nature of what occurred at the Battle of Gettysburg, along with the high level of preservation and accurate marking of the battlefield landscape, continues to draw people to Gettysburg National Military Park, a place of national consciousness where individuals can consider the far-reaching implications of the battle, the Gettysburg Address, and the American Civil War.

The massive 377-foot cyclorama painting, the Battle of Gettysburg, depicting Pickett’s Charge, the final Confederate attack, is the largest oil-on-canvas painting in North America and is among the last 19th-century cyclorama paintings in existence.

ela_sunrisesort-21FUNDAMENTAL RESOURCES AND VALUES – Fundamental resources and values are those features, systems, processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to warrant primary consideration during planning and management processes because they are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance.

  • Battlefield Landscape
  • Commemorative Landscape
  • Soldiers’ National Cemetery
  • Museum Collections
  • Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama Painting
  • Historic Structures
  • Hallowed Ground
  • Legacy of the Gettysburg Address
  • Archeological Resources Associated with the Battle of Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park contains other resources and values that are not fundamental to the purpose of the park and may be unrelated to its significance, but are important to consider in planning processes. These are referred to as “other important resources and values” (OIRV). These resources and values have been selected because they are important in the operation and management of the park and warrant special consideration in park planning.

  • Natural Communities
  • Nonbattle-Related Archeological Resources
  • Appropriate Recreation

_07INTERPRETIVE THEMES – The following interpretive themes have been identified for Gettysburg National Military Park:

  • The Civil War was the result of decades of increasing divisiveness caused primarily by the issue of slavery that pulled the nation apart economically, socially, and politically.
  • The Gettysburg Campaign was directly influenced and shaped by the 1863 strategic military / political situation of the nation. The evolution, conduct, and eventual outcome of the campaign and battle were directly related to the geography, topography, and landscape features of the region, as well as to the tactics, leadership, and organization of the respective armies.
  • The soldiers who fought at Gettysburg were, for the most part, battle-hardened veterans. Their backgrounds varied as much as their reasons for being there. Their experience in combat and the aftermath of battle were both uniquely individual and universal. .
  • The Battle of Gettysburg touched the lives of civilians both near and far. Farmers whose land became battlegrounds, citizens in town, those who tended the wounded, buried the dead, or came to locate a friend or loved one were forever changed by their experience here. The tremendous human cost of Gettysburg touched and changed the lives of families, neighbors, and the general population in small towns and large cities of both the North and the South.
  • In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln focused the nation’s attention on the Union sacrifices, as well as its evolving meanings and consequences, when he stated that it would lead to a “new birth of freedom” for the nation; a charge that still challenges us today.
  • jason_7-13-15_0012The hundreds of monuments, markers, and memorials, many created by the veterans themselves, continue to bear witness to the experiences of individuals associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and are a testament to how the battlefield has become a stage for the reconciliation of a once divided nation, national commemoration of the Civil War, and a place of personal connection for Civil War veterans, their families, and visitors who continue to be drawn to this park.

For a copy of the Foundation Document for Gettysburg National Military Park click here.

Katie Lawhon, September 15, 2016

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Find Your Story: The New McKenna Resource Room at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Ever wonder if you have family ties to the historic Battle of Gettysburg? Looking for more information on your ancestor who may have served during the American Civil War? More than 165,000 Americans fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and more than 3 million served in the ranks of the Union and Confederate armies. On the home-front millions of men, women, and children, free and enslaved alike, experienced the war in unique and often tragic ways.  On a daily basis, the Rangers and staff at Gettysburg National Military Park are asked to help assist visitors trying to connect with that history in a deeply personal way. Tracking down and researching Civil War ancestors can shed light on how their family experienced the American Civil War and make the past come to life in profound ways.

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More often than not though, tracking down a Civil War ancestor is more difficult than one might imagine. With limited tools and resources, most visitors looking for information at the park have left empty handed. Recently however, the park and the Gettysburg Foundation have taken steps to change that.

The newly re-imagined McKenna Resource Room at the Museum and Visitor Center, which is free and open to the public, now has staff and tools to help future visitors answer those questions and discover their personal Civil War story.

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Ranger Emma Murphy stands by the new work-stations in the Gettysburg National Military Park Resource Room.

With expanded hours and new tools the McKenna Resource Room is more than just a research library. Staffed by National Park Service volunteers who can help you get started and guide your journey the room offers visitors and researchers the opportunity to immerse themselves in their personal connection to the history and importance of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War .

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Ancestry and Fold3 allow visitors to access a wealth of primary sources, such as military service records, pension files, and more.

Open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the McKenna Resource Room gives visitors free access to information using Ancestry.com, Fold 3 and National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors databases. Some of these resources also allow you to go beyond the Civil War and look up information about soldiers that served more recently. Pension records, census data, birth, death, and marriage records and much more are only  a click away. No reservations are needed.

Whether you are visiting Gettysburg for just a day, or if you live in the local community and love genealogy, we hope you find the new McKenna Resource Room at Gettysburg National Military Park a useful tool to uncover your family history.

 

 

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