A Correction on Colonel DuBose and his 15th Georgia Infantry on July 3.

In August 2014, I posted a three part series, Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Revisited, in which I examined the deceased “sharpshooter” photographed by Alexander Gardner and his team near Devil’s Den on or about July 5-6, 1863. Readers will remember the most notable of those images, the body of the deceased Confederate lying behind the stone barricade that first appeared in Alexander Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War accompanied with the photographer’s hypnotic narrative of the young soldier’s death behind his rock barricade. The blog series generated a lot of discussion about the events that occurred on the southern part of the battlefield on the afternoon of July 3, 1863, and I feel now- as I did then- that my hypothesis is correct, of this man having been a member of the 15th Georgia Infantry Regiment, slain in the fight near that area and his body moved from the location where it was found to behind the barricade for the final photograph of the series.

One of our readers was kind enough to contact us about the blog post and offered not only several pointed questions but answers as well. Author Andy Johnson is currently working on a detailed history of Brigadier General Henry “Rock” Benning’s Brigade, and we had an amiable exchange of emails discussing the particular action that involved the 15th Georgia Infantry that afternoon when they encountered the Pennsylvania Reserves after the Federal troops had passed though the Wheatfield in the reconnaissance toward the Peach Orchard after Pickett’s Charge. Andy also offered some important research that he’d uncovered which further clarified what took place that afternoon.

Henry Benning after the war

Henry “Rock” Benning, soon after the war.

To refresh our reader’s memories, Brigadier General Henry Benning’s brigade was holding the ridgeline that terminates at Devil’s Den when it was discovered that Confederate troops of General Lafayette McLaws’ Division had withdrawn from their position bordering the wheatfield on the Rose Farm, the left flank of Benning’s position. Concerned with the loss of security, Benning ordered Colonel Dudley M. DuBose to take his 15th Georgia Infantry into the woods and take possession of a critical height overlooking the densely wooded draw between Devil’s Den and the Rose Farm. Minutes after DuBose left, orders arrived for Benning to withdraw his brigade to the southern tip of Seminary Ridge (Warfield Ridge) on the western edge of the Bushman Farm. Benning began his withdrawal and sent a message to DuBose to do likewise though one controversy was whether DuBose ever received the correct orders- he was, at that same moment, under attack by Colonel William McCandless’ brigade of Pennsylvania Reserves supported by the 62nd New York Infantry that had just swept through the Wheatfield before turning south against the lone Georgia regiment. Under the orders of General Meade, these Union troops were on a reconnaissance to the Peach Orchard when they stumbled upon the Georgians, and an intense firefight began on the southern edge of the already bloody Wheatfield. What followed was a running fight through Rose Woods back to the area of Devil’s Den, where the Georgians took advantage of numerous stonewalls outlining the pastures and fields owned by Joseph Sherfy and Jacob Weikert. The 15th Georgia suffered terribly in this brief engagement with an estimated 100 officers and men killed, wounded and captured.

Andy’s primary disagreement was with the map supplied with the blog post that located DuBose’s Georgians on the knoll within the woods on the southeast side of the Wheatfield. Though Confederate accounts as to the location are somewhat vague, Andy pointed out the best source to locate the Georgia battle line actually comes from a post-war description provided by Henry N. Minnigh, then a private in Company K, 1st Pennsylvania Reserves.

In 1891, Minnigh authored a history of his company and described the participation of the regiment at Gettysburg in great detail, describing how in the action on July 3 that the brigade crossed the blood-covered Wheatfield and entered the woods on the west side of the field before turning southward to outflank the unsuspecting Confederates hastily formed in the “corner of a woods” overlooking what Minnigh and others described as a “ravine”.  After restudying the maps and reviewing the official reports (again, I may add) from all of the participating units, I have to conclude that Andy was right and my placement of the 15th Georgia at the opening of this particular fight was incorrect. Presented here is a revised version of the map, showing the route of the Pennsylvania Reserves against the 15th Georgia’s precarious position in Rose Woods, approximately 300 yards west of where I had originally thought the regiment was posted:

15th GA vs PA Reserves

The 15th Georgia Infantry in Rose Woods, late afternoon of July 3, 1863. (Gettysburg NMP)

 

Minnigh remembered his brigade struck “the Fifteenth Georgia Infantry, posted behind a temporary breastwork of rails, the Bucktails (13th Pennsylvania Reserves) capturing their flag and many prisoners, scattering the remainder in flight… across a ravine at the corner of a woods and near Slyder’s stone house.” [1] Minnigh’s description of the charge and turning of the Reserves against the Georgians aligns with the terrain features southwest of the Wheatfield including the partially wooded height often referred to as “Rose Grove”. Though Minnigh’s regiment would have passed near the non-descript log house of Jacob Weikert, (usually referred to today for its popular post war name of J. Timbers), the stone Slyder House and substantial barn was the most prominent set of structures in his view as the regiment advanced out of Rose Woods and into the pasture south of the trees.

Colonel DuBose’s regiment was in a tight fix with no support, pitted against five times his number. The Pennsylvanians swept over and around his first position and then the second, behind the stone wall bordering Rose woods. Forced to retire again, the colonel attempted to organize a defense utilizing the various stone fences bordering the Weikert, Sherfy and Snyder farm fields south of Rose Woods until he could rally the remnant of his command at the last stone wall, most likely the wall that lined the lane from the Emmitsburg Road to the Slyder Farm, before a quick march to Warfield Ridge.

Minnigh mentioned that the only thing that stopped the charge after exiting the woods was a brigade drawn up in line just ahead of the Reserves. To his surprise, the Confederates suddenly faced left and marched toward the distant tree line on Warfield Ridge. The troops Minnigh observed were most likely Benning’s three other regiments and pursuant to orders marched away from the Union threat to the new line being formed on Warfield and Seminary Ridge. The general mission accomplished, McCandless’ Pennsylvania Reserves gathered up prisoners with their own casualties and likewise withdrew to a secure position, the carnage on that part of the field finally over.

Andy and I also mildly disagreed somewhat in the direction taken by men of the 15th Georgia in their scattered and somewhat panicked retreat. While I still believe, given the chaotic nature of the withdrawal from Rose Woods, some of Colonel DuBose’s men raced back to the location of their previous position on the west slope of Devil’s Den in an effort to escape their Union pursuers and one of these men- the subject of Gardner’s melancholy photographs- died there, Andy believes otherwise, that it could be someone else from the brigade given the amount of shooting and confusion that occurred late that afternoon. Could the “sharpshooter” found by Gardner be from one of the other regiments in Benning’s brigade, the 2nd, 17th and 20th regiments? It is possible. The 2nd and 17th Georgia purportedly lost several soldiers during the withdrawal from their advanced position at the “Slaughter Pen”, and Lt. Colonel James D. Waddell of the 20th Georgia reported seventeen soldiers were casualties in the retreat, “some of whom are known to have been killed and others wounded.” [1] Likewise, General Benning added in his report that the losses among those three regiments were “slight” during the withdrawal to Warfield Ridge.

But what draws me to further conclude this “sharpshooter” was a soldier of the 15th Georgia is the testimony of Minnigh himself who observed the Confederate brigade in line ahead of his regiment when they passed out of Rose woods. Given that the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves were in the right center of McCandless’ line in the attack, which carried them up and into Rose Grove, the brigade “drawn up in line” would most likely have been Benning’s three regiments then in the process of withdrawing (the last from that portion of the battlefield), which had begun earlier than the opening of the fight with the 15th Georgia. Casualties incurred among Benning’s three regiments in the withdrawal would most likely have occurred in the process of movement from the protection of the ridge at Devil’s Den, where the body of the deceased Confederate soldier was found by Gardner and company, rather than in the beginning of the withdrawal from that sheltered area.

Half of Gibson stereoview

One of several photos taken of the body at Devils Den where the photographers found it. In this view, discarded clothing has been thrown into the foreground to add more content to the scene. (Library of Congress

For my part, I mistakenly interpreted the position of Colonel Dubose and his regiment that late afternoon of July 3, 1863, and I’m relieved to correct my error. But this adjustment in the 15th Georgia’s initial position does not change or alter my belief that the deceased soldier photographed by Gardner at Devil’s Den was more than likely a member of DuBose’s regiment. I am grateful as well to Andy Johnson for his consideration and willingness to share his research with the park and truly wish him well with his project, a detailed study of a remarkable brigade and outstanding general.

John Heiser
Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

Endnotes:

[1] Official Records, Volume 27, Part 2, p. 427.

[1] Henry Minnigh, “The Reserves at Gettysburg”, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Ceremonies and Dedications of the Monuments Erected by the Commonwealth of Gettysburg, (Harrisburg, PA; Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1904), Volume 1, pp. 118-119.

Posted in 15th Georgia Infantry, Aftermath, Photography | Leave a comment

Cursed Rocks

stonesThe packages seem totally innocuous. Not very large. Slightly heavier than you might expect for their size. Addressed to Gettysburg National Military Park, but not to a specific department or person.  Often without a return address. Not terribly unusual at all.

Except for the curse.

The boxes in question hold rocks. Rocks that were previously removed from the park, and are now being returned. In almost every case, they also contain a letter, such as the one below,  received  in May of this year:Letter #1

Or this one, from June 2015:

Letter #2

It is important to remember that removing rocks from the park is a violation of Chapter 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Section 2.1(a)(1)(iv) prohibits  “Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging or disturbing from its natural state a mineral resource or cave formation or the parts thereof.”  If these individuals had been caught in the act, they would have been cited and fined $100, plus a $30 processing fee. All in all, they may have preferred that.

Rocks at the Eternal Peace Light

Rocks like these have arrived in the mail at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Now, I know what you’re thinking (only because I’ve had people say this to me): “But it’s only one little rock!” True. But while it may be “one little rock” to you, Gettysburg National Military Park receives over 1 million visitors every year.  What if every visitor took “one little rock”? How long before that starts to have an adverse impact on all of our resources, but in particular, our stone walls? How long before you, our dear readers, and other visitors, start to notice that impact?

Many of the stone walls here in the park are historic, and existed at the time of the battle. Some were erected by the farmers as boundaries for their fields, and some were thrown up in haste by soldiers looking for cover. Later stone walls were repaired and rebuilt along battle lines by the War Department, Gettysburg National Military Park Commission, who oversaw the park before its transfer to the NPS in 1933.  These walls were completed in 1896, and are historic in their own right.

National Parks were created in 1916 (it’s our 100th birthday!) to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (Organic Act, 1916). All we ask is that you enjoy your time here in Gettysburg without removing anything that would contribute to any kind of impairment.

So no matter how pretty that rock is, or how small it might be, or how much you really want something to remind you of how much you love Gettysburg, please remember that it needs to remain right where it is.

Unless, of course, you want to be cursed.

By Maria Brady, Park Ranger, July 7, 2016

 

Posted in Battlefield Legends and Lore, Natural History, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Memories from the Men in Green: Part 3 of 3

 

Monument to the 2nd USSS

Monument to the Vermont Companies of the 2nd United States Sharpshooters, Slyder Lane. Image courtesy of Stone Sentinels.

The “Memories from the Men in Green” series is a trilogy of fictionalized accounts based the real events of the Battle of Gettysburg and the accounts and records of three men who fought with the Second Regiment of the United States Sharpshooters (USSS), Company F. Each installment features a first person perspective account from a different member of the company. These men are: George W. Lamprey, William Cornelius Beard, and Henry L. Richards. Accounts, although fictional, are constructed from letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and public records of the men and others from within their regiment in order to create the most whole and realistic account possible. This series is brought to you in preparation for the Second U.S. Sharpshooter Slyder Lane Program. The program is scheduled for July 2nd at 6pm and will be led by Licensed Battlefield Guide, Gar Phillips. Find out more about the program and our summer schedule online: http://www.nps.gov/gett

Gun and Cap

A Berdan cap and .52 caliber Sharps Rifle in the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park.

For the final installment of “Memories from the Men in Green” there is an account from the perspective of William C. Beard, better known as Cornelius Beard. Beard was a Corporal of the 2nd New Hampshire Regiment of Berdan’s USSS, Company F. He was born September 29th 1841 in New Boston, Hillsborough County, NH to Eleanor M. McMillen Beard and William Beard, Jr. He had one brother,  James Moore Gregg Beard, who was just three years younger than him. Cornelius is reported to have died on July 4th, 1863 at the age of 22 , just a few months before his 23rd birthday at the battle of Gettysburg. However, according to the diary of George W. Lamprey, a member of 2nd Regiment of the U.S. Sharpshooters Company F as well, Beard died the night of July 3rd. The account is therefore written from July 2nd, the main day of the engagement for the Berdan’s in the Gettysburg campaign.

We were also lucky enough to find one of his letters written during the war. Here is a transcription of the letter, which was written before the Battle of Chancellorsville, the battle the Second Regiment of the U.S. Sharpshooters would have fought in before the Battle of Gettysburg:

Camp near Falmouth VA April 8/63

Dear Mother,

 

I will pen you a few lines and let you know that I am still in the same place and enjoying good health and good spirits. We shall probably move tomorrow and I think I am safe in saying that before ten days more goes by we shall have the handle better of the war and where old fighting Joe Hooker once gets at the rebels he will get most awfully whipped or annihilate them. The boys are in good spirits and will fight well no doubt. A great battle is near, how it will terminate, God only knows, but a victory for us I hope.

Have you heard from James yet, and how does he like the West and the frontier? I saw Ethan Smith’s marriage in the paper and a day or so ago. I saw David Colborn’s marriage beats  /_/ how they are getting married? I never have felt the confidence in war general as that I do in General Hooker and I am almost sure that we can whip them and whoever lives to see next winter will see the war ceased and one favorable to us. I will write a letter for the occasion you spoke of if I live through the next battle, I never have felt so cheerful about giving into the next one although it will fame to be the most terrible one of the war.

How does John Gilmore and father get along now a-days have and how are the rest of the folks around New Boston as they say anything about the conservative bill, it will make them laugh,  I reckon, don’t you? I want you to write me all the news and as often as you can and give my love to all that may ever yearn for me.

From your son,

 

Cornelius W.Beard

P.S. I have sent you fifty dollars a day or two days ago and write me as soon as you get it. Sent home some card photograph taken with my cloak on before I left N.H. (New Hampshire) I want you to send me one of them; be sure if you have one taken with the cloak on to send it and one dollars worth of Postage Stamps, now let me know soon.

 

Gun

Serial number on the .52 caliber Sharps in the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park.

_________________________________________________________________

Memories from the Men in Green (Series 3 of 3)

 

William Cornelius Beard
Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania
July 1st and 2nd 1863

It has rained all day, and even now, into the night I can feel those soft percussive droplets hit the tarp above me and roll onto the grass at my side. I was, and still am, thoroughly soaked from the rain and muck in my boots, to the mud caked on my gaiters, to the damp heavy wool still hanging from my body. The flesh of my face and fingers are raw with the cool wet after walking so many hours. The rain started yesterday evening just before we made camp, and we have been marching through it since five o’clock this evening. We started at the border of Maryland, some place called Emmitsburg, and marched along the pike for some ten miles. We finally made it to Gettysburg, where the 1st Corps have been fighting all day, not too long ago.

We are very close to the enemy, so we must bivouac this night. It was nearing dark when we finally stopped marching, and there was no time to set up tents. Instead, myself and the others lie on the ground betwixt tarps and quilts. I can hear the quiet snores of Brixby beside me, and the scribble of pen on paper from Lamprey on the other. Writing a journal, he does this nightly by the light of the moon or matches. Is it madness to try to document this war? What can a few lines nightly really tell of this? Who is it for? I write letters to my mother often, and to my brother. I think that is much different though. I don’t talk about all this, I talk about home and coming home. I want to be home again with them. I did not expect to be out here for so long.

I know there will be a battle tomorrow, that and we must march a bit more. The pleasant truth of rain soaked earth is that it is soft and gives way easily to the shape of the body. Rest seems to be a long, empty field I march towards, but never reach most nights, but as I lie here in the damp darkness the sound of rain fades and I drift into effortless sleep.

***

            In the early light, the sun stretches out over the hills to the east of us. A light fog has rolled over the valley in the night so the air feels thick and heavy with moisture, but the rain has stopped at least. It is already getting hot, although the sun has barely crested over the ridge of hills. Yesterday we ran out of rations, so there is no breakfast, not that there is truly time for it this morning, as the rebels have moved closer to our line in the night. I simply roll up my tarps and quilt, put on my shoes and gaiters and get into line.

***

            We marched a bit until we reached a small farm, about two o’clock. A very handsome property with a stone house, barn, and quite a few other buildings, all very good for shooting from, although those of our company have formed a skirmish line not far from the road we came in on. Growing here are peach and pear trees. Pleasantly, I have found a few peaches are just shy ripe, so I have been eating those I can find. For now I am holed up in a stone wall with the others between the house and the barn, I think we’ve been waiting about two hours now. I take a large bite of peach and let what juices there were spill down the sides of my cheeks.

Starr nudges me in the side and I look up. Suddenly, a great yell could be heard coming from the other side of the road. I drop the fruit beside me and pick up my gun. Rebels. All of them butternut and brown. From such a distance, they looked more like a cloud of dust rising over a field than a line of men. It was time to stop waiting.

They weren’t firing yet, the rebels, as they couldn’t see us. I load my gun and fire. One. Pull the lever down. Load the cartridge. Bring up the breech. Fire. Two. Pull lever. Load cartridge. Bring up. Fire. Three. Pull. Load. Up. Fire. Four. Pull. Load. Up. Fire. Five. Many men dropped to the ground in front of me. Closer and closer the mass swarmed and swelled, despite the shots from our side. They fell and fell. Six. But we were far out numbered. Seven. Pull. Load. Up. Fire. Eight. Not much longer now. Pull. Up. Load. Fire. Nine.

The rebels break into battle lines. Maybe three or so men deep. There are so many of them, and they stretch out so far along the road that I can hardly see them all. Pull, up, load, fire. Ten.

I hear the call to fall back.
I’m running.

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Memories from the Men in Green: Part 2 of 3

Poster

The “Memories from the Men in Green” series is a trilogy of fictionalized accounts based the real events of the Battle of Gettysburg and the accounts and records of three men who fought with the Second Regiment of the United States Sharpshooters (USSS), Company F. Each installment features a first person perspective account from a different member of the company. These men are: George W. Lamprey, William Cornelius Beard, and Henry L. Richards. Accounts, although fictional, are constructed from letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and public records of the men and others from within their regiment in order to create the most whole and realistic account possible. This series is brought to you in preparation for the Second U.S. Sharpshooters Slyder Lane Program. The program is scheduled for July 2nd at 6pm and will be lead by Licensed Battlefield Guide, Gar Phillips. Find out more about the program and our summer schedule online (https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/interpretation.htm).

Log bOok 1

Image of a Log Book that belonged to a Berdan Sharpshooter

The second installment of “Memories from the Men in Green” is an account from the perspective of sergeant Henry L. Richards. The Sergeant enlisted at age 39 and was from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was much loved by his company and was known for being an even-tempered and kind man. It was taken as a bad omen by the company apparently, when he said while marching into Pennsylvania just before the battle of Gettysburg, “G— d— your Pennsylvania. The Rebels ought to destroy the whole state if you can’t afford better roads/ The road is worse than Virginian roads!” According to the diary of George W. Lamprey as well as an account by first sergeant Wyman Silas White, Richards was wounded on July 2nd, 1863 and died the next day. It is recorded that he died from an overdose of ether, as he did not revive after the amputation of his leg. According to his obituary, he is recorded to have died on the 2nd of July after being operated on. Keeping in mind this date discrepancy, the account is given from July 3rd, the most probable day of the sergeant’s death, given the date of the 2nd Regiment of the U.S. Sharpshooter’s engagement in the battle.

Log Book 2

An image of the same log book, open to that page that lists the serial number of a .52 caliber Sharps Rifle in the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park.

Log Book 3

A closer image of the page, listing serial number “57077.”

______________________________________________________________

Henry Lakeman Richards
Gettysburg, Adams County, Pennsylvania
July 3rd, 1863

The pain is so enormous, I can hardly tell where it comes from, except…

Except that I remember it is was my leg that was shot.

I tried to sit up not long ago. It was extremely difficult, but I was able to push up enough to see that there is a hole straight through the knee.

As I did so, my head was all filled with buzzing and my eyes felt fuzzy with light, although it was still quite dark , the only illumination through the trees was by moonlight. My ears rang out as if clouded by cannon fire, and the ground beneath me seemed contorted and rolling, as if it were an ocean.

The sight was enough to make me vomit, and I did.

That leg is shattered; the hole must have been made by Minie ball, as it is clear and open, void of flesh. I know this. I know this.

I am going to lose my leg, I whisper or think over and over, although I have to strain to remember that it is mine at all. That thought recurs and recurs or fades out, as darkness fades away in feathery shades while dawn rises. I may die; I know I may well die from this.

I thought I would die when I was hit in Antietam last year. I thought they wouldn’t let an aging man like me fight again.

And yet.

These thoughts of mine feel useless. Should I cry out for help? Are the rebels near?

I can not know.

I fear that I am making too much noise, I can not be sure these groans are from me. They must be. I am so out of sorts. Swimmy-headed.

From where I lay on the hill in the woods I can see no one. I can hear no one. It is very early still and the luster of dawn is just beginning to creep up over the trees in brilliant shades of pinks and reds. Perhaps I hear the stirring and chirping of birds in the trees overhead. But then again, that may be imagined.

All of my limbs begin to feel heavy and I have no comfort, no reassurance that anyone will come for me. It is becoming difficult to keep my heavy lids from falling.

 I close my eyes. What they see does me no good, and I am too tired to do anything else but listen. I think back to Portsmouth, to Auburn Avenue where the stretch of trees I planted must be growing tall and strong. What a lovely little avenue. In my mind I see the warm sun shining through their branches. A cascade of light across my face, warm and white. I see rivers of time pass as the trees grow out and upward; their branches swell with leaves, as if met with an eternal summer. What an awfully pleasant view to come to me now.

 All too quickly the warm light of memory, of imagination, fades from me.

Out of the silence of the early morning, I hear a rustling in the trees.  There is the distinctive fall of feet on soft ground which seems to surround me.

Someone has come for me.

 I feel my whole body being lifted.

There are voices, but their pitch is skewed and I can hardly make out their words. It is as if my ears are underwater or filled with wax. Thoughts fade in and out as tides until I am blank.

***

 The smell of blood is all around me, there are groans and cries as well, my senses are trying to rouse me. I lift a hand, flicker an eyelid. Nothing. I can not sit up, although I try.

I smell something faint and sweet.

Brown sugar? No. No. I remember.

It’s chloroform…

 

 

By Ela Thompson

Ela Thompson is a Social Media Intern at Gettysburg National Military Park, has an English Writing B.A. from Gettysburg College, and currently studies Creative Writing [Poetry M.F.A.] at George Mason University.

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Memories from the Men in Green: Part 1 of 3

The “Memories from the Men in Green” series is a trilogy of fictionalized accounts based on the real events of the Battle of Gettysburg and the accounts and records of three men who fought with the Second Regiment of the United States Sharpshooters (USSS), Company F. Each installment features a first person perspective account from a different member of the company. These men are: George W. Lamprey, William Cornelius Beard, and Henry L. Richards. Accounts, although fictional, are constructed from letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and public records of the men and others from within their regiment in order to create the most whole and realistic account possible. This series is brought to you in preparation for the Second U.S. Sharpshooters in Slyder Lane Program. The program is scheduled for July 2nd at 6pm and will be lead by Licensed Battlefield Guide, Gar Phillips. Find out more about the program and our summer schedule online (https://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/interpretation.htm).

Pic 1 Gun and Hat

Image of a .52 caliber Sharps Breech Loading Rifle, along with a regimental log book identifying who the gun was used by, and an original Berdan’s hat. All are part of the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The U.S.S.S. were made up of two regiments and were a part of the Union Army of the Potomac. They were recognized as elite units of the Federal Army. The U.S.S.S. regiments, though volunteers, were given distinction of US designation as though they belonged to the Regular Army. Sharp Shooters were used in battle as snipers or skirmishers and in order to become one of these expert rifleman, one had to complete a test that required them to place ten consecutive shots within a ten inch circle at two hundred yards and the remaining shots at one hundred yards off hand. Their uniforms consisted of a dark green hat, coat, and pants, which allowed them to be somewhat camouflaged. This tactic was almost unheard of in this time period. The Berdan Sharp Shooters carried .52 caliber Sharps breech loaders. These weapons allowed them to load and fire their weapons three times faster than an infantryman using a muzzle loader. A few Sharpshooters were also outfitted with a heavy muzzle loading telescopic rifle to better snipe rebels from a long distance.

Cap

Original cap issued to a Berdan. The red diamond indicates the man belonged to the 3rd Corps, 1st Division of the Army of the Potomac. 

The Second Regiment of U.S. Sharpshooters played a pivotal role on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. This regiment was positioned at the Slyder Farm, about a mile south of Devil’s Den, and was able to divide the advancing Confederates of John Bell Hood’s division,, mostly men from Texas and Alabama,, into two factions, one that went towards Devil’s Den and one that went to Little Round Top. This division diverted some 850 confederate officers and men away from the Union flank on Little Round Top , buying time for Federal troops to occupy the hill. Further details involving the battle tactics and role of the Second U.S. Sharpshooters  will be provided on the program given by Gar Phillips.

Jacket - Berdan

Original jacket worn by the United States Sharpshooters from the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The first account is from the perspective of George W. Lamprey, who survived the Civil War entirely. He was mustered in November 26th, 1861 and mustered out November 16th, 1864. He married Celinda Claflin Trussell on January 29th, 1865 and had two children with her, Ella Stone Lamprey and John Johnson Lamprey. He was from Orford, New Hampshire where he lived until his death in 1911.

_________________________________________________________________

George William Lamprey,
Orford, Grafton County, New Hampshire
May 29th, 1873

In the mornings, just before the sun comes up, I like to sit and watch the sun rise over Mount Cube and across the Connecticut River. It truly is a peaceful sight, how the early pink light stretches up and over the summit and into those rosy narrow clouds that hang right above it; the brilliance of dawn making them look like so many berry stained fingers. I think of my Ella and how those clouds look like her pale, little hands after they’ve reached into wicker baskets of blackberries, the purple-red juices running from her fingertips to her elbows. The skyline is that breath of life and exuberance I see in her. Simultaneously though, the red stain easily becomes the color of death, and I strain my mind to remain here, in the quiet of the early morning. Still, I like to sit out here a spell, even some twelve years later, and thumb my way through my war diary. I wish sometimes that I had written more. That I had said something more poetic, that I written something other than a record of where we went, who I got letters from, and who owed me money, who lived and who died… But my mind is jumbled with the story. I wonder often if there even is a story, if a coherent narrative can and should be formed. Every memory is either fleeting or dried up or takes me fully back to it, so much so that I can see and hear nothing else. It scares me how easily I can jump into that other time, like the flick of a fishing rod; my mind is a hook on a line sinking into a pool of memory, immersing me fully, drowning me in that once forgotten moment. I know couldn’t have written more at that time, I was just trying to survive the day to day, trying to keep my sanity. To go back and embellish now, well, I don’t know that I could make it honest.

On this day, ten years ago, I wrote that I received a letter from Frank. We were moving into Pennsylvania, there wasn’t much time from me to say much of anything, save a few fragments of sentences. Frank… Frank Trussell? Frank Lamprey? Frank Tallman? I didn’t bother to say which it was then. Even now I struggle to remember which it could have been; there were so many days and so many deaths that a man can’t stand to remember them all. I thought back then, that all I would need to remember were a few sparse words, that those fragments would be enough to jog my mind. In some ways I wasn’t wrong. In some ways those memories are a prison I am left in.

Now, Tallman… David Franklin Tallman. He was one of my buddies from back before the war. The things we used to do in this town… When I think of him, I can feel the sides of my lips curve up into a compuserary grin. He enlisted just a month before me and was put into New Hampshire’s 5th Regiment, Company C, like so many of my buddies from Orford. There were so many even in my own company… Asel Griggs and George Lane …Guess Frank Tallman would have been there though, in the area of Gettysburg that is, if he had lived long enough to see it. The letter, I realize, must have been from Benjamin Franklin Trussell, Celinda’s older brother.

“Papa,” a soft voice says from behind the screen door of the house. I turn my head to see John sleepily sticking his head out from around the door frame.

My mind is dizzy with memories, and so I strain to ground myself in the here and now. “What’re you doing up so early?”

“It’s not early,” he says, pushing the screen open. He comes and sits next to my chair on the porch. “The sun’s most up already.”

“I suppose it is.” I reach down and tousle his hair with the palm of my hand.

After a moment he says, “What were you doing out here Papa? Reading that book of yours again?”

“Hmm? Yes, you know I like to come out here and settle my thoughts with this.”

“I just don’t see how it helps you. Papa, those things passed by so long ago…”

“And you’re only just shy a decade! But these things, these memories… they aren’t something I can leave behind easily.” Every face, every body, every bloodied piece of earth like a weight and a hook in my flesh.

“Can’t you tell me a story Papa?”

“A war story?”

“Yes!” John nodded, a flush of excitement spread across his face. “I would like that very much, Papa.”

“Don’t—“ I began, wagging a finger at him, “expect too much though. I’ve never really tried to tell one before.”

John nodded again, this time, solemnly.

“And it’s hard to tell about a battle. A battle is filled with nothing but smoke and screaming, the whirl of bullets, the thunder of cannon, and the banging of drums. We used to call it ‘seeing the elephant’.” I’m afraid that my eyes get that lost look in them, the kind of look that makes John and Ella and Celinda scared, when I begin to talk about the war.

“Okay, okay, I get it!” John said impatiently. “Where are you gonna start? The beginning?”

“I don’t know… I don’t think so…” I picked up my war diary, which was still open to the pages from late June and the start of July of 1863. “I’ll tell you all about how I got into the Berdan’s another day.”

“A Berdan?”

“I was a sharpshooter, you know? I picked rebels off like flies,” I laughed,  “not that it shows much now.”

“You did?”

“Well, yes… but never you mind that, I’m going to tell you about Gettysburg.”

“Why Gettysburg?”

“Gettysburg, well…” I begin slowly, like the trickling of a stream, but then all of the sudden, there’s a flash flood in my mind and I find the words form, “Gettysburg was, I do believe the bloodiest battle of the whole war. It’s when, well, I guess it was when things started to really turn around for the Union. It’s ten year anniversary is coming up, so it’s also timely. It’s what I was just thinking on anyway. And, and well… I lost a pard, and one of the finest officers I knew in that battle.”

“Well don’t give it all away! You haven’t even told the story yet!”

“Oh!” I put my hand to my mouth in an overly comical way, “You’re right boy, it won’t do if you already know too much of the ending now would it?”

John shook his head and looked at me expectantly.

“Alright then. It was the end of June when we began moving through Maryland and into Pennsylvania. Our last major engagement was in Chancellorsville, which ended in early May. The days leading up to the battle were hot and sunny. I remember that even sergeant Richards, who was also so soft-spoken, was so uncomfortable in the heat, oh, boy, he was fit to be tied! Richards, he, outright cursed those Pennsylvania roads. It was odd to see him that way, but it was the nature of the situation, you see…”

By Ela Thompson

Ela Thompson is a Social Media Intern at Gettysburg National Military Park, has an English Writing B.A. from Gettysburg College, and currently studies Creative Writing [Poetry M.F.A.] at George Mason University.

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With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art

CW Art Exhibit Poster SmallGettysburg’s first exhibit of artwork focusing on Gettysburg and the American Civil War will open June 29. With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art features some of the most celebrated artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries – including several who served in the war. The artwork is rendered in oil, pen-and-ink and sculpture and capture battles from the perspective of leaders and the common soldier.

The exhibit debuts in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center’s Gilder Lehrman Special Exhibits Gallery and includes art from the collection of Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as from the collections of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Some of the highlights are:

canteen frontWooden drum-style canteen. This early 19th century military “cheesebox” canteen may have been carried or painted by a Confederate soldier – they were common among Southern forces – to pass the time or reminisce about wartime service. The canteen is an example of how soldiers expressed themselves through creative illustration on or customization of military equipment.

carved walnut cane full length

Carved walnut cane made from a limb of a tree at Devil’s Den, Gettysburg Battlefield. A popular folk-art form of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, battlefield wood souvenir canes provided a tangible link to hallowed ground for veterans and post-war visitors alike. Visitors enjoyed them as mementos of their pilgrimage to the battlefield.  Often fashioned from trees at a battlefield location with special significance or featuring carvings based on familiar military symbols or themes, the canes provided Civil War veterans with connections to their wartime experiences.

Maj Gen George Gordon MeadeFull-length oil portrait of Major General George G. Meade by Thomas Hicks (1823-1890).  A renowned 19th century portrait painter, Hicks completed this large-scale portrait of George Gordon Meade, commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg and throughout the end of the war, in 1876.  The painting incorporates many characteristics of grand-format European portraits.  Hicks started his art studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and continued them in New York, London, Paris, Florence and Rome – experiencing many of the classical portrait styles that came to exemplify his work.

Gen Robert E. LeeBronze bust of Confederate General Robert E. Lee by Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917). The sculpture is one Confederate soldier’s tribute to his former commander. The first Jewish student to attend Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Ezekiel was wounded in the renowned charge of the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. After the war, he returned to VMI, graduating in 1866. The prominent American sculptor studied in Berlin and lived and worked the majority of his life in Rome. Ezekiel won a number of competitions and completed significant commissioned sculptures in Europe and America.

The National Parks are great places to visit to learn about history of course, but you can also learn lessons in communication and arts at Gettysburg by studying the Gettysburg Address and monument dedication speeches, for example. You can study character education through Gettysburg’s leadership, citizenship, courage etc., and you can learn about science and nature by study geology at Devil’s Den for example, or Gettysburg’s topographic engineering.

At Gettysburg, the arts are all around us through the monuments, as well as the paintings and photographs and poems that the landscape and its history have inspired.

Admission to With Brush, Mold, Chisel, and Pen: Reflections on Civil War Art is included with the purchase of Cyclorama, Film and Museum Experience tickets or with purchase of museum-only tickets, all available at the ticket counter in the lobby of the Museum & Visitor Center, online at http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org, or by telephone at 877-874-2478.The exhibit is sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park.

Katie Lawhon, Gettysburg National Military Park

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Summer at Gettysburg: 2016 Ranger Programs

Ranger Rubalcava 2 at Gettysburg NMP
Today marks the beginning of the interpretive summer season at Gettysburg National Military Park. From today until August 14, the rangers and historians at Gettysburg National Military Park will offer a daily schedule of free ranger guided programs that bring to the life the story of the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. Explore the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, walk in the footsteps of Pickett’s Charge, hike the slopes of Little Round Top and go off the beaten path with these unique tours. All programs vary in length from thirty minutes to two hours depending on the subject matter and location. Best of all, ranger guided programs are free of charge!

Please see “Ranger Program Start Locations” map below for more information about where each program begins. Also, if you are out exploring the battlefield, water, insect repellent, and proper footwear are a must! Take a look at the schedule below, plan your Gettysburg experience, and we will see you on the field!

For more information call the park at (717) 334-1124, ext. 8023.

Program Times Days Offered
Battle Overview (30 min)
Want to understand the basics of the battle before you get out on the field? This is the program for you!
Meet at Ford Education Center in Museum & Visitor Center
9 am Daily
Hands on History Cart
Play a 19th century parlor game, learn what soldiers did in their spare time, and dress up like kids who lived in the 1860s! All this and more at our Hands-On History Cart!
Meet at Museum & Visitor Center Lobby & David Wills House
Varies Daily
Those Awful Rocks: The Struggle for Devil’s Den (60 min)
More famous today for its unusual rock formations and stories of Confederate sharpshooters, Devil’s Den was vitally important to its Union defenders on July 2, 1863.
Meet at Devil’s Den Parking Lot – Sickles Avenue
10 am Mon/Wed/Sat
Meade’s H.Q. Open House
Step into history at the Lydia Leister house! Visitors can explore the interior of the small farmhouse where Maj. Gen. George Meade established his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Meade’s Headquarters
10 am – 4 pm Sat/Sun
Brian Farm Open House
Step into history at the Abraham Brian Farm! Visitors can explore the home of Abraham Brian and his family. A member of Gettysburg’s African-American community, he fled the battlefield only to return to find his home in ruins.
Abraham Brian Farm – Hancock Avenue
10 am – 4 pm Sat/Sun
Cemetery Ridge Hike: Crisis at the Union Center (90 min)
Hike from the Visitor Center to Cemetery Ridge, where fighting raged on July 2 & 3, 1863. Visit the site of Pickett’s Charge, explore the Bloody Angle, and walk in the footsteps of the men who struggled there.
Meet at Ranger Site 1 at Museum & Visitor Center
10:30 am Daily
The George Spangler Farm: An Army Field Hospital at Work (45 min)
Travel to the George Spangler Farm, site of the Union Army’s 11th Corps field hospital. Become part of the hospital staff and discover how over 1,900 wounded soldiers were cared for. The Spangler Farm is only accessible via paid shuttle.
George Spangler Farm – Tickets available at
Museum & Visitor Center
11 am & 1:45 pm Fri/Sat/Sun
Four Score and Seven Years Ago:
Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery
(45 min)
Visit the site of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and explore the Soldiers’ National Cemetery where over 3,500 soldiers killed in the battle were laid to rest.
Meet at National Cemetery – Taneytown Rd. Gate
11 am &
3 pm
Daily
Join the Army: A Family Program (60 min)
Attention! Recruits are needed to enlist in the Union army! Join now and learn what it meant to be a soldier during the Civil War. This program is for children ages 5-13 only. Sign up at the Visitor Center information desk.
Meet at Ranger Site 1 at Museum & Visitor Center
11 am Daily
Hold to the Last! The Battle for Little Round Top (60 min)
For over an hour on July 2, 1863, Union and Confederate troops battled for possession of this small hill. Explore the rocky summit, see original Union breastworks, and discover why Little Round Top was so important to both armies.
Meet at Little Round Top – Warren Statue
11:30 am Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat
First Shots on McPherson Ridge (60 min)
The Edward McPherson farm witnessed the opening shots of the Battle of Gettysburg. How did the fighting on this simple farm shape and influence the strategy of the battle in the coming days?
Meet at McPherson Ridge – Auto Tour Stop 1
11:30 am Tues/Thurs
Courage on Trial (60 min)
Col. Seraphim Meyer of the 107th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was tried for cowardice during the battle of Gettysburg. Become part of the Court Martial, hear the evidence, and decide for yourself whether this soldier is innocent or guilty.
Meet at Ranger Site 2 at Museum & Visitor Center
1 pm Sat
The 1st Day of Battle: “The Devil’s to Pay!” (45 min)
Why did the battle start at Gettysburg and how did the fighting on July 1, 1863, shape the rest of the battle?
Meet at Eternal Light Peace Memorial – Auto Tour Stop 2
1 pm Daily
The Clash of Cavalry: East Cavalry Field (90 min)
Visit the scene of one of the largest cavalry battles of the war, where Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart was stopped by a Union cavalry force that included a new general named George Armstrong Custer.
Meet at Confederate Cavalry Avenue –
at the Ranger Program Sign
1:30 pm Mon/Fri
Cannoneers to Your Post! Join the Artillery (30 min)
On July 3, 1863 over two hundred Union and Confederate cannon opened fire in one of the largest artillery duels of the war. Become part of a gun crew as you discover the role artillery played during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Meet at Abraham Brian Farm – Hancock Avenue
2 pm Mon/Wed/Fri
Hardtack, Mud, and Marching:
The Life of the Civil War Soldier
(60 min)
Over 160,000 soldiers participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Who were they, where did they come from, and what was their experience during four years of war?
Meet at Ranger Site 1 at Museum & Visitor Center
2 pm Daily
The 2nd Day of Battle: “A Grand Terrible Drama” (45 min)
July 2, 1863 saw the heaviest fighting of the entire battle. Understand the key decisions that shaped the day and the actions that resulted.
Meet at the Peach Orchard – Auto Tour Stop 10
2:30 pm Daily
Care of the Wounded (60 min)
Civil War medicine was more than just bone saws and amputations. Learn how the wounded were evacuated and treated, and discover the amazing story of the doctors and nurses who struggled to keep them alive.
Meet at Ranger Site 2 at Museum & Visitor Center
3 pm Daily
The Forgotten Flank: The Battle for Culp’s Hill (60 min)
Walk the wooded slopes of Culp’s Hill where the most sustained fighting of the battle took place.
Meet at Culp’s Hill Observation Tower – Slocum Avenue
3 pm Tues/Thurs
Pickett’s Charge Hike (90 min)
Follow in the footsteps of the men who took part in the most famous infantry assault in American military history. Explore why the attack was made, why it failed, and what was the cost.
Meet at Virginia Memorial – Auto Tour Stop 5
3 pm Mon/Wed/Fri
Battle Walk (2 hours)
Want to experience the battlefield from the same vantage point as the men who fought there? Walk the fields and woods that were fought over a century and a half ago and get a closer look at the famous and not so famous places and people that shaped the battle.
Meeting location vary. Check at the information desk for a complete schedule of daily topics and where to meet the
park ranger.
3:30 pm Daily
The 3rd Day and Beyond: “Stay and Fight it Out!” (45 min)
Visit the site of Pickett’s Charge, the climactic moment of the Battle of Gettysburg, and discover what the outcome of the battle meant for the Union and Confederacy.
Meet at Abraham Brian Farm – Hancock Avenue
4 pm Daily
Battlefield in a Box (30 min)
Become part of the battlefield in this interactive overview program! Build a map of the battlefield using simple props. Perfect for the first time visitor wanting a better understanding of the battle.
Meet at Ranger Site 1 at Museum & Visitor Center
4 pm Daily
Long Remembered: Lincoln Comes to Gettysburg (75 min) Explore the impact of the battle upon the Gettysburg community and walk in the footsteps of President Lincoln.
Meet at Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station – Carlisle Street
6 pm Sun
Sunset on Cemetery Ridge (60 min)
Walk this historic ground at sunset and explore what happened when the battle ended and the clean-up and care for the killed, wounded, and captured began. Experience stories of courage and suffering, resiliency, and memory.
Meet at Abraham Brian Farm – Hancock Avenue
7 pm Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat
Camp Fire at Pitzer Woods (60 min)
Rangers present programs on a wide variety of topics on the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War.
Meet at Park Amphitheater – West Confederate Avenue
8:30 pm Daily

map of Summer Ranger Programs

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Veteran J. Thompson Brown, the Virginia Monument and General Lee

The 76 year-old Confederate veteran could hardly contain himself as he answered a letter from his Union friend Henry Moyer of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Moyer had been corresponding with the man for several years and his latest letter included a very troubling clipping from the National Tribune, (the official newspaper of the Grand Army of the Republic, the national organization of Union veterans); troubling in that it mistakenly described a lackluster ending to the Virginia Monument project at Gettysburg in October 1916, where “in the presence of a small gathering,” the project was deemed complete and unceremoniously left without a proper dedication.

Nonsense! “The clipping does not bear the semblance of truth,” the veteran responded, “and I am sorry to say, in this respect, and in this day of good fellowship and fraternal feeling, it is not dissimilar to many other Northern publications whenever publishing article(s) pertaining to the South.”

J. Thompson Brown

General J. Thompson Brown in 1913, ardent defender of the Army of Northern Virginia’s record. (Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Report of the Pennsylvania Commission, Harrisburg, 1915)

The words came from a man who had not only struggled to see the monument completed but who also worked diligently for fifty+ years to uphold the honorable record of the Army of Northern Virginia and its beloved commander. The Virginia Monument encompassed all of his goals- honor Virginia’s native sons who served at Gettysburg, the Army in which they served, and preserve in bronze his idol of southern manhood, Robert E. Lee and J. Thompson Brown, former commander of Parker’s Virginia Battery, was not going to let this slanderous article degrade the work he had accomplished or diminish the proper dedication ceremony planned for the coming year.  Likewise, Brown could not hide his exuberance over the heroic bronze equestrian statue of the general, destined for the top of the monument. “This Monument to General Lee’s memory will be unveiled and dedicated May 1st, 1917, in the presence of an immense gathering of his loving and devoted soldiers and civic admirers,” Brown reassured Moyer. “I most cordially invite you and the author of your enclosed clipping to come and behold the ‘small’ gathering of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by the immaculate and peerless Lee.”

Born May 4, 1840, John Thompson Brown grew up in Richmond. His parents were active in the city’s social circles and secured an excellent education for their son prior to his enrollment at Randolph-Macon College at Boydton, Virginia. A member of the class of 1861, Brown volunteered for service in the 20th Virginia Infantry and saw his first battle at Rich Mountain that summer. The company in which he served was disbanded soon after and Brown turned his attention to the artillery and a battery being raised in his hometown by Dr. William W. Parker. Brown’s enthusiastic assistance earned him the rank of lieutenant in Parker’s Virginia Battery and by the summer of 1863, the 23 year-old college graduate commanded the battery during the Gettysburg Campaign.  Severely wounded in the throat in 1864, he returned to duty just before the Appomattox Campaign. A raspy voice and terrible scars on his neck were testaments to his four years of service with the Army of Northern Virginia, which he evidently bore with grace through the rest of his life.

After the war, Brown returned to Richmond and worked in his father’s harness shop until a chance meeting with a northern entrepreneur netted the young veteran with a financial bonus from real estate investment. Seven years later, he opened his own real estate agency that provided additional services including collection of rents, loans, and auction services. The business grew and likewise did Brown’s investment in other interests, among them the first electric rail (trolley) system in Richmond that opened in 1887. His public service began in 1872 when he was elected to the Virginia legislature and worked to rebuild and improve public buildings in the city. Active in affairs with the Virginia Historical Society and Masons, Brown was, more than anything,  passionate about his wartime record and quickly embraced the informal gathering of veterans in the city that led to the organization of the Richmond camp of the United Confederate Veterans. Brown would rise through the organization to become commander of the Virginia Division of the U.C.V., and was bestowed with the honor of Honorary Commander for life in that division.

If anything, it was Brown’s sense of humor, hearty laugh, and his ability as an “accomplished teaser and perpetrator of practical jokes” that drew others to him, especially at reunions where his memory of the war and his raspy-voiced observations on General Lee’s greatness drew crowds of hushed listeners. (Robert K. Krick, Parker’s Virginia Battery, C.S.A. Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1975, p. 356) Likewise, it was Brown’s dedication to the United Confederate Veterans and preservation of the record  of General Lee  that drew the attention of many northern veterans such as Henry Moyer.  Brown was appointed as the Virginia representative to the Pennsylvania Commission for co-operative planning for the 50th Anniversary and Grand Reunion at Gettysburg in 1913 and wholeheartedly lent his time and support for what he truly believed a worthwhile cause, and what turned out to be a most notable battle anniversary.  Holding the rank of lieutenant general in the U.C.V., Brown held court in the Virginia camp during the reunion and gleefully shared his stories with fellow veterans and onlookers.

His only disappointment that summer was the unfinished Virginia Monument at Gettysburg. The stone work had been finished but the bronze figures sculpted by F. William Sievers would not be completed until 1916. Delivered that fall, representatives of the state’s monument committee visited Gettysburg in October to oversee the final steps of the monument project, mistaken by the unnamed author of the aforementioned National Tribune article as the uneventful conclusion of Virginia’s gift to the battlefield park. By the time Henry Moyer’s letter and newspaper clipping arrived at Brown’s Richmond home, the old veteran’s patience was frayed having dealt with the agonizingly slow progress of the project and just when it seemed that everything had reached his expectations, some unknown and uninformed Northerner had spoiled what was to be a grand and proper dedication and even went so far to question its proper location on Seminary Ridge where “legend has it” that Lee watched Pickett’s Charge.

Brown responded to his northern friend with more than simple criticism of the National Tribune article, and he should know. The battery commander saw the general there, at that spot, on July 3, 1863:

“As to the location of the monument… It is properly located, and at the place where General Lee was during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. I was with General Lee after Pickett began to move his charging column, and before he finished his charge through and beyond the Federal lines. Parker’s Battery, Alexander’s Battalion, Longstreet’s Corps, was in the line of artillery, opening the way for Pickett’s Charge. In rear of the charging column, on the hill in Spangler’s woods, whence the charge started, I came upon General Lee, no one with him, his staff all out in the field at work. ”

Virginia Monument at Gettysburg, 1920

The Virginia Monument, ca. 1920. Located on Seminary Ridge, the monument was dedicated (much to the satisfaction of J. Thompson Brown and others), with a formal ceremony on June 8, 1917. (Library of Congress)

The Virginia Monument encompassed many things to the aged J. Thompson Brown, a successful businessman, entrepreneur, state politician, proud southern veteran, and no misinformed person was going to degrade the symbolic meaning of the monument or its commander astride Traveler that overlooks the field of “Pickett’s Charge” for eternity.

John Heiser
Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

[The letter from J. Thompson Brown to Henry S. Moyer, dated December 1, 1916 is in the collection of the Library & research Center, Gettysburg NMP and was provided to the park through the courtesy of Ms. Kathy Finkel, a descendant of Henry Moyer. For further reading on J. Thompson Brown, we suggest the excellent history, Parker’s Virginia Battery, C.S.A., by Robert K. Krick (Berryville, VA: Virginia Book Company, 1975)]

Posted in Great Reunion of 1913, Historical Memory, Monuments at Gettysburg, Veterans | 2 Comments

The 153rd Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Kostic  (17)

The three day Battle of Gettysburg marked a turning point not only in the course of the American Civil War, but also for the future of the United States of America. Join Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides during the 153nd Anniversary for a series of free guided walks and talks that discuss, explore, and reflect on this important chapter in our nation’s history.

Note: On all park avenues please park your vehicle on the right side of the road, unless otherwise directed, with all wheels on the pavement. Schedule is subject to change.

Daily Ranger-Guided Programs
Friday, July 1 – Sunday, July 3

Battlefield in a Box: An Overview (30 minutes) – Become part of the battlefield in this interactive overview program! Join a National Park Ranger and build a map of the battlefield using props. This program is perfect for the first time visitor wanting a better understanding of the battle. Meet at Ranger Program Site 1, daily at 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.

Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (40 minutes) – Explores the meaning and cost of the Battle of Gettysburg, and of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Find out how the National Cemetery was established, who is buried there, and why Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address still has meaning for us today. Meet at the Taneytown Road entrance to the National Cemetery, daily at 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Care of the Wounded (1 hour) – Over 27,000 soldiers were wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. Explore how these men were evacuated, treated, and ultimately, how most of their lives were saved. Meet at Ranger Program Site 2 behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 3:00 P.M.

Civil War Soldier (1 hour) – Over 160,000 soldiers participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Find out why they enlisted, why they fought, and what they endured during the four years of the American Civil War. Meet at Ranger Program Site 1 behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 2:00 P.M.

Family Activities and Hands on History
Friday, July 1 – Sunday, July 3

During the 153rd Anniversary children of all ages can visit the Family Activities and Hands on History station at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Discover hands-on history stations, hourly special guest appearances called “Mystery History Guest”, and “Join the Army” programs to learn more about the people involved in, and affected by, the battle of Gettysburg.  You can also pick up and check in your Gettysburg and Centennial Junior Ranger booklets.

Family Activities and Hands on History Hours: July 1 – 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Group Lobby. Mystery History Guest: 10:00 a.m., 12:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.. Join the Army: 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m. daily.

July 1

Special Programs – Friday, July 1

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.

10:00 a.m.
“The Air Was Full of Lead” – Joseph Davis’ Brigade on July 1st
Perhaps no other brigade at Gettysburg experienced the joy of victory and pangs of defeat so quickly as Davis’ Mississippians and North Carolinians. Join Park Ranger Matt Atkinson and explore Davis’ attack on Cutler’s Brigade, the fatal advance to the Railroad Cut, and the Union counterattack.

Meet at the intersection of Buford and Reynolds Avenue. Park on the right of Buford Avenue.

 2:30 p.m.
“Misconduct at Gettysburg”- General Alfred’s Iverson’s North Carolina Brigade on July 1.
Around midday of July 1, General Robert Rodes’ Division formed line of battle on Oak Hill northwest of Gettysburg. In the center was Brigadier General Alfred Iverson’s veteran North Carolina brigade, which crossed the Forney farm in perfect precision as if passing in review. Within seconds, Iverson’s command was nearly destroyed and his confidence and ability to lead shattered. This brief yet bloody encounter on the first day of Gettysburg continues to inspire controversy and debate to this very day. Join John Heiser, Historian at Gettysburg National Military Park, in exploring the disaster that befell the brigade that day

Meet and park at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, Auto Tour Stop #2.

6:00 p.m.
“Every Moment Could Not be Balanced With Gold…” Cemetery Hill: Union Retreat, Confederate Pursuit
As Federal forces retreated to Cemetery Hill on the evening of July 1, 1863, the fortunes of both North and South stood in the balance. Join Licensed Battlefield Guide John Archer for a walking tour to see those moments through the eyes and experiences of its participants.

Meet at the entrance of East Confederate Ave and Lefever Street.  Park along East Confederate Avenue.

 Real Time Programs
These 30- to 45-minute programs provide a brief overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time they occurred, 153 years ago.

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.      The First Shots – Nate Hess                
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 1, McPherson Ridge. Park on Reynolds Avenue.

10:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.     The 6th Wisconsin at the Railroad Cut – Caitlin Kostic 
Meet at the General Wadsworth Monument on Reynolds Avenue. Park along Reynolds Avenue.

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.    Junius Daniel Strikes McPherson Ridge  – Daniel Vermilya
Meet at the General Wadsworth Monument on Reynolds Avenue. Park along Reynolds Avenue.

3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.    The 153rd Pennsylvania at Barlow Knoll  – Chuck Teague
Meet at Barlow’s Knoll, East Howard Avenue. Park along East Howard Avenue.

5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.    Rally on Cemetery Hill: Hancock and Howard at the End of the 1st Day – Matt Atkinson
Meet at the Baltimore Street Entrance to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery

Sacred Trust Talks and Book Signing
Continuing a tradition of the popular Sacred Trust Talks and Book signings, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park will host renowned authors, historians, and National Park Service Rangers to discuss the impact of the American Civil War on contemporary politics, industry, medicine and culture.

7:00 p.m.
Opening Panel: A Conversation about Combat – From Gettysburg to Afghanistan

 “A Conversation about Combat – From Gettysburg to Afghanistan” will feature renowned historians Dr. Alexander Rose and Dr. Carol Reardon, alongside combat veterans Brig. Gen. James Campbell and Lt. Col. William Hewitt as they discuss the experience of battle throughout American history. From leading men on the front lines of Cemetery Ridge to the jungles of Vietnam, the American soldier has confronted experiences and challenges both unique and universal. 

Meet at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Seating is limited for this free panel discussion so tickets are required and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To reserve your tickets, click here or call (877) 874-2478

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Special Programs – Saturday, July 2

Battle Walks

These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.   

 10:00 a.m.
“Into the Very Vortex of the Tempest:” The 12th New Hampshire Infantry at Gettysburg
Late on the afternoon of July 2, 1863, the 12th New Hampshire Infantry of General Daniel Sickles’s Third Corps, Army of the Potomac, suffered nearly fifty percent casualties in a desperate and deadly struggle along the Emmitsburg Road.  Join Ranger John Hoptak and follow in the footsteps of this hard-fighting regiment, assume the identity of one of its soldiers, and learn his fate while discovering the largely unheralded and untold story of the 12th New Hampshire’s service and sacrifice at Gettysburg.

Meet at the Pennsylvania Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 12. Park along Sedgwick Avenue. 

2:30 p.m.
From the Peach Orchard to the Valley of Death: Advance and Retreat with De Trobriand’s Brigade
On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 five Union regiments under the command of a French author turned soldier, took part in some of the most bitter and brutal fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg. From the Valley of Death to the Sherfy Peach Orchard, the men of Philippe Régis de Trobriand’s brigade would never forget what they saw, and did on that summer day. Supervisory Ranger Christopher Gwinn will retrace the advance and retreat of one of the most remarkable units in the Army of the Potomac.

Meet at the Wheatfield, Auto Tour Stop 9. Park along Sickles Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
We Shot Them to Pieces: The Second U.S. Sharpshooters in the Slyder Lane
Follow Licensed Battlefield Guide Gar Phillips and walk the rarely-visited and rugged ground that helped an elite unit of 169 sharpshooters to break up and delay an attack of 40 times their own number of men. The Second U.S. Sharpshooters bought precious time for the Union army to secure the left flank of the Army of the Potomac on Little Round Top, though their story and sacrifice remain largely unknown.

Meet at the Texas Monument, South Confederate Avenue.  Park along South Confederate Avenue.

Real Time Programs

These 30 to 45-minute programs provide an overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time at which they occurred 153 years ago.

 8:30 a.m. – 9:15 p.m.     Lee Plans for Battle – Troy Harman
Meet at the North Carolina Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 4.
Park on West Confederate Avenue.

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.    Berdan’s Sharpshooters in Pitzer Woods  – Zach Siggins
Meet at the Longstreet Equestrian Statue, near Auto Tour Stop 6.
Park on West Confederate Avenue.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.    Sickles Takes the High Ground – Dan Welch
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.    Hood Prepares to Attack – John Nicholas                    
Meet near Auto Tour Stop 7, at the Park Picnic Area.

4:15 p.m.  – 4:45 p.m.    The Battle for Little Round Top – Philip Brown
Meet at the Warren Statue, Auto Tour Stop 8, on Little Round Top.

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.    Into the Valley of Death – Bill Hewitt
Meet at Devil’s Den. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.     The 4th Michigan in the Wheatfield –  Daniel Vermilya
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 9, The Wheatfield. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.     Chaos at the Trostle Farm – Emma Murphy
Meet at the Trostle Barn. Park on United States Avenue.

7:20 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.    Sacrifice of the 1st Minnesota – Chuck Teague
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 12, The Pennsylvania Memorial. Park along Hancock Avenue.

8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.     Night Fighting on East Cemetery Hill – Jarrad Fuoss
Meet at the Howard Equestrian Statue, East Cemetery Hill

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the anniversary of the battle Park Rangers will host hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the events of 153 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Voices from the Battlefield: The Second Day of Battle – Ranger Daniel Vermilya
The second of July, 1863 marked the largest and bloodiest of the three days of fighting at Gettysburg. No one who took part in the fighting, or witnessed it, would ever forget the experience. Join Ranger Daniel Vermilya as he offers a glimpse into the experience of combat on July 2nd by sharing the words and memories of its participants.

Dan at the codori farm

Special Programs – Sunday, July 3

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.   

10:00 a.m.
Pickett’s Charge: Was There a Second Wave?
When Longstreet stated to Lee on the morning of July 3, 1863, “there never was a body of fifteen thousand men who could make that attack successfully,” he emphatically concluded with, “it would take twice that many men and even then the issue would be in doubt.” If one surveys all Confederate troops placed within supporting distance of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble assault, they add up to an additional 15,000 men. Did Lee and Longstreet arrange for another 15,000 combatants in a supporting role? Would they have moved forward under the right conditions? How did their presence contribute to Pickett’s fallback and the final retreat of Lee’s army? Join Ranger Troy Harman for this in-depth experience.

Meet at Virginia Memorial, Auto Tour Stop #5. Park along West Confederate Avenue.

2:30 p.m.
“A Desperate Thing to Attempt”- Pickett’s Charge
Visitors are invited to follow in the footsteps of the Confederate soldiers that took part in Pickett’s Charge, the climactic moment of the Battle of Gettysburg. Who were the men that made this assault, what motivated them, and what did they experience in the fields between Seminary and Cemetery Ridge? Join Ranger Dan Welch and Caitlin Kostic retrace the route of the most famous charge in American military history.

Meet at the Virginia Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 5. Park along West Confederate Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
After Pickett’s Charge: Bloody Combat on the Afternoon of July 3rd
The Battle of Gettysburg did not end with the massive assault known as Pickett’s Charge. Infantry and cavalry forces maneuvered, fought, and retreated throughout the afternoon. Amidst the wreckage of the second day’s battle, casualties mounted, cannons were recaptured, cavalry charged infantry, breastworks were erected, and a general was killed. Join Licensed Battlefield Guides Garry Adelman and Tim Smith for a fast-paced hike that focuses upon these actions on the south end of the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Meet at the Wheatfield, Auto Tour Stop 9. Park along Sickles Avenue.

Real Time Programs
These 30- to 45-minute programs provide a brief overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time at which they occurred 153 years ago.

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.    The 2nd Massachusetts in Spangler Meadow – Nate Hess
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring.
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.    Steuart’s Brigade Attacks! – Dan Welch
Meet at the Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring.
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.    Lee and Longstreet at Odds – Karlton Smith
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on North Sickles or United States Avenue.
Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.    Fight at the Rummel Farm: East Cavalry Field –   John Nicholas
Meet at the Ranger Program Sign on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.
Park on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.     Battle for the Bliss Farm – Bill Hewitt
Meet at the Abraham Brian Farm. Park on Hancock Avenue.

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.    The Cannonade – Philip Brown
Meet at the High Water Mark, Auto Tour Stop 15. Park on Hancock Avenue.

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.    The Defense of Cemetery Ridge – Gregory Hillebrand
Meet at the Meade Equestrian Monument. Park on Hancock Avenue or in the National Cemetery Parking Lot.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the anniversary of the battle Park Rangers will host hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the events of 153 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Voices from the Battlefield: The Third Day of Battle – Ranger Karlton Smith
The setting of the sun on the evening of July 3, 1863 marked the end of the Battle of Gettysburg. Those fortunate enough to have survived the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War would begin to piece together their memories, actions, and impressions. Join Ranger Karlton Smith and examine the story of July 3rd through the recollections of those who lived to tell the tale.

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The 84th New York Infantry monument looks out over  the first day’s battlefield.

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Bearing Witness – Gettysburg’s Commemorative Landscape

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Commemorative era steps from Sykes Avenue to the summit of Little Round Top (tinted postcard, 1910). These steps no longer exist.  The monument is to the 91st Pennsylvania.

The thousands of monuments, markers, and memorials 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 landscape.

Recently we received a question via this blog about why we are planning to rebuild the Hancock Avenue gate, a feature that is commemorative and did not exist on the field at the time of the battle of Gettysburg.   It’s worth taking some time to answer.

The management of historic landscapes is often complex and multi-layered. On the landscapes of Gettysburg National Military Park are features related to the 1863 battle, such as farm houses, rock walls, and fence lines, as well as commemorative features that have been placed on the field, such as monuments, markers, memorials, and historic avenues. In addition, Gettysburg includes a specific, designed landscape within the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

Commemorative features on the Gettysburg battlefield are nationally significant and their preservation is a vital part of the mission of Gettysburg National Military Park which is:

Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects, and interprets 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.

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Avenue fencing and the 74th Pennsylvania monument along Howard Avenue in 1900.  The Adams County “poor farm” buildings in the background are now gone.  “Pipe-rail” fencing defined the avenues and monuments, creating a designed corridor.

 

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Cross sections of the avenues showing the hand-laid, Telford road base and gutters.

 

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.

Commemoration of the events of the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in a landscape of monuments, memorials, and markers which 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 itself.

Commemorative Landscapes and Features:

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Sickles Avenue had already been re-routed by 1914 to eliminate confusion and more closely follow the lines of battle.

From 1863 to 1927, veterans and survivors of the battle preserved the grounds of Gettysburg and created commemorative features that still define the park today.  Most monuments and other commemorative features were constructed during this period.  During the early part of this era, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association focused almost exclusively on commemorating Union positions.

The 1895 law establishing Gettysburg National Military Park expanded upon the 1893 Commission Act, authorizing the federal government to preserve for the American people the “important topographic features of the battlefield” and to preserve and mark the battle positions. The law gave the Gettysburg National Park Commission (GNPC), which was run by veterans of the Civil War, the tools to protect the historic and natural resources that comprised the battle setting in 1863.

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Today’s park maintenance complex is a sprawling non-historic intrusion on the landscape that the park would love to relocate someday with one exception: the historic roller building shown here in 1910.  It was built to house the steam roller for maintenance of the avenues and is a historic structure.  Discoloration from the steam engine’s exhaust is visible above the right door.

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The maintenance complex today surrounds the historic roller building, which still shows black from the engine exhaust above the right door.

The Commission’s preservation and memorial activities included creating tablets to the regular army of the United States, as well as designing and building commemorative features such as the park’s historic avenues, observation towers, and more.  These features had a permanent impact upon this landscape, resulting in a commemorative landscape on the original battlefield landscape.

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The Smith Granite Company delivering the 1st Massachusetts monument, crated, 1886.  Taken on Emmitsburg Road, looking south.  The barn faintly visible in the background is part of the Rogers farm (demolished by the park in the 1930s).

Many, but not all, of these structures on the battlefield still exist.  Commemorative features preserved today include more than 1,300 monuments, markers and tablets; steel observation towers at Culp’s Hill, Warfield Ridge, and Oak Ridge; the avenue system with its numerous culverts and bridges; and repaired/rebuilt stone walls and fences on the battlefield.

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The First Shot marker on Chambersburg Road, 1900.  Note the commemorative era fencing which is the same design as depicted above with the 74th Pennsylvania monument.

The National Park Service allowed fewer monuments to be built during its management period from 1933 onward, with the exceptions of commemorative monuments to Confederate States erected during the 1960s. In 1999, the National Park Service placed a moratorium on new monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park.

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Rebuilt stone walls along West Confederate Avenue, 1905.  This design was used by the War Department in the 1890s when they repaired and rebuilt “stone fencing” along the battle lines.

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Small sections of “stone fencing” still have the design created by the War Department when they rebuilt and repaired the walls.  This is along West Confederate Avenue near the McMillan Woods campground.

The park is currently developing a strategy for how to preserve commemorative features and which ones we would potentially bring back in the future, like the Hancock Avenue gate.  This document, called the Commemorative Era Treatment Philosophy, will include a concise historical overview of the development of the commemorative landscape; identify typical landscape characteristics and features associated with the commemorative landscape, including issues pertaining to existing physical condition and historical integrity; and provide general treatment principles to guide future landscape rehabilitation, including reasons for reestablishing commemorative landscapes or individual features that have been lost or obscured.

The draft plan will be available for public comment in 2017.

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Thanks to Winona Peterson, Gettysburg National Military Park, for assistance with this article and for the images.

Katie Lawhon, May 26, 2016

Posted in Commemorative features, Monuments at Gettysburg, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments