Hubbub of Activity Surrounds Gettysburg’s Monuments and Cannon

They’ve been called the silent sentinels, but even they have needs. They are the 1320 monuments, markers, and memorials of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The park’s monument preservation branch is working on numerous monuments throughout the park. These preservation maintenance projects must be completed every 3 to 5 years – ideally – on each monument. Depending on the monument, the work includes steam cleaning, waxing, and repointing of mortar.

Park staff apply wax to the Meade Equestrian monument at Gettysburg

In the past few weeks the cleaning and waxing crew on the park’s monument preservation team has been working along Hancock Avenue and they completed the monuments on Powers Hill. The seasonal mason and helper completed repointing work on the 45th NY, the 157th NY, and Stannard’s Brigade.

Restoration work continues on the park’s cast iron cannon carriages. The carriages were fabricated originally in the 1890s and the park has been working for more than a decade to bring each carriage off the field, strip it of lead paint, make painstaking repairs to the brittle and cracked cast iron spokes, axles, and other pieces, and then repaint them and place them back onto the field.

Preservation worker, Bryan Knepper, works on one of Gettysburg's cast iron cannon carriages

The crew in the cannon shop is currently working on carriages #280 and 281, out of 412 carriages, total. This summer also marks the first time that a complete comprehensive review of the carriages in the field will be inspected for missing and broken components.

This summer the monument crew will be restoring/rehabilitating the Collis Memorial in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery to address problems with settling of the monument. This monument work will be of great interest to the many visitors who walk through the cemetery.

Park monument preservation staff has also been working on contracts for replication of missing bronze

Gary Currens, the park's seasonal mason, explains the project at the Collis monument in the Soldiers' National Cemetery

features on several monuments: the 56th Pa, 90th Pa, and the 149th Pa. The contract will also include carving and installing two elements on the 18th PA Cavalry monument.

We are also working with a non-profit partner to have a new capstone made for Cooper’s Battery. The marble stone was so weathered that the inscriptions had become unreadable.

As the summer progresses, even more work will be underway. The park has contracted with the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center to complete preservation maintenance on the Alabama memorial and the New York Auxiliary monument.

In February 2006, vandals smashed the arm on the 11th Massachusetts monument at Gettysburg NMP. Park staff will sculpt a new arm beginning this fall.

In the fall of this year the team plans to reset the 74th Pennsylvania monument which was hit by a car; begin modeling for fabrication of a new carved stone arm for the 11th Mass.; and, with any luck, they can complete the project to mold and make castings for a new head and rammer for the 4th NY, also known as Smith’s Battery.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant


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4 Responses to Hubbub of Activity Surrounds Gettysburg’s Monuments and Cannon

  1. We love mason Gary Currens! He’s worked on all the monuments here in front of the Inn and is always so friendly and explains what he’s working on. Thanks for all your hard work Gary!

  2. Louie Seven says:

    Maybe the cannonball pyramids will be replaced sometime in the 2030’s ?
    What’s the problem ? Are they too politically incorrect or something ?
    Otherwise….nice job!

  3. Diane Hernandez says:

    Love the work you are doing to keep the history alive. Is there a email that I can contact Bryan Knepper at. I would like to restore a very old wagon and don’t know where to at . Thank you.

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