Gettysburg National Military Park’s monument preservation branch has been working on restoration of the 11th Massachusetts Infantry monument, which was damaged by vandals in February 2006. The arm with its bronze sword was the primary symbol of the Massachusetts coat of arms and was emblazoned on brass buttons worn by militia organizations from the commonwealth during the Civil War.
Park staff made a mold from the broken off arm of the sculpture, using broken pieces recovered from the scene of the vandalism. Then they used the mold to make a plaster casting of the stump of the arm.
Monument preservationist Brian Griffin then used a large selection of photos (many provided by the public), as well as other broken pieces of the original carving, including three fingers, the sword blade and hand guard, to approximately scale the sculpture to ensure the proper size and orientation for the clay modeling.
A steel armature was then attached to the plaster to support the clay. Once completed, the sword was then attached to the armature at the appropriate angle. Griffin is now applying clay and sculpting an exact likeness of the original arm. This work is extremely tedious requiring him to view the sculpture from various angles to ensure proper duplication based off the photos.
Once this work is completed the entire piece will be molded again and a plaster casting poured of the complete arm. This model will then be contracted to a stone carver for replication in granite and placement back on the field. The park hopes to contract for the stone carving in May and complete the entire project by the fall of this year.
Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant.