Gettysburg Artist in Residence to be at David Wills House Friday, July 7, 5-8 p.m.

Gettysburg National Military Park’s Artist-in-Residence William Bretzger will exhibit his work at the David Wills House this Friday, July 7 at 5:00-8:00 p.m.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Bretzger has been getting up every morning before the sun rises.  He’s been turning in after dark, too.  The reason? To capture what he calls that “perfect opportunity.”

More than sunrise and sunset photos at Gettysburg, Bretzger uses those moments at dawn and dusk as the foundation of light for his color photographs, which he enhances through a variety of onsite lighting to tell a story about what happened at a particular battlefield location.  His artistry highlights the landscapes and structures soldiers would have encountered as they crossed the fields at Gettysburg.


The Rose Barn at Gettysburg National Military Park. Image by William Bretzger (Copywritten).

In some instances, Bretzger projects an image of a person who has a direct connection to a particular monument or building.  In the span of just a short time, he manages to project an image, set up just the right lighting, and capture a feeling that puts a face to history.  His artwork includes images of General George Meade at the house Meade used as his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg.  It also includes 22-year-old Captain John Bigelow’s image on the 9th Massachusetts memorial where Bigelow was wounded.  And, there are even more images that define where a soldier fell or won renown.


Image of Captain John Bigelow on one of the three monuments to the 9th Massachusetts Battery at Gettysburg National Military Park. Art image by William Bretzger (Copywritten).

During the day, Bretzger uses black-and-white film to capture other stories he wants to share, too, developing the film alone in the basement of his temporary residence at one of the park’s historic houses.  “I thought it would be a challenge to set up a darkroom, but the house works out perfectly.  The basement is dark and there’s a large sink there for clean-up,” he said.

Bretzger is developing film in preparation for his exhibit at the David Wills House, Friday, July 7 at 5:00-8:00 p.m.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.  He plans to showcase his best artwork from his past few weeks at Gettysburg, and will be available to discuss his imagery, experiences, and techniques with visitors.

Bretzger works as a staff photographer at the News Journal and at Delaware Online, and has been visiting Gettysburg for more than 20 years.  “I’m just drawn to Gettysburg,” he said.  “From Delaware, it’s a long daytrip, so having the opportunity to be on location here and capture all these shots and these moods is amazing.  I am truly grateful for the opportunity.”   Bretzger thanked Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation, and the National Parks Arts Foundation.

“I’ve never worked on a project this long and this hard,” Bretzger said. “But, it’s been great.  I’ve always considered myself a photographer, but now I am happy to consider myself an artist.”

Gettysburg National Military Park’s artists in residence spend about one month living at Gettysburg National Military Park to inspire, expand, and develop their artwork related to the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.

Bretzger’s exhibit at the David Wills House is Friday, July 7 at 5:00-8:00 p.m.  The exhibit is free and open to the public.  For more information about the Artist in Residence program, call 717-334-1124, or go to

Article by Debbie Dortch, a public affairs specialist with Naval Supply Systems Command, on special assignment to Gettysburg National Military Park.  She has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs and publishing, including working at National Park Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C.


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Taking care of Gettysburg National Military Park with Jeff Miller and Dave Fawley

When you think of Gettysburg National Military Park, you’re likely envisioning fields upon which soldiers fought and died, the fences that surrounded the farms they traversed, and the farmhouses and barns  that became field hospitals.  These tangible reminders help tell the story of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.  But, have you ever thought about what it takes to keep these resources preserved?

Meet Jeff Miller and Dave Fawley from the park’s maintenance division.   Jeff’s been with Gettysburg National Military Park since 1986.  Dave is new by comparison with just about 10 years of service.  They spend most of their time doing carpentry work for the park’s 135 buildings related to the battlefield and early commemoration efforts spread throughout almost 6,000 acres. It’s the maintenance division that cares for the park grounds, buildings, and 1,205 structures (non-buildings).

Dave Fawley (left) and Jeff Miller stand next to a planer in the maintenance shop at Gettysburg National Military Park.

“There is always work to do,” Dave said.  “We prioritize projects based on those identified and funded, and do the best we can to ensure the historic structures here survive for future generations.”

Water is the biggest challenge facing the park’s structures today.  Porous, stone and dirt basements under houses, leaky roofs, and other exposed wood subjected to winters with snow and ice, to humid summers above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can rot wood, making regular care a must.  Jeff says he’s been spending most of his time working on roofs.  “We aim to keep the structures looking like they would have at the time of the battle.  If we have a photograph, that’s our guide for how to move forward with what kind of roofing is needed,” Jeff said.  “We use a lot of wood shingles.”

“A couple projects were a bit more challenging, like Meade’s Headquarters.  Those shingles are biaxial.   They weren’t very common here in 1863,” Jeff explained.  “We customize those shingles here on site from shingles we buy.  To get that look and the right angle for installation on the wood, we have to cut each one of them in a special way.”

In the mid-19th Century, not all shingles were laid in evenly spaced, overlapping, horizontal rows. In various regions of the country, there were distinct installation patterns. Biaxially-tapered, long shingles were found in areas settled by Germans. These long shingles were overlapped on the side as well as on top. This formed a ventilation channel under the shingles that aided drying, which could prolong their life.  In Gettysburg National Military Park, these shingles can also be seen on the Brian Barn.

“We customize other things, too,” Dave said.  “Siding, windows, shutters, sashes, cupulas, doors, storm doors—you name it.  The thing is, there was no standard in 1863, so we have to make things that will fit.  That’s what we do here in our shop.”

Workers replace the Trostle Barn roof.

Dave explained how he tried to get ahead of wood repair and restoration projects by making an inventory of projects early, before seasonal workers arrived in May to begin painting.  He assessed 26 structures.  “I wanted to be sure we could get repairs and restoration done before painting.  You don’t want to paint wood that’s rotting.”  Dave said he felt bad, though, that some of the work didn’t get done in time because he and his coworkers were pulled onto other projects.  “We do as much as we can.  It’s always a challenge, but the seasonal workers are great.  I don’t know what we would do without them.”

There are currently 22 full-time maintenance personnel at the park.  During the summer months, the park adds 18 seasonal maintenance workers.

Jeff noted that more structures have come into the park since he began working here, boosting the park’s responsibilities.  These structures and the properties on which they were built are within the park’s congressionally authorized boundary because of their historic significance to the Battle of Gettysburg.  They had been privately owned and have since been acquired by the National Park Service as part of its land preservation efforts.

During the spring, Dave and Jeff spent time working on the Bushman House, Gettysburg National Military Park’s only historic house available to visitors for short-term rentals.  “We spent a good six weeks getting the house ready for rental and we’re all really proud of it,” Dave said.  “It looks great.”

Workers on the roof of the Bushman House. The Bushman House is now available for visitor rentals at

Jeff said, “People are the best thing about working here.  Everybody is willing to share information.  Everybody is willing to help.  You just have to ask.  The people here really are great.”

“I have no plans to retire,” Dave said.  “Why would I retire?  I love it here.  How many people can say that about their jobs?”

[Note: The Bushman House is now available for visitor rentals at]

Article by Debbie Dortch, a public affairs specialist with Naval Supply Systems Command, on special assignment to Gettysburg National Military Park.  She has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs and publishing, including working at National Park Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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Park Watch with Rebecca Makdad and Sharon Krikorian

A few years ago, Rebecca and Sharon didn’t know each other.  They sat in a class together, not realizing they lived just minutes apart.  But, they had already made a connection.  They were both signing on to become “Park Watch” volunteers.

The Gettysburg National Military Park’s “Park Watch” program was established in 1996.   Park Watch volunteers work within the park boundaries of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site to assist law enforcement rangers with visitor safety and the protection of park resources. Volunteers assist ranger staff through an active program of patrolling park lands and boundaries and performing surveillance work to detect any evidence of illegal or suspicious activities. The volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” of park law enforcement, report observations to the ranger on duty, and may assist with traffic and crowd control at special events and park incidents.

Sharon and Rebecca laugh about when they first started chatting with each other.  “I thought that man sitting next to Sharon was her husband,” Rebecca says.

“Oh, no,” Sharon laughs, and then she tells the story of how she set up a home in Gettysburg while her real husband tied up loose ends in the Philadelphia suburbs so the couple could retire in Gettysburg, just two hours from where she used to live.  “Well, then Rebecca and I started talking and we realized we had a lot in common, like we both live close to here; we’re both retired; we both have dogs.”

“So, somehow we connected and agreed to ride along with each other.  It makes the time go fast and we’ve talked about all kinds of things imaginable since we’ve been doing this,” Rebecca says.

“It’s like we’re Cagney and Lacey, or Lucy and Ethel,” Rebecca chuckles.

“We put about 40 miles on the car on the days we do Park Watch,” Sharon says.  “That way, we pretty much cover most of the areas of the battlefield.  We look for things like downed trees, damage to monuments, suspicious cars parked on the sides of the road or parked in odd places, but we don’t engage anyone, we just report to the ranges what we see.”

Rebecca says that they always ride with a radio, and if they go out on foot to explore, the radio goes with them.

Sharon says as we’re driving, “This is my absolute favorite part of the park –the Wheatfield. I just love it here.  From the first time I saw it, I just felt this was the place for me.”

Rebecca laughs and says, “She’s not kidding.  Look at her license plate.”  Sure enough, on later inspection, I noted it spelled out Wheatfield, in an abbreviated way, of course.

Looking across the Wheatfield at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Sharon explains how she’s adopted seven monuments at the Wheatfield, taking care of them, like clearing weeds around them.

“My favorite is Sallie,” Rebecca says.  “You can’t even see her from the road, but I make sure I visit her every time I’m here, even when I’m here on my own time walking my dog.  She gives that real human connection to the men who fought here.  I like hearing about how they lived and how they cared about the same things we care about. It’s the human interest stories that I really like.”

A representation of Sallie Ann Jerret behind the 11th Pennsylvania monument.

Sallie Ann Jerret was the Pit Bull Terrier mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry.  Sallie accompanied her soldiers throughout almost the entire war, even into the fighting, barking at the enemy.  She saw action in each of her regiment’s engagements and even guarded her wounded and dead companions. In a February 1865 battle, she was struck by a bullet and killed. Legend says that despite being under heavy fire, several soldiers put aside their arms to bury her on the spot.   Sallie meant so much to the men of the 11th Pennsylvania infantry that when the veterans of the 11th erected their monument at Gettysburg in 1890, a life-size bronze statue of Sallie was included, recalling the soldiers who fought beside her and those whom she guarded on Gettysburg’s fields.

A look at the 11th Pennsylvania Monument from behind.

“People leave dog biscuits on the monument for Sallie.  It’s a nice gesture, of course, but people don’t realize those biscuits can damage the monument as they disintegrate,” Rebecca said.  “They also leave money, which damages the monuments, too.”

“What happens to the money?” I asked.

“We collect it and put back in the [Gettysburg National Military Park] visitors center’s donation bin.  Last year we collected about $70 dollars.  I bet we’ll find some money today.  Sallie is like a cash cow.  People always pay their respects there,” Rebecca said.

We stop to see Sallie, but no money today.  “Somebody must have collected it before we did,” Rebecca says.

“Most days are uneventful,” Sharon notes.  “But, that’s a good thing.  There really aren’t many problems here.  But, one day we came across some guy laying in the grass on the side of the road.  We thought it was strange, so we drove by a second time to see if he was okay.  He was still laying there. We could tell he was alive, but it was just weird—right there on the side of the road.  So, we called a law enforcement ranger, who checked it out, and later told us the guy said he was just taking a nap.  People can do that, but it was just a weird location, right on the side of the road!”

Sharon and Rebecca explain that they carry tour books and are happy to help visitors find their way if they appear to be lost or looking for something specific.

We continue through the park, looking for things that look out of place.  Rebecca knows all the places people like to place coins, like in the hoof of General Longstreet’s horse, where we pick up 47 cents.

“We’re going to take a little walk through the cemetery, today, too, since it’s such a beautiful, sunny day.” Sharon says.  So, we make our way there.

We file past the numbered stones representing dead soldiers who were never able to be identified but no coins today.

Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,500 known and unknown Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Between 1989 and 1968, the government added sections to accommodate the graves of veterans from the Spanish-American War, Would Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.  Today, more than 6,000 veterans lay at rest in the national cemetery.

“Now, the Lincoln Monument is always full of pennies,” Rebecca said.  And, sure enough, it was.  Some were even stuck in the crevices and we couldn’t get them out.  Of the ones retrievable, there were enough pennies there to bring the day’s donations to $1 dollar exactly.

“People see us doing this and they give us the strangest looks,” Sharon said.  “But, you know, the coins can’t stay there.  Somebody has to collect them.”

“Sometimes, I’ll tell people we’re Park Watch volunteers and what we’re doing,” Rebecca said. “I mean, it’s not like we’re here collecting beer money,” she laughs.

“We really enjoy Park Watch,” Sharon says.  It’s absolutely the perfect volunteer job because I get to meet new people, I get to socialize, I set my own hours, and I know I’m helping preserve the park for future generations.”

“I feel good knowing we’re helping the law enforcement rangers,” Rebecca adds.  “They really appreciate the help volunteers provide and I feel good knowing I can be of service.  And, like Sharon said, it really is the perfect volunteer opportunity.  Plus, Sharon and I love doing this together.”

“We try to get here for Park Watch every week,” Sharon adds.  “We just love it.”

At this time, the Park Watch program is full. When a new recruiting class is announced, that information will be posted at


Article by Debbie Dortch, a public affairs specialist with Naval Supply Systems Command,  on special assignment to Gettysburg National Military Park.  She has more than 20 years’ experience in public affairs and publishing, including working at National Park Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C.



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154th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg – Schedule of Events

ela_sunrisesort-21The 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 154th 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
Saturday, July 1 – Monday, 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
Saturday, July 1 – Monday, July 3

During the 154th 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.
Hands on History Play a 19th century parlor game, learn what soldiers did in their spare time, and dress up like kids who lived in the 1860’s! All this and more at our special Hands on History station! July 1-3, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Mystery History Guest (30 minutes) Meet a special visitor from the past as they share their memories of the Battle of Gettysburg! July 1-2, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 a.m

Join the Army! (30 minutes) 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, and held outside of the Museum and Visitor Center. July 1-2: 11:00 a.m, 12:00 a.m.

Story Time! (30 minutes) Join a Park Educator as they read aloud from a picture book, or parts of a chapter book, followed by an indoor game, activity, or visitor from the past… and then instructions for an outdoor adventure with your family!     1:00 p.m. July 1: B is For Battle Cry, July 2: The Last Brother, July 3: I am Abraham Lincoln
Family History Hikes
Park Educators Barbara Sanders and John Hoptak will lead these special hour long programs just for children and their families. Follow in the footsteps of key units and leaders during fighting at Gettysburg and discover the amazing stories of real people who took part in the Battle of Gettysburg.

July 1, 2:00 p.m.
Sacrifice and the 16th Maine

On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, the 275 soldiers of the 16th Maine were told to hold their position “at all costs.” The regiment knew it was to be sacrificed in order to buy some critical time. Discover the sacrifice of the 16th Maine and assume the identity of one of its soldiers.

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

July 2, 2:00 p.m.
Courage and the 9th Massachusetts Battery

How did the soldiers of the 9th Massachusetts respond and act during their very first battle? With remarkable courage! Come learn the story of these brave artillerists and retrace their route while they battled valiantly against hundreds of hard-charging, veteran soldiers from South Carolina and Mississippi.

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 10, the Peach Orchard. Park along Sickles Avenue. Do Not Park along the Wheatfield Road.

July 3, 2:00 p.m.
Pickett’s Charge!

It is, perhaps, the most famous attack in American Military History! On the afternoon of July 3, 1863, more than 12,000 Confederate Soldiers from Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee advance bravely across a mile of open ground and toward the Union position on Cemetery Ridge, in an attack Robert E. Lee believed would crush the Union army. March in the footsteps of these brave soldiers and learn why this attack has become so famous!

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 4, the North Carolina Memorial. Park along West Confederate Avenue.
Spangler farm 2015

Special Programs – Saturday, 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.
Robert E. Lee:  The General and his Decisions

With the hopes of a nation riding upon his shoulders, Lee crossed the Potomac for a date with a destiny!  Join Park Ranger Matt Atkinson as he traces Lee’s decisions and movements from June 25 until the sun sets on the July 1 battlefield.  Topics include Lee’s angst over the absence of Jeb Stuart, Richard Ewell the controversy over whether or not to attack Cemetery Hill and the condition of Lee’s army to continue the offensive.

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 1, McPherson Ridge.  Park on Reynolds Avenue.

 2:30 p.m.
McPherson’s Ridge to Seminary Ridge: Fighting, Folklore and Photos

The famous fight on July 1, 1863, in McPherson’s woods has long garnered the attention of Civil War enthusiasts, but that is only part of the story. Join Licensed Battlefield Guides Garry Adelman and Tim Smith for a lively discussion of not only the colorful characters and key units involved in the fight, but also the numerous myths and legends that have formed around the events and the photographic coverage of the sites as this critical battleground became the hallowed ground we know today. Reynolds Woods, the path of John Burns—the Hero of Gettysburg—and a special visit to the newly restored Lee’s Headquarters will be among the highlights. The walk will involve roughly one mile of walking over rolling terrain.

Meet at Auto Your Stop 1.  Park on South Reynolds Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
“These Honored Dead:” A Memorial Walk

More than 3,100 United States soldiers, wearing the Union blue, gave their lives during the three-day struggle at Gettysburg. Their deaths, as Abraham Lincoln eulogized in his immortal Gettysburg Address, helped to ensure a “new birth of freedom,” that this “nation might live,” and that its government—of, by, and for the people—“shall not perish from the earth.” Join National Park Service Rangers John Hoptak, Christopher Gwinn, Caitlin Brown and Jarrad Fuoss for this special evening walk and discover the stories of several of those men who offered up their lives upon these fields 154 years ago. Learn about who they were, why they served, and who they left behind.

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 12, the Pennsylvania Memorial.  Park on Sedgwick and Hancock 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, 154 years ago.

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.      The Devil’s to Pay! Buford’s Cavalry Begins the Battle – Zach Siggins
Meet at the West End Guide Station. Park on Stone Avenue.

10:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.  Battle for the Railroad Cut – John Nicholas     
Meet at the General Wadsworth Monument on Reynolds Avenue. Park along N. Reynolds Avenue.

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.    With the Bucktails on McPherson Ridge – Daniel Vermilya
Meet at the West End Guide Station. Park on Stone Avenue

3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.    Gordon’s Brigade Attacks Barlow’s Knoll – Chuck Teague      
Meet at Barlow’s Knoll, East Howard Avenue. Park along East Howard Avenue.

5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.    Caught in the Crossfire: The Civilian Experience on July 1st   – Emma Murphy
Meet at the Howard Equestrian Monument, 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 154 years ago. Held at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

“General Lee Decides to Fight It Out: His Thoughts, Plans, and Actions Between the End of Combat on July 1 and His Attacks on July 2.”

The Confederate army tumbled unexpectedly into heavy fighting on July 1, and it wasn’t until late that day that Lee himself assumed direct command of the field.  The successes then prompted Lee to continue the offensive in a more intentional and calculated way the next day. Ranger Chuck Teague will venture into the head of Marse Robert as he strives for ultimate victory at Gettysburg.


Special Programs – Sunday, July 2

62nd Pennsylvania Flag Re-dedication
10:00 a.m., Auto Tour Stop 9, The Wheatfield
Join representatives from the Borough of Hollidaysburg, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for a re-dedication ceremony of the recently rediscovered flag of Company M, 62nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Raised in Blair County in July 1861, Company M served in many of the eastern campaigns to include Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. The flag is being returned to the Wheatfield on the 154th Anniversary of the Battle where the 62nd Regiment fought at Gettysburg on July 2nd 1863.

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.
“…gallantly met and handsomely replied…” – The Floridians Attack

As the Confederate assault on the Union left developed, more and more units were needed to carry home the attack. With afternoon daylight hours waning and the assault moving further northward toward Cemetery Ridge, the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Florida of Col. David Lang’s brigade was sent into the fray. The Floridians faced “grape, canister, and musketry” as they swept towards Federal positions. Follow in the footsteps of the Florida Brigade on July 2, 1863 with Ranger Dan Welch.

Meet at the Florida Monument, West Confederate Avenue. Park on West Confederate Avenue.

 2:30 p.m.
We Drop a Comrade’s Tear: Col. Edward L. Bailey and the 2nd New Hampshire in the Peach Orchard

Join Ranger Karlton Smith and explore the story of the 2nd New Hampshire, one of the oldest regiments in the Army of the Potomac with one of the youngest regimental commanders, into the swirling action at the Peach Orchard on the afternoon of July 2. Learn how Col. Bailey extricates his regiment from the chaos of a fighting withdrawal.

Meet at the Trostle Barn on United States Avenue. Park along United States Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
“The Boys Fought Like Demons” – The Stand of the 105th Pennsylvania

Many Union and Confederate regiments found themselves embroiled in crisis south of Gettysburg on the evening of July 2. The 105th Pennsylvania, also known as the “Wildcat Regiment”, was certainly one of them. Join Licensed Battlefield Guide Britt Isenberg and discover the role the men of the Wildcat Regiment played in the fighting along the Emmitsburg Road on July 2 at Gettysburg… and, what it all means.

Meet at the Sickles’ Wound Monument at the Trostle Barn.  Park along United States 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 154 years ago.


8:30 a.m. – 9:15 p.m.                 Lee and Meade Plan for Battle  – Angie Atkinson         
Meet at the North Carolina Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 4. Park on West Confederate Avenue.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.                Sickles Occupies the Peach Orchard    –  Daniel Vermilya
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

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

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.                Fight for the Triangular Field   –  John Nicholas
Meet at Smith’s Battery, Devil’s Den. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.                The Boys who Came Home to FightCo. K, 1st PA Reserves  – Caitlin Brown  
Meet at Ayres Avenue, The Wheatfield. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.                Last Stand at the Trostle Farm  – Philip Brown
Meet at the Trostle Barn. Park on United States Avenue.

7:20 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.                 Redemption of the Harpers Ferry Cowards – Greg Hillebrand   
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 12, The Pennsylvania Memorial. Park along Hancock Avenue.
8:15 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.                Night Fighting on Culp’s Hill – Brian Henry
Meet at the Culp’s Hill Tower, Slocum Avenue, Culp’s 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 154 years ago. Held at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Colonels in War, Governors in Peace: Joshua Chamberlain and William Oates after Gettysburg

The fight between the 20th Maine and the 15th Alabama on Little Round Top is among the most famous incidents of the Battle of Gettysburg, if not the American Civil War. What is less well known is what each regiment’s leader—Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and William Calvin Oates—did following the end of the conflict. Both men went on to become governor of his respective state, and both played a large role in the politics of Reconstruction and in shaping the memory of the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. Join Ranger Daniel Vermilya and discover the post-war political careers of these two fascinating individuals.


Special Programs – Monday, 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.
“The Lesson of a Famous Battlefield” – The Battle of Gettysburg and the Great Reunion of 1913

From battlefield to national military park, Gettysburg was slowly transformed from a site of indescribable violence to a memorial dedicated to those two armies that fought the most costly battle of the American Civil War. Fifty years after the armies marched away, many of those who had faced death at Gettysburg returned- older and perhaps wiser, bearing smiles for the press photographers while others, less inclined to “the niceties of the gathering” held back tears. The old men gazed at the field of Pickett’s Charge, just as we do today, and pondered the meaning of those three bloody days in July 1863 and, as old soldiers often do, remembered  this battle, their part in it, and asked whether its significance and the lessons they learned at Gettysburg would be lost as the years passed.  Join NPS historian John Heiser as we retrace the story of the battle, Pickett’s Charge, and the Great Reunion of 1913 when veterans of the Civil War made Gettysburg a place of national reunification.

Meet at Zieglers Grove, National Cemetery Parking Lot.  Park along North Hancock Avenue and at the National Cemetery Parking Lot. 

2:30 p.m.
Pickett’s Charge & African American History

Since the end of the American Civil War 152 years ago, endless debates have asked whether slavery alone caused the conflict, or were there additional causes – such as the rise of industrialism, modernism, capitalism and nationalism, and the demands each one placed on the United States. Additional causes can be argued, and have been argued, but one fact remains, the greatest single outcome of the Civil War was freedom to 4 million slaves. Whether it is conceded the war begin only over slavery, or a combination of factors, the final outcome was a New Birth of Freedom for African Americans. It is in this spirit that we look at Pickett’s Charge through the eyes of African American history. We will walk the sacred route that Pickett, Pettigrew and Trimble’s men followed on July 3, 1863, not as judges, but as non-partisans who simply want to find traces of African American history woven into the fabric of the pivotal hour in American History, where a new American identity was born. Join Ranger Troy Harman for this 1 mile, 2 hour walk.

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

6:00 p.m.
“Fury On The Bliss Farm”

Learn about the forgotten struggle for the William Bliss farm. Located in between the lines, on July 2 & 3, 1863, the incongruously named farm was a no-man’s land that changed hands some ten times – possibly more than any other ground at Gettysburg. Join Licensed Battlefield Guide John Archer and discover how this struggle impacted Lee’s plan for victory, the lives of those who fought there, and the Bliss family.

Meet at the Abraham Brian House on Hancock Ave. Park on Hancock Ave. and at the National Cemetery Parking Lot.

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.

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.                 Morning Attack at Spangler Meadow – 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  – Greg Hillebrand
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.             Horses and Sabers: East Cavalry Field – Tom Holbrook Meet at the Ranger Program Sign on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.
Park on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.

1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.                The Cannonade – Jarrad Fuoss
Meet at the Virginia Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 5. Park on West Confederate Avenue

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.                “A Desperate Thing to Attempt:” Pickett’s Charge Hike – Greg Hillebrand
Meet at the Virginia Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 5. Park on West Confederate Avenue

3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.                Fight for the Angle –  Emma Murphy                                        Meet at the High Water Mark, Auto Tour Stop 15. Park on Hancock Avenue.

6:00 p.m.  – 6:30 p.m.               Culp’s Hill – The Face of Battle – Philip Brown
Meet at Culp’s Hill Tower, Culp’s Hill.  Park on Slocum Avenue.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the anniversary of the battle Park Rangers will host hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the events of 154 years ago. Held at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

The Stories Behind the Numbers
Fifty thousand people became casualties during the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg. But what does the word “casualty” mean? Who were the people that were forever affected by the battle? Join Park Ranger Caitlin Brown as she explores the personal accounts of soldiers and civilians who were forced to deal with the horrific aftermath of Gettysburg and how these individuals are much more than mere statistics.

Schedule Subject to Change.
For more information visit or call (717) 334-1124

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Operational Update – Spring 2017

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Improving Water Quality on the Gettysburg Battlefield

Trail near Patterson pasture

A runner along the Taneytown Road Trail with the Patterson pasture in the background.

“We all live downstream.” You have probably heard this before and it is very true. The quality of the water we drink, the waters we swim in on a hot summer day and the waters we fish in is determined by our upstream neighbors. During the Civil War more soldiers died of diseases than as a direct result of battle action. Many of those diseases were water-borne such as dysentery, cholera and hepatitis. The waterways that flowed through the Gettysburg battlefield in 1863 still flow through it today. The soldiers drank from Rock Creek, Plum Run, Willoughby Run and other waterways and springs. Would you drink directly from these waters?

PattersonPastureBlogMapToday’s modern day threats to clean water are numerous. Gettysburg and surrounding Adams County are located within the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay, a bay famous as a nursery for things that we humans love to eat such as crabs, oysters and tasty fish. The bay


Biologist Dafna Reiner at one of the new stone crossings over Patterson Branch.

has also become infamous for “dead zones” like the one a few years ago that caused a massive fish kill of over a quarter of a million fish. These dead zones are caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus. The most common source of this over nitrification is agricultural runoff from fertilizers and animal waste. The National Park Service is entrusted with the responsibility of being a good steward of the Gettysburg battlefield and along with that comes the responsibility of taking care of the waters that flow through it, waters that eventually drain downstream into the Chesapeake Bay.

Patterson Pasture

Looking west from the Patterson pasture, with the Patterson house in the background.  Taneytown Road is just beyond the house.

In 2016 Gettysburg National Military Park partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Adams County Conservation District to protect the waters that flow through one of the park’s active pastures. The Patterson Pasture is home to 15 horses for seven months during the growing season. Visitors can see this pasture as they walk the paved trail along Taneytown road, close to where it turns to cross Taneytown Rd into Pleasonton Ave. A grant to the permit holder who leases this pasture from the park funded the installation of a fence and two stone crossings. The fence excludes the horses from a

Patterson House 2017

The Patterson house with its surrounding pasture. This photo was taken from the field just across Taneytown Road.

forested corridor along a murmuring waterway that runs through the pasture. Excluding horses from this corridor eliminates soil erosion into the stream and deposition of animal waste into and close to the waterway. The two stone crossings give the horses access to both sides of the pasture and to drinking water. Less nitrogen input from animal waste and less erosion mean cleaner waters inside the park, cleaner waters for the park’s neighbors downstream and for the fish and wildlife who call the Chesapeake Bay home.

Dafna Reiner, Biologist, Gettysburg National Military Park, March 23, 2017

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“The enemy were on the gun and limber…” Gunner John Norwood’s narrow escape at Gettysburg.

One of most harrowing stories of the battle of Gettysburg is the experience of the 9th Massachusetts Battery. Told again and again through publications and by the monuments that mark the battery’s position at the park, it’s near destruction adjacent to the Abraham Trostle farm buildings on July 2, 1863, was documented not only in reports by the survivors but also by Alexander Gardner’s camera- the disturbing photograph of bloated carcasses of artillery horses splayed over the site of the battery’s last stand that horrid afternoon.

Trostle Farm 1863

The Abraham Trostle Farm house photographed by Alexander Gardner soon after the battle, the scene where the 9th Massachusetts Battery made its final stand on July 2, 1863. (LOC)

After retiring by prolong from their first position on the Wheatfield Road, the battery halted to limber their guns in the small orchard south of the Trostle farm buildings. But in the mad dash through the gate in the stone wall near the house, the first gun overturned, completely blocking the only way out. Though an additional piece was able to drive over the wall itself to escape, the remaining four were trapped. Immediately the gunners unlimbered “into battery” and the fight for their very lives began as the 21st Mississippi Infantry swept upon them like a lightning bolt.

It was unrestrained violence. Blasts of canister from the guns were answered by a storm of rifle fire that laced man and animal alike. Harnessed to their limbers, the horses fell in heaps, their groans of alarm mixed with the hellish roar of guns and small arms, shouting gunners and drivers, and the high pitched rebel yell. Captain John Bigelow, commanding the doomed battery, was shot from his horse and looked up to see gray-clad Mississippians standing on the limbers, shooting point blank into his trapped gunners and drivers, all scrambling to escape the trap in this bloody corner of Trostle’s orchard.

Veteran John Norwood

(Lawrence Biographical Register)

In the tumult of battle, gunner John K. Norwood was serving his piece when every gunner around him was shot down. Born in Maine, the twenty four year-old Norwood had moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts to start a new life and was a clerk in a dry goods business when he volunteered for service in 1862. He and several others from Lawrence were assigned to the 9th Battery, in which he proved efficient enough to be a gunner. The somewhat harsh and difficult training he and his mates had received under Captain John Bigelow the previous winter had served him well in his first major battle but nothing could have prepared him for this- a tide of howling Confederates bent on destroying him and those who stood by the guns and limbers.

Orders were shouted to get out as quickly as possible and as he and a driver were desperately trying to limber the number five gun, Norwood, “was shot through the lungs,” the bullet crashing through his chest and lodging near his spine. “No one else there and the remaining horses shot(,) the enemy were on the gun and limber, and a color bearer mounted the limber and waved his flag.” Norwood collapsed by the trail of gun, the melee continuing around him as he crawled under the piece to take advantage of what little shelter it offered. Fortunately, Private Ralph Blaidsell, unharmed at the moment, saw his comrade fall and crawled to Norwood as the Confederates passed through the wreckage in pursuit of retreating Federals. Blaidsell instructed Norwood to lay still, he would follow the Confederate line to fetch water for his wounded comrade. The handful of Confederates milling about let Blaidsell pass to bring water back to Norwood and during a brief lull in the fighting, assisted the wounded soldier, “fifty yards to the shelter of a large tree and bowlder(sic) under it.” In the final minutes of the fighting at dusk, retreating Confederates took shelter on the other side of the boulder and fired over it at pursuing Federal troops who recaptured the battery’s abandoned guns. [i]

Norwood's Rock- Holland sketch

Holland’s sketch of the severely wounded Pvt. Norwood behind the boulder in Trostle’s field. (S. McClintock Collection)

Unable to be taken off the field that night, the weak and exhausted Norwood stayed behind the shelter of the boulder “where he lay and kept the wound wet all night” with the precious water Blaidsell had brought him. Early the next morning and with the assistance of a Confederate skirmisher, Norwood stumbled into the Trostle house to take shelter along with a handful of other wounded men. It was not until that evening could the severely injured soldiers be reached and taken to a farm on the Baltimore Pike.[i]

Norwood survived his terrible wound but never returned to the battery or the army. Discharged for disability on February 1, 1864, he went home to Lawrence with the Confederate bullet that Union surgeons could not extract without killing him still lodged in his chest. It would be another three years before he was strong enough to try his hand at business again. In 1867, Mr. Norwood opened an insurance company in Lawrence, the same year his son Kendall was born followed by a daughter ten years later. The prosperous businessman was elected president of civic organizations, active in the Grand Army of the Republic as a member in good standing of GAR Post 39 in Lawrence, and soon after elected president of the 9th Massachusetts Battery Association.

In the spring of 1883, for the first time since the battle, John Norwood stood again on the spot where his battery met their bloody test and where he barely survived the gunshot wound through his lungs. As part of an excursion to mark the locations for Massachusetts monuments at Gettysburg, it was his responsibility to agree on the site where the battery’s monument should stand. His visit had to be somewhat of a shock for the battlefield had changed over time and a disagreement ensued with John Bachelder, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association’s historian, on where the monument should go. Not satisfied with Colonel Bachelder’s choice, he returned the following year with a committee composed of former members of the battery. Among them was veteran Richard Holland of North Bridgewater (Brockton, MA), an Irish-born immigrant who had settled in Massachusetts and answered the same call for volunteers in 1862 as did Norwood. It was a congenial relationship that began during their first weeks in service with the 9th Massachusetts Battery.

Holland was one three artists who served with the battery; Charles Reed and Isaac Eaton being the other two, both recognized in the post war period for their soldier art while Holland enjoyed drawing and painting landscapes. As the men walked the field where their old battery had fought, the stories of each man’s experiences were passed and as they stood near the corner of the fateful field near Trostle’s house, Norwood related his experience in taking shelter behind the large boulder under the tree and how he survived the night, finishing his description of the farm on the Baltimore Pike where he was taken to for medical care.

Norwood- Trostle House

Holland’s second sketch of Norwood behind his boulder near the Trostle House. (S. McClintock Collection)

Returning to Massachusetts, the committee proposed not just one monument but three to mark where the battery had so valiantly served on July 2 and 3 on the Gettysburg battlefield. The additions were reviewed and approved by the state committee.  Dedicated on October 19, 1885, the monument to the 9th Massachusetts Battery stands on the Wheatfield Road with second position markers in Ziegler’s Grove and at the Trostle Farm next to the site of the gateway that foiled the battery’s escape from Barksdale’s Mississippians on July 2.

After a remarkable and successful life, Mr. Norwood passed away in 1914 at the age of 77 years and was buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence, the southern bullet that almost killed him at Gettysburg still lodged in his chest. Fortunately the remarkable story of his night on the field of battle and the boulder that sheltered him was preserved in the history of the battery written by Levi Baker, published in 1888.

Norwood's boulder, Trotle Farm

The boulder that sheltered the wounded Norwood, March 2017 (Gettysburg NMP)

Something about his comrade’s story must have inspired Holland who compiled a sketchbook of Gettysburg subjects soon after their visit to the field in 1883 that included water color illustrations of John Norwood and his protector- the large granite boulder and tall tree adjacent to Trostles’ orchard. The tree that shaded the injured soldier has long been gone from this site and though time and weather have played hard on this particular boulder, which fits perfectly in the field among other rocks and rounded blocks of granite that jut through the soil, it is different because it has a personal story. And now, a specific identity.

Trostle Farm

Norwood’s boulder near the Trostle House, March 2017 (Gettysburg NMP)

Like so many of the silent witnesses of the battlefield, it takes time and sometimes a good dose of luck to uncover that unique story and be able to share it. Mr. Holland and Mr. Norwood would not have it any other way.

-John Heiser
Gettysburg National Military Park

Author’s note: Richard Holland’s work fell into obscurity after his death in Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1905 though several paintings he did for the Brockton City Hall are still on exhibition there today.  We sincerely thank Mrs. Selma McClintock for the loan of his sketches to illustrate our story.

[i] Levi W. Baker, History of the Ninth Massachusetts Battery (Framingham, MA: Lakeview Press, 1888), p.75.

[i] Ibid., p.75

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Announcing the Great Task Youth Leadership Experience!

Attention Youth, Youth Leaders and Educators!

Do want to make a difference in your community,  your school and in the lives of others?

Gettysburg can help.


The Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation are very excited to announce a brand new youth leadership and service program entitled the Great Task Youth Leadership Experience, which is designed to help inspire civic engagement through the study of history. Borrowing the phrase made famous by President Abraham Lincoln in his immortal Gettysburg Address, the Gettysburg Great Task Youth Leadership Experience is an intensive two-day program geared specifically toward high school-aged students and their teachers who wish to make a positive impact in their schools, their communities, and in the lives of others. Participants of the Great Task Youth Leadership Experience will learn about the actions, the decision, and, most importantly, the leadership demonstrated by ordinary individuals confronted with the extraordinary challenges presented by the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. By examining these actions and then recreating them, participating students will be able to then identify and develop their own leadership skills and be inspired by the lessons they learn while on the battlefield to make a positive difference in their own lives.

Working closely with National Park Service Rangers and Educators, participants will learn how soldiers, doctors, and ordinary civilians rose to the occasion and demonstrated great leadership when confronted with the crises experienced during the Battle of Gettysburg—and learn how examples from the past can still be applied to the challenges of today.


But the Great Task is much, much more than just a learning experience; indeed, we want to see how the leadership lessons learned here can make a difference in your schools or communities. We want to see how  participating students complete their “Great Task.

To that end, student groups or teachers who wish to participate must first identify what their “Great Task” will be. Perhaps it will be to clean up and maintain a community playground or park, or maybe to establish an anti-bullying program in school. Perhaps a group will wish to facilitate volunteer programs in their communities, or set up a special tutoring center for younger children at their school Truly there is no end to all the Great Tasks that can be identified and accomplished.

After having decided upon a Great Task, groups can then apply to attend one of our Great Task Youth Leadership Experience weekends, which will be offered every weekend from mid-July to early October. Accommodation grants and financial assistance is available for qualifying groups. For additional information and to apply, please visit

Please be aware that this is an intensive experience and we expect to see results! After attending one of our Great Task Youth Leadership Experiences students will report back to us on how they are applying the lessons they learned at Gettysburg in meeting their goals and in rising to their own occasion to achieve their Great Task.  In turn, their efforts and accomplishments will then be recognized on the “Great Task” wall inside the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and their efforts will also be shared on the Park’s social media pages.  In addition, each participating group will be nominated for the “Great Task” Student Leadership Award. This new annual award will be presented to leaders of the best community or school leadership projects of the year. Award winners will receive $500 in grants to support their Great Task projects.

For more information, including testimonials of previous participants, please watch the video below and be sure to visit here.

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The Curious Story of a Long Lost Valentine’s Day Poem

This Valentine’s Day poem comes from our archive collection…


Well! Thou art happy, and I feel

That I should thus be happy too;

For still my heart regard thy weal

Warmly as it was wont to do.

Thy sway’s blest and twill impart

Some pangs to view her happier lot

but let them pass, oh! how my heart

Would hate her if she loved thee not!

Away! Away! my fondest dream,

Remembrance never must awake:

Oh! Where is Lethe’s fabled stream?

My foolish heart, be still or break.

Peace to that heart, tho’ another’s it be

and bloom to that cheek tho’ it bloom not for me

Feb 14th                             Valentine



The first half of the Valentine’s Day poem.


Of the thousands of Civil War era documents in our collection, this one is somewhat peculiar. It’s simply a piece of paper with a rather curious Valentine’s Day poem written on it and an envelope that is addressed to Charles Capen, Esq. of Dedham, Mass., it’s dated Feb. 15, and it was mailed in Dedham, Mass. No other pertinent information exists.



The second half of the Valentine’s Day poem.


This begs the question, why do we have this rather non-descript poem in our archives collection when there are no obvious connections to the Battle of Gettysburg or the Civil War? There isn’t even a year associated with this document. This was a question that needed to be answered, so we started digging. It’s what we do. Sure enough, just like peeling back the many layers of an onion, this simple document began to reveal a very robust story.



The Valentine’s Day poem was mailed in this envelope.


As it turns out, this document is one of many that the park acquired as part of the vast Rosensteel Collection. The Rosensteel family began collecting artifacts from the Gettysburg battlefield as soon as the guns fell silent. By the 1880s they, like other local families, established a private artifact and souvenir stand to cater to the growing number of tourists coming to see the battlefield. By the 1920s, the family had constructed a home on Taneytown Road across from the gates of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and opened a fully operational museum and gift shop in it. The Rosensteels expanded this building over the years to house a growing collection of historical artifacts. In 1972 the National Park Service negotiated to acquire the museum and the entire Rosensteel Collection housed therein. This building would serve as the park visitor center until 2008 when the current visitor center opened.

Over the years, the Rosensteel family collected items that were mainly associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War. However, not all items in their collection fit neatly within this rather narrow focus. There were many other items included in their collection that were acquired simply because they were collectible. Some of these items included American furniture, Native American artifacts, Revolutionary era documents, and this Valentine’s Day poem.


View of the Rosensteel National Museum on Taneytown Road; circa 1939-1945.

The next phase of our research was to find out who was Charles Capen and was he a Civil War veteran. Charles Capen was born in Boston, MA on April 5, 1823. He graduated from Harvard in 1844, became a school teacher, and later principal, in Dedham, MA, a suburb of Boston. He would spend his life dedicated to education, serving as teacher, vice principal, and principal of various schools in the Boston, MA area, including forty-seven years at the Public Latin School of Boston from 1852-1899. He married his wife Lucy Richmond Seaver on April 26, 1848.

He was 38 years old when the Civil War broke out and he registered for the draft in 1863 but was never called to serve. Although we don’t know why he was never called to serve, we can make a few educated guesses. He may have been able to afford a substitute, given his profession and his high standing in local circles, but his age may have also played a role in not getting called to serve. He would have been 40 years old at the time of the draft and during the Battle of Gettysburg.

The final questions dealt with why this Valentine’s Day poem was addressed to him on February 15 and not prior to February 14, and why did the author not sign the poem or provide a return address on the envelope? These answers are not quite as simple or definitive and require delving into the words and meaning of the poem.


A Valentine’s Day illustration from Harper’s Weekly in 1864.

Take another moment to re-read the poem. Knowing what you now know about Charles Capen, his profession, and his leadership over a student population for many decades, we are led to a certain conclusion about the author of this poem. We know the poem is from an unidentified admirer, it was mailed from the same town as where Charles Capen lived, and it’s dated the day after Valentine’s Day. Based on some of the words and phrases used in its’ construction, we hypothesize that this poem was written by a love-struck student, somewhat distraught over the married bliss of her Mister Charles Capen.

With the background of the story in place, let’s take a closer look at the work itself and its’ general construction, to uncover a few of the hints that led to this hypothesis.

The poem itself is nearly in the form of an English, or Shakespearean, sonnet, consisting of three quatrains of four verses, and closing with a rhyming couplet. However, a traditional English sonnet strives for 10-syllable lines, as it places emphases on particular ones. These are a bit harder to construct than the (mostly) 8-syllable lines used by our poet, who is not shy in revealing her feelings from the first word –

NOTE: The following are evidences of a student crafted poem with corrections/suggestions in parentheses. 

Well! Thou art happy, and I feel

(Well! – Very accusatory; you can almost feel the pointing finger)

That I should thus be happy too;

Perhaps this is an admission that Charles Capen is happily married and that his admirer should also be happy as well or happy for him.

Thy sway’s blest and twill impart

(“Thy sway’s” refers to “Your influence is” and “twill” refers to “will”)

Some pangs to view her happier lot

(Some pangs viewing her “bless′ed” lot)

but let them pass, oh! how my heart

(But, let them pass; Oh! How my heart)

Would hate her if she loved thee not!

The admirer has seen Charles Capen and his wife Lucy together and their happiness towards one another is obvious. There is even an admission of how the admirer “Would hate her” if Lucy did not love Charles.

Away! Away! my fondest dream,

Remembrance never must awake:

Rough syllable alignment here, should read (“ne’er must awake:”). Is this an attempt by the admirer to squelch her feelings towards Charles Capen?

Oh! Where is Lethe’s fabled stream?

(Repetition of “Oh!,” should use  “Ah!” instead)

My foolish heart, be still or break.

According to Greek mythology “Lethe’s fabled stream” refers to a river in Hades that caused forgetfulness to those who drank its waters. Is the admirer attempting to wish away or forget her affection toward Charles? The origin of the word Lethe is Greek, but it was a staple of Latin as well. Remember Charles Capen spent much of his professional life teaching and working at the Public Latin School of Boston.

In Shakespearean sonnets, the closing couplet is the portion where the author attempts to conclude all the meaning into one final conclusion.  Here, however, the double meaning of the message is evident, perhaps in more than one way. To the author, the sad tragedy of unrequited love is mixed with the reluctant acknowledgement by the admirer that her love for Charles will never happen and that his love and affection clearly lies only with his wife Lucy.

Peace to that heart, tho’ another’s it be

and bloom to that cheek tho’ it bloom not for me

(“and” should be “And”, but she was understandably emotional)

For many, Valentine’s Day is time to spend with the love of your life, your best friend, your soul mate. For others however, Valentine’s Day can be a day of longing and of sadness for those who have passed or for those who have given their heart to another. This poem reminds us that not all battles are fought on the battlefield. Many battles of the heart are won or lost on Valentine’s Day.



Jason Martz – Visual Information Specialist

Bert Barnett – Park Ranger and Staff Poet

Greg Goodell – Museum Curator

Ela Thompson – Intern

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Standing Where They Stood – Looking Through Windows in Time

The art of photography dates back nearly 200 years when men like Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre (of Daguerreotype fame) were instrumental in establishing the art form in the 1820s and 1830s. In the early days of photography it would take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to properly capture the moment. As technology and methods evolved, photographers became more and more adept at their craft. The onset of the Civil War pushed photographers like Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’Sullivan, and James Gibson to travel with the clashing armies in order to visually capture and chronical the war in ways that had never been experienced before. They built mobile dark rooms on wagons and were able to quickly (for the day) process their pictures and deliver them to their studios and to eager newspapers.

A New York Times article in October 1862 illustrates the impression these images left upon the American populace:

“Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along our streets, he has done something very like it…”

Technology has continued unabated over the centuries and decades since but, let’s face it, we live in a selfie world now. Most choose not to carry bulky cameras, instead choosing the slim, do-it-all, smart phone in order to capture all of life’s important moments. These moments are then often uploaded to an ever growing variety of social media platforms in order to check-in and tag each other to prove that we were there.

Yet, even with all our technological advances with cameras, smartphones, and editing software, we are still drawn back to those amazingly detailed original photographs taken between 1861 and 1865 – specifically those few dozen pictures that were taken of battle ravaged Gettysburg.

For many, these photographs conjure feelings of awe and amazement along with sadness and despair. These feelings are often magnified when people realize they can stand on the same ground – and see the same things – that Gardner, O’Sullivan, and Gibson did when they took their unforgettable images in July 1863. It is with these unforgettable photographs in mind, and a nod to the men whose timeless images evoke such strong emotions, that we bring you this post. This is our attempt to look back through the windows of time.


The Trostle House.

Imagine standing in the yard of the Trostle Farm just a few days after the battle. To your left stands their brick bank barn, recently damaged by a Confederate shell, and near where Union Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles suffered a severe leg injury that would require amputation. To your right is the Trostle house where numerous dead horses still lie in the hot July sun. The stench of their rotting flesh is unbearable. These horses are all that is left of the courageous stand made by the 9th Massachusetts (Bigelow’s) Battery on July 2. In an attempt to stave off the advancing forces from Kershaw and Barksdale’s Confederate brigades, the men of Bigelow’s Battery fought desperately before they were overrun and forced to retreat to Cemetery Ridge. Their sacrifice provided valuable time for Union reinforcements to form along Cemetery Ridge and helped thwart the Confederate attack in this area.


Meade’s Headquarters along the Taneytown Road.

Now, imagine standing astride the Taneytown Road near the small house where Union Maj. Gen. George G. Meade made his headquarters during the battle. Late in the evening of July 2, Meade held a council of war to decide if the Union army should stay and hold their hard-fought high ground or abandon their position. The council of war decided to stay. Late in the afternoon of July 3, Confederate batteries concentrated their missiles on the center of Cemetery Ridge in an attempt to soften up the Union position. Unbeknownst to the Confederate artillerymen, their rounds overshot their intended targets and began to land around Meade’s headquarters causing substantial damage. Although the commanding general moved to a safer location, evidence of the bombardment is everywhere. The house and surrounding fences are all damaged and again, dead horses lay in various stages of rigormortis in the center of the Taneytown Road.

In the end, these photographers did bring “…bodies and laid them in our door-yards and along our streets…” as the New York Times article described.


These pictures of the Gettysburg battlefield are not the only local pictures that can bring a sense of awe and amazement to interested visitors. Taken nearly a century later, at what is now Eisenhower National Historic Site, Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower were photographed thousands of times at their home and farm along the south-western corner of the battlefield. They relaxed at home, worked on the farm, cared for their livestock, entertained family and friends, and met with guests, politicians, and diplomats from around the globe. These pictures were taken in and around the only home that the President and First Lady ever owned together.


Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower spending time with their grandchildren in 1956.

September 16, 1956 – During a press photo-op, Ike and Mamie posed with their grandchildren in their Crosley Runabout near the putting green installed by the PGA (Professional Golfers Association).


Dwight D. Eisenhower is seen with the King and Queen of Nepal in 1967.

November 1967 – Dwight D. Eisenhower is seen exiting the front door of his home with the King and Queen of Nepal during their visit to the farm.

These four pictures are but a sampling that we have created for this picture-in-picture concept for both Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. We will be releasing more of these pictures over the course of the next several weeks on our social media platforms. We will then make all of these pictures available on our websites as well.

Our websites and social media platforms can be found at the links below:

Gettysburg National Military Park





Eisenhower National Historic Site




Search #ThenAndNow to follow along via social media.


Jason Martz – Visual Information Specialist

Gettysburg National Military Park

I would like to thank Ali Wright and Grace Crawford, Visual Information Specialist Interns, for their fantastic picture-in-picture work.

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