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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The 2017 Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar

A Contrast in Commanders: Meade, Lee, and Their Commands at Gettysburg


May 12-14, 2017

Presented by The National Park Service, Gettysburg National Military Park,
The Gettysburg Foundation, and the Harrisburg Area Community College
No two men could have been more different from each other. General Robert E. Lee, the gentleman general in command of the highly successful Army of Northern Virginia marched his army across the Potomac to that fateful destiny at Gettysburg. General George Gordon Meade, whose irascible temper and impatience with subordinates, directed his Army of the Potomac northward to intercept Lee and bring the southern army to battle, one that could decide whether the Union lived or died as a broken dream. Army commanders alone do not win a battle by giving orders but depend upon those who lead troops under them, from the highest general down to the most recently promoted colonel. At Gettysburg, officers on both sides excelled while others failed their commanders. The 2017 Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar will examine the leaders of both armies and their subordinates who made crucial decisions in judgment, leadership and ability, and those who failed their commanding officers with the consequences of their actions.

Seminar speakers will include park interpretive rangers, Dr. Jennifer Murray, University of Virginia-Wise Campus, Dr. Timothy Orr, Old Dominion University, and Mr. Garry Adelman, Civil War Trust and Licensed Battlefield Guide.

Cost: $90 per person.

How to Register

Preferred Option: Call the Gettysburg Foundation ticket office, toll free, at 877-874-2478.

You may also visit the Tickets page on the Gettysburg Foundation website. Once on the Tickets page, please follow these steps to register…

  1. Click the arrows on the calendar in the upper right corner of the page until you land on May, 2017.
  2. Once on May, 2017, click on May 12.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Buy” button next to the “2017 GNMP Seminar.”

For lodging available in Gettysburg, visit the Destination Gettysburg website.

The Semi-annual Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar is sponsored by the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation with support from the Harrisburg Area Community College-Gettysburg Campus.



5:30 – 7 pm: Preregistration at the Museum and Visitor Center.
7 pm: Welcome Remarks.
7:15 pm: Evening Lecture – “His Fame Is Enduring”: George Gordon Meade’s Leadership at Gettysburg – Dr. Jennifer Murray, University of Virginia at Wise.


Harrisburg Area Community College Campus, Gettysburg

7:30 – 8 am: Registration and Morning Refreshments.
8 – 8:15 am: Welcome and Introduction to Seminar Activities.
8:15 am: “The Shadow of Napoleon upon Lee at Gettysburg” – Chuck Teague, Gettysburg NMP.
9:15 am: “An Army Divided: Party Politics inside the Army of the Potomac.” – Dr. Timothy Orr, Old Dominion University.
10:15 – 10:30 am: Morning break.
10:30 am: “The Material Manifestations of Command; Artifacts of Gettysburg’s Generals” – R. Gregory Goodell, Gettysburg NMP.
11:30 am: “The Queen of Battles Holds Court on A Defensive Battlefield.” – Bert Barnett, Gettysburg NMP.

12:15 to 1:15 pm: Lunch (on your own).

Afternoon Field Programs

1:30 – 3 pm: “Home, Headquarters, Hallowed Ground: The Thompson Farm at Gettysburg” – Garry Adelman, Civil War Trust and Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides
Location: Lee’s Headquarters at Thompson Farm, Buford Avenue.
3:30 – 5:30 pm: “The Eye of the Storm- Meade and the Council of War” – Angie Atkinson, Gettysburg NMP.
Location: Meade’s Headquarters at Leister Farm, Taneytown Road.

Special Afternoon Tour (limited to 42 persons*)

How Active Was Robert E. Lee During the Battle? Finding the General at Gettysburg Troy Harman, Gettysburg NMP.
A ranger guided bus tour will leave from HACC Parking Lot at 1:30 pm sharp. (*There is an additional fee for this tour.)

Saturday Evening Reception

6 – 8:30 pm: Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station, 35 Carlisle Street, Gettysburg.

Come and enjoy history, art, music and fellowship with other seminar participants at the historic Lincoln Train Station! An evening picnic meal will be served with a cash bar featuring special drinks from local distillers(?) and music provided by the “Camptown Shakers”. There will also be a special exhibit of battlefield art by one of our participants in the Artist in residence Program at Gettysburg. (Participants should bring tickets and wear name badges for entry.)


Harrisburg Area Community College Campus, Gettysburg

8:30 – 9 am: Check in and Morning Refreshments.
9 – 10:30 am: The Best Staff in the Army: How James Longstreet Exercised command in the First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.” – Karlton Smith, Gettysburg NMP.
10:30 – 10:45 am: Break.
10:45 – 11:45 am: “A Lapse in Command: A.P. Hill at Gettysburg.” – Matt Atkinson, Gettysburg NMP.
11:45 – 12 pm: Closing Remarks.

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Gettysburg 2016: A Year in Review

Happy holidays! Here at Gettysburg National Military Park we want to wish all of you a special holiday with friends and family and all the best for the coming new year.

As the National Park Service embarks on its second century of service, Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site are celebrating the significant accomplishments of their centennial celebration and engagement with the Find Your Park / Encuentra Tu Parque initiative.

Here is a look back at 2016 at Gettysburg…click on the graphic below to see the eight-page report.


Katie Lawhon, December 22, 2016

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Here Men Died for their Country: In the Footsteps of the 136th New York


On October 16, 1888 the surviving veterans of the 136th New York Volunteers paraded south through the streets of Gettysburg to dedicate their new regimental monument. The ornately sculpted stone, depicting a war-torn tree trunk adorned with the accouterments of an infantryman, had been placed along the shoulder of the Taneytown Road. For three days, July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, the men of the unit occupied the spot, dueling with Confederate skirmishers in the fields to the west, and not infrequently being harassed by sharpshooters lodged in buildings that in the southern end of town. They had participated in virtually no pitched combat and yet, astoundingly, suffered over one hundred casualties including seventeen killed. A testament to the ferocity of the skirmishing the men had engaged in. As one veteran of the regiment would recall, “The losses of a regiment in action are the measure of its sacrifices, not of its services.”

The aged veterans looked out over a landscape that, in most respects, bore a strong resemblance to what they had encountered twenty-five years previous. The odd house and outbuilding, an occasional barn, but mostly open farms fields and orchards. Surely the town had grown, new buildings had been built, new roads laid, and, like their own, monuments had sprung up across the battlefield. Otherwise  Gettysburg retained much of that same sense of place. The road and wall where they had sought shelter, the open field spreading west to the Emmitsburg Road where they battled Confederate skirmishers, the stones in Evergreen Cemetery – all were still there.

“We think and and speak of other fields,” intoned former soldier Clinton H. Miner at the dedication of the monument, “where this band of patriots won other laurels, but not as we think and speak of Gettysburg…and today, after a lapse of a quarter of a century, my comrades, we gather here again, a shorter line ’tis true, than when we last held the Taneytown Road, but patriots still.”

Miner called the spot on which the monument stood, and the fields that surrounded it, “holy ground.” It would be here, the memorial stone along the Taneytown Road, that the memory of the men of the 136th New York would be enshrined and where future generations would come to pay homage.

By the end of the next century much had changed. Open fields where once the men of the 136th had fought, had been paved over. The view-sheds and topography that would have been familiar to the veterans had been altered. Their monument, perched along the edge of an expanded roadway, received only scant visitation.

Yet Gettysburg is a constantly evolving landscape. Recent changes made to the western face of Cemetery Hill, the removal of the old Visitor Center and its associated parking lot, and the re-contouring of the topography around where the 136th fought have opened up the landscape in a way that, perhaps, the veterans of the 136th might appreciate.

We braved the frigid temperatures today to visit the regimental battle-line and memorial of the 136th New York, and using the words of some of them men themselves, retraced this newly rehabilitated section of the Gettysburg battlefield.


“We reached Cemetery Hill, one mile south of Gettysburg, and halted. The village was hidden from our sight by a grove of trees, but to the north and east and beyond the town a beautiful landscape was spread before us.”  – Capt. J. W. Hand, 136th NY

img_1809“About midway down the Cemetery we were halted to regain our breath and our first thoughts were of the seeming desecration, as we trod beneath our feet the grass-grown mounds which marked the resting place of the dead…”  – Lt. L. A. Smith, 136th NY



“On arriving near Gettysburg, the brigade was put into position on Cemetery Hill, near to and south of the village…the position assigned to this regiment was on the left of the brigade, on the road leading from Gettysburg to Taneytown, about 30 yards in front of artillery, placed in position in our rear, on the crest of Cemetery Hill…In the position assigned us, the regiment was deployed in a line of battle behind a stonewall or fence, that fenced out the road from the adjoining field.” – Col. James Wood, 136th NY


“…What a magnificent panorama was here presented. As far as the eye could reach, until the earth touched the heavens in their convergence, was one expanse of every-varying field and wood, hill and dale, interspersed here and there with farm houses.”  – Lt. L. A. Smith, 136th NY



“The enemy threw out a strong line of sharpshooters or skirmishers directly in our front, and within musket range of our line. To meet this, a similar line was of sharpshooters or skirmishers was thrown out upon our front toward the enemy….the enemy kept up an almost continuous fire upon our skirmishers…” – Col. James Wood, 136th NY

“The skirmish line was a strong one and a lively exchange of shots took place whenever a relief went out. Most of the losses of our brigade occurred while relieving skirmishers. Another and perhaps greater source of danger was from the enemy’s sharpshooters stationed in the tops of the buildings in the outskirts of town.”  – Capt. J. W. Hand


The position of a portion of the 136th New York from near the bottom of Cemetery Hill. This location was once the parking lot of the old Visitor Center. The tall trees mark the location of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

“On the morning of the third day all was quiet, except for the never ceasing annoyance of the enemies sharpshooters and the occasional aggressive demonstration of his skirmishers. It became evident that Lee was concentrating his forces for an attack on the center of the Union line. At 1 o’clock preparations were complete and a single gun boomed forth the signal.”  – Capt. J. W. Hand, 136th NY


The distant tree line marks Seminary Ridge. Confederate artillery from along the length of the ridge dueled with Union guns on Cemetery Hill, behind the position of the 136th New York

“If you turned around and looked over the wall toward the enemy each cannon ball seemed directed toward that particular spot.” – Lt. L. A. Smith, 136th NY


One of the color guard had a fragment of rock driven into his head, causing instant death…most of us hugged the wall closely, occasionally peeping over, but a single glance usually sufficed.” – Lt. L. A. Smith, 136th NY


The monument to the 136th New York features what appears to be a solid shot embedded into the wood. It appears on the reverse, or western, facing side of the monument indicating that the round came from the direction of Seminary Ridge.

“It is a terrible experience to support batteries when located in their front….I don’t believe men ever suffered more in the same time than those who lay along the road in front of the Cemetery that memorable day…If you sat down with your back to the stone wall and looked over into the Cemetery, you saw long, fiery tongues leaping toward you, thick clouds of sulphurous smoke settle down around you, blackening the countenance almost beyond recognition… History says the artillery duel lasted about two hours. It seemed an age to us; it was an age if you count time, not by minutes and second, but by the amount of nervous suffering and mental agony that can be condensed into a given period.” – Lt. L.A. Smith, 136th New York


The position of Battery H, 1st Ohio within the grounds of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. To the left is the monument to the 1st New Hampshire Battery. Both units would have fired over the heads of the men of the 136th, occupying the roadway just beyond the trees and post-battle wall.

“It was during this time that the colors of the 136th received their baptism of fire. They were not displayed as a target, but, carefully rolled and encased, stood leaning against the wall. A shell struck the wall near them and exploded, killing two men, wounding three others and striking the flag, which, when unfurled, showed the staff nearly one half cut asunder and a line of 13 holes somewhat larger than the stars in the field.” – Capt. J. W. Hand, 136th NY


“And now a strange physical phenomenon is observed: the crashing, deafening, roar of our own with the distant thunder of the enemy’s guns, blend with the screaming shell in a rather noisy but effective lullaby. Drowsiness and, in a few cases, sleep ensues. The sun no longer glares fiercely down with a blistering heat, but gleams redly through the smoky air. The sense of great personal peril gradually gives place to apprehension of general disaster as our guns one by one cease firing, until silent…we rise somewhat cautiously to our feet and look across the valley. We see a gleam of gun barrels as the indistinct gray line emerges from the opposite woods, their line of march directed on the brigade next to our own left. They move out rapidly in good form…”   – Capt. J. W. Hand, 136th NY


A haversack hangs from a knob of the monument of the 136th New York. The highly detailed work is evident in the individual holes of the strap and the buckle.

“Just as the enemy was passing from our view behind the grove, a regiment [the 8th Ohio] that had, unobserved by us, taken position a little to our left and some 200 yards in front, arose from the ground, where it had been lying, changed direction by a left wheel, and delivered a volley on the enemy’s flank. The regiment had a new stand of colors, and the silken stripes bore in golden letters the story of honorable service….we watched that flag as though it were the index-finger of fate. Again, the roar of our brazen-throated howitzers mingled with the crash of ten thousand muskets. Again that gallant little regiment gave volley after volley on the broken retreating ranks of the enemy. But all was obscured in smoke. Then, through a rift in the clouds of battle, was seen that solitary flag waving in victory, its gorgeous hues resplendent with the sunbeams which rested upon it, as if it alone, of all earth’s objects, was worthy to be thus glorified.” – Capt. J.W. Hand, 136th NY


The position of the 136th New York as viewed from near the Emmitsburg Road. 

“The defeat of our army, and the capture or annihilation of the Eleventh Corps; the seizure of the Capitol; the recognition of the Confederacy; the dismemberment of the Union; a worthless currency; the payment of indemnity to the victors; the perpetuation of human slavery…These are some of the consequences likely to follow if they broke our lines. But they did not break through. Wave after wave of treason, billow after billow of rebellion rolled on, only to be dashed, broken and scattered against that solid wall of patriotism.”  – Capt. J.W. Hand, 136th NY


Dedication of the monument to the 136th New York, 1888. 

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Rebuilding Stone Walls at Gettysburg


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


Warren Map, Cemetery Ridge

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

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


Frey and Leister Farm Lanes on the Isometric Map


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


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

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

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


Katie Lawhon and Christopher Gwinn, December 1, 2016

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

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

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Winter Programming at Gettysburg National Military Park

snowy cannon

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Sun. Feb. 5

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sun. March 12

snowy sat.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Book Series

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

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

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

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

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
January 7 – February 4

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

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

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

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

February 4          A Conversation with Jeff Shaara



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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen Wood

 Winter Reading Adventures

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

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

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

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 14, 2017               The Patchwork Path by Bettye Stroud

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

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

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

February 11, 2017             Pink & Say by Patricia Polanco

February 18, 2017            I Am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer

February 25, 2017            Voices of Gettysburg by Sherry Garland

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

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

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

 Mid-Winter Reminder

Farms of Gettysburg

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

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

Sunday, March 12 –Lydia Leister Farm

Leister House- Meade's HQ

Saturday, March 18 –William Culp Farm


Sunday, March 19 –George Weikert Farm

Weikert farmhouse roof

Saturday, March 25 – Basil Biggs Farm

Frey Farm

Sunday, March 26 – Abraham Brian Farm


Saturday, April 1 –Moses McClean Farm

McClean Farm House - Toward N.jpg

Sunday, April 2 –  Joseph Sherfy Farm


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


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

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


The garage along Mummasburg Road prior to demolition.


James J. Wills’ Woods

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

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


Demolition underway along Mummasburg Road.


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

The Welcome Traveler campground site near Spanglers Spring


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

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

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



The house at the Welcome Traveler site during demolition.

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

More land preservation needed at Gettysburg

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


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

Katie Lawhon, November 10, 2016


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Public Historians Wanted! Internships at Gettysburg National Military Park

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

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


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



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


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


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

Please email your application by sending it to:

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


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

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The Spirit of John Muir: Live at Gettysburg!

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

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


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

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

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