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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Fall 2016 Operational Update





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Lt. William R. Warner, 13th Massachusetts Infantry


Lt. William R. Warner

William R. Warner enlisted early in the war, July 16, 1861, at Fort Independence, Boston Harbor.   At age nineteen, he was one of the many recruits that rushed to defend the flag and stamp out the Rebellion.  Probably because he was a clerk prior to the war, Warner entered the service at the rank of sergeant.  He stood at 5’ 11” inches tall having a “light” complexion, black eyes, and dark hair.   On March 1, 1863, he was promoted to orderly sergeant and on June 30 entered the officer ranks as a 2nd Lieutenant.


The 13th Massachusetts marched onto the fields of Gettysburg as veterans.  The regiment “saw the elephant” early in the war at Beller’s Mill, near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  (good luck finding anything on that one)  They wore out a good pair of shoes chasing “Stonewall” Jackson up and down the Valley in the spring of ’62.  Later that year, the regiment fought with John Pope’s Army at Cedar Mountain and Second Manassas before being reorganized into the Union First Corps for the Maryland, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Campaigns.

On June 30, Warner and his comrades were in Emmitsburg, Maryland with the intrepid John Reynolds leading their column north in pursuit of Lee.  They would not have to wait long to find him.  It is here that we pick up with Warner’s narrative of events.

Wednesday, July 1  1863

Started on march to Gettysburg about   a.m.  In obedience to orders from Col. Leonard, I turned over my gun & equipment to Co. K. and reported to Capt Cary of Co G as 2nd Lt. but minus sword or arms of any kind.   Gettysburg was distant about nine miles. We had a shower while on way.  The 1st & 3rd Divisions of our Corps marched in advance of us.

Some distance before reaching G. we began to hear the guns opening the conflict, and later we were met by an Aid with message “that we were wanted & that Buford with Cavalry was engaged.”  Soon in some way rumor reached us that Gen Reynolds was wounded and before we entered the outskirts of G. we heard that he had been Killed.  We turned off of pike to the left, at a brick house( I think) through an orchard and pushed on towards a large Seminary on the crest of a ridge.  Here we halted perhaps half hour but long enough to throw up some breastworks of considerable strength, for hearing brisk fighting, not far in front of us, & extending well to our
right, and seeing (as well as feeling) every indication that a great battle was about to be fought, every man worked willingly & rapidly in effecting some slight protection,  Then, orders came to move, and we quickly crossed a road (on our right from Seminary) keeping under the slope which was thinly covered with woods.  Here, by the roadside, I notice the first man, whom I knew, belonging to our Division, who was wounded, Capt, J. O. Williams of 12th Mass. Passing through the woods, we attempted to form a line at a stone wall- possibly we were halted there a few moments to allow stragglers to get up- then across an open field to another piece of woods, and hardly before we could realize it we were in the midst of a battle.


The 13th Massachusetts belonged to Gabriel Paul’s brigade.  The brigade remained in reserve near the Seminary until being summoned to relieve Henry Baxter’s men along the north face of Oak Ridge (near the present observation tower).  The regiment held the extreme right of the First Corps line along the Mummasburg Road.



Capt. William Cary

I had thought very little about it, I mean in the matter of dwelling upon it, & dreading it, and when once engaged, had no time to think.  My first impulse, was to pick up a gun & some cartridges, and I loaded & fired several time, Sergeant Wheeler of Co. K, was almost the first man I saw struck, – He fell over backwards, a ball having ploughed his forehead, -About the same moment, six or seven of the tallest men of Co K. on the right were wounded Harvey Ross, H. Culling. John Flye, M. O. Laughlin, Melville Walker.


In Company, G. which I was stationed with, I noticed Corp H. A. Sanborn who had just returned to Regt, on recovery from a wound at Antietam, As he was struck, he turned to the rear, & stood as if hesitating a moment and then fell.  In Co H. S.A. Hayes, a middle aged man (who had been detailed as Teamster, until within a short time) was shot & cried out, “Who will take care of my children now.”

In some Company, J. M. ________, a tall slim young man with very black hair & dark features fell & I recall vividly the ghastliness of his face contrasted with his dark hair, as I noticed him for a moment,  In Company to right, which was The Color Col. Sergeant Roland B. Morris Carrying the Colors was shot down. Every man in the Regiment will recall the piercing shrieks of agony, which were wrung from him.  I mention these men among the many others of the Regt who fell at same time, because I happened to notice them, more especially.

At the left of the Regiment passing back & forth stood Major Gould,  His voice could scarcely be gould_j_p-majorheard amid so much noise of fire-arms, & tumult , but when it could be heard, it was, “Do your duty – noble sons of Massachusetts – do your duty- “Remember you states &c &c.”

One can hardly tell, how long we remained at this point, but at the time Morris fell we were pushing toward the road which lay in front of us, & where we swept in a body of rebel prisoners of an Alabama Regt.  As the fire slackened, with numbers largely reduced by Killed, wounded & those who had gone to rear with wounded & prisoners, we withdrew from extreme advanced position back across the open field to the first piece of woods we passed through & where part of our Brigade then faced in another direction.  From the crest of the ridge, we saw considerable bodies of the enemy, moving to our left (toward Seminary where from the heavy firing, we knew our troops were being badly pushed,  Looking to the front & more especially to the right where there had been a gap between us & 11th Corps, – we could see the 11thCorps withdrawing closely followed by long lines of the enemy,  we knew it could only be a question of a few minutes before the orders must come for removal from this exposed position.  When orders came, flags were followed, (ours in hands of Capt Howe & David Schloss) but Regiment Organization was impossible.  When we came in full sight of Seminary the last Battery was retreating at full speed toward the town.


David Schloss, 13th Massachusetts

 Making as short a cut as possible, toward G. we came to RR. Embankment, on top of which we attempted to push way . As a volley would come from one side, numbers would leave embankment in hope of shelter on other side, then a volley from that side (Seminary side) and others would rush down the left side.

Coming to a culvert under the track, We noticed it already packed full with stragglers of men who hesitated to go farther.  Before we reached culvert, Schloos carrying State Flag was knocked down by the arm of a soldier of 14th Brooklyn who was torn to pieces by a shell & whose brains were scattered over the flag.

On one of the streets of G. I met Lt Whiston with half dozen or more swords in his hands, which he taken from prisoners,  He offered me one, but having already picked one up , I declined his offer.  Why he failed to escape I cannot see, unless his bundle of swords overloaded him, but he was taken prisoner & carried to Richmond.  Before reaching the centre of G. – with others, I left the streets passed through some back yards.  Seeing a _______of rain water, without stopping for cup, I dipped my hands into the water & drank.  A shell came shrieking over, and we ducked still lower.  With water dripping we rushed on, into the street & dense throng all pushing toward Cemetery Hill.

In the Square, I saw an officer mounted upon a fine horse (equipment yellow) struck by a shell & thrown –horse & rider against the sidewalk, up to the side of the house no one stopped to look at him, Bullets shot & shell were pouring in from both directions and looking up the side streets we could see the reb soldiers standing & firing.

As we approached the Cemetery we came under cover of the guns of 11th Corps, already in position & out of the reach of the enemys fire, So our pace slackened.  We finally rallied around our Division flag.  

That night we spent on Cemetery Hill to the left of the Cemetery facing towards the town.

Our Regt        numbering    men. 

Our Brigade      “

The Officers of Co K. Lt Whiston & Lt Samuel Cary, both having been taken prisoners,  I was assigned to that Company again.


The 13th Massachusetts entered the battle with 284 men present for duty.  That night only 99 answered the roll call.

Matt Atkinson
Park Ranger

The Park thanks Brad Forbush for the generous use of the images and Mr. Eric Locher for donating a copy of Warner’s memoirs .


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Into the Fight with the 4th Texas



I had the opportunity recently to delve into the regimental files here at the park library and do a little digging on the 4th Texas Volunteer Infantry.  Being one of the more famous Confederate units to take part in the battle of Gettysburg, most students of the Civil War will recognize the regiment as part of the famed Texas Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia. Closely associated with  John Bell Hood but commanded at Gettysburg by Jerome Robertson, the 4th brought roughly 415 men into the fighting on July 2nd, 1863 and ultimately sustained a loss of about 27%, or 112 of those engaged.

In revisiting the regiment, and combing through the files collected by previous historians at Gettysburg National Military Park, I was reminded of the many poignant and descriptive first hand accounts these Texans had left behind. Taken as a whole, the memoirs, diaries, letters, and official reports attributed to the unit comprise some of the most descriptive testimony of the fighting on the 2nd Day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and more particularly, the struggle for Little Round Top. Through the recollections of soldiers like Val Giles, John West, Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, and others the sensory experience of combat comes alive, as does the feelings and experiences of the soldiers in the regiment. When paired with the preserved battlefield landscape, their stories and memories become palpable and tangible. Walking the route of the assault of the 4th Texas on July 2nd, with accounts in hand, is an easy way to cox from the landscape the history of what happened here. Inspired by the accounts I read, I set out to do just that this morning.

Christopher Gwinn
Supervisory Ranger

img_1632“We were put into the fight about 3 o’clock in the afternoon of the 2d, having marched all night on the 1st and laid in line of battle all the morning of the 2d, and my first lesson as a recruit was to lie for about half an hour under what the most experienced soldiers called the worst shelling they ever witnessed. Several were killed and many wounded in a few feet of me, and the infernal machines came tearing and whirring through the ranks with a most demoralizing tendency.” – John West, 4th Texas

img_1631“We were some hours getting into position, but finally formed in an open field, under the declivity of a gradually rising hill in our front, upon the top of which the artillery was posted.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“The enemy shells screamed and bursted around us, inflicting considerable damage. It is very trying upon men to remain still in the ranks under a severe cannonading. One has time to reflect upon the danager, and there being no wild excitement as in a charge, he is more reminded of the utter helplessness of his present condition.
– Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.

About 4.30 p.m. the 2d instant, we were ordered to advance on the enemy, who occupied the heights about 1¼ miles distant, the Fifth Texas, the directing battalion, on my right, and the First Texas on my left. – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas


“The long cry of Attention! Brought every man to his feet, and the details were made to pull down the fence in our front. Everyone knew what it meant, and it was really a relief to move forward. The word ‘Forward’ was given, and on we moved.”
– Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“And forward we went. The word was passed down the line, “Quick, but not double quick,” but we moved as fast as we could. Off went blankets, knapsacks and all surplus baggage, and yelling and screaming we rushed on the batteries—one on a lofty eminence beyond a rock fence and a small branch, the other back of it on quite a mountain about three hundred yards farther off and a little to the right—were full three quarters of a mile from us when the word “forward” was given.”
– John West, 4th Texas


“So soon as we cleared the brow of the hill and became exposed to the enemy’s artillery, off we went, not at an orderly double quick, but in a wild, frantic, desperate run, yelling, screaming and shouting; over ditches, up and down hill, bursting through garden fences and shrubbery, occasionally dodging the head as a bullet whistled by the ear.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“Arriving in a road, we halted a minute or two, reformed and started again. On we go with the same speed, jumping over and plunging through creeks, pulling through mud, struggling through underbrush, still keeping the loud, irregular and terrible Confederate yell.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“Shells and grape shot, canister and Minnie balls, came hurtling through our ranks, bursting screaming, whistling – still that same wild, reckless, unhesitating rush towards enemy guns.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“I met the enemy in full force in a heavy, wooded ground, sheltering themselves behind rocks, from which, after a sharp contest, he was driven to the heights beyond, in our front and in close proximity to the mountain, and there I was pained to learn that the gallant Lieut. Col. B. F. Carter was severely wounded while crossing a stone wall near the base of the mountain.” – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas



“Suddenly we find ourselves at the base of a range of hills – a rough, woody, rocky country. Here the great severity of the Federal Infantry stopped our progress, and then commenced a rapid, continuous and murderous musketry fight; we at the base, they on the sides and top of the hills…” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas.


“The side of the mountain was heavily timbered and covered with great boulders that had tumbled from the cliffs above years before. These afforded great protection to the men. Every tree, rock and stump that gave any protection from the rain of Minie balls that was poured down upon us from the crest above us, was soon appropriated.”
– Val Giles, 4th Texas


“There were places full ten or fifteen feet perdendicular around which we were compelled to go, and the entire ascent would have been difficult to a man entirely divested of gun and accouterments. It was a mass of rock and boulders amid which a mountain goat would, have revelled, and being subjected to a fire on our left flank, made it a most dangerous and unsafe place for a soldier, and many a fellow reminded me of the alliteration, “Round the rude rock the ragged rascal ran.” – John West, 4th Texas

“Finding it impossible to carry the heights by assault with my thinned ranks, I ordered my command to fall back in the skirt of timber, the position then occupied being enfiladed by the batteries on the left and exposed to heavy fire of musketry in my immediate front.”
– Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas


“From behind trees and huge rocks we poured in our fiery discharges; the din was incessant and deafening.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas


“Being joined by the Fifth Texas on my right, I again attempted to drive the enemy from the heights by assaults, but with like results. Again, being re-enforced by the Forty-eighth Alabama, commanded by the gallant Colonel [James L.] Sheffield, and the Forty-fourth Alabama, whose commander I did not learn, we again charged their works, but were repulsed, and then, under the order of General Law, I ordered my command to fall back under cover of the timber, on a slight elevation within short range of the enemy.” – Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas


“By this time order and discipline were gone. Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as the officers. Nobody paid any attention to either.”
– Val Giles, 4th Texas


“During this musketry engagement we were within from twenty five to fifty yards of the enemy. The trees were literally barked, and thousands of bullets flew to atoms against the hard rocks. Our line was compelled to retire, and left me wounded in the hands of the enemy.” – Decimus et Ultimus Barziza, 4th Texas

“At the dawn of day, I had a stone wall about 2 feet high thrown up, which afforded some protection to the men occupying the position…”– Maj. John P. Bane, Commanding 4th Texas


“At Gettysburg that night, it was about seven devils to each man. Officers were cross to the men, and the men were equally cross to the officers. It was the same way with our enemies. We could hear the Yankee officers on the crest of the ridge in front of us cursing the men by platoons, and the men telling him to go to a country not very far away from us at that time.” – Val Giles, 4th Texas

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Gettysburg’s New Foundation Document

ela_sunrisesort-10To effectively manage a national park and plan for its future, a basic understanding of its resources, values, and history is needed – a foundation for planning and management. These are called foundation documents. Foundation documents are at the core of each park’s planning portfolio. Foundation Documents for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site were completed in August and are now available on the park websites.

The core components of a foundation document include a brief description of the park as well as the park’s purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, other important resources and values, and interpretive themes.

Here is an overview of Gettysburg’s Foundation Document:

_01PURPOSE – The purpose of Gettysburg National Military Park is to preserve, protect, and interpret for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and their commemorations.

SIGNIFICANCE – Upon the fields and rolling hills and in the streets of town, more soldiers fell at the Battle of Gettysburg than in any other battle fought in North America before or since. The culmination of the Gettysburg Campaign, this three-day battle fought on July 1–3, 1863, thwarted the political and military aims of the Confederacy and its second invasion of the North during the American Civil War.

In dedicating the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, which gave meaning to the sacrifices of the dead at the Battle of Gettysburg and inspired the living to continue the “unfinished work” of the war to affirm “a new birth of freedom” for the nation.

The Battle of Gettysburg was quickly recognized as a defining event in the nation’s history, which led to early and ongoing efforts to preserve the battlefield landscape, including its topography and terrain.

Commemorating the events of the Battle of Gettysburg, a National Military Park was established, resulting in a landscape of monuments, memorials, and markers that record the history and emotions of Civil War veterans and others who wanted to leave this legacy for future generations.

The momentous nature of what occurred at the Battle of Gettysburg, along with the high level of preservation and accurate marking of the battlefield landscape, continues to draw people to Gettysburg National Military Park, a place of national consciousness where individuals can consider the far-reaching implications of the battle, the Gettysburg Address, and the American Civil War.

The massive 377-foot cyclorama painting, the Battle of Gettysburg, depicting Pickett’s Charge, the final Confederate attack, is the largest oil-on-canvas painting in North America and is among the last 19th-century cyclorama paintings in existence.

ela_sunrisesort-21FUNDAMENTAL RESOURCES AND VALUES – Fundamental resources and values are those features, systems, processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to warrant primary consideration during planning and management processes because they are essential to achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance.

  • Battlefield Landscape
  • Commemorative Landscape
  • Soldiers’ National Cemetery
  • Museum Collections
  • Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama Painting
  • Historic Structures
  • Hallowed Ground
  • Legacy of the Gettysburg Address
  • Archeological Resources Associated with the Battle of Gettysburg

Gettysburg National Military Park contains other resources and values that are not fundamental to the purpose of the park and may be unrelated to its significance, but are important to consider in planning processes. These are referred to as “other important resources and values” (OIRV). These resources and values have been selected because they are important in the operation and management of the park and warrant special consideration in park planning.

  • Natural Communities
  • Nonbattle-Related Archeological Resources
  • Appropriate Recreation

_07INTERPRETIVE THEMES – The following interpretive themes have been identified for Gettysburg National Military Park:

  • The Civil War was the result of decades of increasing divisiveness caused primarily by the issue of slavery that pulled the nation apart economically, socially, and politically.
  • The Gettysburg Campaign was directly influenced and shaped by the 1863 strategic military / political situation of the nation. The evolution, conduct, and eventual outcome of the campaign and battle were directly related to the geography, topography, and landscape features of the region, as well as to the tactics, leadership, and organization of the respective armies.
  • The soldiers who fought at Gettysburg were, for the most part, battle-hardened veterans. Their backgrounds varied as much as their reasons for being there. Their experience in combat and the aftermath of battle were both uniquely individual and universal. .
  • The Battle of Gettysburg touched the lives of civilians both near and far. Farmers whose land became battlegrounds, citizens in town, those who tended the wounded, buried the dead, or came to locate a friend or loved one were forever changed by their experience here. The tremendous human cost of Gettysburg touched and changed the lives of families, neighbors, and the general population in small towns and large cities of both the North and the South.
  • In his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln focused the nation’s attention on the Union sacrifices, as well as its evolving meanings and consequences, when he stated that it would lead to a “new birth of freedom” for the nation; a charge that still challenges us today.
  • jason_7-13-15_0012The hundreds of monuments, markers, and memorials, many created by the veterans themselves, continue to bear witness to the experiences of individuals associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and are a testament to how the battlefield has become a stage for the reconciliation of a once divided nation, national commemoration of the Civil War, and a place of personal connection for Civil War veterans, their families, and visitors who continue to be drawn to this park.

For a copy of the Foundation Document for Gettysburg National Military Park click here.

Katie Lawhon, September 15, 2016

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Find Your Story: The New McKenna Resource Room at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Ever wonder if you have family ties to the historic Battle of Gettysburg? Looking for more information on your ancestor who may have served during the American Civil War? More than 165,000 Americans fought in the Battle of Gettysburg and more than 3 million served in the ranks of the Union and Confederate armies. On the home-front millions of men, women, and children, free and enslaved alike, experienced the war in unique and often tragic ways.  On a daily basis, the Rangers and staff at Gettysburg National Military Park are asked to help assist visitors trying to connect with that history in a deeply personal way. Tracking down and researching Civil War ancestors can shed light on how their family experienced the American Civil War and make the past come to life in profound ways.


More often than not though, tracking down a Civil War ancestor is more difficult than one might imagine. With limited tools and resources, most visitors looking for information at the park have left empty handed. Recently however, the park and the Gettysburg Foundation have taken steps to change that.

The newly re-imagined McKenna Resource Room at the Museum and Visitor Center, which is free and open to the public, now has staff and tools to help future visitors answer those questions and discover their personal Civil War story.


Ranger Emma Murphy stands by the new work-stations in the Gettysburg National Military Park Resource Room.

With expanded hours and new tools the McKenna Resource Room is more than just a research library. Staffed by National Park Service volunteers who can help you get started and guide your journey the room offers visitors and researchers the opportunity to immerse themselves in their personal connection to the history and importance of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War .


Ancestry and Fold3 allow visitors to access a wealth of primary sources, such as military service records, pension files, and more.

Open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the McKenna Resource Room gives visitors free access to information using, Fold 3 and National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors databases. Some of these resources also allow you to go beyond the Civil War and look up information about soldiers that served more recently. Pension records, census data, birth, death, and marriage records and much more are only  a click away. No reservations are needed.

Whether you are visiting Gettysburg for just a day, or if you live in the local community and love genealogy, we hope you find the new McKenna Resource Room at Gettysburg National Military Park a useful tool to uncover your family history.



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A Victory on South Cavalry Field

Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt is not a household name. Even among aficionado’s of the Battle of Gettysburg, Merritt’s involvement in the fighting on July 3rd, 1863 is often a footnote to a footnote, overshadowed by larger events occurring elsewhere at the same time. His brigade of federal cavalry, belonging to the division of Gen. John Buford, arrived on July 3rd, and participated in heavy skirmishing and sparing with a detachment of the 1st South Carolina Cavalry in the fields and farms bordering the Emmitsburg Road. The Union cavalry temporarily drove the rebel skirmish line back (across land that would one day belong to President Dwight Eisenhower) but timely reinforcements from Brig. Gen. Evander Law’s  Confederate division stalled and rebuffed their advance. Thus the fighting in that sector of South Cavalry Field ended, as did the larger Battle of Gettysburg.

On July 18, near the town of Petersville, Maryland, Merritt penned his official report on the Campaign, dedicating only a single paragraph to the fighting the men of his Reserve Cavalry Brigade participated in:

“…I marched with the brigade about 12 m. to attack the enemy’s right and rear, and annoy him, while the battle was progressing on the right. I marched on the Gettysburg road about 4 miles, where my advance and skirmishers were engaged. Here the brigade drove the enemy more than a mile, routing him from strong places, stone fences, and barricades. This fight last about four hours (some time after the cannonading had ceased on the right), and was finally brought to a close by heavy rain.”

The historiography of the Battle of Gettysburg, like Merritt himself,  has largely glossed over the role his men played at Gettysburg. The size, scope, and carnage of Pickett’s Charge, which occurred at the same time, captured far more attention and played a far more significant role in dictating the ultimate outcome of the battle. Likewise, preservation efforts in the late 19th century were more focused on securing iconic locations such as Little Round Top, Culp’s Hill, and Cemetery Hill, than the fringe of the battlefield.

Geographical isolation, and the difficulty of visiting the scene where Merritt’s men battled has further obscured South Cavalry Field. Merritt’s brigade tablet, a sort of bronze and stone island unto itself, is virtually isolated from the rest of the National Military Park. A small strip of park land, numbering only a few acres, sits to the east of the Emmitsburg Road. A similar fate befell the tablets commemorating the regular army units under his command, the 1st, 2nd, and 5th United States Cavalry (The 6th US Cavalry, also under Merritt’s command, was engaged near Fairfield, Pennsylvania on July 3rd and did not participate in the fighting at South Cavalry Field). Visitors searching for the more impressive monument to the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry will have to look quickly. It sits partially hidden along the roadway, and is often missed.

The fields, farms, and woodlots where Merritt’s men engaged their Confederate foes was never preserved or protected in the same manner as other areas of the battlefield, though fortunately, much of it retains its 19th century agrarian appearance.

Nearly 154 years after the fighting along the Emmitsburg Road, the South Cavalry Battlefield has been granted a new lease on life. Nearly 75 acres of battlefield land located west of the Emmitsburg Road and south of the Eisenhower National Historic Site, has just recently been preserved and donated to the National Park Service. Visitors will now be able to explore an entirely new section of the Gettysburg Battlefield and thereby gain a much better appreciation of an oft neglected chapter in the Gettysburg story.

This new addition to the park is thanks to the generosity of Roxanne Quimby. Quimby is better known for lip balm and organic shampoo than for battlefield preservation, having founded and developed the popular Burt’s Bees company. She is also an avid conservationist and a long time supporter of the National Park Service.

On August 23, 2016 roughly 85,000 acres owned by Quimby in upstate Maine was transferred to the Department of the Interior. It was soon thereafter established as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the newest addition to the National Park Service system. At that same time, Quimby quietly donated other parcels of land to the National Park Service, including 75 acres south of the Gettysburg National Military Park on the historic George Bishop and the James Ewing farms.

Bishop Farm

In 1863 the George Bishop farm occupied the site. The house is post-battle, as is the majority of the red bank barn seen in the background of the photo.

Bishop Farm Barn

Many of the timbers in the barn are hand-hewn, and perhaps date from the battle. Other elements of the structure are clearly 20th century, but one can’t help but wonder if Merritt’s cavalrymen or soldiers from the 1st South Carolina Cavalry encountered the same beams.


The property can be accessed by a narrow drive way that most likely runs along the original George Bishop farm land. Sweeping views to the north reveal the Show Barn of Eisenhower National Historic Site, an obvious post-battle structure. The most distant tree line marks the western slope of Seminary Ridge.


In 1863, near the center of the photo, stood the small farm of James Ewing. Ewing’s house was burned during the fighting, and many of the planks and fences on his property were cannibalized and used in the construction of a crude breastwork, or as Merritt described “a barricade.” The breastwork most likely ran left to right across the ridge line in the front of the Show Barn.


A one stage in the fighting, the 5th United States Cavalry attempted to outflank the Confederate defenders by launching an attack against the rebel right. The wood line and ridge above would have provided an avenue of approach for the advancing cavalrymen.


From near the center of the new property, looking south, can be seen the site of the George Bishop farm. Modern buildings now occupy the site. This is the same vantage point that members of the 1st South Carolina Cavalry would have had of the advancing Union forces.


Looking due south from the near the presumed site of the Confederate breastworks. The Bishop Farm site is marked by the buildings in the far distance.

Gettysburg National Military Park would like to extend our deep thanks for this new addition to the park. We are excited for future Battle Walks, trails, and new opportunities to explore and understand the Gettysburg battle and battlefield.


Christopher Gwinn
Supervisory Ranger


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A grand old birthday for the National Parks!


Gettysburg Cake Cutting NPS Centennial

From left, reenactor Larry Korczyk, Eisenhower Site Manager Ahna Wilson, Gettysburg Superintendent Ed Clark, and Gettysburg Foundation President Joanne Hanley cut the cake with a Civil War sword.

Today is our birthday: 100 years old!  The national parks include 413 of the country’s most distinctive places, from iconic scenery such as Yosemite and the Everglades to historic sites like Gettysburg and Little Rock High School, as well as monuments, seashores, recreation areas and wildlife habitats.

More than 300 million people visited the national parks last year, and we’re on pace to surpass last year’s record attendance.

Founders Day cake at Gettysburg NMPNational Parks are huge economic drivers:  Tourism to Gettysburg and Eisenhower Parks created $95 Million in economic benefits in 2015. More than 1 million visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in 2015 spent $71.1 million in communities near the park, supporting 977 jobs in the local area .

Public-private partnerships at Gettysburg and throughout the system help fund essential education programs, historic preservation, wildlife protection and building repairs at hundreds of national parks, monuments and recreation areas. This type of support helped create many of the new parks, especially the newest: Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument which was created yesterday and includes 87,500 acres of land donated to the National Park Service.


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, painting by Thomas Moran

Let’s look back at how it all got started.  Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world. Gettysburg was one of four “national military parks” created in the 1890s, many years before there was a National Park Service.  The War Department managed these battlefield parks and continued to use the fields for training exercises. The others were Chickamauga and Chattanooga, authorized in 1890, Shiloh in 1894 and Vicksburg in 1899.

National Park Service established in 1916. Organic Act         “ … to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations …

The first parks were all natural areas.  When the NPS began to manage historic sites like battlefields there was a learning curve.  It required a different approach.  Eventually we became the leaders for how to do interpretive programs that tell the stories of some of the most important moments in American history.


Stats about the NPS:

  • The system includes 413 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • Approximately 22,000 permanent, temporary, and seasonal employees…diverse professionals
  • Largest: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK, at 13.2 million acres
  • Smallest: Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA, at 0.02 acres
  • Total recreation visitors to the national parks in 2015: 307,247,252
  • An extraordinary group of Volunteers-in-Parks (440,000 people) donated 7.9 million hours of service to our parks in 2015.


Gettysburg National Military Park

  • $6.8 million      FY 2016 federal budget
  • $68 million       Visitor spending in 2015
  • 1,154,585        Visitors in 2015, an increase of 5.4% over 2014
  • 6,034               Acres in the park boundary
  • 3012                People donated 41,028 hours of service in FY 2015
  • 61                    Permanent employees and 36 seasonal employees in FY 2016

Eisenhower National Historic Site

  • $1.1 million      FY 2016 federal budget
  • $3.1 million      Visitor spending in 2015
  • 54,377            Visitors in 2015, a decrease of 6.6% compared with 2014
  • 769                  People donated 19,934 hours of service in FY 2015
  • 690                  Acres in the park boundary
  • 8                      Permanent employees and 3 seasonal employees in FY 2016

As we close out the Centennial year we continue to have more programs:

  • Farm to Table dinner at Eisenhower on August 27.
  • Friends of Gettysburg’s  ‘Recruit’ Pick and Party on August 28.
  • Presidential Paint and Wine night on Sept. 22 at Eisenhower NHS.
  • Artists in Residence programs which will continue through 2017.

Centennial Legacy Projects funded in part by the Gettysburg Foundation…

  • The rehab of Cemetery Ridge at Ziegler’s Grove, including bringing back Ziegler’s Ravine and the Hancock Avenue gate.
  • Planning to address overcrowding and erosion at Little Round Top.
  • Maintaining the historic landscapes of the two parks, including new ideas.  We have local farmers, and we’ve had them for years but now we have them growing grain for a local distillery.  We’re embracing the “Eat local” movement.
  • Possible opportunities to preserve historic structures such as farm houses through leasing, possibly even with public opportunities to stay in the homes like other parks are doing in Cape Cod and the C & O Canal.
  • New education programs with support from the Gettysburg Foundation.

Primary.NPSCentennialLogo.FullColorMost importantly we’re looking forward to another century of service to you, the American public.  Come visit.  Find Your Park.

Katie Lawhon, 8/25/2016

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