Gettysburg Battle Anniversary: July 1-4, 2015


The three day Battle of Gettysburg marked a turning point not only in the course of the American Civil War, but also for the future of the United States of America. Join Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides during the 152nd Anniversary for a series of free guided walks and talks that discuss, explore, and reflect on this important chapter in our nation’s history.

Note: On all park avenues please park your vehicle on the right side of the road, unless otherwise directed, with all wheels on the pavement. Schedule is subject to change.

Daily Ranger-Guided Programs
Wednesday, July 1 – Friday, July 3

Battlefield in a Box: An Overview (30 minutes) – Become part of the battlefield in this interactive overview program! Join a National Park Ranger and build a map of the battlefield using props. This program is perfect for the first time visitor wanting a better understanding of the battle. Meet at Ranger Program Site 1, daily at 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M.

Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (40 minutes) – Explores the meaning and cost of the Battle of Gettysburg, and of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Find out how the National Cemetery was established, who is buried there, and why Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address still has meaning for us today. Meet at the Taneytown Road entrance to the National Cemetery, daily at 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.

Care of the Wounded (1 hour) – Over 27,000 soldiers were wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg. Explore how these men were evacuated, treated, and ultimately, how most of their lives were saved. Meet at Ranger Program Site 2 behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 3:00 P.M.

Civil War Soldier (1 hour) – Over 160,000 soldiers participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Find out why they enlisted, why they fought, and what they endured during the four years of the American Civil War. Meet at Ranger Program Site 1 behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 2:00 P.M.

Family Activities and Hands on History
Wednesday, July 1 – Friday, July 3

During the 152nd Anniversary children of all ages can visit the Family Activities and Hands on History station at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Discover hands-on history stations, hourly special guest appearances called “Guess Who’s Coming to 2015”, and “Join the Army” programs to learn more about the people involved in, and affected by, the battle of Gettysburg.  You can also pick up and check in your Junior Ranger activity booklets.  After your visit, get involved in Junior Ranger programs in other parks and online at!

Family Activities and Hands on History Hours: July 1 – 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Group Lobby.

Hands On History Cart

Special Programs – Wednesday, July 1

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.

10:00 a.m.
Striking Stone & Cutler: The Attacks of Junius Daniel’s Brigade on July 1 

On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, while other Confederate attacks either foundered or were turned back, Brig. General Junius Daniel exhibited superb leadership in skillfully maneuvering his five North Carolina regiments against Union troops positioned both atop Oak Ridge and in the Railroad Cut. Launching a series of desperate assaults, Daniel and his Tar-heels demonstrated remarkable grit and determination, earning the plaudits of those who observed their gallant assaults. Confederate division commander Robert Rodes, watching from atop Oak Hill, recorded that “The conduct of General Daniel and his brigade in this most desperate engagement elicited the admiration and praise of all who witnessed it.” Join Park Ranger John Hoptak and Daniel Vermilya and follow in the footsteps of Daniel and his North Carolinians.

Meet at the Eternal Peace Light Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 2. Park at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. 

2:30 p.m.
Buford, Birney, Humphreys and Geary: Defending the Emmitsburg Road on July 1.

Join Ranger Troy Harman and explore the various divisions and corps that defended the far Federal left along the Emmitsburg Road in the early evening of July 1. Generals Hancock, Slocum, Sickles and Buford gave it much attention to secure the Cemetery Ridge position on July 1, while General Lee and Pendleton explored options there until dark of the same day. The posturing near the Peach Orchard on July 1, established boundaries for severe fighting there the next day.

Meet at the Peach Orchard for this 2 1/2 mile hike. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

6:00 p.m.
“Plant Your Flag Down There!” – The Defense of Cemetery Hill

After nearly nine hours of stubborn fighting on July 1, Union troops were forced from the fields north and west of Gettysburg in full retreat towards Cemetery Hill – the ground they had been protecting through their actions that entire day.  Numerous command changes and devastating casualties nearly proved disastrous, but because of invaluable leadership and a persistence to hold on, the Army of the Potomac would live to fight another day.  Join Licensed Battlefield Guide Britt Isenberg and examine those tumultuous, but crucial hours on the evening of July 1 on Cemetery Hill, when everything was still hanging in the balance and nothing seemed certain for the exhausted soldiers of the Union Army. This program will look at how the momentous command decisions made that night affected the next two days of fighting and ultimately culminated in a Union victory at Gettysburg.

Meet at the Flagpole in the National Cemetery Parking Lot. Park in the National Cemetery Parking Lot or along North Hancock Avenue.

Real Time Programs
These 30- to 45-minute programs provide a brief overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time they occurred, 152 years ago.

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.      The Battle Begins – Dan Welch            
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 1, McPherson Ridge. Park on Reynolds Avenue.

10:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.  Cutler’s Brigade Arrives – Tom Holbrook        
Meet at the General Wadsworth Monument on Reynolds Avenue. Park along Reynolds Avenue.IMG_4480

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.  The 26th North Carolina vs. the 24th Michigan  – Karlton Smith
Meet at the John Burns Statue on Stone Avenue. Park on Stone and Meredith Avenues.

3:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.    Collapse of the 11th Corps  – Chuck Teague
Meet at Barlow’s Knoll, East Howard Avenue.

5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.    Retreat to Cemetery Hill: End of the 1st Day – Caitlin Kostic
Meet at the Baltimore Street Entrance to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the three days of the battle anniversary Park Rangers will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the events 152 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Letters from the Battlefield: July 1st, 1863 Ranger Karlton Smith
A battle begins, a town is occupied, fields, farms, and streets are littered with the dead and dying. What was it like to experience and witness the first day of the battle of Gettysburg?  Join National Park Ranger Karlton Smith and hear the words of the men and women who experienced the ferocity of combat on July 1st, 1863.


Special Programs – Thursday, July 2

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.   

10:00 a.m.
“Our little brigade fought like heroes” –The Irish Brigade at Gettysburg.

A Union officer observing the Union line on Cemetery Ridge could not help but notice one small group of battalions, barely 200 men apiece, the smallest brigade in the Second Corps. Veterans of countless battles, they relax in neat rows by their weapons, quietly talking while the booming of cannon and ripping musketry grows louder and louder. Suddenly a staff officer arrives; orders are shouted, the men rise, and the flags are uncased revealing the famous green flags with symbolic gold harp and shamrocks of Ireland. Though emblazoned with the state names of New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, a majority of the soldiers arrayed by these flags are native born Irishmen, banded together by nationality and the strength of their faith in the Catholic Church, fighting for the cause of Union in their adopted homeland. Absolution granted, the columns of dirty blue march southward to an appointment in the center of a whirlpool that was the “Wheatfield”. Join Park Historian John Heiser in retracing the route of the famous “Irish Brigade” on July 2, 1863, and the legacy of this fighting brigade in the famous Wheatfield at Gettysburg.

Meet at the Father Corby statue, Hancock Avenue. Park on the pavement on the right side of Hancock and Sedgwick Avenues. Walking distance of this program is approximately 2.5 miles over moderately rough terrain, fences, through high grass and seasonably wet areas.

2:30 p.m.
Myths, Memories, and Martyrs: The Battle for Little Round Top

Few episodes of the American Civil War have been mythologized as much as the ninety minutes the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia struggled for control GETT_150_Jul3_BattleforCulps_JM_042of the rocky slopes of Little Round Top. Legends were born, martyrs were made, and the fate of the nation was said to have hung in the balance. Join Supervisory Ranger Christopher Gwinn and explore the hill, separating fact from fiction, and memory from mythology.

Meet at the John Sedgewick Equestrian Statue on Sedgewick Avenue. Park on the right side of Sedgewick and Hancock Avenue. Walking distance of this program is approximately 2.5 miles over rough, rocky terrain.

6:00 p.m.
Gun Fight at the Peach Orchard

The fighting on July 2nd, the bloodiest of the entire battle, was preceded by what may have been the sharpest, largest close-action artillery “gunfight” of the entire Civil War. In most artillery engagements, including the climactic cannonade of July 3rd, most guns were far outside their effective range or lacked a direct view of a target. On July 2nd at the Peach Orchard, Union and Confederate guns, were placed quite by accident within “direct fire” range of each other. Join Licensed Battlefield Guide Ralph Siegel and explore the Union and Confederate gun line, concluding at the Peach Orchard.

Meet at the Louisiana Monument on West Confederate Avenue. Park along West Confederate Avenue. This hike will involve roughly a mile of walking over easy terrain.

Real Time Programs

These 30 to 45-minute programs provide an overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time at which they occurred 152 years ago.

8:30 a.m. – 9:15 p.m.    Lee Plans for Battle – Chuck Teague
Meet at the North Carolina Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 4.

Park on West Confederate Avenue.

12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Berdan’s Sharpshooters in Pitzer Woods  – Caitlin Kostic
Meet at the Longstreet Equestrian Statue, near Auto Tour Stop 6.
Park on West Confederate Avenue.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.  Sickles Moves Forward – Evangelina Rubalcava
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.  Longstreet Prepares to Attack – Karlton Smith            
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 7, near the Alabama Monument.

4:15 p.m.  – 4:45 p.m. Crisis on Little Round Top – Zach SigginsRanger Rubalcava 2 at Gettysburg NMP
Meet at the Warren Statue, Auto Tour Stop 8, on Little Round Top.

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Valley of Death –  Chuck Teague
Meet at Devil’s Den. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. Into the Wheatfield with Col. Cross – Bill Hewitt
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 9, The Wheatfield. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Barksdale’s Mississippians take the Peach Orchard – Matt Atkinson
Meet at The Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

7:20 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Redemption of the Harpers Ferry Cowards – Philip Brown
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 12, The Pennsylvania Memorial. Park along Hancock Avenue.

8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Greene’s Brigade on Culp’s Hill – Daniel Vermilya
Meet at the Culp’s Hill Tower, Slocum Avenue.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the four days of the battle anniversary Park Rangers will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the s events 152 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Letters from the Battlefield: July 2nd, 1863 – Bert Barnett
The second of July, 1863 marked the largest and bloodiest of the three days of fighting at Gettysburg. No one who took part in the fighting, or witnessed it, would ever forget the experience. Join Ranger Bert Barnett as he offers a glimpse into the experience of combat on July 2nd by sharing the words and memories of its participants.

Special Programs – Friday, July 3

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.   

10:00 a.m.
Hancock at Gettysburg – July 3rd   

General Winfield Scott Hancock – the very name personifies leadership.  On July 3rd, 1863, fate placed Hancock’s Second Corps on Cemetery Ridge, in the center of the line of battle of the Army of the Potomac. As the fate of the nation hung in the balance, Hancock rose to the occasion. He was everywhere issuing orders, directing troops, and rallying the men with his mere presence.  Join Ranger Matt Atkinson and follow in the footsteps of this American icon and retrace the route of “Hancock the Superb” during Pickett’s Charge.

Meet at the Abraham Brian Farm on North Hancock Avenue. Park along Hancock Avenue and in the National Cemetery Parking Lot.

2:30 p.m.
Pickett’s Charge  

Visitors are invited to follow in the footsteps of the Confederate soldiers that took part in Pickett’s Charge, the climactic moment of the Battle of Gettysburg. Who were the men that made this assault, what motivated them, and what did they experience in the fields between Seminary and Cemetery Ridge? Join Ranger Philip Brown and Bill Hewitt and retrace the route of the most famous charge in American military history.

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


Real Time Programs

These 30- to 45-minute programs provide a brief overview of key moments during the Battle of Gettysburg at the time at which they occurred 152 years ago.

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.  Slaughter in Spangler Meadow – Brian Henry
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring.
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.  Confederate Failure at Pardee Field – John Nicholas
Meet at the Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring.
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

9:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.  Lee and Longstreet at Odds – Troy Harman
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on North Sickles or United States Avenue.
Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.   First Fire on East Cavalry Field – Chuck Teague
Meet at the Ranger Program Sign, on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.
Park on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  Alexander Hays and the Fight for the Bliss Farm – Nate Hess
Meet at the Abraham Brian Farm. Park on Hancock Avenue.

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Alonzo Cushing and the Cannonade – Bert Barnett
Meet at the High Water Mark, Auto Tour Stop 15. Park on Hancock Avenue.

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. Alexander Webb and the Defense of Cemetery Ridge – Emma Murphy
Meet at the Meade Equestrian Monument.
Park on Hancock Avenue or in the National Cemetery Parking Lot.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the four days of the battle anniversary Park Rangers will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the events 152 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater.

Letters from the Battlefield: July 3rd, 1863 – Chuck Teague
“You must recollect that at Gettysburg the fate of a country depended upon individuals.” So wrote Brig. Gen. Alexander Webb as he reflected on the significance of the events of July 3rd, 1863. What did the battle at Gettysburg accomplish? What did it fail to accomplish? Join Ranger Chuck Teague and examine the story of July 3rd through the letters the survivors of the battle wrote home.

va memorial at night

Special Programs – Saturday, July 4

Battle Walks
These special 2- to 3-hour programs explore key episodes and phases of the battle and involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.   

3:30 p.m.
After the Storm: Gettysburg’s Experience

On July 2 and 3 1863 numerous citizens of Gettysburg felt the full weight of the Civil War as their farms and homes became the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the battle.  Hear their stories from during and after the battle as Ranger Dan Welch takes you to the very site of their most trying struggles.

Meet at the Mississippi Monument on West Confederate Avenue.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the four days of the battle anniversary Park Rangers will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the significance of events 152 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater, Battlefield Auto Tour Stop 6.

Voices of the Aftermath – Caitlin Kostic
The battle of Gettysburg left in its wake the largest man-made disaster in American history. How did the residents of Gettysburg deal with the aftermath of battle and how did the doctors, surgeons, and soldiers left behind cope with the enormity of the suffering and carnage? Join Ranger Caitlin Kostic and hear the stories of the aftermath of battle.

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Creating a new Lincoln

The center section of the plaster cast of Lincoln - looking very fashionable for all his years

The center section of the plaster cast of Lincoln – looking very fashionable for all his years

Monument specialists at Gettysburg National Military Park and the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center are working in Gettysburg to prepare for the casting of a new life-sized bronze statue of a standing Abraham Lincoln for the Saint-Gaudens National  Historic Site, in Cornish, New Hampshire. The cast will be of Saint-Gaudens’ 1887 “Abraham Lincoln: The Man,” the original of which is in Chicago, Illinois’ Lincoln Park.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens stands with a plaster model of

Augustus Saint-Gaudens stands with a plaster model of “Abraham Lincoln: The Man” in his Cornish studio.

This complex project is being performed in steps.  First a 1965 plaster cast of an original, Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpture is being conserved. The plaster casting will then be used to create a new bronze, 12 foot tall statue of Lincoln.

Gettysburg’s monument specialists have an impressive track record of caring for and completing major restorations of sculptural work on monuments and memorials, including the repair of the 11th Massachusetts monument and the monument to Smith’s Battery at Devil’s Den.

This week, restoration of plaster patterns continued at the Gettysburg maintenance facility.  Work focused on chair patterns and the torso section of the statue.  The plaster patterns that

Plaster casts of the chair legs.

Plaster casts of the chair legs.

were completed this week were set up for the mold making process which will be used to pour the bronze casting later in the process.

Work will continue at Gettysburg throughout the spring and summer months.  The bronze casting will be done off-site at a foundry.  Patina and other finishing touches will be completed at Gettysburg and the finished sculpture will be shipped to Saint-Gaudens’ home and studios in time for a

Brian Griffin creating a rubber mold of part of the plaster cast.

Brian Griffin creating a rubber mold of part of the plaster cast.

September 2015 ribbon cutting to commemorate the park’s 50th birthday.

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is New Hampshire’s only national park. The park preserves the studios, home, and gardens of American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). The placement of the 12 ft. bronze cast on the grounds will be the centerpiece of the park’s golden anniversary celebration. The Standing Lincoln will be the first new sculptural addition to the park’s landscape since the Shaw Memorial bronze was unveiled in 1997.

Read more this project on the blog of the Saint-Gauden National Historic Site.

Primary.FindYourParkLogo.FullColorNPS Centennial Initiatives – Creating a new Lincoln is one of several arts initiatives Gettysburg NMP is undertaking to engage new audiences and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.  We have also created Arts in the Parks Residencies at Gettysburg.  In March, we announced this new opportunity for artists, co-sponsored by the National Parks Arts Foundation and the Gettysburg Foundation.

The program will host three different artists for one month residencies at on the Gettysburg battlefield in one of the historic houses. The artists, who will be selected by National Parks Arts Foundation’s curators and advisors, will use the residencies to create artwork inspired by their stay at the Gettysburg battlefield, the surrounding woods, memorials monuments, and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  Three residencies will be selected for this summer, one in July August, and September.  To learn more go to:

For more about the NPS Centennial go to

We’ll be posting updates on creating a new Lincoln on Gettysburg NMP’s Facebook page too at

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, April 30, 2015

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A Belated Apology

When the terrible shock of Lincoln’s assassination first echoed forth on the morning of April 15, 1865, carrying the word to an as-yet unknowing world, friend and foe alike took pause to reflect upon the meaning of it all. One of the most interesting facets of such an historical moment is how it may tend to freeze, reveal, or reverse the true feelings of one person about another.  At such a time, much of note, from the abhorrent to the altruistic, may come to light.  Such was the case with the death of Lincoln.

After four years of intense conflict, the war had left virtually nothing untouched.  Emotions, already frayed in border communities, finally snapped in Maryland.  Nine days before the President’s death, the outspoken, and increasingly unpopular, Southern-leaning editor of Westminster’s Western Maryland Democrat, Joseph Shaw, had called upon “Providence” to relieve the country of its burden, to clear the way for Andrew Johnson.  After Booth struck, a mob destroyed Shaw’s newspaper press, and he was subsequently murdered by a group of five men, who beat, shot and stabbed him to death.  Given the larger mood of the country at the moment, it is perhaps unsurprising that while all five were later tried, they were acquitted of the charges.

Word of the President’s murder quickly spread “a thousand directions,” and by April 26th it was known across the Atlantic.

From the April 26, 1865, London Times

“The intelligence of the assassination of President Lincoln and of the attempt to assassinate Mr. Seward caused a most extraordinary sensation in the city yesterday. Towards noon the news became known, and it spread rapidly from mouth to mouth in all directions. At first many were incredulous as to the truth of the rumour, and some believed it to have been set afloat for purposes in connexion with the Stock-Exchange.”

The “excitement caused by the intelligence was manifest in the public streets, and the event was the theme of conversation everywhere.”  It was reported “there was no face in which grief was not depicted, no sentiment uttered but that of abhorrence at these foul crimes.”

up a tree

“Lincoln as A Treed Raccoon,” Feb. 11, 1862, during the Trent affair.

One English location, however, where the reaction to Lincoln’s death was hotly debated was the boardroom of Great Britain’s Punch magazine.  This publication, famous for searing editorials and scandalous cartoons depicting various political figures of the day, had paid special attention to “the war across the shore,” given the impact the American conflict had played on cotton imports, the Union blockade of the American coast and subsequent mill shut-downs in Britain, arms exports, the Trent affair, and other international matters generally.  While Punch took no favorites, delighting in satirizing the failures and foibles of both combatants, Mr. Lincoln had long been a particular target of the magazine’s editorial staff.

Now, with the American war all-but concluded, and the victorious Northern commander-in-chief struck down in such in a manner, a debate arose.  Should, and if so how, might Punch honor this fallen foreign leader who had often been their target?

One writer, Thomas Taylor, felt a public acknowledgement of his loss should be made.  At a dinner discussion for the upcoming May 6th issue, he read portions of a memorial that not only eulogized the slain President, but chastised Punch itself for having treated Lincoln the way it had during his career.


C. Shirley Brooks

The editor, Mark Lemon, listened as his senior writers fought out the battle before him, voicing opposition to Taylor’s view.  Another contributor and future Punch editor, C. Shirley Brooks, recorded the struggle this way later in his diary:

“Dined [at] Punch.  All there. Let out my views against some verses on Lincoln in which T.T. [Tom Taylor] had not only made P[unch] eat humble pie, but swallow dish and all.

Ultimately, however, when the shouting was all through, the decision was made that the May 6th issue of Punch would bear tributes to the man it once had actively mocked.  Two primary elements composed it: a striking editorial cartoon –


In this editorial cartoon from Punch’s May 6th edition, Lincoln’s recumbent corpse bears two mourning wreaths; the first from the still deeply-mourning Columbia (left,) while the somewhat-more detached Britannia places the second. To the right, a recently liberated slave also mourns.

…and Tom Taylor’s remarkable poem, entitled simply Abraham Lincoln, Foully Assassinated, April 14, 1865.

Composed of nineteen verses, it was both a paean to Lincoln the man and to the leader, as he had matured on the frontier and through the fiery furnace of four years of terrible national conflict. In this respect, it was not unusual.  What makes this work stand out, however, is what else Taylor put into the work – and what put some of his fellow writers so ill-at ease.  Apology does not come easily to political satirists.  But Taylor was insistent, and he won the day.  Lincoln had proven himself worthy, and had lost his life in the cause of his country.  Perhaps, just, once, Punch could do the right thing.  So before the body of the memorial poem truly commences, the poet clears his conscience (v. 1-5) –

You lay a wreath on murdered Lincoln’s
You, who, with mocking pencil, wont to

Broad for the self-complaisant British sneer,
His length of shambling limb, his furrowed

His gaunt, gnarled hands, his unkempt,
bristling hair,
His garb uncouth, his bearing ill at ease,
His lack of all we prize as debonair,
Of power or will to shine, of art to please;

You, whose smart pen backed up the
pencil’s laugh,
Judging each step as though the way were
Reckless, so it could point its paragraph
Of chief’s perplexity, or people’s pain, –

Beside this corpse, that bears for winding-
The Stars and Stripes he lived to rear anew,
Between the mourners at his head and feet,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you?

Yes, he had lived to shame me from my
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen;
To make me own this hind of Prince’s peer,
This rail-splitter a true-born king of men.

This self-condemnation was further accentuated by the praiseworthy tones struck in Taylor’s closing verses (v. 16 -19)

The words of mercy were upon his lips,
Forgiveness in his heart and on his pen,
When this vile murderer brought swift
To thoughts of peace on earth, good will to

The Old World and the New, from sea to
Utter one voice of sympathy and shame.
Sore heart, so stopped when it at last beat
Sad life, cut short just as its triumph came!

A deed accursed!  Strokes have been struck
By the assassin’s hand, wherof men doubt
If more of horror or disgrace they bore;
But thy foul crime, like Cain’s, stands darkly

Vile hand, that brandest murder on a strife,
Whate’er its grounds, stoutly and nobly
And with the martyr’s crown crownest a
With much to praise, little to be forgiven.

Tom Taylor

Thomas Taylor

So why, from the nest of Punch, this sudden need to conciliate?   What drove Thomas Taylor to fight so determinedly for the artistic expression to print these words?   For the present is always upon us, and a satirist’s work is never done. Surely there would soon be fresh personalities upon the horizon for the picking.

The answer, as it often does, perhaps lies in the small print.  While Taylor eventually aspired to a myriad of careers (as an art critic, biographer, professor of English at University College, London, and so forth,) one facet, and one moment of his life binds him inextricably to Abraham Lincoln.  You see, Taylor was also a playwright, with eventually one hundred or so works to his credit – and it was his creation, Our American Cousin, the President had gone to see that fateful night, and during which, had fallen “foully murdered.”  If you were Tom Taylor, then, how would you feel?

Ranger Bert Barnett

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How Not to Conduct a Reconnaissance: Capt. Samuel R. Johnston, July 2, 1863 – Part 2

This is the second installment of a two part series which examines the mystery and controversy surrounding the early morning reconnaissance of the Union position at Gettysburg conducted by Captain Samuel Johnston on July 2nd, 1863. Read the first part of this series here.


Several questions have arisen over the years concerning Johnston’s reconnaissance, not the least of which are where exactly he went and what he saw or did not see. It is this writer’s belief that Johnston did not get to Little Round Top as he claimed but instead was on the slopes of Big Round Top. There were also plenty of Federal troops in the area between the Round Tops and the Emmitsburg road for Johnston to have seen.

The U. S. Signal Corps had made several attempts on July 1 to establish communications between the Round Tops and Emmitsburg, Maryland. Due to atmospherics, this was not accomplished until 11:00 p.m., July 1. This line was “maintained during the subsequent battle.” There was thus a signal station on Little Round Top at the time of Johnston’s reconnaissance.

Brig. Gen. John Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division bivouacked on the Federal left on the evening of July 1. His main line was at or near the Peach Orchard. The 6th New York Cavalry bivouacked in the Peach Orchard, and the 3rd Indiana Cavalry bivouacked in “the woods (possibly Rose’s woods) near Round Top.” Battery A, 2nd U. S. Artillery under Lt. John H. Calef was also stationed near the Peach Orchard. Buford received orders at about 10:30 a.m. July 2, to withdraw to Taneytown, Maryland, and began to leave the area about an hour later.

Most of the 3rd Corps (about 7,000) had bivouacked in the area of the George Weikert farm along the southern extension of Cemetery Ridge. Brig. Gen. J. H. Hobart Ward’s brigade was southwest of the farm while Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Carr’s and Col. William R. Brewster’s brigades were located north and west of the farmhouse. This area was, and is, clearly visible from both Round Tops.

Captain Johnston claimed to have reached the summit of Little Round Top during his morning exploration. A Union signal station occupied the hill at that time. How did Johnston not notice their presence?

The 4th Maine Infantry was on picket duty during the night of July 1 in the fields west of the Emmitsburg road and was supported by the 63rd Pennsylvania lying in the Emmitsburg road. The 2nd Corps (about 11,000) had halted for the night about three miles from Gettysburg along the Taneytown road, or about one mile south of the Round Tops. They were ready to march by daylight of July 2 and first took position near the intersection of Granite Schoolhouse lane and the Taneytown road, about three-quarters of a mile south of Little Round Top. The head of the column should have been in this area by about 5:30 a.m. with the rest of the column on or near the road to the south.

Brig. Gen. John W. Geary, with two brigades (about 3,000) from his 2nd Division of the 12th Corps, had been sent to the area of the Round Tops late on the afternoon of July 1. Two regiments (5th Ohio and 147th Pennsylvania) were located on the north slope of Little Round Top. The 5th Ohio deployed “as skirmishers in our front across an open valley to a light strip of woods, and in front of that timber facing an open field” to help guard against a possible flank move by the Confederates. Geary was relieved by the 3rd Corps sometime between 5 am and 7 am of July 2.

Did fog in the valley below Little Round Top obscure Captain Johnston’s view of the true position of the Army of the Potomac?

While there was probably little or no dust because of the damp conditions of the previous days, fog was reported by at least one officer of the 3rd Corps. There was, however, no reason for the Federal troops to have remained quiet. A staff officer in the 3rd Corps wrote that at daylight the “clear notes of a single bugle broke upon the ear, and before its echoes had lost itself among the hills a dozen had taken up the call, and the drums added their sullen roll.” It is usually assumed that Johnston somehow missed seeing all these troops. But did he? Johnston never wrote that he had not seen any Federal troops. He wrote that when he arrived on Warfield Ridge with McLaws, there was a “force ready to oppose us.” Johnston may have seen Federal troops in the Peach Orchard area but not in any force, in his opinion, to stop a strong Confederate advance.


Did Captain Johnston actually reach the summit of Big Round Top, seen in the far distance in this Timothy O’Sullivan view?

From Johnston’s description, it seems that he started his reconnaissance from Lee’s Headquarters position along the Chambersburg Pike. Johnston may have accompanied Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, Chief of Artillery, who was making his own reconnaissance. They may have ridden together along Seminary Ridge until just past Spangler’s Woods. Johnston, trying to stay out of sight of Federal patrols, may have ridden on the reverse slope of Seminary Ridge and not been in position to directly observe the Peach Orchard area. He probably crossed the Emmitsburg Road further south than he thought, perhaps somewhere in the area of the Michael Bushman and John Slyder farms. He then went up the west slope of Big Round Top. An officer in the 118th Pennsylvania, who was on Big Round Top on July 3, reported, that like Johnston, he had “a commanding view” of the area. Johnston could then have travelled through part of the John Slyder farm and skirted Bushman Hill before re-crossing the Emmitsburg road in the area of Biesecker Woods. The Slyder Farm was the scene of Brig. Gen. Elon Farnsworth’s ill-fated charge on the afternoon of July 3. By this time Lee was no longer at the headquarters along the Chambersburg Pike but had moved to the area of Herr’s Ridge.

Lee was receiving reports from other sources besides Johnston’s. As stated, Gen. Pendleton reported that he “surveyed the enemy’s position toward some estimate of the ground and the best mode of attack.” Confederate officers, from the Point of Woods at Spangler’s Woods, could have seen the Federal 3rd Corps skirmish line on the west side of the Emmitsburg road and the Peach Orchard area before the road crossed the high ground at the Peach Orchard. They also saw the Federal signal station on Little Round Top. They could have seen the 2nd Corps moving into position along Cemetery Ridge and 3rd Corps troops moving up the Emmitsburg road. Brig. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, commanding a brigade in Longstreet’s corps and stationed along Herr’s Ridge, wrote that he had a commanding view of the Alexander Currens farm along the Emmitsburg Road. Kershaw also observed a “large body of troops, with flankers out in our direction, passed over that point and joined the Federal army.” The Currens farm is approximately ½ mile south of the intersection of South Confederate Avenue and the Emmitsburg road. The report with the most impact, however, was that of Capt. Johnston.

Historian Douglas Southall Freeman felt that the Confederate reconnaissance was “inadequate” and that Johnston’s reconnaissance “was accurate, so far as he went.” Either Johnston got as far as Little Round Top or he did not. If he had been on Little Round Top it is hard to believe that he could have missed the Signal Corps station, part of Geary’s division, the 3rd Corps troops north of Little Round Top, troops along the Emmitsburg road, or heard the movement of the 2nd Corps along the Taneytown road. He appears to have failed to give Lee any detailed information about the terrain or the roads in the area of the attack. While Johnston stated that it was part of his duty to find a route over which troops could be moved unseen by the enemy, when he conducted Longstreet’s march he seems to have failed to have noticed that when the column crossed Bream’s hill they would be spotted by the signal station on Little Round Top. He then knew of no alternate route on which the troops could move. Johnston’s report was not accurate enough and should not have been the basis for a major attack.

Despite a less than stellar performance at Gettysburg, this does not seem to have affected Johnston’s post-Gettysburg career. An artillery officer remembered seeing Johnston on July 5 “looking for favorable ground in our rear to lay out a line of battle.” After the pontoon bridge had broken at Falling Waters during the retreat, Longstreet praised the work of Johnston and other who had “applied themselves diligently to the work of repairing the bridge.” Johnston was promoted to major on March 17, 1864 and to lieutenant colonel on September 15, 1864.

Karlton Smith, Park Ranger


Krick, Robert E. L. Staff Officers in Gray: A Biographical Register of the Staff Officers in
the Army of Northern Virginia. (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2003), 174.

Service Record for Samuel R. Johnston (Copy in GNMP Files V5-Johnston, Samuel R.

Mahan, Dennis Hart. An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-Post…
(New York: John Wiley, 1861), 105

Halleck, Henry W. The Elements of Military Art and Science.
(New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1862), 342.

S. R. Johnston to Fitz Lee, February 11, 1878. S. R. Johnston MSS,
Douglas S. Freeman Collection, Library of Congress

S. R. Johnston to Lafayette McLaws, June 27, 1892

S. R. Johnston to Rt. Rev. George Peterkin, December…18__

Donaldson, Francis Adams. Inside the Army of the Potomac:
The Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson,
Gregory Aiken, ed. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998), 307.

Ladd, David L. & Audrey J. Ladd, eds. The Bachelder Papers:
Gettysburg in Their Own Words. 3 vols. (Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1994), Vol. 1, 453.

Buell, Clarence C. & Robert Underwood Johnson, eds.
Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 4 vols. (1888), 3: 331.

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Bells Across the Land: The War Comes to an End


Sometime around 3:00 PM on April 9th, 1865 Robert E. Lee surrendered what was left of his once vaunted Army of Northern Virginia to the combined armies of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant. The front parlor of Wilmer McLean’s home in Appomattox Court House provided the setting for this, the closing drama of the war in Virginia. The surviving soldiers of the opposing armies at Appomattox had come to the end of a long road that stretched through Farmville and Petersburg, through Gettysburg and Sharpsburg, along the Rapidan and Chickahominy all the way back to Bull Run.

Grants Pen

Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant used this pen to sign the surrender documents on April 9, 1865. It is currently on display at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

The people of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania didn’t receive the news until the following day, the morning of April 10th, 1865. Few northern communities could claim to have experienced the full spectrum of the horror of the Civil War as did the residents of Gettysburg. Like nearly every northern town, many of Gettysburg’s residents volunteered to fill the ranks of northern armies. Most of them made it home, but not all. Men like Fred Huber who was killed at Fair Oaks or Alexander Cobean who numbered among the slain at Shiloh, brought the tragedy of distant engagements home to an otherwise peaceful community. Unlike nearly every other northern town, Gettysburg played host to a major battle. The destruction and carnage of war visited Adams County in a manner that was all too familiar in the south, but virtually unknown throughout the loyal states of the North.

The news of the surrender of Lee caused jubilation and celebration throughout Gettysburg. The Adams Sentinel reported the event with a headline proclaiming “Bright Skies! Lee Surrendered and His Whole Army!” and described the ensuing celebration which included the dismissal of all schools and “Cheer upon cheer…given for our victorious Generals, our Government, the Old Flag, Adams Sentineland etc.” “This glorious news,” it continued, “is the precursor of Peace, and a triumph of our principles, which will tell upon the future of the great nation.”

The Civil War did not officially end that day or in that place, a fact those with more than a passing interest in the conflict are quick to cite, pointing to the April 26th surrender of Joe Johnston at Bennett Place, the May 1865 battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas or the furling of the ensign of the CSS Shenandoah in November of 1865, among a host of other “ends.” Yet, it’s tough to view the capitulation of Lee as anything other than the complete dissolution of the southern Confederacy.

Even if the war didn’t officially end that day, it has become the de facto conclusion for a four year long conflict that refuses to be anything other than complex and endlessly debatable. Even today, the word Appomattox conjures a feeling of finality…both for the Civil War generation, and for our own. Devoid a crystal ball and decipherable tea leaves, it seems likely that the current commemorative events at Appomattox will mark the end of the official sesquicentennial commemorations of the past four years, with the possible exception of the approaching anniversary of the Lincoln assassination.

Bells Cross the land

In that vein, today at 3:15 PM in communities all across the United States, bells will be rung in commemoration of the conclusion of the American Civil War. Each bell will chime or call out for four minutes, each minute symbolizing one year of warfare. We invite you, should you happen to hear this sustained ringing where you live, to take four minutes, or even four seconds, out of your day to reflect on the significance of what happened one hundred and fifty years ago. Local churches in Gettysburg, the Lincoln Train Station, Gettysburg College, the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, and a host of others organizations will take part in this simple act of remembrance. We hope you will too.

Christopher Gwinn,
Gettysburg National Military Park

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“Find Your Park” at Gettysburg

Primary.FindYourParkLogo.FullColorOn August 25, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) will celebrate its 100th birthday. To celebrate 100 years of stewardship, our goal is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. Programs and events at Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT), Eisenhower National Historic Site (EISE) and all the national parks will reach out to engage new audiences, teachers, students, and youth.

At Gettysburg, we put our heads together and here are some of the activities we are talking about. The Centennial theme is “Find Your Park” and it was launched at media events today in New York City. Find Your Park is a movement. Everyone is invited. We’ll know we’re succeeding when the public starts to pick up the spirit of the movement and inspire others.

Let us know what you think of these ideas and go to the Find Your Park website to learn more and share your stories.

Virginia Memorial, detail.

Virginia Memorial, detail.

Arts in the Parks Residencies – Working with the National Parks Arts Foundation, Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT) has established three, one-month residencies. The artists will be selected by National Parks Arts Foundation’s curators and advisors, and will use their residencies in one of the historic houses on the Gettysburg battlefield to create artwork inspired by the historic landscapes, over one thousand memorials and monuments and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.       June – August 2015. NPS Call to Action #10 Arts Afire.

Creating a New Lincoln – Monument specialists at Gettysburg National Military Park and the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center will be working in Gettysburg to prepare for the casting of a new life-sized bronze statue of a standing Abraham Lincoln for the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. A 1965 plaster cast of an original, Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpture will be conserved and then used to create a new 12 foot tall statue of Lincoln. The work will be done in Gettysburg throughout the spring and summer months, and the sculpture will be completed and shipped to Saint-Gaudens’ home and studios in Cornish, New Hampshire, in time for a September 2015 ribbon cutting to commemorate the park’s 50th birthday.   April through September 2015. NPS Call to Action #10 Arts Afire

Ranger Rubalcava 2 at Gettysburg NMPHealthy Adams County/Wellness Walks – Gettysburg National Military Park is hosting community wellness walks on the battlefield to improve health and wellness. Spring and Fall 2015. NPS Call to Action #6 Take a Hike. Call Me in the Morning

Parks in your Classroom – Gettysburg and Eisenhower Park Rangers will present programs in regional schools about the NPS, careers in parks, and the 100th birthday. We are also seeking funding opportunities to create virtual field trips; host school Administrator days; and provide special family programming, improved Junior Ranger activities and service projects. Fall 2015 through Spring 2016. NPS Call to Action #3 History Lesson

MillennialsNew Recruits: Memberships for Millennials – The Gettysburg Foundation will be developing and launching a new membership level for the Friends of Gettysburg. The new “Recruit” level will be for ages 18 – 38. In addition, we’ll engage with community groups, young professionals and others to improve engagement in park programs and preservation. Fall 2015. NPS Call to Action #29 Posterity Partners.

We’ll post updates about these and other events as we continue our planning. Join us in the movement. Go out and Find Your Park!

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, April 2, 2015

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Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow: The Civilian Conservation Corps at Gettysburg


CCC enrollees arriving by train for M.P.-2, McMillan Woods, Gettysburg Train Station, ca. 1935.

In the summer of 1933, some seventy years after generals Robert E. Lee and George G. Meade led their armies to Gettysburg, a new army arrived. Composed of young men, this new volunteer army was unlike any one created by the United States government before. Instead of shouldering rifles, these volunteers were armed with shovels, saws, and pickaxes. Rather than learn about military strategy and tactics, these men were taught about the conservation of the nation’s natural resources. Their enemy was not some foreign power. The enemy was an economic depression that had, at its height, put an estimated fifteen million Americans out of work and denied them the opportunity to support their communities, families, and themselves. This new army was called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Gettysburg was but one battlefield in the campaign to put Americans back to work.

In his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged to put Americans to work, but just as important, he laid out his plans of attack. “Our greatest primary task,” Roosevelt acknowledged, “is to put people to work.”[1] For those Americans who had lost hope for economic relief, Roosevelt reminded them that the problem was not “unsolvable” if faced “wisely and courageously.”[2] Unemployment relief could “be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself,” Roosevelt insisted, and “treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war…”[3] Roosevelt then mentioned a secondary goal, which was to accomplish “greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.”[4] Roosevelt wanted to use public lands, such as the Gettysburg battlefield, to help a crumbling nation. Twenty-seven days after his Inaugural Address, Roosevelt signed the Unemployment Relief Act, which established the CCC, one of Roosevelt’s most successful New Deal programs.[5]

Within the first year of its existence, Roosevelt allowed for 250,000 recruits to enroll in the Emergency Conservation Work program, as the CCC was first known. An additional 25,000 local experienced men, or LEM’s, were accepted to teach the unskilled enrollees the various trades to accomplish their work assignments. Another 25,000 military veterans who had been unable to find employment were also accepted. Enrollment was further expanded in July with the acceptance of 12,000 American Indians. These approximately 300,000 enrollees, organized into companies of about 200 men each, were placed in 1,468 camps located in every state across the country. In Roosevelt’s opinion, the mobilization of the CCC “was the most rapid large-scale mobilization of men” in the country’s peace-time history.[6]

The first wave of recruits had to meet certain criteria in order to join the CCC. Recruits had to be unemployed, unmarried, between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, and willing to send $25.00 of their $30.00 monthly allowance home to their families. Those who enrolled had to serve a minimum six month enlistment, but they could continue serving for up to two years if they were unable to find employment elsewhere.[7] Recruits also had to be male. While women filled supportive roles for the CCC in some instances, none became enrollees.


Restoring a stone wall along Slyder Lane, ca. 1937.

The CCC had a profound impact on the United States during its nine year existence – politically, economically, socially, and of course, environmentally. The program nonetheless maintained various societal norms that undercut its own potential, restricted the nation’s economic recovery, and reminded a class of American citizens of their status in society. The CCC perpetuated racial inequalities principally toward African Americans by limiting their enrollment by using a system of quotas based on state populations, limiting the rise of African Americans to leadership roles, and establishing segregated camps.

Of the approximately 2.5 million enrollees that served in the CCC from 1933 to 1942, about 250,000 were African American.[8] These figures would have been higher if the CCC administration and Advisory Council had not confined African American enrollment from exceeding ten percent of the program’s national total.[9] Even as various New Deal programs were implemented, the number of African Americans receiving relief increased from 1933 to 1935.[10] If volunteering for the CCC was harder for black youth than white, rising to a leadership position within the CCC was even more difficult. In an organizational structure similar to that of the United States Colored Troops that fought in the Civil War, it was customary for white officers to command black enrollees. Resistance by the U.S. Army, potential negative publicity of the CCC for allowing black leadership, and minimal interest and support in the matter by the White House and politicians denied aspiring black enrollees a chance at advancement.[11] Those who were appointed to leadership roles would serve in black camps only. Lastly, inequality existed in the form of segregated camps, which were established with little regard because of the “separate but equal” philosophy that existed across the country.

The arrival of the relief program at Gettysburg coincided with that of the National Park Service. Prior to the summer of 1933 the battlefield had been maintained by the United States War Department. James R. McConaghie, the first NPS superintendent at Gettysburg, had requested 100 enrollees to provide various improvements to the battlefield. McConaghie’s request was approved, and the first company – Company 385-C – arrived in June, with three white officers and 180 African American enrollees.[12]

Gettysburg provided an appropriate backdrop for black enrollees. Those American youths were stationed on a battlefield from a war fought to preserve the Union and end the enslavement of African Americans, but one that ultimately fell short from reaffirming the ideal that “all men are created equal.” The enrollee’s surroundings on that “great battle-field of that war” would have reminded them of what the Civil War failed to achieve just as much as what was accomplished. Many must have wondered whether or not President Abraham Lincoln’s vision for “a new birth of freedom” had yet been realized.


Park Superintendent James McConaghie with camp officers at M.P.-1 in Pitzer Woods, ca. 1934.

It was, perhaps, fitting that Company 385-C was detailed to Gettysburg, especially since it had been organized at Fort George G. Meade, in Maryland, on June 2, 1933.[13] After its organization, the company was transported by rail to Gettysburg, then transferred by bus to their camp, called MP-1, or what the enrollees would soon call Camp Renaissance.[14] MP-1 was located southwest of the town in Pitzer’s Woods on Seminary Ridge, an area occupied by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the July battle. MP-1 was in operation until April 12, 1937 when it was closed due to budgetary cuts.

The residents of Gettysburg were fortunate to have enrollees stationed nearby. The town would benefit from the variety of projects carried out by the enrollees, which would drive tourism and enhance the visitor experience. More immediately, however, the local economy could expect a jump-start from the money enrollees were expected to spend at various businesses. Yet there was a reluctance to have black enrollees living and working nearby. As a preemptive measure, the Gettysburg Times told its readers that the arrival of the first black enrollees was only temporary, and that this contingent had been sent to Gettysburg to establish a camp for a forthcoming white company.[15] This news also made the area’s representative in Washington, D.C. to take action. Congressman Harry L. Haines was either personally unhappy about a black company at Gettysburg, or he received a significant response from his constituents who were unhappy as well. Haines wrote to Robert Fechner, the director of the CCC, asking that Company 385-C be sent to a more remote area, but the request was ineffectual.[16] Despite this initial hesitancy, it appears that the town came to value the CCC camps on the battlefield, even if they were black camps. The community planned to send a delegation to Washington to persuade Director Fechner to keep both MP-1 and MP-2 open when it was learned that one camp would be abandoned.[17]


M.P.-1 buildings in Pitzer Woods, ca. 1934.

The work to be performed by Company 385-C was chosen specifically by Superintendent McConaghie. Projects ranged from transplanting and pruning trees, cutting and hauling wood, removing stumps, to lawn maintenance and other projects.[18] New projects sometimes popped up unexpectedly and added to the workload. Such was the case on July 2, 1933 when a twister roared through MP-1 and went tearing toward Little Round Top and Big Round Top, leaving debris of every description in its wake. MP-1 was devastated. The forty-five tents used to house the officers and enrollees were all blown down and various camp items were scattered about. It seemed as though Little Round Top and Big Round Top received the heaviest blow, however. Some 275 trees were knocked over or snapped by the twister’s strong winds.[19]


Enrollees resetting the gravestones in the Solders’ National Cemetery, ca. 1934.

Other work assignments concealed hidden dangers beyond those that are typical to manual labor. While enrollees were working near the National Cemetery in 1934 two “grapeshell bombs” were unearthed. The enrollees believed the artillery rounds were duds and therefore safe to handle. The projectiles were taken back to MP-1 and placed inside the camp headquarters as gifts to Captain Francis J. Moran. Moran, a World War I combat veteran, realized that the projectiles were actually live! He quickly ordered that they be taken to an open field at once. Moran had the Civil War projectiles placed side-by-side, braced on either side with logs, and had two sticks of dynamite placed underneath. On Moran’s command the seventy year old artillery rounds were exploded, thus preventing any terrible accident from happening to any person.[20]

Aside from its regular duties, Company 385-C responded to various emergencies within the state. When Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams flooded in 1936 Company 385-C sent a three truck convoy with food and clothing to those citizens impacted by the floods.[21] The enrollees also fought to contain several forest fires. In May 1936, Superintendent McConaghie led sixty enrollees southwest of Gettysburg to McKee’s Knob near Fairfield, where they fought for six hours to contain a fire begun by embers from a nearby barn that had caught fire.[22] Fortunately, no human lives were lost.


Enrollees painting the iron picket fence separating Soldiers’ National Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery, ca. 1936-1939.

The work was tough, but it filled an important void in the lives of the enrollees. President Roosevelt was aware of the tangible gains the United States could reap with the CCC at work, but he also understood the intangible gains that could be had by placing the unemployed in “healthful surroundings.”[23] In a message delivered to members of the Congress, Roosevelt wrote that “More important, however, than material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work…We can eliminate to some extent at least the threat that enforced idleness brings to spiritual and moral stability.”[24] The CCC was not only designed to relieve a nation, it was designed to rescue the souls of young Americans from idleness.

The enrollees of Company 385-C, along with enrollees throughout the CCC, were able to keep themselves busy outside of their work assignments. The CCC facilitated opportunities for personal exploration and growth that a generation of American youths may not have had otherwise. Numerous sports activities were available to the enrollees, including baseball, boxing, quoits, basketball, volleyball, and ping pong. The company even formed a drum and bugle corps, glee club, and camp orchestra, which delivered performances once a month. MP-1 also offered different school programs, including life saving, company clerks, and first aid attendants. In April 1934, a camp newspaper titled The Renaissance News began publication as an education opportunity for enrollees who could contribute articles of interest.[25] Due to its high degree of efficiency and excellent morale, Company 385-C was given the honor of being the best camp in the sub-district in May 1935.

News that a second CCC camp would be established at Gettysburg appeared in local newspapers in September 1933. Superintendent McConaghie was able to justify the need for more labor and his request for another company was accepted. MP-2 was placed in McMillan’s Woods, also on Seminary Ridge, and operated until March 1942.[26] MP-2 was occupied by Company 238-C, Captain James M. MacDonnell commanding, on October 18, but their time in Gettysburg was relatively short. Local newspapers reported in early May 1934 that Company 238-C would be sent to Yaphank, New York on May 9, leaving an open camp for a new company of enrollees.[27]

Company 1355-C was then assigned to MP-2. Organized at Fort George G. Meade, Company 1355-C arrived at Gettysburg on May 26, 1934 with three white officers and 190 African American enrollees.[28] Though it was organizationally similar to Company 385-C when it was created, Company 1355-C would stand out as one of the most unique companies in the CCC program.


Enrollees at work cleaning the High Water Mark Monument on Cemetery Ridge, 1937.

In August 1936, Captain Oscar H. Coble, the commanding officer at MP-2, learned that he and every white officer were to be transferred out. On August 10, Captain Frederick L. Slade, 1st Lieutenant George W. Webb, and 2nd Lieutenant Samuel W. Tucker, all African Americans, took command of the camp. This change in command came as a surprise to the white officers, and when the Gettysburg Times failed to ascertain the reasons behind the abrupt changes, the paper reported it was “believed to be an experiment of colored supervision of colored enrollees in the CCC camps.”[29] Slade became the first black officer to command a black CCC camp in the country, and by 1939 MP-2 was led by an all-black staff and served as “a ‘model’ camp of negroes.”[30] This “experiment” was, not surprisingly, successful.

There was plenty of work on the battlefield for the enrollees of Company 1355-C to perform. Work assignments mirrored those of Company 385-C. They included road installation, planting and pruning trees, clearing brush, cutting and hauling timber, building stone and rail fences, cleaning monuments, and other projects outlined by the National Park Service.[31] One of the more delicate jobs enrollees performed was that of resetting the grave markers of the Union dead in the National Cemetery. The sacredness of the job was not lost on the men. One enrollee, Frank Deering, was so inspired by the cemetery and his time working in it that he wrote a poem he titled “Remembering.” It read:

In this graveyard one can see,
The graves of the boys of sixty-three.
Only a few remember the day,
When these brave heroes were laid away.

The soldiers fought to set us free,
And we, the boys of the C.C.C.,
Pay our respect to the boys in blue,
Who nobly fell for a cause so true.

We care for the plot where their bodies rest,
And with reverent hearts we do our best.
To keep their final resting place,
A thing of beauty and of grace.[32]

Enrollees at MP-2 had numerous opportunities to discover and learn new interests. MP-2 hosted sports activities similar to those at MP-1, but with the addition of touch football and pool. Some of the enrollees showed considerable talent in their activities, as some of the men received commendations for boxing and swimming. Enrollees took advantage of the various educational opportunities at their disposal. Upon the expiration of their service, some enrollees planned to complete or further their educations by returning to high school or going on to college or vocational programs. The company started a camp newspaper as well, first with the M. P. Mirror and then The Battlefield Echo.[33] For its excellence in camp and enrollee health, religious morale and welfare activities, and the company’s administration, Company 1355-C in May 1941 was named a superior camp within its district of ten camps and was awarded the district honor flag. Company commander 1st Lieutenant George W. Webb rewarded his men with a special dance that was open to the community.[34]

CCC camps across the nation attempted to establish a level of transparency with the communities around them and highlight the program’s success. MP-1 and MP-2 were no exception. On March 30, 1938 MP-2 announced its schedule of events and special speakers for a weeklong commemoration. Activities ranged from camp tours led by “specially selected guides,” to a film of the projects carried out by the enrollees, to musical performances by the company glee club, to an address titled “The Significance of the C.C.C. at Gettysburg” delivered by National Park Service historian Dr. Louis E. King. The weeklong observance culminated on April 5, the birthday of the CCC, with an address delivered by Dr. Dwight O. W. Holmes, president of Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland.[35]


CCC Camp MP-2, aerial view of McMillan Woods, West Confederate Ave., October, 1941 (from northwest).

1938 was a special year for the surviving veterans of the Civil War, the citizens of Gettysburg, the National Park Service, and most of all, the nation. 1938 marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle, and would witness the final reunion for the aging Union and Confederate veterans. Company 1355-C played a role in getting the event up and running. Enrollees assisted in constructing the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and setting the gas line to fuel the monument’s flame. They also worked with Army personnel to construct various structures for the ceremonies and a camp for over 1,800 veterans who attended. Army officers and enlisted men began to arrive to the town in June and were quartered at the abandoned MP-1. Those soldiers occupied MP-1 until at least August in order to dismantle the veterans’ camp and perform additional clean-up work.[36]

The culmination of the 1938 commemorative event was an address delivered by President Roosevelt on July 3 at the Eternal Light Piece Memorial on Oak Hill. A central theme of Roosevelt’s speech was unity. “On behalf of the people of the United States,” Roosevelt began, “I accept this monument in the spirit of brotherhood and peace.”[37] Then, before an audience of some 250,000 spectators, possibly more, Roosevelt said of the veterans, “They are brought here by the memories of old divided loyalties, but they meet here in united loyalty to a united cause which the unfolding years have made it easier to see.”[38] Roosevelt’s emphasis of unity between former enemies underscored the necessity of a nation uniting to create a better world for the present as well as future generations. While Roosevelt spoke specifically to the slowly disappearing animosity between the blue and gray, he overlooked the growing hostility between white and black, but perhaps Americans of every race, ethnicity, and religion could use those aging men as an example to establish a new “brotherhood and peace.”

The memory of the CCC at Gettysburg continues to live on through their work that still stands on the battlefield – though many of their contributions go unnoticed to visitors today. The enrollees installed or improved park roads such as Jones’ Battalion Avenue, Sykes Avenue, and Wheatfield Road. They installed or improved trails on Little Round Top, Big Round Top, and at Devil’s Den. They landscaped around the West and South End Guide Stations, at Little Round Top, and around the Alabama Monument. They cleaned various monuments such as the High Water Mark Memorial, the Vermont State Monument, and the monument to the 155th Pennsylvania Volunteers. They widened the gateway to the National Cemetery from Baltimore Pike and reset the gravestones inside the National Cemetery. They removed, installed, or relocated stone walls and various types of fences, such as the stone wall along Granite School House Lane, the stone wall facing the parking lot on Little Round Top, and the iron picket fence separating the National Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery. They constructed the parking lots on Culp’s Hill, Devils Den, and Steven’s Knoll. The Gettysburg battlefield that so many Americans know and cherish was shaped by the black enrollees of companies 385-C and 1355-C.


Enrollees constructing a sidewalk on Little Round Top, ca. 1936.

The work performed by the black enrollees on the battlefield can be easily measured. By June 1935, two years into the program, MP-1 and MP-2 had removed fire hazards from over 800 acres and performed general cleanup to 1,163 acres of battlefield land. MP-1 had repaired 19 wells and water holes, performed 11,154 square yards worth of fine grading, and installed 700 linear feet of pipe lines and conduits. MP-2 installed 6,023 cubic yards of guard rails and stone walls, performed 32,848 square yards worth of fine grading, and reset 786 gravestones in the National Cemetery.[39] This was just the beginning for a program that would exist for seven more years at Gettysburg. What cannot be easily measured, however, is the impact the CCC had on the individual enrollees of companies 385-C and 1355-C, or even the influence of Gettysburg’s national significance on those young men.

The presence of the CCC program and African American enrollees at Gettysburg left an indelible legacy on the community and the battlefield. The work performed by companies 385-C and 1355-C serve as a living testimony to their contributions to their own and future generations of Americans. Through their energies on the Gettysburg battlefield, and the prejudice they faced, the black enrollees dedicated themselves to the “unfinished work” that was “so nobly advanced” on the nation’s Civil War battlefields. The service by the enrollees to themselves and their nation contributed in an immeasurable way to fulfilling President Abraham Lincoln’s hope for a “new birth of freedom.”

Casimer Rosiecki, Park Ranger

I would like to extend my gratitude to the following individuals and organizations for their assistance with helping me research the CCC at Gettysburg: The Adams County Historical Society in Gettysburg, PA; John C. Frye, Western Maryland Room Curator, and Elizabeth Howe, Associate Librarian, Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, MD; Paul T. Fagley, Cultural Educator at Greenwood Furnace State Park Complex, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; John Eastlake, who has done much work on the CCC in Pennsylvania; Joan Sharpe, President, CCC Legacy; and Andrew Newman, Museum Technician, Gettysburg National Military Park.

[1] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Inaugural Address. March 4, 1933,” in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt with a Special Introduction and Explanatory Notes by President Roosevelt, vol. 2, (New York: Random House, Inc., 1938), 13. Hereafter cited as “Roosevelt”.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “The New Deal Years: 1933-1941,” in Americas National Park System: The Critical Documents, ed. Lary M. Dilsaver (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994), accessed February 28, 2015,

[6] Roosevelt, 107-110.

[7] Ibid., 109-110.

[8] Joseph M. Speakman, At Work in Penns Woods: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Pennsylvania (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania University Press, 2006), 131. Hereafter cited as “Speakman”.

[9] Olen Cole, Jr., The African-American Experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1999), 13-14.

[10] Ibid., 11.

[11] Speakman, 142-143.

[12] C.C.C. Annual 1936: District No. 1, Third Corps Area (Baton Rouge, LA: Direct Advertising Company, 1936), 199. Hereafter cited as “CCC Annual 1936”.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “206 RECRUITS ARRIVE HERE THIS MORNING,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), June 10, 1933.

[15] “206 RECRUITS ARRIVE HERE THIS MORNING,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), June 10, 1933.

[16] Speakman, 135.

[17] “SEEK TO KEEP CCC CAMP HERE,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), March 14, 1936.

[18] CCC Annual 1936, 199.

[19] “Twister Causes Much Damage as It Sweeps Through Here Sunday,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), July 3, 1933.

[20] “Captain Moran Rejects “Gift” of Two “Bombs” From Innocent Recruits,” Gettysburg Compiler (Gettysburg, PA), March 1, 1934.

[21] CCC Annual 1936, 199.

[22] “CCC MEN FIGHT MOUNTAIN FIRE,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), May 4, 1936.

[23] Roosevelt, 81.

[24] Ibid.

[25] CCC Annual 1936, 199.

[26] “CCC CAMP HERE WILL BE CLOSED ABOUT MARCH 15,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg PA), March 6, 1942.

[27] “COMPANY 238 MOVES MAY 9,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), May 3, 1934.

[28] CCC Annual 1936, 211.

[29] “NEGRO OFFICERS TAKE CHARGE OF CCC CAMP HERE,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), August 8, 1936.

[30] “Battlefield C.C.C. Camp To Be First One in U.S. Under All-Colored Staff,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), November 4, 1939.

[31] CCC Annual 1936, 211.

[32] “Writes Poem On National Cemetery,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), December 30, 1935.

[33] Ibid.

[34] “BATTLEFIELD CCC CAMP IS BEST IN AREA,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), May 29, 1941.

[35] “C.C.C. Camp Here Arranges 5th Anniversary Program,” Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, PA), March 30, 1938.

[36] “90 Soldiers Stationed At Former C.C.C. Camp,” Gettysburg Compiler (Gettysburg, PA), July 30, 1938.

[37] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “‘Avoiding War, We Seek Our Ends Through the Peaceful Process of Popular Government Under the Constitution.’ Address at the Dedication of the Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1938,” in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt with a Special Introduction and Explanatory Notes by President Roosevelt, 1938 Vol., (New York: Random House, Inc., 1941), 419, accessed February 28, 2015,

[38] Ibid., 420.

[39] “$72,896 Is Spent For CCC Labor on Battlefield Here,” Gettysburg Compiler (Gettysburg, PA) June 29, 1935.

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Gettysburg Projects and Goals for 2015

We like to use this blog to provide updates on projects and goals for Gettysburg National Military Park.  This week we’ll take a look at  some of our top goals for the year :

Erosion at the summit of Little Round Top

Erosion at the summit of Little Round Top

Little Round Top – Gettysburg National Military Park (GETT) is now developing alternatives for the rehabilitation of Little Round Top. The alternatives would provide solutions for overuse, overcrowding and landscape degradation and identify appropriate locations for visitor conveniences at the site. We held a public scoping meeting in December, to provide information about the alternatives and gather feedback.   A draft environmental assessment will be prepared and available for public review and comment later this year.

Gettysburg National Military Park's Michael Wright in the current cannon carriage restoration shop.  Work continues even as the crew begins packing for the move into the new shop.

Gettysburg National Military Park’s Michael Wright in the current cannon carriage restoration shop. Work continues even as the crew begins packing for the move into the new shop.

New Cannon Carriage Restoration Shop – The park and the Gettysburg Foundation are funding the rehabilitation of a garage at the armory complex on West Confederate Avenue for use as a new cannon carriage restoration shop. The park’s monument preservation crew restores cast iron cannon carriages throughout the year. They have been operating out of a rented building west of Gettysburg. The park has more than 400 cannon carriages which date to the 1890s.

Comprehensive Community Trails Plan – Last fall, the park initiated a

One of Gettysburg's newer trails along Taneytown Road.

The Taneytown Road trail at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Comprehensive Community Trails planning effort. The purposes of the project are to improve multi-modal connections between trails and transportation opportunities within the two park sites and to identify potential links and newly established trailheads to provide pedestrian and bicycle access. The planning effort is expected to take one year, concluding with alternatives that we can consider for implementation and an environmental assessment.

The Treasures of the Civil War exhibit in the Museum and Visitor Center

The Treasures of the Civil War exhibit in the Museum and Visitor Center

Museum Exhibit Planning – Park and Gettysburg Foundation staff are planning a series of new, temporary exhibits at the Museum and Visitor Center as well as a new exhibit for the museum’s Gilder-Lehrman Special Exhibits Gallery. Currently the Gilder-Lehrman gallery showcases the “Treasures of the Civil War” exhibit. The next exhibit will be on the life and times of General Dwight D. Eisenhower at Gettysburg. The committee is also exploring options for updates to the permanent galleries in the museum.

Engaging the next generation is one of the National Park Service's top goals for the Centennial in 2016.

Engaging the next generation is one of the National Park Service’s top goals for the Centennial in 2016.

National Park Service Centennial – On August 25, 2016, the NPS will celebrate its 100th birthday. To celebrate 100 years of stewardship, our goal is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. Programs and events at Gettysburg National Military Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site and all the national parks sites will reach out to teachers, students, and youth; increase the number of volunteers and students as interns and employees; update and expand our presence on social media, and much more.

Thanks to Jason Martz for the photos.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, March 19, 2015

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How Not to Conduct a Reconnaissance: Capt. Samuel R. Johnston, July 2, 1863 – Part I

One of the enduring mysteries of the Gettysburg Campaign is the morning reconnaissance conducted by Captain Samuel R. Johnston. Johnston, at the behest of Robert E. Lee, was ordered to scout the position of left flank of the Army of the Potomac. Johnston’s subsequent report, and the extent of his early morning exploration, has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny for over a century and a half.  In the first of a two part series, Ranger Karlton Smith weighs in on the Johnston story, and its importance in directing the course of events on July 2nd, 1863. 

Lee, Robert Edward

Lee ordered Johnston to conduct an early morning reconnaissance of the left flank of the Army of the Potomac.

Gen. Robert E. Lee knew very little about the position of the Army of the Potomac on the evening of July 1, 1863. In order to plan his next moves properly Lee needed more detailed information on the location of his opponent and the nature of the ground. He sent several reconnaissance parties out on the early evening of July 1 and the early morning of July 2. The report that seems to have had the most impact was that of Capt. Samuel Richard Johnston.

Capt. Samuel Richard Johnston, from Fairfax County, Virginia, was 30 years old in 1863. He had been trained as a civil engineer and was appointed a lieutenant in Company F, 6th Virginia Cavalry, on April 20, 1861. By July 21, Company F was employed in picket duty and in scouting “near the enemy’s line in advance of the regular pickets.” The company was able to obtain “valuable information” because of its knowledge of the area and the previous surveys done by Johnston “who was much employed in command of scouting parties.”

Johnston was appointed a volunteer aide-de-camp to Brigadier General J. E. B. Stuart while stationed at Dranesville, Virginia and was acting inspector of outposts on Stuart’s staff. Stuart described Johnston as “sober, indefatigable, and capable.” Johnston served as a contract engineer near Richmond until assigned as a lieutenant of engineers to Maj. Gen. James Longstreet on June 4, 1862. He was promoted to captain of engineers and assigned to Gen. Robert E. Lee’s staff on August 12, 1862.

Johnston had conducted reconnaissance work for Lee and Longstreet in campaigns previous to Gettysburg. Longstreet had noted that Johnston had been “very energetic and untiring” in his efforts “to discover the various positions of the enemy.” Longstreet thanked Johnston, among others, during the Second Manassas and Antietam campaigns, “for great courtesy and kindness in assisting me on the different battle-fields.” Johnston helped to lay out the Confederate earthwork at Fredericksburg and helped to assign positions for the Confederate batteries. On May 3, 1863, during the battle of Chancellorsville, Johnston “discovered large parks of the enemy’s wagons and the camps of some of his troops on the opposite side of the river” and posted artillery the next day “to open a hot fire upon the parks and camps.” Johnston, had thus, proven himself to be an experienced and capable engineer officer and had become an experienced reconnaissance officer.

All of the major military books of the time stated that there was no more important duty for an officer than that of “collecting and arranging the information upon which either the general, or daily operations of a campaign must be based.” A reconnaissance was necessary because even a detailed map could “never convey all the information that will enable an officer to plan, even an ordinary march, with safety.” Since military operations would be based on this information, “any serious error in the reconnaissance may involve the results of the campaign, and even the fate of the war.

A reconnoitering officer “should be known to be cool-headed and truth-ful; one who sees things as they are, and tells clearly and precisely what he has seen.” Such an officer was “to ascertain precisely the duty required of him; and what further should be done in case of certain contingencies that may, from the nature of the duty, be naturally looked for.” A reconnoitering officer should also obtain maps, a good telescope, aids for judging distances, writing materials, some good guides and “gain all the knowledge he can, from the local inhabitants of the land…”

Johnston was called to Lee’s headquarters, probably near the Lutheran Seminary, before the sun was up on July 2. He was ordered by Lee “to make a reconnaissance of the enemy’s left and report as soon as possible.” Johnston claimed that Lee had said nothing about finding a,

     …route over which troops would be moved unobserved by the enemy, but it was not necessary as that was part of my duty as a reconnoitering Officer, and would be attended to without special instructions, indeed he said nothing about the movements of troops at all, and left me with only that knowledge of what he wanted which I had obtained after long service with him, and that was that he wanted me to consider every contingency which might arise.

These orders, at least as reported by Johnston, are somewhat vague. Johnston does not indicate that he was informed of Lee’s intention to launch a major assault from his right flanks, the troops that might be involved, or the route those troops might have to take. It appears from Johnston’s statement that he did not attempt a clarification as to his precise responsibility or what to do “in case of certain contingencies.”

Johnston admitted that he did not have a watch at the time, but he estimated that he left on his mission at “daybreak,” probably about 4:12 a.m. We cannot be certain what, if any, equipment or maps Johnston had with him. He never wrote of talking with any of the inhabitants he may have met along the way. Johnston claimed that he was accompanied by Longstreet’s engineer officer and three or four others as an escort. Longstreet’s engineer, Maj. John J. Graham Clarke, apparently left no account of his activities at Gettysburg.

Johnston later wrote to Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws:

     …my general route was about the same that General Longstreet took when he make his march. I crossed the creek on the same bridge that he did and turned to the left at once and got on the ridge where you subsequently formed your line, following along that ridge in the direction of the round tops across the Emmitsburg road and got up on the slopes of round top, where I had a commanding view, then rode along the base of round top to beyond the ground occupied by General Hood, and where there was later a cavalry fight.


Did Captain Johnston reach the slopes of Little Round Top?

On his return trip, Johnston wrote that “…when I again got in sight of Emmitsburg road I saw three or four troopers moving slowly and very cautiously in the direction of Gettysburg.” Johnston said he reported to Lee, after “the usual delay in finding headquarters,” at about 7:00 a.m., although it could have been a little later, having been gone approximately three hours. Why would Johnston, an experienced reconnaissance officer, have trouble finding headquarters? Even though there was a headquarters site, where most of the army’s staff would be located, Lee, himself, was also “headquarters.” In that case, Lee was not at the headquarters site but on Herr’s Ridge, further west of Gettysburg.

Johnston remembered seeing Longstreet and Lt. Gen. A. P. with Lee. In making his report, Johnston sketched his route on a map Lee was holding on his lap. He assured Lee that he had reached Little Round Top. Johnston wrote that later in the day, as McLaws’ division “was formed ready to advance,” Federal troops were seen forming in the Peach Orchard. “That,” said Johnston, “was the first evidence of any force being ready to oppose us on the enemy’s left that I had seen during the day.”

To be continued….

Karlton Smith, Park Ranger


Krick, Robert E. L. Staff Officers in Gray: A Biographical Register of the Staff Officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2003), 174.

Service Record for Samuel R. Johnston (Copy in GNMP Files V5-Johnston, Samuel R.

Mahan, Dennis Hart. An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-Post… (New York: John Wiley, 1861), 105

Halleck, Henry W. The Elements of Military Art and Science. (New  York: D. Appleton & Co., 1862), 342

R. Johnston to Fitz Lee, February 11, 1878. S. R. Johnston MSS, Douglas S. Freeman Collection, Library of Congress

  1. R. Johnston to Lafayette McLaws, June 27, 1892
  2. R. Johnston to Rt. Rev. George Peterkin, December…18__

Donaldson, Francis Adams. Inside the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson, Gregory Aiken, ed. (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998), 307.

Ladd, David L. & Audrey J. Ladd, eds. The Bachelder Papers: Gettysburg in Their Own Words.  3 vols. (Dayton, OH: Morningside, 1994), Vol. 1, 453.

Buell, Clarence C. & Robert Underwood Johnson, eds. Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. 4 vols. (1888), 3: 331.

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Battle of Gettysburg from Above

Mid-Winter Reminder

A road bed covered in snow, Culp’s Hill.

The winter is a great time to visit the battlefield from a sight line perspective. Foliage is down allowing for unbroken views into the wooded slopes of Culp’s Hill, Little Round and Oak Hill. A layer of snow further accentuates terrain by defining defiles, earthworks, burial pits and old road beds. Most impressive are the view sheds in January, February and March from original federal signal stations during the three day battle.

Some visitors will contend the towers at Culp’s Hill, Oak Hill and Warfield Ridge provide an equal or better bird’s eye view than original, primary signal stations located atop Little Round Top, Cemetery Hill and Powers Hill, and they may be right, but there is a significant difference. That is, the signal station hills offer original sight lines available to battle participants. Reconstructing the battle accurately requires using the information available at the time, and that is where winter views from primary signal stations become important. If one knows where to stand, the entire battle can be explained from these hills in context, with visual reinforcement.

The most refreshing prominence to interpret from is the recently cleared Powers Hill at the intersection of Baltimore Pike and Granite School House lane.  Looking east from the highest crest through openings made affordable from felled trees and winter barrenness, one can readily see the whole July 2, 1863 battle in contextual continuity. North Cavalry Field – Hunterstown is marked by a energy plant’s three smokestacks to the northeast, Brinkerhoff Ridge and East Cavalry Field is conveniently noticeable beside a green water tower and cell phone tower to the east. Both Hunterstown and Brinkerhoff Ridge represent the primary concentration of federal cavalry on July 2,that secured the federal right flank and rear. The same Powers Hill bird’s eye view east reveals Benner’s Hill, Culp’s Hill, Spangler Meadow, McAllister Ridge and Wolf’s Hill, all key locations for maneuvering, deployment and combat that covered the Baltimore Pike.

Karen Wood

Little Round Top in winter. Image courtesy of Karen Wood.

Facing west from Little Round Top in the winter months permits a similar reconstruction of July 2, 1863 battle maneuvers and combat action.  If one knows the second day’s battle, the whole story is laid-out from above. Breahm’s Hill, where James Longstreet’s Corps maneuvered in the afternoon to assault the federal left is visible directly west, as are Seminary and Warfield Ridges that concealed his attack-up the Emmitsburg Road. Furthermore, the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devils Den and site of Farnsworth’s Charge are all easy to discern thanks to health cuts and controlled burns. Winter sight lines only make concordant points that much easier to identify and interpret.


Meade’s equestrian statue, looking towards Little Round Top.

Cemetery Hill offers the same unhindered sight lines west and east. Looking east from the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse, one can see Benner’s Hill more clearly defined than anywhere, particularly in the winter. Benner’s Hill constituted the primary Confederate artillery platform to the east and general location of two divisions of Southern infantry that assaulted Culp’s and East Cemetery Hills respectively. Peering west from the Soldier’s National Monument, in the National Cemetery, in January, February of March permits a sight line of the three tiered 11th Corps defense along Taneytown Road, Steinwehr and Fairview Avenues. Key federal strongholds such as the 8th Ohio Infantry advanced position on the Emmitsburg Road, and former Confederate sharpshooter location at the Bliss Farm (burned on July 3, 1863) are part of the sweeping perspective gained from West Cemetery Hill.

Altogether, a visit to the battlefield in the snow covered winter months is beneficial for locating old road beds, defiles, burial pits and earthwork foundations. Missing foliage permits sight lines far down the wooded slopes of Culp’s Hill, Little Round Top and Oak Hill for those in search of a better perspective of real time maneuvers, deployment and combat. Most importantly, a visit in January, February and March to Little Round, Powers and Cemetery Hills offers sweeping views of the battlefield close to what battle participants had and operated from. These three hills in particular allow an authentic retelling of the Battle of Gettysburg from above.

Troy Harman,

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