Decoding the Invasion: Part 2 – A Gettysburg Mystery Solved

Last week we highlighted a Gettysburg Campaign related letter found by our research intern Nick Welsh in the Pennsylvania State Archives. The letter, while intriguing, was completely unreadable as a result of the 151 year old cipher in which it was encoded. Wishing to solve this Gettysburg mystery, we turned the challenge of figuring out its contents over to the readers of this blog. A number of you responded with thoughts and suggestions, though we are most indebted to the expert sleuthing of Ranger and Law Enforcement Officer Maria Brady. Ranger Brady rose to the challenge and has humbly submitted the work below, proving that even old mysteries can be solved. 


Cipher 1

I love mysteries, puzzles, codes and ciphers. When I saw the blog post about the enciphered message Nicholas Welsh found, I was hooked. I had to find out what the message said, and I decided that knowing who the sender and receiver were would be a good starting point.

Sees Pension

A portion of Oliver W. Sees pension file, listing him as a former Chief of Transportation and an Aide de Camp.

I began by entering G. W. Baldwin from Baltimore, MD into, but that provided very little information. So I moved on to O. W. Sees in Pennsylvania and was rewarded with Oliver W. Sees, born about 1836, living in Harrisburg, PA in the 1860 United States Census. Occupation – telegraph operator.  That sounded like a good match. Further online investigation brought me to a transcribed entry from the Historical Review of Dauphin County, provided by the Dauphin County Genealogy Transcription Project for Major Oliver Washington Sees, born October 27, 1835 in Philadelphia, PA. Sees began working as a messenger in Harrisburg’s first magnetic telegraph office at the age of 12, and over the course of time became a proficient telegraph operator himself. So good was he at his job, that on December 23, 1861, PA Governor Andrew Curtin appointed him Chief of Telegraph for the state, with the rank of major. He was later named Chief of Transportation in addition to his telegraph duties. During the Gettysburg Campaign, Sees was appointed to the staff of Major General Darius Couch, in command of the Department of the Susquehanna, and stationed in Harrisburg, PA.

My research then led me to telegraphy in the Civil War, specifically the United States Military Telegraph Corps. While the name implies that this was a military operation, it was not. Civilian operators were assigned to armies and general staffs, but reported directly to the War Department, functioning outside the immediate authority of the military officers to whom tMIlitary Telegraphhey were assigned. The USMT strung telegraph lines and manned telegraph keys for the Union Army, with the main telegraph office located in the War Department. Numerous articles about the USMT referenced a book published in 1882 by W. R. Plum, a former telegrapher with the USMT, entitled The Military Telegraph During the Civil War in the United States, With an Exposition of Ancient and Modern Means of Communication, and of the Federal and Confederate Cipher Systems, of which I purchased a copy. In it, Plum mentions G. W. Baldwin, assigned in June of 1863 to General Schenck’s headquarters in Baltimore, MD. Baldwin had been involved with the USMT since at least June of 1861, and would serve until the end of the war, ending as one of the four primary cipher operators in the War Department office.


Anson Stager

At this point in the war, the USMT was sending messages using the Stager Cipher, developed by Anson Stager, Department Head of the USMT. Stager began his career as an apprentice printer, but when his employer switched from printing to telegraphy, Stager did as well, becoming the first General Superintendent of the consolidated Western Union Company in 1856. Once the Civil War broke out in 1861, Stager was requested by Ohio Governor William Dennison to devise a cipher that would protect telegraphic communications between Dennison and the Governors of Illinois and Indiana. Word of the cipher reached General George McClellan, who asked Stager to devise something similar for military communications. By December of 1861, Stager had been appointed general manager of military telegraph lines by the War Department, and one year later was named the Superintendent of all telegraph lines and offices.

The Cipher itself is based on writing the message in a matrix of varying sizes, and then assigning a route through the matrix that would comprise the transmitted message. Simple, right?

I thought I was ready to tackle the message itself. I wrote each word on a numbered index card so I could keep track of the routes I was using. Having found a number of routes on the Internet, and having the complete Cipher #9 as an appendix in Plum’s book, I thought it would be relatively easy. It was not.Not so fast. In addition to the route through the matrix, the messages also contained “key” words, which designated which Cipher was to be used for that message; “null” words, which were extraneous words thrown into the message to confuse anyone trying to decipher it; and “code” words or “arbitraries”, which were substituted for terms, people, and places deemed too sensitive to transmit in the clear. Over the course of the Civil War, ten different cipher groups were created, each one more complex than the last.

The next day I spoke with Nicholas about the message and found that he had a number of deciphered messages from the same record group at the State Archives. He provided me with copies of them in hopes that I could apply the “routes” from those messages to our mystery transmission. Looking at the dates, senders and recipients of the messages, one caught my eye: a message from General Meade to General Couch, dated June 30th.  Upon opening and reading this message, I realized that the words sounded very familiar to me. I knew I was on to something when I saw the word “physique”. Really, how many military telegrams were floating around in 1863 using that particular word?  I began comparing the solved message to the enciphered message and lo and behold, that was it.

The message is actually broken into five different ciphers, using the key words: Wise, Halleck, penny, Sibley, and guard. The code words are after, Francis, Mohawk, Ida and leghorn, which stand for General Couch, 11 AM, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In the transcription below, the key words are marked in orange, the null words in blue, and the code words in green.

Wise thirtieth in advancing hold between three my northern well speed day trains with force me brigades Chambersburg hill enemy Emmitsburg after water Taneytown I + the Cashtown their are + is all eleven the moving my between five + P the between for coal Francis position upon a Gettysburg to right central concentrated that this the tolerably the on cavalry pass enemy Westminster am June Halleck to in in Ewell to am July physique soft of without the the front good your local push is be + as I + number the definite whereabouts latter of spirits relief Cambridge the we the presume long positive will order men + of I you + or caps shall army to street information bear roads penny movements dispositions you I likely indicate + information the flag enemy we while as to am + of so pirate as enemy information to to prudent the during circumstances first engagement + the marches + ultimate hear of + [  ] far the get anxious lead most on receive as hunger of the day may most success from the his Sibley movement Susquehanna line to I or them do if otherwise should be of as may address my the the accumulated Mohawk communication know Frank you with like thrown the circumstances make cloth advisable require central me + Ida in hand are leghorn supplies to northern may most Blake or or on spies + Telegraph you guard Eckert Meade am enemy my the communications to house period the with Cavalry right from very major boats to G I the on by my dispatch B please general him of can crossing respectfully Gen’l apple sent George river keep enemy interrupted chief my miles communicate in are the you the signed have fifty.

Translated, this becomes (punctuation added for ease of reading):

Taneytown, June thirtieth, 11 AM, for General Couch. I am in position between Emmitsburg and Westminster advancing upon the enemy. The enemy hold (A P Hill) Cashtown pass between Gettysburg and Chambersburg. Their cavalry, three to five brigades, are on my right between me and the Northern Central. My force is tolerably well concentrated moving with all the speed that the trains, roads, and physique of the men will bear. I am without definite and positive information as to the whereabouts of Long Street and Ewell, the latter I presume to be in front of you. The army is in good spirits and we shall push to your relief or the engagement of the enemy as circumstances and the information we receive during the day and while on the marches may indicate as most prudent and most likely to lead to ultimate success. I am anxious to hear from you and get information of the disposition of the enemy and his movements so far as you know them. If you are in telegraph communication or otherwise with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, I should like supplies and spies accumulated to be thrown to me on the line of the Northern Central of the Susquehanna as circumstances may require or my movement may make most advisable period. Please communicate my dispatch to the General in Chief. My communications with him are interrupted by the cavalry of the enemy on my right. Can you keep the enemy from crossing the river? I am, very respectfully, signed George G. Meade, Major General. Have sent to Eckert.

Eckert was Major Thomas Eckert, in charge of the War Department telegraph office.

My problems with solving the cipher stemmed from three areas. First, I had mis-transcribed about half a dozen words, two of which were key words, leaving me unsure as to where to split the message into its component parts. Second, the key words and code words in Cipher # 9 did not match up exactly with this particular message. Wise, for example, should have started a six column, nine row matrix, but actually started a 6×10 matrix. Third, I missed out on valuable clues on the handwritten copy of the message. The null words were all marked with an “x”, and the key words with a kind of loop. I was having too much fun playing with my index cards.

Cipher #9 was issued in January 1863, and used through February 1864, so it was possible that this message was using Cipher #9, but the number of differences is too great. While “Francis” does denote 11 AM, the remaining code words found in the message have very different meanings. For example, Ida would have been Abingdon, leghorn would have been Helena, and Mohawk would have been Newburn. As mentioned above, the key words are found in #9, but they do not denote the same matrices as #9. I do not have access to Ciphers #10 and #12, which would also have been in use at this time, so I cannot determine exactly which codebook was used.

Given enough time, I’m sure I could have cracked it on my own.

No, really, I could have.

- Maria Brady, Park Ranger

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“A Fighting Withdrawal” – Humphrey’s Division on July 2nd, 1863: A Gettysburg Battle Walk with Ranger Karlton Smith

The almost half a mile stretch of the Emmitsburg Road, where Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys and his five thousand Union soldiers were positioned on the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, is one of the overlooked locations on the Gettysburg battlefield. Humphreys and his three brigades were attacked on the left flank by Mississippians under Confederate General William Barksdale, and along the front by elements of General Cadmus Wilcox and Colonel David Lang’s Floridians. The brutal fighting along that roadway, and the stubborn withdrawal of Humphrey’s men, cost over two thousands federal casualties and represented a stubborn resistance to the Confederate onslaught which tore across the southern portion of the battlefield that day. Follow along as Gettysburg National Military Park Ranger Karlton Smith explores the story of Andrew Humphreys, the men he commanded, and the trying ordeal they went through at Gettysburg on July 2nd, 1863.

Map 2 Humphreys Division


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Decoding the Invasion: A Gettysburg Mystery

Over the years Gettysburg National Military Park has had the great fortune to work and partner with a number of local colleges and universities. Chief among these is Pennsylvania State University. The staff and faculty at Penn State have graciously assisted us with a multitude of projects and events over the years, and have also sponsored an annual public history internship at the park. The Penn State / Gettysburg interns have been responsible for some fantastic interpretation conducted on the battlefield and many have gone on to permanent jobs in the National Park Service and at leading academic  and public history institutions.

This year, in addition to our interpretive intern, Penn State has graciously provided us with a researcher. Nicholas Welsh, a class of 2015 history major, has done some tremendous work traveling to archives and repositories all over the east coast gathering Gettysburg related documents for our park research files. His journey has taken him to the National Archives in Washington D.C., the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, the Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA, and a number of other fine institutions. Nick has developed a fantastic working knowledge of Gettysburg historiography and has been able to identify a number of previously unpublished and unutilized Gettysburg documents, which will now be made available to park staff and park researchers. While it is difficult to say anything that is fresh or new relating to Gettysburg, perhaps these documents will play a role in shaping how we think about the events of June and July, 1863.


Nicholas Welsh, Penn State Research Intern for Gettysburg National Military Park

Over the summer Nick has discovered what so many who have undertaken the study of the Gettysburg Campaign already know: Armies on campaign produce massive amounts of paperwork. Much of this has been preserved for posterity, though little of it dramatically changes the way we think about the battle or the campaign. This veritable ocean of paperwork encompasses everything from mundane orders and requisitions, to crucial telegraphs, reports, and circulars that have become ingrained in the legend of the Gettysburg story. Nick has uncovered a little of everything this summer, from dispatches sent by Col. Sharpe of the Bureau of Military Information, to a report of an escaped slave who overheard Lt. Gen. A. P. Hill say to his staff on June 2nd, 1863 that, “they were going to throw dust in the eyes of the Yankees .”

That being said, perhaps the single most interesting document Nick has uncovered comes to us from the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. It is a dispatch from what appears to be a “G. W. Baldwin” written to an “O. W. Sees.” The date on the document is July 2nd, 1863 and it was apparently written from Baltimore, Maryland and clearly deals with the military situation then existing in Pennsylvania. Those are the only concrete facts that can be gleaned from the document, everything else is speculation.

When Mr. Baldwin penned his letter he encoded it, with the intention no doubt of keeping its contents a secret that only Mr. Sees, with his key, would be able to decipher. In this effort Mr. Baldwin was more successful than he could ever have imagined. Not only were the possible Confederate spies or sympathizers stymied by the seeming nonsense of the document, so too are historians a century and a half later.

While other such documents in the collection of the Pennsylvania State Archives have been decoded, the contents of the July 2nd Baldwin letter have not.  It is an easy enough letter to transcribe and there is no complex system or collection of numbers, symbols, and dots. The words are generally clear and legible, but placed in such a sequence that they lose all meaning and context. Take for example the first paragraph:

“Wise thirtieth in advancing held between three my northern well speed day trains with force [?] brigades Chambersburg hill enemy Emmitsburg [?]  water Taneytown I + the Cashtown there are + is all eleven the morning…”

Lacking a background in sleuthing or cryptology, we turn this Gettysburg mystery over to you. If any of you have the skill, patience, or ability to help us decode this century and a half old Gettysburg mystery, let us know. You will certainly have our thanks. The letter, in its entirety, appears below.

Christopher Gwinn, Acting Supervisory Historian


Cipher 1


Cipher 2

(Image courtesy of PA State Archives)


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Great in heart and mighty in valor” – General Gabriel Paul and his Mortal Wounding at Gettysburg

No other battle of the American Civil War claimed more generals’ lives than did the three-day fight at Gettysburg. At Antietam, fought in September 1862, six general officers fell either dead or fatally wounded. Six others died at Franklin, fought on the last day of November 1864. But it was during the slaughter on the fields and rocky hilltops surrounding the south-central Pennsylvania town in July 1863 that nine generals—four Union and five Confederate—were either killed or listed among the mortally wounded. This number climbs to ten if we include Strong Vincent, who fell atop Little Round Top and who was posthumously honored with a promotion to brigadier general.  

Oak Ridge, where Gabriel Paul was wounded – July 1, 1863. (NPS)

Over the past 151 years, the final moments of these men have been recounted, discussed, and described innumerable times in print, whether by those who there and witnessed their deaths or by later-day historians. Many artists have rendered sketches, paintings, and even bronze sculptures of the deaths of some of these men, attempting to capture the anguish, the agony, and the gallantry of their life’s last moments. On the big screen as well, a number of well-trained, seasoned actors have done their best to recreate or reenact those final moments—those final pained breaths—of some of those hard-fighting generals who here gave their lives at Gettysburg. Some students of the battle even pride themselves on how quickly they can list all nine (or ten) of these generals while many a visitor to the battlefields at Gettysburg wish to see and to stand on the spot where the generals fell. For some, such as John Reynolds, Samuel Zook, and Lewis Armistead (and, yes, Strong Vincent), monuments stand to mark that spot, while the location where Stephen Weed fell is indicated in a rock-carving atop Little Round Top. For all the others—Paul Semmes, William Barksdale, Dorsey Pender, Richard Garnett, Elon Farnsworth—we have only either a fairly good or at last a general idea of the location where they fell.

Missing from all of these discussions, however—from all the books and articles, from the paintings and the sculptures, from the big screen, and from all the “can-you-name-all-the-generals-who-died-at-Gettysburg” type trivia questions—is still yet another general whose death can be—indeed, was—attributed to the wound he received at the battle;  a general who succumbed to his Gettysburg wound some 8,345 days after falling wounded there; a general by the name of Gabriel Rene Paul.

 His name may not be a familiar one, but there were few generals in either blue or gray who had as long and distinguished a military service record as did Gabriel Paul. Born on March 22, 1813, in St. Louis, Missouri, Paul came from an illustrious family of French ancestry and with a strong military tradition. His father, Rene Paul, was a military engineer who had served as an officer in Napoleon’s army and who was dangerously wounded at Trafalgar. He later immigrated to the United States, settling, ultimately in St. Louis where he put his engineering background to good use by becoming a surveyor of the city. It was there, in St. Louis, where Rene Paul met and fell in love with Eulalie Chouteau. Eulalie’s father, August Chouteau, a prominent fur trader, helped found the city in the early 1760s.[1]

Gabriel Paul was the first child born to Eulalie Chouteau and Rene Paul. In 1829, at the age of sixteen, he obtained a commission to the United States Military Academy and on July 1 of that year—exactly thirty-four years before his injury at Gettysburg—he entered West Point. He graduated smack-dab in the middle of the Class of 1834, ranked 18th in a total graduating class of 36. Commissioned a lieutenant in the 7th United States Infantry, Paul served a number of years at a variety of frontier posts before being assigned to Florida where in 1839 and again in 1842, he battled the Seminole. During America’s war with Mexico, and as was the case with so many other United States officers destined to wear the general’s stars in the Civil War, Paul served under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott and he served with great distinction. He saw battle action at Fort Brown, Monterrey, Vera Cruz, and at Cerro Gordo where he fell wounded. Several months later, he fought at Churubusco, Molino del Rey and in September, 1847, he led a storming party upon the walls of Chapultepac and captured a Mexican army flag. For this, he was given an honorary promotion, or brevet, to the rank of major and presented with an ornate sword by the grateful people of his home city of St. Louis.[2]

The years following the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo witnessed Paul assigned to a number of frontier army posts: at Fort Leavenworth, Jefferson Barracks, and at Corpus Christi, Texas. Throughout the 1850s, he participated in a number of expeditions up the Rio Grande and in Utah. It appears that at some point during this time, Gabriel Paul and his wife Mary divorced. Paul and Mary Whistler had been married since 1835 and together the couple had four children. After this marriage ended, however, Gabriel Paul, in 1858, remarried, this time to Louise Rogers, a widow from Cincinnati and to their union would come two more children. After their marriage, Gabriel and Louise Rogers Paul would make a home in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky, directly across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.[3]

Gabriel Rene Paul, detail

Gabriel Paul prior to his Gettysburg wound.

When the long-gathering clouds of civil war finally erupted into a violent storm in April 1861, Gabriel Paul was serving as the major of the 8th U.S. Infantry and was stationed at the far-away frontier post of Fort Fillmore, New Mexico. He would remain there for the next fourteen months, organizing and training volunteers and, as colonel of the 4th New Mexico Volunteer Infantry, participating in some action there, helping to turn back Confederate forces under General Henry Sibley. Mustered out as colonel of the 4th New Mexico in late May 1862, Gabriel Paul next ventured east and that summer was assigned as an inspector general in the defenses of Washington, D.C.[4]

With Gabriel Paul now assigned to the defenses of Washington and still holding the rank of Major in the Regular Army, despite his many years of service, Louise Paul ventured to the White House and called directly upon President Lincoln himself, seeking promotion for her husband. This was nothing unique. Indeed, Lincoln had to deal daily with those seeking government positions or an officer’s commission in the military. But there was something about Louise Paul’s comportment and bearing that left an impression on Lincoln. In late August, Lincoln noted: “Today Mrs. Major Paul calls and urges appointment of her husband as a Brigadier [General]. She is a saucy woman and will keep tormenting me until I may have to do it.” Less than two weeks later, President Lincoln signed Gabriel Paul’s commission as a Brigadier General of volunteers. Unfortunately, over the years, the short, off-putting note from Lincoln describing Louise Paul and her efforts has been used solely to explain why Gabriel Paul was promoted to general, while his long and distinguished service record all-too-often gets forgotten in the telling of this rather dismissive and anecdotal tale.[5] 

Gabriel Paul acknowledged receipt of his promotion on September 11, 1862, and soon after entered upon his new assignment as brigade commander in the First Army Corps, leading troops at Fredericksburg and again at Chancellorsville. During this latter engagement, Paul’s brigade formed part of the First Corps’s First Division. But with the restructuring and reorganization of the Army of the Potomac following this battle, Paul was transferred to assume command of the First Brigade of General John Robinson’s Second Division, First Corps. Paul was thus a relatively unknown newcomer to the 1,600 or so soldiers he would lead upon the fields of Gettysburg: the soldiers of the 16th Maine, 13th Massachusetts, 94th and 104th New York, and 107th Pennsylvania Infantries. Still, by this time, Gabriel Paul was a seasoned, well-experienced and respected officer while his men were hard-fighting, veteran soldiers.

The smoke was just beginning to lift from the rolling fields and ridgelines west of Gettysburg when the soldiers of Robinson’s division arrived and took up position near the Lutheran Seminary sometime around 11:30 on the morning of Wednesday, July 1, 1863. Timely-arriving First Corps soldiers from Wadsworth’s division had, just a short time earlier, successfully repulsed the attacks of two Confederate brigades from Harry Heth’s Division but it had come at a heavy price. First Corps commander John Reynolds was dead, struck down early in the fight, and already the fields stretching to the front of Robinson’s men were a scene of vast carnage. But the fight at Gettysburg was only just beginning.

As affairs seemed to be settling down to the west, a new Confederate threat emerged to the far right of the First Corps line, on a prominent rise of ground known as Oak Hill. There, Confederate soldiers from Rodes’s Division, Second Corps, had arrived, some 8,000 in number, along with 16 cannons, which soon unlimbered and which soon began hurling shot and shell toward the First Corps’s exposed right flank. To meet this new and developing threat, Major General Abner Doubleday, who had inherited command of the First Corps upon Reynolds’s death, called upon the heavily-bearded John Robinson. Robinson, in turn, called upon his Second Brigade, under General Henry Baxter, whose regiments were soon racing their way to the north, with orders to link up with the right flank of Lysander Cutler’s men in position in the trees that topped Oak Ridge, the southern-arm or extension of Oak Hill.

Summit of Oak Ridge, Gettysburg

Oak Ridge. Paul’s brigade was involved in the brutal fighting that occurred here on July 1st, 1863. (LOC)

Hurrying north, Baxter’s men arrived just in time to turn back attacks launched from the north and from the northwest by Alabama troops under Edward O’Neal and North Carolinians under Alfred Iverson. By this point, division commander Robinson had arrived on the scene and though proud and pleased by his men throwing back these two initial attacks, Rodes’s Confederates proved relentless and, according to Robinson, the Confederates soon “brought up fresh forces in increased masses.”[6] Soldiers in butternut and gray continued to bear down upon Baxter’s front and right flank. Because of this—and because Baxter’s men were beginning to run low on ammunition—Robinson sent a staff officer galloping back toward the Seminary, with orders for Gabriel Paul to bring his brigade forward.

Paul’s men were busy throwing up makeshift barricades and entrenchments in front of the Lutheran Seminary building when Robinson’s orders arrived. Paul quickly directed his regiments to fall in and, turning to their right, his soldiers were soon advancing northward, crossing the Chambersburg Pike and the unfinished railroad cut, and passing behind the blue-clad First Corps soldiers who were holding onto their positions in the trees atop the ridgeline. Arriving on Oak Ridge, Paul’s men traded places with Baxter’s beleaguered soldiers on the front line and soon began trading volleys with Rodes’s Confederates. “Our men,” wrote Major H.J. Shaeffer of the 107th Pennsylvania, “went into action with the determination to conquer or die.”[7]

The musketry was fierce; the smoke heavy. Over the next several hours hundreds of Paul’s men would fall as they clung ever more desperately to their precarious position on the ridgeline. Just after 4:00 p.m., however, First Corps troops behind them and to their left as well as Eleventh Corps soldiers below them to their right broke under the weight of heavy Confederate numbers and began the retreat through town. It was around this time that Robinson received orders from Doubleday to retreat. Extracting themselves from Oak Ridge and from the Confederate soldiers who seemed to be closing in from all sides, Baxter’s and Paul’s men fled. Racing their way south along the streets of Gettysburg, the division ultimately reformed on Cemetery Hill, or at least what was left of the division. Robinson later reported that his Second Division/First Corps went into battle with approximately 2,500 on the morning of July 1. Of this number, 1,667 became casualties, a 67% loss. Colonel Richard Coulter of the 11th Pennsylvania, who filed the report for Gabriel Paul’s First Brigade recorded that on July 1, the brigade’s loss totaled 776 men killed, wounded, or missing. 


Gabriel Paul after Gettysburg. (NPS)

Gabriel Paul was among this number. It was soon after his men had arrived on Oak Hill and while he was “gallantly directing and encouraging his command,” that the fifty-year-old general fell with a ghastly, horrific wound.[8] A bullet tore into his head, entering about 1 ½ inches behind his right eye then passing through his head before exiting his left eye socket, carrying his left eye out with it. He was instantly left blinded, while his senses of smell and hearing were also both seriously impaired. Falling to the ground, many believed that Paul had been killed. Yet, somehow, the tough old soldier would survive. Carried to the rear and taken to a field hospital for treatment, Paul likely returned to his home in Newport, Kentucky, to be looked after and cared for by his beloved wife Louise and his two younger daughters. For the next seventeen months, he was on leave of absence from the military on account of disability and on February 16, 1865, was retired from active duty “for disability resulting from wounds received in the line of duty.” A week later, Paul was brevetted a Brigadier General in the Regular Army “For Gallant and Meritorious Service at the Battle of Gettysburg.” Still, though, despite his total blindness and despite frequent headaches, Gabriel Paul would continue to serve his nation and its soldiers in an administrative capacity. He served for a few months as Deputy Governor of the Soldier’s Home near Washington before being placed in charge of the Military Asylum at Harrodsburg, Kentucky, a position he held until his retirement on December 20, 1866.[9]


“[I]t was an everyday sight in Newport,” recorded the Kentucky State Journal in 1888 “to see Mrs. [Louise] Paul, with the hero on her arm, walking the streets of that city.”[10] The hero, of course, was her blind husband, Gabriel Paul, who, in the years following his retirement, would require almost continual care and attention as his health deteriorated. Because of the effects of his Gettysburg wound, he suffered from intense and frequent headaches and developed epilepsy. During the final years of his life, seizures were an almost daily occurrences. A report released by the Senate Committee of Pensions noted that in some cases, Paul sometimes suffered up to six epileptic attacks a day. At some point during the post-war years, the Pauls moved to Washington and it was there, finally, on May 5, 1886, that Gabriel Paul’s long years of suffering at last came to an end. He passed away that morning at the age of seventy-three after suffering from an epileptic attack “of unusual severity.” The attending physician pronounced his death came about from an “epileptiform convulsion, the result of a wound received at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa,” a wound received twenty-two years, ten months, and five days earlier atop Oak Ridge, on July 1, 1863. Now at peace, the remains of General Gabriel Paul were soon laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

“The career of General Paul was a series of gallant exploits in his country’s defense,” summarized the Senate Pension Committee in late May 1886. Louise Paul applied for a pension following her husband’s death and included a statement from Surgeon R.M. O’Reilly, who determined that the general’s death was caused by his Gettysburg wound. It was a finding seconded by the Committee and in August 1886, Louise Paul began receiving a pension of $50 per month. Two years later, it increased to $100 per month, which she received until her own death in December 1898.[11]     

In his landmark Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of U.S. Military Academy, George W. Cullum paid hearty tribute to the service, sacrifice, and suffering of Gabriel Paul. “[T]hough small in stature, [he] was great in heart and mighty in valor, particularly shown when leading the storming party and capturing the enemy’s flag on the walls of Chapultepac. His modesty was equaled only by his courage, and his aspirations were only of duty to his country. He was a soldier whose gentle mien engaged at once both confidence and love, and whose fearlessness in the presence of the greatest peril gave his face the glow of true heroism. Through all the years of his terrible affliction, he made no complaints, but only praised God that his life had been spared amid the carnage of the battlefield. Unselfishly he thought more of the happiness of his family than of himself; they had been eyes and everything to him during the weary days of his long isolation from the outer world.”[12]  

Gabriel Paul’s life may have been spared “amid the carnage of the battlefield,” but the wound he received on July 1 at Gettysburg plagued him and pained him for the rest of his life. The wound left him blind, caused frequent and intense headaches, and resulted in numerous epileptic seizures until it finally did claim his life some twenty-three years later. The pain, the suffering of Gabriel Paul’s final agonizing years have never been depicted on canvas or on screen; the spot where he received his grisly wound is not marked by a monument or an inscription upon stone; and seldom is his tragic story told.

Yet his story is an important one for it forces us to consider the last-lasting impact of America’s Civil War. Just how many did give their lives? And when do we stop counting those whose lives were cut short by the four-year fratricidal conflict? Gabriel Paul was but one example. There were countless others.

                                            Park Ranger John Hoptak



[1] “General Gabriel Rene Paul: The Forgotten Hero of Gettysburg,” from Campbell County [KY} History News, January 1999,, accessed June 9, 2014. William E. Foley and Charles David Rice, The First Chouteaus: River Barons of Early St. Louis [University of Illinois Press, 2000]: 188.

[2] George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy of West Point, N.Y. Vol. I, 3rd Edition.[Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891], 575.

[3] “General Gabriel Rene Paul: The Forgotten Hero of Gettysburg.”

[4] Report of the Senate Committee on Pensions, 49th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 1262, To Accompany Bill S.2502, June 1886.

[5] Abraham Lincoln note of August 23, 1862, found in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 5, edited by Roy P. Basler [Rutger’s University Press, 1959]: 390.

[6] Report of General John C. Robinson. Official Records, Series I, Vol. 27, Part 1.

[7] Letter of Major H.J. Shaeffer, 107th PA, to Lebanon Courier, July 23, 1863, in regimental file, Gettysburg National Military Park Library.

[8] Robinson, Official Report.

[9] Report of the Senate Committee on Pensions, 49th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 1262, To Accompany Bill S.2502, June 1886.

[10] “General Gabriel Rene Paul: The Forgotten Hero of Gettysburg.”

[11] Report of the Senate Committee on Pensions, 49th Congress, 1st Session, Report No. 1262, To Accompany Bill S.2502, June 1886; “General Gabriel Rene Paul: The Forgotten Hero of Gettysburg.”

[12] Cullum, 576-577.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Wheatfield: A Gettysburg National Military Park Battle Walk with Ranger John Hoptak

Every day throughout the summer months the staff of Gettysburg National Military Park lead visitors through the battlefield park on “Battle Walks.” These interpretive programs are a fantastic way to explore the battlefield in-depth and from the perspective of the soldiers who fought here: On the ground and through the woods, fields, and valleys that comprise the Gettysburg battlefield.

4th Mich Meld 3

The past and present collide in the Wheatfield. To the left, veterans of the 4th Michigan dedicate their monument. On the right, modern visitors explore the battlefield.

No spot on the field is as confusing as the famous Wheatfield. Owned by Gettysburg farmer John Rose, the Wheatfield was the scene of brutal and chaotic fighting on the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863. Regiments from no fewer than three Union corps were thrown against Confederate troops in a series of confused attacks and counterattacks. By the end of the fighting that day the Wheatfield had been trampled into a carpet and the ground had been stained with the blood of the over 6,000 men killed, wounded, and missing in the fighting. What happened in that Wheatfield and had did it effect the remainder of the battle? What had those 6,000 men gained or lost with their lives?

Join Ranger John Hoptak in this special “Digital Battle Walk” as he explores the Wheatfield and demystifies the confused story of Gettysburg’s most chaotic three hours.


facebookDon’t forget to like us on Facebook for the latest program schedules and news!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Who Will You Follow?” – Pickett’s Charge and the Story of the Common Soldier: The Results

Last week we asked you to take part in an experiment. And hundreds of you did.

We asked the readers of this blog, and our friends on Facebook, to help us shape one of our anniversary Battle Walks by selecting the individuals we would follow into battle on July 3rd, 2014. We profiled nine different Confederate soldiers who took part in Pickett’s Charge, alongside the units they belonged to. Each individual and each story was different. The men represented different geographic locations, different walks of life, different ages. They all experienced the events of July 3rd in a unique way. Of those nine soldiers, three were selected. They were chosen by you, the readers of this blog and the participants of this interpretive program. Never before at Gettysburg National Military Park have the participants of a program, both digital and real, taken such a large role in shaping what we do on the battlefield. For that we are thankful.

And so, without further ado…Image

We invite you to join us on July 3rd, 2014  for “Who Will You Follow” – Pickett’s Charge and the Story of the Common Soldier. Ranger Jim Flook will follow the path of Lt. John James and the men of the 11th Virginia of Kemper’s Brigade. Ranger Philip Brown will examine the story of A. D. Norris and his comrades in the 7th Tennessee, while Ranger Bill Hewitt will share the experience of the Coffey Family of the 26th North Carolina. The program will begin at 2:30 PM at the Virginia Memorial. We hope to see you there for the program you helped create.






Posted in Army of Northern Virginia, Interpretive Programs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The 2nd Day at Gettysburg with Gettysburg National Military Park Ranger Jim Flook

Every day throughout the summer the staff of Gettysburg National Military Park present dozens of free walks, talks, and hikes that explore and reflect on the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. These programs occur all over the park and examine nearly every facet of the three day battle and the larger conflict of which it was a part. Hopefully the ranger can bring to life, in some small way, the people that made history at Gettysburg a century and a half ago and allow modern visitors to form a connection with the past and with this battlefield.

Few aspects of the Gettysburg story are as complex and difficult to grasp as that of the 2nd day of the battle, July 2nd, 1863. It was by far the bloodiest and most complex day of the battle, and it remains arguably the most controversial day both for its participants and for later generations of historians and guides.

We invite you to join Ranger Jim Flook at the Peach Orchard as he attempts to untangle the chaos, confusion, and carnage that was the 2nd day of the battle of Gettysburg.

Final mapDon’t forget, the best way to explore the battlefield is by visiting it! Our full schedule of free ranger guided programs can be found online at

Also, make sure you like us on Facebook for the latest Digital Battle Walks, Gettysburg National Military Park news, and much more.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lincoln and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg with Ranger John Hoptak



The Soldiers’ National Cemetery is one of the truly iconic locations on the Gettysburg battlefield. Established as a result of the enormous loss of life and improper burial conditions after the July, 1863 battle, the cemetery is perhaps most famous as the setting for President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Everyday throughout the summer National Park Service Rangers offer an inside look at the people, places, and events which figured in the creation of this cemetery, and offer an opportunity to reflect on the enormous cost wrought by the American Civil War. For those who can’t join us, we invite you to follow along as Ranger John Hoptak digitally guides you across the heart of Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery.


hoptak cem 2

This program is one of dozens offered each day by the staff of Gettysburg National Military Park. All our free and open to the public. For more information call (717) 334-1124 ext. 8023 or visit our website at
facebookDon’t forget to like us on Facebook! 


Video | Posted on by | 1 Comment

“Who will you follow?” – Pickett’s Charge and the Story of the Common Soldier

who will you followJuly 3rd, 2014 will mark the 151st anniversary of Pickett’s Charge, the climactic moment of the battle of Gettysburg. The assault, which involved as many as 13,000 Confederate soldiers from the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia,  has gone down in history, rightly or wrongly, as the “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” the point at which the fortunes of the southern confederacy reached its zenith.

To say that every facet of the event has been studied and analyzed ad nauseam would perhaps be an understatement. The historiography of the charge, and the shear volume of accounts, recollections, reports, and monographs is overwhelming. Additionally, the mile of open ground between the Confederate starting point on Seminary Ridge and the angle in the rock wall held by Alexander Webb and the Philadelphia Brigade has been trudged by rangers, guides, and historians to such an extent that every fold of ground and swale has been  interpreted.

What new can be said of this attack and the men involved? Can this story be told in such a way that it offers a different perspective on the events of a century and a half ago?

On July 3, 2014, Gettysburg National Military Park Rangers Philip Brown, Bill Hewitt, and Jim Flook will lead a walk that will follow in the footsteps of  the common soldiers of three different Confederate regiments that took part in the assault, representing three distinct southern states.  We invite the readers of this blog, and those who intend on meeting us in the field, to take part in shaping this program by choosing the individual men and the regiments to which they belonged, that these rangers will discuss and follow on the battlefield. Below you will find the stories of men from nine different Confederate regiments representing Marshall’s brigade of North Carolinians, James Kemper’s brigade of Virginians, and Tennessee troops originally of James Archer’s brigade. These men hailed from different states and different regions. They had varying views on slavery and secession as well as the meaning and purpose of the war itself. They processed feared and summoned up courage differently. va memorial at nightMost were able to master their terror, while some were mastered by it.  Some would survive their ordeal at Gettysburg, others would count the afternoon hours of July 3rd, 1863 as their last. Every single man that made the charge, as well as those who resisted it, were unique individuals who operated under a variety of motivations. The men themselves will be the focal point of this walk; the charge itself will simply be the setting. Who we follow into battle on July 3rd, 2014 will be up to you. All you have to do is select one unit per brigade. The rangers, and the words of the men themselves, will do the rest.

We will announce the results on Saturday, June 21, and then present the programs guided by the individuals and regiments you chose on July 3, 2014 as part of the commemoration of the 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Marshall’s North Carolina Brigade with Ranger Bill Hewitt


Henry Coffey of the 26th North Carolina Infantry

The Coffey Family and the men of the 26th North Carolina:
Follow in the footsteps of the Coffey family and the famed 26th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.  The regiment was formed in August of 1861 and participated in a number of engagments before Gettysburg.  With aggressive recruiting it refilled its lines and on 30 June the muster counted 885 soldiers and officers, the largest Confederate regiment on the fields. In the thick of the battle on both July 1 and July 3, the regiment left Gettysburg with only 79 soldiers and officers.  Among the dead left behind on the Gettysburg battlefield were five family members from the Coffey family, and three from the Kirkman family.

“What a fine appearance the regiment made as it marched out from its bivouac near Fredericksburg that beautiful June morning.  The men beaming in their splendid uniforms; the colors flying and the drums beating; everything seems propitious of success.”

Thomas Cooper, 11th NC

Thomas Cooper, 11th North Carolina Volunteer Infantry

Lemuel Hoyle and the men of the 11th North Carolina:
Follow in the footsteps of Lemuel Hoyle, through his fighting and wounding alongside his fellow soldiers in the 11th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.   Some of the men in this regiment were among the very first recruits for the Confederate cause, enlisting for a term of six months.  Following the original regiment’s disbandment after that first half year, and building on the legacy of that original unit which has seen action at Big Bethel, its successor regiment recruited from a large area to refill its ranks. With experience in North Carolina, the regiment flying its colors proudly, joined the Army of Northern Virginia for the Gettysburg Campaign.  Over the three days of battle at Gettysburg, this regiment would lose slightly over 60% of its soldiers and never regain its full usefulness.

A soldier wrote home on the evening of July 3: “Awful fighting for the last three days and the battle is still undecided.  Our regiment has suffered most frightfully.  I understand the flag was sent to Genl. Heath this evening signifying that the regiment could fight no longer.  Not more than 80 men left and they worn out so to be unfit for duty.”

Marshall (1)

James K. Marshall of Archer’s Brigade. Photo: Virginia Military Institute

James K. Marshall and the men of the 52nd North Carolina:
Follow in the footsteps of Jimmy Marshall and the men of the 52nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment.  This regiment was commanded by a grandson of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  He would face off on July 3rd, 1863 against the grandson of George Washington’s personal secretary.  While this North Carolina regiment does not suffer the horrendous casualty rates of the other Gettysburg units,  casualties among the line officers were particularly severe.   

“Our regiment moved gallantly and steadily forward under the fire of our guns until it reached a point beyond which was unsafe to fire over our heads. Steadily the advance was made and as steadily and coolly met with a murderous fire from the enemy’s cannon, charged with grape, shrapnel and canister.  Still the line advanced, and at every step our comrades fell on every side…”

Kemper’s Virginia Brigade with Ranger Jim Flook

John Dooley

John Dooley of the 1st Virginia

John Dooley and the men of the 1st Virginia
Follow in the footsteps of John Dooley and the men of the 1st Virginia. Formed in Richmond, Virginia on May 1, 1851, this regiment was known as the “Old First” and it’s companies served as the honor guard to deliver former President James Monroe to his place of rest at Hollywood Cemetery.  Struggling to maintain fighting numbers this regiment was nearly disbanded in 1862 after disease and casualties at Blackburn’s Ford, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, 2nd Manassas and Antietam took their toll.  The unit brought 160 men to Gettysburg and surrendered just 17 at Appomattox.

“… Gen. Lee, or better known as Uncle Robert, silent and motionless, awaits our passing by, and anxiously does he gaze upon the only division of his army whose numbers have not been thinned by the terrible fires of Gettysburg.  I must confess that the Genl’s face does not look as bright as tho’ he were certain of success.  But yet it is impossible for us to be any otherwise than victorious… orders come for us to lie down in line of battle; that all the cannon on our side will open at a given signal, will continue for an hour and upon their ceasing we are to charge straight ahead over the open field and sweep from our path any thing in the shape of a Yankee that attempts to oppose our progress. … I tell you, there is no romance in making one of these charges. … as the cloud of enthusiasm of ardent breasts in many cases ain’t there, and instead of burning to avenge insults of our country, families and altars and firesides, the thought is most frequently, Oh, if I could just come out of this charge safely how thankful would I be.”

Catlett Conway and the men of the 7th Virginia
Follow in the footsteps of Catlett Conway and the men of the 7th Virginia. Formed of soldiers from 18 counties across north-central Virginia, this regiment made two significant bayonet charges early in its battle history during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.  Veterans of Blackburn’s Ford, 1st Manassas, Williamsburg, Frayer’s Farm, and Antietam these men understood the horrors of war. Following the sacking and looting of Fredericksburg by soldiers in the Union Army of the Potomac, the men of the 7th donated $776.00 to the towns people to help them cope with the damage.  Nine different men carried the colors for this unit during Pickett’s Charge.

“… we reach the plank fence and the boards fly off all along our front, the skirmishers retreat before us.  The enemy’s artillery are now raining shot and shell upon us and great gaps are cut throught the line, but the men close up and continue to advance.  A shell bursts right in my face and I am knocked down by a shot that strikes me in the left side, just missing the hipbone by half an inch.  I roll on the ground gasping for breath … I try to walk, but lose consciousness and fall again.  When I open my eyes the line has moved on and the storm is roaring over me, by my brave comrade is kneeling by me, bathing my face in water from his canteen.  As I look up he smiles and says, ‘Old fellow, I thought you were gone.’”

John James and the men of the 11th Virginia
Follow in the footsteps of John James and the men of the 11th Virginia Infantry. The eldest company of this regiment was formed in the wake of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry and its first captain (later the colonel of the regiment) was the brother-in-law of Lt. Gen. CodoriJames Longstreet, the corp commander that Gen. Lee tasked with carrying out the attack on July 3rd.  Hailing from the vicinity of Lynchburg, Virginia, these men were veterans of Blackburn’s Ford, 1st Manassas, Dranesville, Williamsburg, Gaines Mill, Frayser’s Farm, 2nd Manassas, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.  At Gettysburg they were commanded by a captain, who was recently released by General Pickett from arrest. That captain would later be found guilty at a court martial, but his sentence was never enacted because of his leadership at Gettysburg. What did he do on the fields in front of Cemetery Ridge?

“July 9, 1863.  My Dear Father: As I am wet, dirty, tired and miserable in every way, I will not attempt to write a letter but merely copy off a few of my “pencillings by the wayside” for my mind is in about as low a state as my body. … I was almost fully convinced, after looking at the situation of affairs that I would never get back safe, and I am even now almost persuaded that I was saved in that charge by a miracle of some kind of other. … At every step some poor fellow would fall, and as his pitiful cry would come to my ear I almost imaged it the wail of some loved one he had left at home. … After terrible loss to the regiment, brigade and division, we reached and actually captured the breastworks. … Oh, it was hard to be compelled to give way for the want of men, after having fought as hard as we had that day.”

Archer’s Brigade with Ranger Philip Brown

June Kimball and the men of the 14th Tennessee Infantry

Follow in the footsteps of June Kimble and the 14th Tennessee Infantry Regiment.  This regiment was raised in June 1861 near Clarksville, Tennessee.  The individual companies that made up the regiment sported nicknames such as “The Pepper Guards.”  Among its ranks were over one hundred students from Stewart College that made up the entirety of Company A, including a soldier named June Kimble.  The regiment was engaged with the rest of the brigade on July 1st in the opening shots of the battle.  On July 3rd those left took a key part in Pickett’s Charge, piercing the Union line at the Angle for a few short moments.  In remembering one of his comrades Kimball wrote:

“When perhaps seventy-five feet from the works, Billy McCulloch moved up to my left side, shoulder to shoulder, said I, Billy stay with us, as promptly came his brave reply, “I am with you”, but hardly had his courageous response passed from his lips, when a deadly Minnie pierced his brain.”

A. D. Norris

A. D. Norris of the 7th Tennessee

Archibald Debow Norris and the men of the 7th Tennessee Infantry Regiment

Follow in the footsteps of Archibald Debow Norris and the 7th Tennessee Infantry Regiment.  This regiment was formed in late May of 1861 near Gallatin, Tennessee.  Among its companies were those boasting names such as “The Hurricane Rifles” and “The Statesville Tigers.”  Norris graduated first in the class of 1860 from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.  He returned home after college to find his home state embroiled in discussions of secession.  He himself supported the preservation of the Union and was not afraid to share his sentiments in public.  However, once the state seceded he joined the 7th Tennessee in 1861 at the age of twenty-one.  At Gettysburg he fought with the regiment on July 1st and 3rd where he displayed conspicuous bravery despite the chaos of combat.  Another soldier would later remember…

“I can recall Capt. A. Norris… when the right was being enveloped and hope gone, tearing the flag from the staff, and retreating with a fragment of his company under a fire so destructive that his escape seemed miraculous.  There was no better officer in the Seventh or in any other regiment”

J. B. Turney and the men of the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment
(Provisional Army)

Follow in the footsteps of J.B. Turney and the 1st Tennessee Infantry Regiment.  The First Tennessee was formed in the early days of the Civil War on April 27, 1861 and was comprised of men from south-central Tennessee who chose to name their companies  “The Mountain Boys,” “The Shelton Creek Volunteers” and “Boon’s Creek Minutemen.”  Turney fought with the regiment throughout July 1st and on the 3rd he allegedly crossed the wall at the Angle with a small band of men from his company.

JB Turney

J. B. Turney of the 1st Tennessee (Provisional Army)

“I then made a second effort to cross the works and enfilade, but by this time our lines, from my position to the left, were being beaten back by a most destructive fire; and as our opposition melted in their front, the enemy turned a deadly fire upon the unprotected squad of First Tennesseans, who, together with a few of Garnett’s Virginians, had the second time crossed the works.”



Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Gettysburg 151st Anniversary Schedule


151st Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg Commemoration

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 151st 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.

Daily Ranger-Guided Programs
Tuesday, July 1 – Thursday, July 3

The Battle of Gettysburg: An Overview (30 minutes) – Want to understand the basics of the battle before you get out on the field? This is the program for you! Meet in the Ford Education Center inside the Museum and Visitor Center, 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 Tent
Tuesday, July 1 – Thursday, July 3

During the 151st Anniversary children of all ages can visit the Family Activities Tent 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 2014”, 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 there.  After your visit, you can get involved in Junior Ranger programs in other parks, and on the internet at!

Family Activities Tent Hours: July 1 – 2 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and July 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Special Programs – Tuesday, 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.
“Hold at Any Cost!” – The Sacrifice of the 16th Maine

Late on the afternoon of July 1, 1863, as Confederate forces descended like an avalanche upon the wavering Union lines north and west of Gettysburg, Colonel Charles Tilden and his 275 soldiers in the 16th Maine Infantry were asked to make a forlorn stand on Oak Ridge and to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Divisional commander John Robinson ordered Tilden to hold the position “at any cost” in order to buy some time to allow the rest of his command to escape from the closing Confederate vise.  The stand of the 16th Maine remains one of Gettysburg’s most remarkable stories—a story of heroism and of sacrifice—but it is a story that often gets overlooked. Join Park Ranger John Hoptak as he relates the dramatic stand of the 16th Maine at Gettysburg, and walk in the footsteps of this regiment on July 1, 1863.

Meet at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, Stop 2 on the Auto Tour. Park along Buford and North Confederate Avenue.

2:30 p.m.
Carry the Hill…if Practicable” – Robert E. Lee and the Confederate High Command

As the sun set on July 1, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia stood victorious and the southern Confederacy seemed on the cusp of independence. Yet, the Union army was rallying on Cemetery Hill. One more push and the war might be over. Join Ranger Matt Atkinson and explore the Confederate command decisions at the end of the first day of battle.

Meet at Stop 1 on the Battlefield Auto Tour. Park along Reynolds Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
“Not without a Fight” Krzyzanowski’s Brigade Struggles for the 11th Corps Line

The Army of the Potomac’s 11th Corps battle line north of Gettysburg on July 1st, 1863 had great defects. It fell to the men of Col. Vladimir Krzyzanowski’s brigade to correct them. Their vigorous fighting, under tremendous pressure, would disprove the low reputation often consigned to the German immigrant troops. Join Licensed Guide Ralph Siegel for this moderate walk over the fields where Krzyanowski’s men faced the enemy that day.

Meet at the tennis courts on Mummasburg Road on the northern edge of town.  Parking is available at Barlow’s Knoll and along East Howard Avenue. Do not park on West Howard 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, 151 years ago.

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Two Armies Collide: The Battle Begins – John Nicholas
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 1, McPherson Ridge. Park on Stone Avenue.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Ewell Attacks Oak Ridge – Bert Barnett                       
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 2, The Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
Park on North Confederate Avenue.

2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
The Battle for Herbst Woods – Jim Flook
Meet at the West End Guide Station, Stone Avenue

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

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

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the three days of the battlefield anniversary Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the significance of events 151 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater, Battlefield Auto Tour Stop 6.

“Each Day Brings its own Challenges:” July 1, 1863 – Ranger Bill Hewitt
July 1, 1863. About 1 a.m. Men in both armies wonder, “What will this day bring?” In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar the lines are: “If a man were to know the end of this day’s business ‘ere it come. But it suffices that the day will end and then the end be known. And if we meet again, well then we’ll smile. And if not, then this parting was well made.”  What does each army know at the beginning of the day on July 1, 1863?  How will the soldiers on each side prepare for the eventful day and who will not live to see its conclusion?


 Special Programs – Wednesday, 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.
“The Strongest Position by Nature Upon Which to Fight a Battle”The Stories of Cemetery Hill

Cemetery Hill witnessed more than its share of dramatic scenes during the battle of Gettysburg: the rallying place for battered Union troops and a showdown over field command on July 1; a gallant charge that almost wrested it from Union hands; the deadly contest between sharpshooters; and its role as a dominant platform for Union artillery.  It was, as one officer explained, “…the commanding point of the whole position.” Accompany Park Historian John Heiser and discover the events that made this hill, a portion of which has been recently rehabilitated, a major part of the Gettysburg saga.

Meet at the Hancock Equestrian Monument on East Cemetery Hill. Parking is available at the National Cemetery Lot.

2:30 p.m.
“Truth is Eternal” James Longstreet on July 2

What role did Lt. Gen. James Longstreet play on the afternoon of July 2, 1863? Join Ranger Karlton Smith and discuss Longstreet’s role as a corps commander, his relationship with Robert E. Lee, and his performance and motivations on the second day of the battle. What were the Confederate battle plans that day and why did they go awry?

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 6, Pitzer Woods. Park at Pitzer Woods and along West Confederate Avenue.

6:00 p.m.
“The Bullets Came Thick And Close”The 137th New York Regiment at Culp’s Hill

The defense of the Union left on Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine on July 2, 1863 has become a touchstone for courage and determination at Gettysburg. However, the stubborn defense of Culp’s Hill by Col. David Ireland’s 137th New York Infantry was at least as decisive, and may well have diverted a direct assault on the all-important Union supply line on the Baltimore Pike. Join Licensed Guide John Archer and walk in the footsteps of these New Yorkers and explore the lesser known struggle for Culp’s Hill.

Meet at the Culp’s Hill Observation Tower. Park along Williams and Slocum Avenue.

Real Time Programs
These 30 to 45-minute programs provide an overview of key moments during the battle of Gettysburg at the time at which they occurred 151 years ago.

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Lee and Meade Plan for Battle – Troy Harman
Meet at the Meade Equestrian Statue, Hancock Avenue.

1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Skirmish in Pitzer Woods – Chris Gwinn
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 6, Pitzer Woods.

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Longstreet Prepares to Attack – John Hoptak
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 7, The Alabama Memorial.

4:15 p.m.  – 4:45 p.m.
The Fight for Little Round Top – Allyson Perry
Meet at the Warren Statue, Little Round Top.

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Devil’s Den and Houck’s Ridge – Brian Henry
Meet at Devil’s Den. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

5:45 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The Bloody Wheatfield – Jim Flook
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 9, The Wheatfield. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Union Collapse at the Peach Orchard – Bert Barnett
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 10, The Peach Orchard. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

7:20 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Crisis at the Union Center – Matt Atkinson
Meet at Auto Tour Stop 12, The Pennsylvania Memorial. Park along Hancock Avenue.

8:15 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Night Fighting on East Cemetery Hill – Chuck Teague
Meet at the Baltimore Street Entrance to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the three days of the battlefield anniversary Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the significance of events 151 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater, Battlefield Auto Tour Stop 6.

July 2nd: The Photographic Legacy of Gettysburg’s Bloodiest Day – Licensed Guides Gary Adelman and Tim Smith

Experience a photographic tour of Gettysburg’s most iconic places—Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, the Rose and Trostle farms, Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Hill. Through the many photos taken in the 1860s at these places, and in the decades that followed, Adelman and Smith will photographically trace Gettysburg’s battle, battlefield, memorialization and commercialization to peer into Gettysburg’s past in a manner available nowhere else.

The Liberty Rifles approach.

Special Programs –
Thursday, 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.
Meade Refuses the Extreme Left after Chamberlain’s Charge

Join Ranger Troy Harman and explore the real and perceived dangers to the federal left flank after the victory on Little Round Top, and the measures taken by Maj. Gen. Meade to secure it. Retrace the army’s refused flank, and explore existing defensive works built by the 5th Corps well into the early morning hours of July 3. The program will also explore Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s proposed flanking maneuver behind the Rounds Tops on July 3.

Meet at the 20th Maine Monument, Little Round Top. Parking available at Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, and the Big Round Top Parking Lots. Parking is also available along South Confederate Avenue.

2:30 p.m.
“Who will you follow?” – Pickett’s Charge and the Story of the Common Soldier

Visitors are invited to join Rangers Philip Brown, Bill Hewitt, and Jim Flook to follow in the footsteps of three Confederate units 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.

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

6:00 p.m.
An Unceasing Procession of Stretchers” – The Journey of the Wounded from Cemetery Ridge to the George Spangler Farm

Join Ranger Christopher Gwinn and Dan Welch of the Gettysburg Foundation and follow the path of the wounded from Cemetery Ridge to field hospitals behind the Union lines, where surgeons, nurses, and volunteers struggled to save the torn and bleeding casualties of the battle. How were the wounded evacuated from the field of battle, where were they taken, and what were the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of the fighting at Gettysburg? This journey will conclude at the George Spangler Farm, one of the best preserved Civil War field hospitals in the country.

Meet at the High Water Mark, Auto Tour Stop 15. Parking available at the National Cemetery Lot, the Museum and Visitor Center, and along 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 at which they occurred 151 years ago.

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.                 
Disaster in Spangler Meadow – Philip Brown

Meet at Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring.
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Counter-Attack at Pardee Field – Casimer Rosiecki
Meet at the Auto Tour Stop 13, Spangler’s Spring
Park on East Confederate and Williams Avenue.

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
The Bliss Farm in Flames – Scott Adrian
Meet at the Abraham Brian Farm. Park on Hancock Avenue.

11:30 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Lee and Longstreet at Odds – Bill Hewitt
Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on North Sickles or United States Avenue.
Do not park on Wheatfield Road.

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
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.
Union Defense of Cemetery Ridge – Karlton Smith
Meet at Meade Equestrian Monument.
Park on Hancock Avenue or National Cemetery Parking Lot.

In the Path of Battle: Open House at the Abraham Brian Farm – Thursday, July 3
Abraham Brian, an African American citizen of Gettysburg, owned a small plot of land along Cemetery Ridge, just south of the town. The humble farm owned and worked by the Brian family would be transformed into the scene of unimaginable horror and destruction during the fighting at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. You’re invited to explore inside the Brian family farmhouse and discover the stories of this African American family caught up in the turmoil of the battle of Gettysburg. Join Park Rangers Allyson Perry, Casimer Rosiecki, and Jasmine Burnett, between 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. for this special opportunity.

Campfire at Pitzer Woods
Over the three days of the battlefield anniversary Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides will present hour-long presentations, offering unique perspectives on the significance of events 151 years ago. Held nightly at 8:30 p.m. at the Pitzer Woods Amphitheater, Battlefield Auto Tour Stop 6.

Pickett’s Charge: 150 Years in the Making – Ranger Jared Frederick
Pickett’s Charge remains the iconic moment of the Battle of Gettysburg–perhaps even the Civil War as a whole. Join Jared Frederick on an historical journey as we gain an understanding of the place, the people, the memories, and the clashing ideals that brought this pivotal moment to the forefront of national identity. Experience Pickett’s Charge and its unique legacies through the literature, art, movies, reunions, and park history that have indelibly shaped our perceptions of this “turning point.


Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment