“I never saw men more resolved upon an accomplishment.” Lt. Colonel Franklin Gaillard Writes Home, Part 2.

“I have been intending to write you for some time,” the letter began, “but we were so continually on the move and the wagons with writing material not being convenient I have delayed longer than I should have.”

The writer was exhausted but finally enjoying the first free moments provided him in over two weeks of hard marching and the aftermath of the battle at Gettysburg. It was not until July 17 when Lt. Colonel Gaillard and his regiment were back in Virginia, when he finally had the opportunity to look at one or two letters written from home and try to answer them with the same optimism he’d expressed barely three weeks earlier. This would be tough; how would he explain the experience of battle in Pennsylvania to his family, so far away? He regiment had suffered heavily, not only in the battle but in the loss of material and even morale, despite the bravado so highly touted by him and his men as they trudged through enemy territory. Written over a period of ten days, the young colonel took up his pen and decided to hold nothing back:

Another terrible battle has been fought and I am yet safe. Moultrie[i] too passed through untouched. Poor Eddie received a very painful wound and one which will give him trouble for some time. I stopped at the Brigade infirmary as we were retiring from Gettysburg and saw him. He was suffering a good deal of pain and seemed to dislike very much being left in the hands of the enemy. I regard his wound as severe but not serious. [ii]  There will be published in the papers a list of casualties, I took a great deal of care in the preparation. The reports of captain of companies were submitted to the surgeon to obtain concurrence of opinion as to the nature and extent of wounds.

The battle of Gettysburg was, I think, the most sanguinary of the war and was as clear a defeat as our army ever met with. Our Brigade suffered very severely. The 2nd Regiment I have no hesitation in saying was the hero regiment of the Brigade on the occasion. I can not recur, even in thought, to their gallantry without the proudest emotions. We received order to advance as soon as we started we came under artillery fire of the enemy’s batteries. For four hundred yards our line moved beautifully forward not wavering nor hesitating in the slightest degree. We were to take a battery immediately in our front and I never saw men more resolved upon an accomplishment. We had crossed two fences and our line was unbroken although many gaps had been in the ranks. In the midst of this beautiful advance the regiment to our right commenced moving by the right flank, that is, facing to the right. The directions we receive required us to dress to the right so that this regiment would face to the right and then to the front. We would have to conform supposing that the orders came from General Kershaw. I afterward learned that it did not. The consequences were fatal. We were, in ten minutes or less time, terribly butchered. A body of infantry to our left opened on us, and as a volley of grape would strike our line, I saw half a dozen at a time knocked up and flung to the ground like trifles. In about that short space of time we had about half of our men killed or wounded. It was the most shocking battle I have ever witnessed. There were familiar forms and faces with parts of their faces shot away, legs shattered, arms torn off, etc. Yet moving to the right but not retiring we occupied a piece of woods which gave us protection until the battery was taken by the Mississippi Brigade under Gen. Barksdale. The Regiment of our own Brigade to our right fell back before a very heavy body of infantry.

Notwithstanding all this, our men stood their ground. The enemy’s infantry came up and we stood within thirty steps of each other. They loaded and fired deliberately. I never saw more stubbornness. It was so desperate I took two shots with my pistol at men scarcely thirty steps from me. I could not see that I did any damage but there were some seven or eight dead lying just about where I was shooting.

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The Rose Farm where Kershaw’s S.C. Brigade saw heavy fighting on July 2, 1863 (GNMP)

Wofford’s Georgia Brigade coming up on our left supporting the Mississippi Brigade, we charged upon the party opposed to us and drove them pell-mell through the woods, shooting them down and taking prisoners at every step. We pursued them to the foot of the stone mountain, the strong point in their position, where we attacked them. Here the bullets literally came down upon us as think as hailstones. It is scarcely necessary to say we fell back. But the Yankees did not venture to pursue. We held until next evening the larger portion of the battlefield we fought on. It was thickly strewn with their dead.

The battle was an unfortunate one. Our army went into it in magnificent style and I never saw it fight better but the position defeated us. For this I blame our Generals. In a day, by our injudicious attack they defeated the most brilliants prospects we have ever had. It was caused by their overconfidence. The greatest misfortune is that it destroyed the unbounded confidence reposed in Gen. Lee. Before, the army believed he could not err. They now see that he can once in a while. Viewed in a political aspect it was a disaster to us, in my judgment. Its injurious effect can only be counteracted by them attacking us and being well whipped. I think such will be the result. I hope they may come dashing upon us, expecting to find us demoralized. Our men suffered terribly for shoes. Our ammunition became short and our line of communication was so long that we lost a great many wagons. I am more satisfied than ever that invasion is too hazardous for us.

Dead on the Rose Farm.

Dead of Gaillard’s regiment lie in unfinished graves on the Rose Farm. (Library of Congress)

The fall of Vicksburg I take quite patiently. I made up my mind when Fort Donaldson fell that the Mississippi River was gone. I do not believe they are going to gain one tenth the advantages from it they anticipate. Had we not invaded Pennsylvania we would have been in a condition to reinforce the armies in the West. We will have to fall back and give the enemy deeper lines to operate through. Gen. Bragg has almost checkmated Rosencrantz by this policy. I feel very anxious to hear from my brothers and nephews.

Capt. Wallace, now major, and Col. Kennedy were both wounded and have gone home on sixty days’ furlough. Adjutant Sill was also wounded and has gone home on a forty days’ furlough. Mr. Booze, the Colonel’s orderly who messed with us lost a leg and was severely wounded in the arm. He was left in the hands of the enemy, so that of the five in the mess I am the only one left. Lieut. Perry of Co. H and myself are the only two of the old officers of the Regiment left with it. I feel quite lonely at times, but my increased responsibility diverts me, as only one of the old company commanders is with his company. The others are all inexperienced and slow to assume authority so that I have some trouble on this score.

When I commenced this letter we were at Bunker Hill between Winchester and Martinsburg. I was prevented from finishing it, put it in my trunk and have not been able to conclude it until now the 27th of July near Culpepper.

Our army is all here recruiting rapidly and will give Mr. Meade a warm reception should he come down upon which I am disposed to doubt. In the package of things sent home by Moultrie there is a pair of shoes, a present to Daughter from Gen. Kershaw. I got nothing in Pennsylvania or Maryland in the way of clothing or goods of any kind. The people did not want to trade and our money was really worth little or nothing to them. There was an immense amount of plundering. Our army would have been demoralized had we been victorious and remained long over there. Now that we have got back to Virginia it is very hard to break the men from their acquired habits over there. The people looked at us with sour faces, long faces, and indifferent faces. All they seemed to fear was that we would burn their houses. Horses and cattle they gave up as small matter.

Tell David and Daughter I did not get one thing for them or for myself. I hope I will soon get another letter from David. Now that Daughter has gone to school I suppose she will soon be writing letters too.

Yours affectionately, Franklin Gaillard

Excuse my paper; it got thoroughly saturated when the wagons were recrossing the Potomac.

The two letters written by Colonel Gaillard that summer provide the historian exquisite detail of not only his personal experience and confidence in the course of the war, but he sincerely shared the moods and privations of the men of his regiment during the Gettysburg Campaign. The 2nd South Carolina Infantry suffered a physical loss of 169 officers and men out of the 410 that started the fateful charge of the brigade across the George Rose Farm on July 2, but the survivors were also deeply affected by the dashing of their hopes of southern independence at Gettysburg.  Union soldiers- the Army of the Potomac- were not going to be so easily “whipped”.

Unfortunately, Gaillard did not survive the war. This remarkable man was killed at the Battle of Wilderness on May 6, 1864, and is buried in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Thankfully, his wartime letters have been preserved and so useful to historians such as Mac Wycoff, author of A History of the 2nd South Carolina Infantry: 1861-1865 (Fredericksburg, VA: Sgt. Kirkland’s Museum and Historical Society, 1994).  Yet, we cannot help but be saddened by the loss of a man who could have told us so much more had he survived and lived to complete the record he began in his wartime letters home.

-John Heiser
Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

[i] Sergeant Moultrie Brailsford, Company I, 2nd South Carolina Infantry

[ii] Corporal Edmund Gaillard, Company I, 2nd South Carolina. Corporal Gaillard was taken prisoner by Federal troops and treated at Camp Letterman hospital near Gettysburg. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries on October 15, 1863.

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“We can whip three or four (of them) to one.” Lt. Colonel Franklin Gaillard Writes Home, Part 1.

“I had no idea that it was the beginning of so grand a movement as it has resulted in here we are now in the great and powerful state of Pennsylvania marching in the direction of her Capitol.”

Seated in camp near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Franklin Gaillard was flush with excitement as he busily described to his son the enthusiasm he felt at the moment: “I do not know, of course, what Gen. Lee is going to do, for like a good general he will keep his intentions to himself and his Lieut. Generals. But it appears to me very much as if he is going to strike a blow at Harrisburg and if he can succeed in taking it, it will be a brilliant triumph for our arms.”

It was June 28, 1863, and Gaillard’s regiment, the 2nd South Carolina Infantry, was resting after a rapid and tiresome march across the Potomac River into Maryland and Pennsylvania, where he and his men were then enjoying their role as invaders. The 34 year-old officer, strikingly handsome and eloquent, was a prolific letter writer and his descriptive account of the campaign in letters sent to his children and family that summer have fortunately survived, with copies of the transcribed letters currently housed in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Born in 1829 to planter parents in Pineville, South Carolina, Franklin Gaillard developed a gift for writing and understanding politics while attending South Carolina College, now the University of South Carolina at Columbia. It was a socially elite school, a training ground for upper class South Carolina families and Gaillard found the interaction with classmates, schooling to become future businessmen, lawyers and political leaders, most intriguing. Though his family had relocated to Alabama from the Palmetto State, Franklin stayed with his uncle in Fairfield County and attended Mount Zion Academy in Winnsboro before he enrolled at the college where he excelled in all of his classes. Graduating as class valedictorian in 1849, Gaillard appeared to be on the road to success when the feverish news of gold in California caught his interest. Accompanied by countless others, the venturous Gaillard journeyed to California to seek his fortune in the gold fields but after three years of discouragement, returned to his uncle’s home in Winnsboro where he renewed his interest in politics and writing as the owner of the Winnsboro Register, a decidedly southern democratic newspaper. He also married that same year, the union producing two children before his wife’s untimely death in 1856. Soon after her passing, he accepted the job as chief editor of the Carolinian newspaper in Columbus. Here, Gaillard was exposed to the rhetoric of States Rights arguments and was active among the many social circles where reported insults to Southern society were hotly debated and discussed.

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Franklin Gaillard with his children, ca. 1858. (Findagrave.com)

Secession and war was the inevitable outcome and Gaillard found himself in the middle of the fever to serve his home state. Connections with legislators and others provided Gaillard with the opportunity of an officer’s position so he enlisted and mustered into service as a lieutenant in what became Company A of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Regiment. He took an immediate liking to the military and was so well respected by fellow officers and enlisted men alike that he rose through promotion to the rank of major and then lieutenant colonel of the regiment, commanded in the summer of 1863 by Colonel John D. Kennedy, a native of Camden, South Carolina. The 2nd South Carolina had a storied record of service through the tough campaigns in the summer and fall of 1862 and again during the Chancellorsville Campaign that spring. Despite the hardships and an injury suffered the previous fall, Lt. Colonel Gaillard was enthusiastically hopeful that this summer campaign in Pennsylvania would see the end of the war and his exuberance on that warm June day when he penned his letter could not be contained:

The enemy have nothing but raw troops in our front. I think we can whip three or four to one. Then we could march on towards Philadelphia and Gen. Hooker would have to come to our front to save it and we would thus free Maryland and maybe take Washington and Baltimore. This summer is going to be filled with great events and if Providence will favor our efforts I hope mighty things for our country will be achieved. Our Army never was in better health and spirits.

Since we left Fredericksburg we have marched about one hundred and sixty miles. In our march from Culpeper to Ashby’s Gap we had a terrible march. The sun as very hot and then so many men marching along together made it very dusty. In the old settled country, the farmers find great difficulty in getting rails. Where we passed it was mountainous and stony and the people would gather up large quantities and make stone walls which answer the purpose of a fence and are very durable. When our troops would be down in a valley, no wind could refresh them, with the sun coming down heavily upon their heads, the heat increased by the reflection from the walls, and the dust stifling them so that they could not breath in pure air, the gallant fellows, many, very many, would turn red in the face from blood rushing to their head and fall to the ground with sun stroke. We got to Ashby’s Gap (and) stopped two or three days and then we had a very heavy rain and one or two days of wet and cloudy weather. This revived them all like pouring water on wilted plants. Nearly all came up. We stopped there to guard this Gap and it was well we did for the enemy’s Cavalry assisted by a small force of infantry drove our Cavalry several miles before them and we all thought whipped them pretty badly. We had crossed the Shenandoah River and had to recross it and go back three or four miles to keep the Yankees from taking the Gap. Next day the Yankees went back and Stuart’s Cavalry went poking along at a very slow pace as if they were in no great hurry to overtake them. They now claim in the papers that they drove them back but we who were there and saw them know better. Our Cavalry is very little account and have very little to boast of. There are more than half of them who are with their horses lamed or sore backed with the wagons. They have got so now that as soon as a fight begins they think they have nothing to do but to go back to the rear and let the Infantry do the fighting. Our boys ridicule them very much whenever they pass.

Fording the Potomac

Confederates ford the Potomac River in June 1863. (Battles & Leaders)

I am afraid our men will suffer for shoes. These long marches are very trying on men’s feet and shoes. You would be very much amused to see the men crossing a river. A regiment is marched down to the banks and halted long enough to allow them to pull off their pantaloons. If the water is over waist deep they put bayonets on their guns and hang their cartridge boxes on them, then right shoulder shift arms and wade across on fine spirits as if it was a frolic. The Yankees carry pontoon trains along with them but our boys say that every man in General Lee’s Army carries his own pontoons. It is very funny to pass through these Yankee towns to see the long sour faces. Our men go on and pay no attention to them. They only laugh at them when they make themselves ridiculous. Things are very cheap here in their stores but they will not take our money and Gen. Lee has issued very stringent orders about private property. He is very right for our Army would soon become demoralized if they were allowed to do as many of them would like to. Many of them think it very hard that they should not be allowed to treat them as their soldiers treated our people but we must not imitate the Yankees in their mean acts. Gen. Lee is going to support his Army over here and this will tax the people here and make them feel the war.

Your very affectionate father,
Franklin Gaillard

Four days after mailing his hopeful letter, Colonel Gaillard would be in the thickest of the fighting at Gettysburg, an event that would forever after change his perspective on the hope of southern victory.

John Heiser
Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

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Yellowstone & Gettysburg: The Many Connections Between Two Iconic National Parks

Since 1916 the National Park Service has been actively involved in safeguarding, protecting, and stewarding some of the most important, scenic, and inspiring places on the North American continent. This year the National Park Service will be celebrating its centennial and over the course of the next 365 days it is hoped that many Americans will set out to discover the rich natural and cultural history afforded to them in the over 400 units of the National Park Service…especially Gettysburg National Military Park.

While each National Park is unique, there exist many interesting connections that bind the various parks, places, and people together. Many Americans will come to Gettysburg National Military Park to see where “our nation was preserved.” Likewise, many more will travel to Yellowstone, the first and arguably most famous of the iconic natural parks. Few visitors however will realize the many connections these two singularly American places have in common. Here are but two of the many connections between Yellowstone and Gettysburg. I challenge you to find more!

The General John Gibbon Yellowstone-Gettysburg Connection

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General John Gibbon (NPS)

Many students of the Battle of Gettysburg recognize the name of John Gibbon, famed commander of the 2nd Division of Winfield Scott Hancock’s II Corps. Gibbon and the men he commanded played a vital role in the repulse Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863. After the war, John Gibbon was appointed commander of the 7th U.S. Regular Infantry with the rank of Colonel. In 1872 , while post commander at Fort Ellis, Montana Territory ( near Bozeman) Colonel Gibbon was to provide soldiers from his command as the U.S. Army escort to the Hayden Geological Survey Expedition. Ferdinand Hayden, a noted geologist was to form a party to explore and document the region of the country that was to become Yellowstone National Park. Even though Colonel Gibbon did not personally escort or accompany the scientists on the Hayden Expedition, his knowledge of mapping and his experience in military logistics were so helpful that two important landmarks in Yellowstone National Park bear his name. Many visitors to Yellowstone find the exploration of the park incomplete without a dip in the Gibbon River, or a picnic lunch at Gibbon Falls.

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Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park (NPS)

General John W. Barlow Yellowstone- Gettysburg Connection
In the summer of 1863 , 25 year old Captain John W. Barlow, a recent graduate of the United States Military Academy, found himself in

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Gen. John W. Barlow

command of a contingent of Engineers serving under Gen. Henry Benham with the Union Army of the Potomac. As that army trudged northward, and ultimately as it pursued southward, Barlow and his men were constantly engaged in building pontoon bridges, repairing telegraph lines, and assisting with the unending logistics of keeping a 95,000 man army in motion and well supplied.

Nine years after his experiences on the battlefield of Gettysburg, now Brig. General John W. Barlow, Chief of Topographical Engineers on the staff of General Philip H. Sheridan, Military District of the Missouri, has been tasked to head up a U.S. Army mapping and surveying expedition to the region known as “ The Yellowstone.”

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Barlow Peak, Yellowstone National Park (NPS)

General Barlow was to link up with another expedition coming out of Fort Ellis, Montana Territory under the supervision of Ferdinand Hayden. The Barlow-Heap Expedition provided the necessary surveying and mapping skills to compliment the Geological Survey carried out by Hayden and his geologists. Gen. John Barlow and his army engineers contributed so much to the Hayden Expedition to Yellowstone in 1872 that one of the highest peaks in the park bears his name. Barlow Peak is a must see sight when visiting Yellowstone National Park.

                                                                              Ranger Tom Holbrook

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Calvin Gilbert and the Gettysburg cannon carriages

It was during the War Department-era that the park developed into what we see today. The battlefield land was transferred by Federal legislation in 1895 from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association to the Federal government and the national military park was born. The official park commission, composed of Civil War veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg, were tasked with marking the lines of battle for both armies at Gettysburg and one of the integral details was placement of original Civil War cannon where artillery batteries of both armies had stood during the battle.

 

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Original cannon tubes were quickly secured from storage in various arsenals and brought to the park but how to properly display these marvelous relics on the field? Original gun carriages were rare, and wood and metal reproductions of carriages would be an exorbitant expense as well as requiring constant maintenance.

To solve the problem, Colonel Emmor Cope, engineer of the park commission, drew plans for a cast iron carriage that closely replicated the original gun carriages and bids were advertised for manufacturers to not only provide reproduction carriages but tablets and adornments for the official government markers and avenue signs for the park.

 

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The work of Calvin Gilbert can be seen on cannon carriages throughout the park.

 

Enter Calvin Gilbert, himself a Civil War veteran who served in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry. Gilbert owned a metal foundry in Gettysburg and was one of the first to offer a bid for this extensive project. Between 1895 and 1913, his foundry produced well over 250 carriages and 200+ iron tablets for battery positions, avenue signs, and farm signs as well as a variety of other markers.

 

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Calvin Gilbert’s Gettysburg foundry produced cannon carriages and many iron tablets and signs.

 

The products of Gilbert’s foundry made the park a model of commemorative devices, eventually fulfilling the objectives of the 1895 establishing law. Few other foundries supported the vast improvement to the park than did Gilbert and his descendants were thrilled to know that his hard work is still on display in the park.

 

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The work of Calvin Gilbert can be seen on cannon carriages throughout the park.

 

Bruce Vanisacker has been volunteering in the park’s cannon restoration shop since its inception in 1996. Bruce has been researching the history of the cannons at Gettysburg for years but he’s had a special interest in Calvin Gilbert.

 

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Bruce Vanisacker (left) and Calvin Gilbert’s great-great grandson Jim Irwin (right) visit the park’s cannon shop.

 

 

Through his continued research he came across Jim Irwin, Calvin Gilbert’s great-great grandson. On October 27, 2015, Bruce provided a behind the scenes tour to Calvin Gilbert’s great-great grandson. This tour included visiting the park’s cannon restoration shop and a trip around the battlefield focusing on the iron carriages, iron tablets, and cannon tubes Calvin Gilbert produced over 100 years ago.

 

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Bruce Vanisacker (left) and Calvin Gilbert’s great-great grandson Jim Irwin (right) visit one of Calvin Gilbert’s cannon carriages on the battlefield.

 

Jason Martz – Visual Information Specialist, Gettysburg National Military Park

John Heiser – Historian, Gettysburg National Military Park

Bruce Vanisacker – Volunteer, Gettysburg National Military Park

 

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The Malmedy Massacre and Gettysburg – 71 Years Ago Today

Seventy-one years ago today, a great battle was raging in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. On the morning of December 16, thousands of German soldiers began pouring through the weakest sector of the broad Allied front in an offensive that would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. For the Germans, the attack was borne of desperation. With the Soviets bearing down in the East, morale sinking at home, and many in the German high command beginning to doubt whether the war could still be won, Hitler rolled the dice in a tremendous and costly gamble. His goal was to break the back of the Americans and British on the Western Front, driving back their gains from the previous months and potentially retaking the port of Antwerp. If all went well, Hitler could force another scene such as that of Dunkirk in 1940; if all did not, hundreds of thousands of German soldiers would be wiped out in a desperate and foolish attack.

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The Malmedy Massacre, December 17, 1944.

Though no one could have foreseen it when it began, the Battle of the Bulge would be the largest American battle of World War Two. The over 80,000 American casualties in that battle alone amounted to almost ten percent of American combat casualties in the entire war. While initially caught off guard by the massive German attack, American reinforcements were quickly rushed to the point of attack, smashing into the large salient formed by the German advance. By the end of January 1945, American forces had reclaimed all of the ground they lost during the battle. These gains were only made through sacrifice, suffering, and grit during the cold and unforgiving winter.

While the Battle of the Bulge began on December 16, it was an incident on the second day of the German offensive—December 17—that reminds us of the cruelty of war, and the steep price paid by common soldiers for the freedoms we have today. It is also through the events of 71 years ago today that we find one of several connections between the Battle of the Bulge and Gettysburg.

Born on January 21, 1916, Frederick Clark was a native of Western Pennsylvania. He came from a large family of hardworking people, typical of the region in so many ways. His father David was a 45 year old coal miner who had an 8th grade education. His mother Clara was 34. Frederick was one of nine children, all living together in one house in the city of Pittsburgh. The oldest, Sylvester Clark, was working in a steel mill at the age of 17.

By 1930, with the Great Depression taking deep hold of the country, David Clark was in his mid-fifties and out of work. His three eldest sons—Sylvester, Archie and Charles—were working as laborers at odd jobs to help keep the family afloat. His brother Sam, who worked in a steel mill, moved in with the family to provide more support.

Ten years later, according to the 1940 census, most of David and Clara’s children had moved out. With fewer people living in the house and providing an income, Clara Clark was working in an office building in Pittsburgh to help make ends meet. Frederick, who was then 24 years old, was unemployed, but listed as actively seeking work.

The Clark family experienced what millions of other common Americans did during the 1930s. During tight economic times, families pulled together. With David out of work, the rest had to pitch in to support themselves during the difficult years of the Great Depression. And, as with so many, the onset of war in 1941 meant that the world would change once again for the Clark Family.

Frederick left home and enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 11, 1943. We know little about the circumstances of Frederick’s enlistment, other than he had been listed as seeking employment on the 1940 census. According to his enlistment records, his highest education was at grammar school, and he was single with no dependents. He stood just less than five and a half feet tall, and weighed 138 pounds.

Private First Class Frederick Clark served in Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. After spending time training and preparing for war stateside, Clark and his battery arrived in France in August 1944, coming through Omaha Beach just over two months after American troops had first landed there. As a part of a Field Artillery Observation Battalion, Clark’s job was not that of a typical front line combat soldier. His battery, like many others, was responsible for tracking and placing enemy artillery locations. Observation Battalions didn’t have heavy artillery or weaponry, and thus, could be at the mercy of enemy forces in close range combat. This led to major problems for Clark and his comrades during the Battle of the Bulge.

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The bodies of American soldiers and officers following the Malmedy Massacre.

On December 17, the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion was caught up in the melee of the German attack. American units were moving quickly to form new defensive positions to stop the enemy advance. Clark’s battery was headed through the town of Malmedy on their way toward St. Vith, where they were to assist in the city’s defenses. Upon driving south toward the Baugnez Crossroads, they were caught off guard and hit by column of SS panzers and half-tracks led by Joachim Peiper.  As the German fire began to tear apart the American column, vehicles were disabled and chaos ensued. Some drivers turned their trucks into ditches to avoid the incoming artillery and machine gun fire from Peiper’s men. According to Corporal George Fox, PFC Frederick Clark was among a small number cornered by a German tank. When Clark and his comrades raised their arms to surrender, heavy machine gun fire erupted, and Clark was struck directly in the chest. While Clark was among the first to die, he certainly was not the last. Having overwhelmed the American column, Peiper’s SS men rounded up some 130 American soldiers as prisoners. After taking whatever valuables the men had, the SS opened fire on them with machine guns, mowing down the defenseless POWs. When the machine gun fire stopped, SS officers walked among the corpses, taking care to shoot many of them in the head with pistols to insure that they were indeed dead. While some fled and got away safely, 84 Americans were killed in what became known as the Malmedy Massacre.

Frederick Clark was one of the first to die in one of the darkest moments of the Battle of the Bulge. While history and the general public have given their attention to the brave stand of the 101st Airborne Infantry at Bastogne and the heroism of Patton’s Third Army racing northward to break the German advance, we must not forget the tragedy of what occurred just south of Malmedy, when SS troops committed a war crime against Americans of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. The few survivors who had witnessed the atrocity and were able to escape with their lives told whomever they could about what they had seen. Word of what had happened spread quickly through the American and Allied lines, causing many units to decide to take no prisoners during the fighting to come.

The Baugnez crossroads remained in German hands for several weeks while the battle raged. In the cold Belgian winter, the bodies remained frozen until American forces could retake the ground where they had fallen. Efforts were made to identify and gather the bodies, as well as to document the area as the scene of a war crime. It took weeks before all the remains could be recovered. Among those bodies was that of Frederick Clark.

After the end of the war, Peiper and a number of his soldiers would be charged with war crimes for what had occurred at Malmedy and elsewhere. Though Peiper himself was not physically present for the shooting of the American POWs, the Malmedy Massacre was part of a larger pattern of atrocities against prisoners and civilians alike for Peiper and troops under his command. He and several others were later tried and convicted of war crimes, serving time in prison. Years later, in the 1970s, Peiper was living in France, trying to remain unknown, when his identity was discovered and he was murdered.

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The final resting place of Frederick Clark in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

For PFC Frederick Clark, war crimes trials would be irrelevant. He had lost his life—and David and Clara Clark had lost a son. PFC Clark’s body was first buried in a nearby American cemetery at Henri Chappelle, and in 1948, at the request of his family, his body was brought home to be interred in the Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg, where he remains today. PFC Clark is buried in Section 2, Grave number 370.

Several years later, once Frederick Clark’s body had been brought back to Pennsylvania, his mother Clara applied for a pension from the Federal government. David Clark had died less than a year after Frederick, passing away in August of 1945. Having gone through many hardships in life, enduring the grueling work days of a Pennsylvania coal miner and seeing his family struggle to get through the Great Depression, David Clark lived long enough to know that his son died on a cold day in Belgium, just south of the town of Malmedy, as a result of machine gun fire from an SS Panzer unit. Clara was awarded a pension from the government as a small thanks for the price her family had paid during the war.

Today, in the midst of the Christmas Season, when so many are rushing about with errands for holiday parties and shopping lists, let us not forget the terrible price that has been paid through the years. The proof of that price is unmistakably clear in cemeteries across the country—indeed, across the world—and it is readily evident here in Gettysburg. Alongside those who gave their lives in Pennsylvania in 1863, there are those who carried on fighting for the promise of freedom and democratic government “of the people, for the people, and by the people” in later wars.

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The Soldiers National Cemetery in Gettysburg contains the remains of those who fought and died on battlefields spanning the globe. The death that came to these soldiers was not always heroic. Often, it was far from home, in a cold and remote farmer’s field near a crossroads in Belgium, one which countless Americans would never hear nor know of, one which would forever live on in the hearts and minds of those who survived the war. Soldiers die in many ways, and for many reasons. Sometimes, their deaths are a part of a grand charge on a hot July afternoon. Sometimes, they are cut down by enemy fire when trying to surrender on a frigid December day. No matter the place, no matter the day, from Gettysburg to Malmedy, from Pearl Harbor to the Meuse-Argonne, those sacrifices must not be forgotten. When Lincoln spoke of “these honored dead” in his Gettysburg Address, he was speaking not just of those who had died in Gettysburg, but of all those who had sacrificed or would sacrifice to save those same freedoms of which he spoke that November day in 1863. It is up to us today to heed President Lincoln’s words, taking “increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” lines true for those who fell at Gettysburg, and for those who died in the Malmedy Massacre, 71 years ago today.

Ranger Daniel Vermilya,
Gettysburg National Military Park

 

The author is indebted to the scholarship of Licensed Battlefield Guide Stuart Dempsey, whose previous work on the Malmedy Massacre can be found at:
http://www.gettysburgdaily.com/malmedy-massacre-65-years-ago-today/
http://www.cwea.net/commentary/%E2%80%9Cmalmedy-massacre%E2%80%9D-victim-buried-gettysburg-national-cemetery

 

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The Parable of Lt. Isaac Burgauer

As the temperatures drop this time of year, we begin the inevitable drift into the ‘holiday season.’   Taunted by cruelties of crass commercialism, a discordant humanity often seeks refuge in the rituals gifted us by peoples of the past.  As students of history, do we not often wonder what the poor souls of another time, who lived in a world presumably more relatable to their sacred traditions than our own, did to endure the multiply-layered horrors of combat-inflicted separation and death?   For as these afflictions blight us today, in our varied circumstances, they surely tested the faith of those unfortunates who, in times past, likewise found themselves consumed by the conditions of the moment.

Such was the case with Isaac Burgauer, a soldier in Captain Daniel A. Newman’s Company F, the “Hot Spring Hornets,” of the Third Arkansas Infantry. They were destined to be only the Arkansas unit to fight in the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Col. Van. H. Manning.  Manning would be wounded during the fighting at Gettysburg

Van Manning

Col. Van H. Manning 

Isaac, along with his brothers Moses and Emmanuel, had migrated from a distant land in the decade prior to the outbreak of the conflict.  Of the three brothers however, Isaac was the only one recorded to have fought, on either side.

As the Southrons of the Third made their way into south-central Pennsylvania that late June, Isaac in particular might have reason for flickers of mixed emotion.  Like others in the regiment, our young soldier spoke with a differing accent; one that immediately identified him as not native to Pennsylvania.  Ancestrally, however, it connected well with those upon whose farmlands he would fight.  Isaac had come to Arkansas from a town called Haigerloch, in the state of Wurtemberg, Germany.

Although he had enlisted in June of 1861 as a private, Isaac had risen in rank to the position of 5th Sergeant by March of 1863.  By June he would hold an officer’s commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  In that rank, Isaac would have been expected to display certain traits in front of the men, loyalty high among them.  As a portion of the famous “Texas Brigade,” unit morale was high, even when moving into an attack.

Such was the case on the afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, when, as a portion of General Longstreet’s overall assault, these men advanced into the low tangled ground across the western branch of Plum Run in Rose’s Woods, which placed them for a time in a tight position.  Col. Manning’s report commented that after advancing through the “destructive fire” of the Union artillery barrage for about 1,000 yards, his troops contacted the Federal infantry of Col. Regis De Trobriand’s brigade:

We engaged the enemy at short range, strongly posted behind a rock fence at the edge of woods.  We drove him back with but little loss for a distance of 150 yards, when I ascertained that I was suffering from a fire to my left and rear.  Thereupon I ordered a change of front,…and I contented myself with the irregular drawing back of the left wing, giving it an excellent fire, which pressed the enemy back in a very short while, whereupon the whole line advanced, the enemy fighting stubbornly, but retiring.

After a bit more of this ebb and flow, it was during this phase of battle Col. Manning received his wound; but not before the arrival of “Tige” Anderson’s Georgians extended the line to continue the fight.

3rd_Arkansas_Battle_Flag,_St_Andrews_Cross

Flag of the 3rd Arkansas

 

Colonel Charles Merrill, commanding the 17th Maine Infantry, revealed in his report a few pertinent details left undisclosed by Col. Manning; yet later supported by Confederate casualty reports. Merrill recorded…

[About 4 p.m.] The brigade of General Ward having become actively engaged with the enemy on our left, I was ordered by Col. De Trobriand to march my regiment to […] support  the line of General Ward, on his right.  The regiment at once moved by the left flank [and] formed behind a stone wall, which afforded us a very strong position.  We opened fire upon the enemy, then within 100 yards of us.  The contest became very severe, the enemy at times being driven back by our line, and then by superior numbers compelling us in turn to give way. The ground was hotly contested, (emphasis added,) but we held our position till, finding the right of my regiment outflanked and exposed to a murderous fire from the enemy’s reinforcements, I was obliged to form a new line [until receiving the order to retire.]

Merrill’s notation regarding the “severe contest” was indeed accurate – his unit suffered losses of 133, the highest number of casualties in the brigade.   The men of the Third Arkansas, opposing them, suffered in like proportion, losing 142 men killed and wounded – also the most in their brigade.  Although not indicated individually, it is probable that Lt. Burgauer was among the 116 men of the Third hit during this exchange.

Whether he was in fact hurt during this phase of the battle, or during some of the desultory skirmishing that followed afterward, cannot now be decisively determined.

What is known is that following the battle, Lt. Isaac would find himself a seriously wounded casualty.

In the creaking columns of wagons, exiting the field following Longstreet’s failed assault on 3 July, a terrible spectacle would unfold; long lines of wagons were now stuffed with the suffering remnants of a proud humanity, which only the desecrations of combat can produce. General John Imboden, witness to the egress of the wounded, recalled how

…The column moved rapidly, considering the rough roads and the darkness, and from almost every wagon for many miles issued heart-rendering wails of agony.  For four hours I hurried forward on my way to the front, and in all that time I was never out of hearing of the groans and the hearing of the groans and cries of the wounded and the dying.

Such a scene would undoubtedly leave an impression upon anyone; but in the case of Lt. Isaac, imbedded in the midst of such mobile misery, he realized this might be time to review his own final affairs, and see they were in order. For the wounded officer was not merely a German immigrant to Arkansas; he also was a “Son of Israel;” a follower of the Hebrew faith.  Loyal to that faith, he wished that should he die, his remains be interred in the nearest Jewish cemetery.  (An indeterminate connection with that Society has been noted, possibly through a member residing in Helena, Arkansas.) Isaac’s fears proved prescient; for following the receipt of his wounds, death overtook him on July 18th.

Lt. Burgauer was to be accorded his final wish, unlike so many other ill-fated soldiers, North and South, also far from home.  For in the notations in the papers of the Israelite Benevolent Society of Hagerstown, we find the written testimony of one “S. L.  Levi.”

On the 19th of July money was collected in Hagerstown for the purpose of burying a rebel soldier by the name of Berger [sic] from Arkansas, born in Ha[i]gerloch, Wurtemberg, in keeping with his request to be buried according to Jewish rites (emphasis added) in Chambersburg.  After all expenses had been paid, the president handed me $1.60 which had been handed over from the collection.

July 25, 1863, – Mr. Levi Stone of Hagerstown, with horse and carriage, took the above dead to Chambersburg…

In spite of all of the transitions that had preceded his wounding, through all the battles and campaigns, Isaac had endeavored to retain a piece of who he essentially was, down to the end. Now, with all the discomfort, chaos and distraction of his own ‘modern times’ descending upon him, our noble soldier had returned at the last to his deepest, most enduring tradition; his faith, and what it represented to him.

Poor Isaac! His final resting place, after so much travail, was destined to be “the old Jewish Cemetery” in Chambersburg, the first one west of Philadelphia.

Cemetery

Consecrated in 1844  by Chevrah Kaddishah (The Holy Burial Society), during a time of western migration into the then still – United States, seeking a peace and prosperity that the turmoil of a post-revolutionary Europe had failed to provide. Led out of a tumultuous continent into a frontier society, he had yet been fatally drawn into the midst of a fierce conflict in his adopted, nevertheless sadly divided land.

Now, with Death so near to hand, Isaac perhaps had little chance for broad reflection; yet it was his devotion to faith, in the midst of his own chaos, requesting burial in accordance with the ancient traditions of his forefathers, that makes his story appropriate and timely.

In the world of 2015, as we find ourselves once more immersed in the onslaught of  a multitude of divisive forces that so distinguish this season, take a moment and recall the pre-commercialized, pre-terrorism world of Lt. Isaac, where a simple December Chanukah recalled the miracle of the burning of one day’s worth of undefiled oil through eight full nights until a fresh supply could be prepared for the menorah during the re-dedication of the Second Temple, and the expression of faith that miracle represented.

At the time of Isaac’s burial, evidence of the national sacrifice had been made self-evident. The battlefields of summer had laid waste to the nation, and peppered the fields with corpses of her countrymen.   The plot in Chambersburg holding the mortal remains of Lt. Burgauer, far from home, is but one such grave. Of the battlefield that ultimately claimed him, as it did the lives of thousands of others, it was later said, “– We take increased devotion for that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion…”  In that sense, he was but one among the thousands, comprising a portion of the sacrifices made toward the improvement, and the hopeful purification, of a less- imperfect Union.

Ranger Bert Barnett
Gettysburg National Military Park

Grave

Isaac Burgauer is the cemetery’s only Confederate resident.  The cemetery is located on 361 East Washington Street, Chambersburg.  The well-meaning grave decoration is inaccurate.

 

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Gettysburg – A Season of Giving

It is now the season of giving.  With end-of-year giving now going on all over the country, we want to share some great news about all the good that is happening with our nonprofit partner, the Gettysburg Foundation.

Charles Brown, Bethany Yingling and Jen Kelley Photo Credit Hanover Evening Sun

Having fun while raising funds – the Pruning Plunge at Gettysburg National Military Park.  Photo courtesy of the Evening Sun, Hanover, Pa.

Earlier this week, on Giving Tuesday, in a cold, pelting rain, their new Recruit member program helped the Foundation exceed their fundraising goal by by raising $271 during the Pruning Plunge event in the Rose North orchard at Gettysburg National Military Park. The Foundation raised a total of $5271 on Giving Tuesday, surpassing their original goal of $5,000.

The “Recruit” membership level of the Friends of Gettysburg is helping us attract new, younger audiences and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.

Exciting new ventures like the Recruit’s “Seedling to Cider” project are breaking new ground for National Park partnerships and we believe they can generate funds that will help make us maintain this amazing landscape.

Gettysburg is one of our nation’s most special places.  The lasting meaning and power of these hallowed grounds, and the national cemetery where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, hold a special appeal for people from all walks of life.

Ribbon Cutting Cannon Carriage Repair Shop 052

Cutting the ribbon on a new Cannon Carriage Restoration Shop for Gettysburg, funded in part by the Gettysburg Foundation.

Our preservation of Gettysburg’s treasures – from the artifacts, to the Cyclorama painting, to the fields, farms and monuments – literally could not happen without the support of the Gettysburg Foundation.  The Foundation – and especially the Friends of Gettysburg, their incredible members — have been extremely effective at helping us accomplish our mission here.

Looking back at everything this powerful partnership accomplished in 2015 truly makes us all proud to be part of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.  Across the National Park Service, this partnership stands out for the amazing breadth and depth of its accomplishments.

Together in 2015, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg’s two national parks provided memorable and enjoyable visits to more than a million people.  We provided expanded volunteer programs, enhanced educational programs for students and teachers, and improved our stewardship of cannon carriages, monuments, artifacts, and more.

JHanley EClark deed to Plum Run property (1)

Joanne Hanley, President of the Gettysburg Foundation, donating the deed to 45 acres at Big Round Top to Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent Ed Clark.

One of many long-lasting legacies of 2015 is the Gettysburg Foundation’s donation of 45 acres at Big Round Top.  This land where cavalry skirmishes occurred during the battle is also home to critical wetlands and wildlife habitat related to Plum Run. The property was generously donated to the Gettysburg Foundation by Wayne and Susan Hill in 2008 and was added to the park boundary by federal legislation in December of 2014.

The Foundation’s donation will ensure that the land is preserved, unimpaired, for future generations.

As the National Park Service begins its Centennial in 2016 the Gettysburg Foundation’s support for Centennial programs is helping Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site engage with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates.   These programs include: Every Kid in a Park; Artists in Residency; arts programs at the Eisenhower Site; the acquisition of museum collections; planning for improvements at Little Round Top; and preparation for the final phases of the rehab of Cemetery Ridge – just to name a few!

PrintWith a new century for our National Parks fast approaching, the support of the Friends of Gettysburg is absolutely essential.  Your support will help us ensure that Gettysburg’s treasures and the stories of President Eisenhower’s home are preserved, unimpaired, for future generations.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 12/3/15

 

 

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November 1863: Giving Thanks in the Midst of War

waud camp thanksgiving 1861

Setting aside a day to give thanks is an American tradition deeply rooted in the history of our country. Every year, many look back to the Pilgrim’s and their arrival in Massachusetts as the beginning of the holiday we now know as Thanksgiving. Indeed, the Pilgrim settlers did have a feast in 1621 to give thanks to God for their blessings upon arriving in Plymouth. Native Americans were present on that occasion, though it was not the grand moment of cultures coming together to embrace peace and prosperity that popular history often alleges it to have been.

While the tale of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving is deeply ingrained in our modern understanding of the holiday, few realize that Thanksgiving is also deeply rooted in the American Civil War. In October 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation of thanksgiving, calling upon the nation to set aside the fourth Thursday of November to pause and give thanks to God. Lincoln was far from the first to do this; during the Revolution, the Continental Congress set aside several days for giving thanks, and George Washington issued a similar proclamation in 1789 during the first year of his presidency. John Adams and James Madison also issued similar proclamations, meaning that Lincoln was reviving an old American tradition that had been dormant for many years. Even earlier in the Civil War, Lincoln himself had issued similar proclamations in April 1862 and July 1863, giving thanks for military victories over the Confederacy. Confederate President Jefferson Davis had also issued proclamations of thanksgiving.

Yet, Lincoln’s proclamation of October 1863 stood apart from those earlier in the war; indeed, it still stands apart today. The incredible events of that year provided incredible context for Lincoln’s words of thanksgiving. While the nation had gone through difficult times before, especially during the darkest days of the Revolution, the challenges which Lincoln and the country faced in 1863 were unique in many ways.

152 years ago, our nation was in the midst of the bloodiest conflict in American history. Hundreds of thousands had already died during the Civil War, with hundreds of thousands more having been afflicted by the effects of battle, both at home and on the battlefield. Millions wondered over what their ultimate fate would be at the conflict’s end: would they gain their freedom promised by the Emancipation Proclamation, or, would their masters reclaim them as property once again.

It would seem, in the midst of so much suffering and peril, that the country would not have anything to rejoice in as 1863 drew to a close. But yet, the year had provided glimpses of hope for the Union. It began with William Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland delivering a victory in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at the bloody battle of Stones River. Several months later, in the midst of that summer, Rosecrans and his army outmaneuvered Confederates in the Tullahoma Campaign, securing central-Tennessee for the Union. Rosecrans’s victory had been simultaneous with two much grander Union successes. On the first three days of July, the Union Army of the Potomac met Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg in the biggest and bloodiest battle of the war. The three-day fight saw over 50,000 casualties and a war changing victory for the Union. The following day, on July 4, Ulysses S. Grant secured the surrender of Confederates in Vicksburg, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River once again.

Even into that fall, the bloodshed continued. September saw an enormous toll at Chickamauga in Georgia, where over 34,000 men were casualties over two days. In November, Union and Confederate forces were squaring off at the crucial city of Chattanooga. By year’s end, 1863 had proven to be the bloodiest year yet of the war, though the fighting was still far from over.

In the midst of this fighting and bloodshed, President Lincoln decided itLincoln was time to revive and formalize a long-standing American tradition of giving thanks in times of plenty and peril, beginning the annual day of Thanksgiving that we observe today. As Lincoln’s proclamation explains, in spite of all the carnage and fighting tearing the nation apart, the country was weathering the storm of the war. Elections, commerce, and industry were still proceeding in the North, showing that American democracy was stronger than the threat of rebellion and war. Even in the darkest days of American history, Lincoln still found resilience and hope.

In the years following Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents continued to issue similar measures. The holiday was formalized as the fourth Thursday in November by an act of Congress in October 1941, just weeks before America would once again find itself engaged in a war testing its fundamental values. Even in the darkest days of American history, with thousands of men dying on battlefields hundreds of miles from home, or thousands of miles from home, whether in times of war or peace, Americans have still found time to pause and give thanks for what we have.

 

By the President of the United States of America.

A PROCLAMATION.

The year that is drawing toward its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watching providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

Daniel Vermilya
Gettysburg National Military Park

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“‘Such Then Is The Decision’: General Meade and the July 2nd Council of War”

We’re honored today to feature Dr. Jennifer Murray, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, as a special guest contributor. Dr. Murray served as an Interpretive Ranger at Gettysburg for many years, and was recently awarded the prestigious Bachelder-Coddington Award for her book, On a Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933–2012.

Leister Farm House

Meade’s Headquarters- the Lydia Leister House & barn today (National Park Service)

Near 3:00 on the morning of June 28, 1863, Colonel James Hardie, a staff officer to General in Chief Henry Halleck, arrived to the tent of Major General George Gordon Meade.  The Army of the Potomac had been maneuvering and marching north for weeks.  As General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia penetrated into Maryland and Pennsylvania, a clash with the Confederate forces seemed imminent.  Meade, commanding the 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, had positioned his men slightly south of Frederick, Maryland.  Surprised at Hardie’s untimely arrival, Meade presumed he had been relieved of command.  Instead, Hardie presented the general with an order from President Abraham Lincoln.  Meade was to assume command of the Army of the Potomac, effective immediately.[1]  Three days later, in the morning hours of July 1, Union troops clashed with Confederates along the Chambersburg Pike, west of a small town in Adams County, Pennsylvania.  The battle of Gettysburg had begun.

As the day continued, additional Union and Confederate units joined fighting, which now engulfed areas west and north of town.  By dusk, Union troops had retreated through Gettysburg, regrouping on key terrain south of town, namely Cemetery Hill.  Additional units arrived to the field and Union soldiers began to establish a defensive position along Cemetery Ridge.  Meade reached the battlefield around midnight.  Determined to Meade, George G.press the initiative, Lee ordered a series of attacks along the Union flanks the following day.  On July 2nd, Confederates captured ground along the southern end of the battlefield, at Devil’s Den and the Peach Orchard, and held positions along Culp’s Hill, the right flank of the Union defensive line.  Still, after two days of fighting, and a mounting casualty toll, estimated at 16,500 combined casualties, neither side could claim decisive victory.[2]

That evening, at 8 PM, Meade telegrammed Halleck, informing him of the day’s fighting and the army’s current strategic situation.  In the telegram, the commanding general declared his intention to remain in his present position, but indicated that the nature of operations would depend on consultation from his subordinates.  “I shall remain in my present position to-morrow,” he offered, “but am not prepared to say, until better advised of the condition of the army, whether my operations will be of an offensive or defensive character.”[3]  Meade called for his subordinates to gather at his headquarters, convening the campaign’s first Council of War.

During the Gettysburg Campaign, Meade called three Councils of War, on July 2nd, 4th, and 12th.  In modern military parlance, Meade utilized the Councils of War to understand his operational environment, defined as the conditions, circumstances, and influences that impact a commander’s decisions.  By calling a meeting of his subordinates, Meade sought to gain a clearer picture of the physical environment, the nature of the area of operations, and the information environment, intelligence on the enemy and of his own army.  The council, convening shortly after the day’s fighting had ended, proved critical for gathering and disseminating information.  As Meade’s telegram indicated, the commanding general used the council to meet with his subordinate officers and to evaluate his operational environment and engage in strategic, conceptual planning.  Fundamentally all operational planning is based on imperfect, incomplete knowledge.  Military leaders identify problems and evaluate potential approaches.  Councils of War, the gathering of subordinates to frame problems and develop approaches, functioned to provide a clearer, informed forecast to the nature of the operations.[4]  Once the generals had defined an operational approach, Meade allowed his subordinates to vote on the army’s subsequent operations.  In seeking consensus from his generals and then allowing them to vote on the ensuing course of action, Meade demonstrated a collaborative decision making process.

Near 9 o’clock on the evening of July 2nd, eleven generals joined Meade at his headquarters, the Lydia Leister farmhouse.  The small room, totaling no more than “ten or twelve feet square,” held a bed, table, and two chairs.  Present at the meeting included Meade’s Chief of Staff, Major General Daniel Butterfield and the army’s engineer, Major General Gouverneur K. Warren.  Major Generals Winfield Scott Hancock and Henry Slocum represented the army’s “wing commanders.”  Additionally, each corps had a representative at the council.  Major General John Newton represented the 1st Corps; Brigadier General John Gibbon the 2nd Corps and Major General David Birney the 3rd Corps.  The army’s 5th, 6th, 11th, and 12th Corps were represented by Major General George Sykes, Major General John Sedgwick, Major General Oliver Otis Howard, and Brigadier General Alpheus Williams respectively.[5]

At first the discussion was “very informal” and conversational.[6]  Engaged in two days of heavy fighting and calculating diminishing supplies, the generals evaluated their operational environment.  Corps commanders speculated on their capabilities; Butterfield recorded the effective strength of the Army of the Potomac at 58,000.  Warren, suffering from a shrapnel wound to the neck, slept through the bulk of the council.  Meade reportedly contributed little to the conversation, but listened incisively.  After several hours of conversation, Butterfield formulated three questions.[7]  These questions guided the conceptual planning and framed the Army of the Potomac’s operational environment.

Leister Farm 1863

The Leister House, photographed by Alexander Gardner on or about July 6, 1863, and the condition of land and buildings found by the widow upon her return. (Library of Congress)

Butterfield’s first question considered the feasibility of the Army of the Potomac remaining in Gettysburg.  “Under existing circumstances,” he queried, “is it advisable for this army to remain in its present position, or to retire to another, nearer its base of supplies?”  The second question posed, “It being determined to remain in present position, shall the army attack or await the attack of the enemy?”  And, finally, if retaining the defensive, the generals debated how long they could hold their current position.[8]  Meade then exhibited deferential leadership, allowing the generals to vote on each of the questions.  The council proceeded with the most junior officer, Gibbon, voting first.  Gibbon favored retaining the army’s existing position, with a slight modification, believing the army was “in no condition to attack.”  Other generals echoed this sentiment.  Slocum, commanding the 12th Corps, declared, “stay and fight it out.”  When the results of the council unanimously favored staying and fighting, Meade succinctly declared, “Such then is the decision.”[9]

By gathering his subordinates, Meade now had a clearer, defined understanding of the status of his army; in putting the questions to a vote, Meade found his subordinates in agreement with himself.  With a consensus obtained, the Army of the Potomac prepared for the third, and ultimately final, day of battle.  Optimistic about the condition of his army, Meade penned his wife the following morning, “All well and going on well with the Army,” declaring that “Army in fine spirits and every one determined to do or die.”[10]  On July 3rd, Meade’s army proved resilient, repulsing the Confederate army along Culp’s Hill and steadfastly holding their position along Cemetery Ridge in the battle’s climatic assault of Pickett’s Charge.  Union troops held their position through the following day, Independence Day, anticipating a Confederate assault that did not come.  Battered and defeated, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia began its retreat.  Federal victory came at a high cost, however.  The Union army suffered approximately 23,000 casualties.[11]

In the weeks and months following the campaign, Meade’s leadership at Gettysburg became a topic of frequent and vociferous criticism.  In the spring of 1864, the Joint Committee on the Conduct of War (JCCW) investigated the Gettysburg Campaign and specifically Meade’s leadership.  Meade testified before the Congressional committee on two occasions, March 5th and the 11th.  Congress leveled several accusations against the commanding general, including the allegation that he did not want to fight at Gettysburg.  Meade’s critics used the July 2nd Council of War as evidence that the commanding general did not want to fight at Gettysburg, but infact wanted to retreat.  To be sure, minimal evidence suggests that Meade favored withdrawing from Gettysburg.  Such allegations stem from several of Meade’s critics.  Appearing before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Butterfield and Birney both testified that Meade wished to retreat.  A March 12, 1864 article published in the New York Herald, leveled damning allegations against Meade’s leadership and his supposed reluctance to fighting at Gettysburg.  Signed “Historicus,” it is popularly believed that Daniel Sickles, Meade’s most noted and vocal critic, wrote this article.[12]

Meade worked feverishly to address these criticisms and to dispute accusations of dilatory leadership.  In testifying to Congress on the July 2nd Council of War and his supposed desire to retreat, the general declared, “The opinion of the council was unanimous, which agreed fully with my own views.”[13]  Too, Meade defended his use of Councils of War, stating, “they were probably more numerous and more constant in my case, from the fact that I had just assumed command of the army, and felt that it was due to myself to have the opinions of high officers before I took action on matters which involved such momentous issues.”[14]

On February 1, 1865, Congress ended its inquiry of the Battle of Gettysburg and Meade’s leadership.  The Congressional investigation failed to yield decisive results and amounted to little more than political grandstanding.  Meade remained in command of the Army of the Potomac through the duration of the war.  Confederate surrender and Union victory, however, did not quell disputes over Meade’s leadership at Gettysburg.  Union veterans writing postwar accounts continued to perpetuate the claim that Meade did not want to fight at Gettysburg.  In writing his memoir, Gettysburg and Chancellorsville, published in 1882, Abner Doubleday portrays Meade as a commanding general reluctant to fight at Gettysburg.  Regarding the Council of War on July 2nd, Doubleday notes that Meade “was displeased” with his subordinates’ unanimous decision to stay and fight, but “acquiesced in the decision.”  While not even present at the evening’s council, Doubleday quoted Meade as stating, “Have it your way, gentlemen, but Gettysburg is no place to fight a battle in.”  Leaving no doubt to his readers, Doubleday adds, “there is no question in my mind that, at the council referred to, General Meade did desire to retreat.”[15]

Gettysburg_Council_of_War

In 1879, James Edward Kelly, a New York City native and illustrator, met with a series of Union generals.  He questioned them about the war and sketched their portraits and other images.  Kelly’s sketch, “Council of War at Gettysburg,” offers a visual interpretation of the July 2nd meeting at the Leister House.  Kelly depicts fourteen generals at the council.  Two of the generals in the sketch, Alfred Pleasonton, commander of the cavalry corps, who is depicted leaning in the doorframe, and Rufus Ingalls, chief quartermaster, sitting on the chair with his back toward the viewer, were not present at the council.[16]

With the generous assistance of the staff at Gettysburg National Military Park, nearly 150 years after the July 2nd Council of War, a group of Gettysburg enthusiasts gathered in the Leister House in an effort to recapture the scene of the Union high command.  Gathering fourteen people into the small room proved a logistical challenge in its own right.  As the “generals” took their place, individuals quibbled over the posture, posing, and positioning of their commander.  While our photographer, Will Dupuis, captured the scene, individually and collectively we reflected on the momentous events that occurred in that exact space in 1863.  The damp March air contrasted starkly with the humid, sultry July evening.  James Hessler, representing Daniel Butterfield, remarked on the practical difficulties in communicating with so many subordinates.  This command structure was soon simplified; following the Gettysburg Campaign the Army of the Potomac was reorganized.  As it had 152 years earlier, conversation and debate swirled around Meade’s leadership.  Some applauded Meade’s initiative to gather his subordinates and exchange information in a controlled environment, something that General Lee chose not to do.

CoW Photo

The recreation of Kelly’s Council of War. Photo Courtesy of Will Dupuis.

In putting Meade’s leadership to a vote, our “council” found the general’s conduct at Gettysburg capable, if not admirable.  Others, however, have not been so kind.  In the latest study of the Gettysburg Campaign, historian Allen Guelzo offers a critical interpretation of Meade’s generalship.  Relative to the Council of War on July 2nd, Guelzo promotes the theory that Meade did not want to fight at Gettysburg, but the unanimous decision of his subordinates to say and fight “stripped away” Meade’s excuse to withdraw.  Through the duration of the war, and ultimately his life, Meade shouldered the criticism of his conduct at Gettysburg.  Writing to his wife shortly after Christmas 1863, he quipped of the accusations aimed toward his leadership, “before long it will be clearly proved that my presence on the field was rather an injury than otherwise.”[17]

Dr. Jennifer Murray
Assistant Professor of History
The University of Virginia’s College at Wise

 

 

 

 

 

[1] George Gordon Meade to Margaretta Meade, June 29, 1863, The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, II, edited by George Gordon Meade (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 11-12 [all notes hereinafter cited as L&L, II with corresponding page].

[2] Edwin B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968), 442.

[3] United States War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 vols., in 128 parts (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901) vol. 27, part I, 72 [all notes hereinafter from the Gettysburg volumes cited as OR with corresponding volume and page number].

[4] “Planner’s Handbook for Operational Design,” Version 1.0, Joint Staff, J-7, Joint and Coalition Warfighting, October 7, 2011, IV-1.

[5] John Gibbon, Personal Recollections of the Civil War (New York: Putnam’s Sons, 1928), 140.

[6] Gibbon, Personal Recollections of the Civil War, 140.

[7] Minutes of the Council, July 2, 1863, OR, I, 74; Gibbon, Personal Recollections of the Civil War, 140.

[8] “Minutes of the Council, July 2, 1863,” OR, I, 73.

[9] Gibbon, Personal Recollections of the Civil War, 142.

[10] George Gordon Meade to Margaretta Meade, July 3, 1863, L&L, II, 103.

[11] Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign, 541.

[12] Historicus, “The Battle of Gettysburg,” New York Herald, March 12, 1864.  Available in OR, I, 128-136.

[13] Meade, March 11, 1864, 126-127.

[14] George Meade Testimony, Union Generals Speak: The Meade Hearings on the Battle of Gettysburg, edited by Bill Hyde (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2003), 128.

[15] Abner Doubleday, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (New York: Scribner’s, 1882), 184-185.

[16] Generals in Bronze: Interviewing the Commanders of the Civil War, edited by William B. Styple (Kearny, N.J.: Belle Grove Publishing 2005).

[17] Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (New York: Vintage Civil War Library, 2013), 352-356; George Gordon Meade to Margaretta Meade, December 28, 1863, L&L, II, 163-164.

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Winter Lectures and More! Winter Programming at Gettysburg National Military Park

snowy sat.

While most people come in the summer, winter is a great time to visit and explore Gettysburg National Military Park. On January 9, 2016, the annual Winter Lecture Series begins. Featuring some of the best National Park Service Rangers and Historians from across the region, this 11-week series of hour-long talks will examine some of the more controversial and complex aspects of the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War. From Reconstruction to the struggle for reconciliation, the rise of the Lost Cause, and the creation of battlefield parks, the decades following the end of the war represent one of the darkest, least recognized chapters in American history. And yet so many aspects of this important period continue to define and challenge us today. The Winter Lecture Series is held at 1:30 p.m. on weekends in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center from January 9 through March 13, 2016.

In addition to the Winter Lectures, Gettysburg National Military Park is pleased to announce the Gettysburg’s Battlefield Book Series! Meeting 11:00 AM -12:00 AM, every Saturday from January 9 to March 12 this series will examine significant works of history and literature on topics related to the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. We invite you to read along over the course of the winter before attending the informal one hour discussions in the Ford Education Center of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. The Park staff will lead the meetings, providing a brief overview of that week’s topic and discuss the chapters read. The two selections for Confederates in the Atticour inaugural Battlefield Book Series tie in with the theme of our Winter Lecture Series—the aftermath and legacy of the American Civil War.

From January 9 to January 30 we will examine our first book , the recent classic, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War, by Tony Horwitz. Horwitz traveled the country, delved into the world of Civil War reenacting, visited the battlefields and historic sites where the war was fought, and explored the numerous ways in which the legacy of the Civil War is still very much alive.

  • January 9             Chapters 1-5 (pg. 3-124)
  • January 16           Chapters 6-9 (pg. 125-209)
  • January 23           Chapters 10-11 (pg. 209-311)
  • January 30           Chapters 12-15 (pg. 312-390)

Our second book, Gettysburg Requiem: The Life and Lost Cause of William C. Oates, by Glenn LaFantasie is an examination of life and times of William Oates, the enigmatic Gettysburg Requiemleader of the 15th Alabama at Gettysburg. Oates full life took him from the taverns of Alabama to the slopes of Little Round Top and beyond. LaFantasie’s biography provides an intimate look at what one Confederate officer did before, during, and after the American Civil War. We hope you will join us this winter, read along, and share your thoughts and perspectives on these two fascinating books.

  • February 6                     Part 1 (pg. 1-67)
  • February 13                   Part 2 (pg. 69-109)
  • February 20                  Part 3 (pg. 111-171)
  • February 27                  Part 4 (pg. 173-243)
  • March 5                         Part 5 (pg. 245-309)

Finally, every Sunday at 11:00 AM park staff will lead an examination of the many monuments and markers found on the battlefield landscape. More than just a battlefield park, Gettysburg issnowy cannon one of the largest outdoor sculpture gardens in the world, featuring over 1,300 unique monuments, markers, memorials and plaques. These monuments and memorials make Gettysburg one of the best marked battlefields in the world, and each have an important story to tell. Join a Park Ranger for Stories in Stone: The Monuments at Gettysburg and discover the unique messages these bronze and granite sentinels tell. This hour long program meets every Sunday from January 10th to March 13th in the Ford Education Center at Gettysburg National Military Park.

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

Winter Lecture Series 2016:
Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Remembrance:
The Aftermath and Legacy of the Civil War

Sat. Jan. 9
Jubal Early and the Molding of Confederate Memory
Join Park Ranger Matt Atkinson and explore the post-war life of former Confederate General Jubal A. Early. During the Civil War Early saw extensive service in most of the major campaigns of the eastern theater.  Known for his profane and blunt personality, he served as a writer and editor of the Southern Historical Society Papers, and played a major role in shaping how southerners remembered Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee, and what became known as “The Lost Cause.”  By laying aside the sword and taking up the pen, Early made a direct impact on how generations of Americans would understand the Civil War.
Matt Atkinson, GNMP            

Sun. Jan. 10
Louisiana Radical: James Longstreet and Reconstruction (1866 – 1875)
Follow the career of  former Confederate General James Longstreet from the end of the Civil War to Reconstruction-era New Orleans. Park Ranger Karlton Smith will shed light on Longstreet’s post-war politics, his role in shaping reconstruction in Louisiana, his involvement with some of the era’s major players, and his participation in the Battle of Liberty Place. – Karlton Smith, GNMP

Sat. Jan. 16
Power and Distorted Relationships: The Psychology of the “Loyal Slave” and “Mammy”
In the final days of the America Civil War, previously isolated slave populations found the opportunity to run toward Union ships or infantry encampments. Likewise, as federal forces moved onto these plantations and publicly read the Emancipation Proclamation, newly freed slaves migrated in great numbers to the nearest city where the Freedman’s Bureau worked to reunite scattered families and provide various forms of social or economic support. Southern planters watched their slaves leave with dismay, having lived under the delusion that their “human property” saw them as patriarchs who provided daily protection from birth to death. Their “defections” stripped away any pretense of the master-slave relationship. Join Ranger Troy Harman and explore the shattered notions of the “loyal slave” and “Mammy” following the end of the war and the transformation of southern society. – Troy Harman, GNMP

Sun. Jan. 17
The Long Road to Reconciliation- Veterans and the Record of War
Following the conclusion of the Civil War, surviving Union and Confederate veterans returned home to face an unknown future. United by the shared experience of war, these former soldiers bonded through veterans organizations. In 1866, Union veterans established the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1889 former Confederates banded together to create the United Confederate Veterans.  Both groups endeavored to “right the record” of the conflict. Park Historian John Heiser will examine how these two groups, through their newspapers, regimental histories, and reunions helped to shape our interpretation of the war. – John Heiser, GNMP

Sat. Jan. 23
Freedom, the Civil War, and its Complicated Legacy 
More so than any other era of the nation’s history, Americans have grappled with the meaning and legacy of the Civil War. Join John Hennessey, Chief Historian of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, for an examination of the continued relevance and the complex, controversial, and often contested legacies of the American Civil War.  John Hennessy, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Sun. Jan. 24
The Rhetoric of Reconstruction and Reconciliation – What Does it All Mean?
From the end of the war to the present day, Americans have seen their share of promises, proclamations, and declarations; all designed to encourage, enhance, or enforce a particular vision of the Civil War and its aftermath. From Lincoln’s changing recognition of the ultimate meaning of the conflict, evident in his Second Inaugural Address, to the views of a collage of other wide-ranging personalities; from Frederick Douglass, to Woodrow Wilson and George Wallace – all have tried to shape how Americans understand, view, and teach the war. Join Ranger Bert Barnett and explore the decades, leaders, and demagogues of the post-Civil War period.  – Bert Barnett, GNMP

Sat. Jan. 30
Colonels in War, Governors in Peace: Chamberlain and Oates in Reconstruction
The fight between the 20th Maine and the 15th Alabama on Little Round Top is among the most famous incidents of the Battle of Gettysburg, if not the American Civil War. What is less well known is what each regiment’s leader—Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and William Calvin Oates—did following the end of the conflict. Both men went on to become governor of his respective state, and both played a large role in the politics of Reconstruction and in shaping the memory of the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. Join Ranger Daniel Vermilya and discover the post-war political careers of these two fascinating individuals.   – Daniel Vermilya, GNMP

Sun. Jan. 31
Monuments, Memory and Reconciliation at the High Water Mark
Few places on the Gettysburg battlefield are as highly visited or as symbolic as the High Water Mark.  That something important and significant happened here is apparent to even the most casual visitor.  Why else would this little knot of trees be enclosed by an iron fence, and an imposing bronze monument of an open book with the words “High Water Mark,” flanked by cannons, stand in front of them?  Monuments and National Park Service wayside exhibits cluster densely here as well.  Through the decades it has always carried an importance for Americans.  For Union veterans it was place to remind the nation of their great victory and sacrifice through monuments, a process sometimes fiercely contested.  It was also a place of great pain for veterans of both armies and it served some as a point to find peace and reconciliation with former enemies.  Eventually the nation found it to be the ideal space for national reconciliation.  Historian D. Scott Hartwig will explore the major events up through the battle’s 50th anniversary that transformed this simple landscape into one of America’s most symbolic spaces.
D. Scott Hartwig

Sat. Feb. 6
“Trying to be a Radical and not a Fool”:
Congressman James A. Garfield and Reconstruction
Fresh from the Union army and the battlefields of the Civil War, James A. Garfield of Ohio entered Congress in late 1863 committed to abolition and Radical Republicanism.  Over the next 10-15 years, however, Garfield’s commitment to radicalism softened.  Learn more about Garfield’s background and his political views on African American rights, treatment of former Confederates, and other important national issues during the Reconstruction period.  Historian Todd Arrington will examine Garfield’s Reconstruction-era political experiences and how they prepared him to run for and serve as President of the United States. – Todd Arrington, James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Sun. Feb. 7
Impeached! The Rise and Fall of Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson rose from a humble Tennessee tailor to assume the mantle of the Presidency following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His handling of the first years of Reconstruction nearly resulted in his impeachment. Join Supervisory Ranger Angie Atkinson for a look at the rise and fall of this controversial figure. – Angie Atkinson, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 13
Preservation and Commemoration at Antietam National Battlefield
2015 marked the 125th anniversary of Antietam National Battlefield, one of the five original battlefield parks created by the War Department. Since 1890, veterans, military groups, preservationists, and the National Park Service have all played a role in the creation, expansion, and preservation of one of the most pristine battlefields in the country. Join Keith Snyder, Chief of Interpretation, for a look at the evolution of the site of America’s bloodiest day. – Keith Snyder, Antietam National Battlefield Park

Sun. Feb. 14
Legacies of Letterman: The Army Medical Corps, 1864-1945
Join Education Specialist Barb Sanders and explore advancements in military medicine from the end of the Civil War to World War II. From the system of triage, evacuation and hospital care instituted by Medical Director Jonathan Letterman, through both the First and Second World Wars, the medical advances of the Civil War ultimately resulted in the advent of penicillin, blood collection, aeromedical evacuation and the treatment of psychiatric casualties. – Barb Sanders, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 20
Adelbert Ames – From Gettysburg to Mississippi
The story of Union General Adelbert Ames is one of courage, and heroism. A Medal of Honor recipient, and original commander of the 20th Maine, he would serve with distinction on countless battlefields of the Civil War. In the post-war years, Ames served as military governor of Mississippi, senator, and later civilian governor.  During his tenure, marked with violence and scandal, he tried to advance the rights of African Americans with mixed results.  Join Park Ranger Matt Atkinson as he tells the story of Adelbert Ames and his remarkable journey from Gettysburg to the political halls of Mississippi.
– Matt Atkinson, GNMP

Sun. Feb 21
If These Things Could Talk: 1866 and the Post War Army
The American Civil War spawned a technological revolution of military arms and equipment. Join Ranger Tom Holbrook and examine original objects from the park’s museum collection that shed light on the post-war army and its reorganization following the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of volunteer troops and the end of Civil War.  – Tom Holbrook, GNMP

Sat. Feb. 27
Furled and Unfurled: A History of the Confederate Battle Flag at Gettysburg
Few symbols are as recognizable or as controversial as the Confederate battle flag. From the men who carried it into battle, to its incorporation into monuments and memorials, the flag is inextricably linked with the battlefield of Gettysburg. Discover the compelling and controversial history of the flag at Gettysburg, and the on-going debate over its meaning and message. – Christopher Gwinn, GNMP

Sun. Feb. 28
Longstreet and Sickles – Together Again for the First Time: The Grand Reunion of 1888
The Grand Reunion of 1888, held on the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, was hailed as a time of reunion and reconciliation. It would also prove to be the first real meeting of many Union and Confederate veterans, Daniel Sickles, Henry Slocum, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet and John B. Gordon among them. All these former enemies joined together in feelings of brotherhood and pride in the accomplishments of a reunited nation. Join Ranger Karlton Smith and explore the events, interactions, and episodes of this important moment in Gettysburg history. – Karlton Smith, GNMP

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

Sun. March 6
“Our once beautiful but now desolated Valley” – Post-War Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

The aftermath of the Civil War brought many challenges to the residents of the Shenandoah Valley.  In the fall of 1864, the war-torn region had been destroyed by Union General Phil Sheridan’s Blue-Coats during “the Burning,” and in the post-war period, the Valley’s residents not only had to deal with the economic recovery of their formerly-named “Breadbasket,” but also the political changes facing the nation.  Park Ranger Shannon Moeck will discuss how all the Valley’s civilians, including former slaves and Confederate veterans, adjusted and adapted to their new environment, then, while remembering their past, went about rebuilding their lives during this uncertain time. – Shannon Moeck, Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park

Sat. March 12
The Aftermath of Pickett’s Charge: Was There a Second Wave?
When Longstreet stated to Lee on the morning of July 3, 1863, “there never was a body of fifteen thousand men who could make that attack successfully,” he emphatically concluded with, “it would take twice that many men and even then the issue would be in doubt.” This latter statement is particularly revealing on contingencies to Pickett’s Charge. If one surveys all Confederate troops placed within supporting distance of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble assault, they add up to an additional 15,000 men. Did Lee and Longstreet arrange for another 15,000 combatants in a supporting role? Would they have moved forward under the right conditions? How did their presence contribute to Pickett’s fallback and final retreat of Lee’s army? – Troy Harman, GNMP

Sun. March 13
“We have made the most costly sacrifices” – The Consequences of War
The aftermath of war has consequences, both seen and unseen. The American Civil War left a swath of physical destruction, but it also affected families on a personal level. Sons, husbands, and fathers numbered among the dead and maimed, and families were forever changed. The war not only took lives but it also took innocence, safety, and home. Join Park Ranger Evangelina Rubalcava-Joyce and learn about the shocking aftermath of the Civil War and the fortitude of those who endured it.
Evangelina Rubalcava-Joyce, GNMP
 

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