Letter from Captain Robert B. Arms to His Son Robert, 25 October 1889

Arms??? letter to his son Robert contains several statements which highlight the long process of remembrance for many Civil War veterans. In the immediate aftermath of the War, many veterans on both sides desired nothing more than to be left alone w…

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Arms’ letter to his son Robert contains several statements which highlight the long process of remembrance for many Civil War veterans. In the immediate aftermath of the War, many veterans on both sides desired nothing more than to be left alone with their own thoughts. However, as decades passed, the further veterans were separated from the trauma of combat the more willing many became to share their experiences with relatives and the general public. The ebb and flow of Civil War remembrance among Union veterans is apparent in the membership levels of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). Founded in 1866 as a fraternal organization, the GAR became the largest, most prominent group lobbying for benefits for aged Union veterans. During the 1870s, GAR membership dwindled and some chapters nearly went out if existence. The low numbers may be due to several factors:  raising families, starting careers and a general disinterest in reliving the agonies of war all played a role in the near collapse of the organization. Continue reading “Letter from Captain Robert B. Arms to His Son Robert, 25 October 1889”

The Children of the Battlefield: The Picture that Identified Sergeant Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Volunteers

For Sergeant Humiston, the photo of his three children was more than a comfort in his dying moments.

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For Sergeant Humiston, the photo of his three children was more than a comfort in his dying moments. Had he not taken it with him into battle and died grasping it, in all likelihood Humiston’s tombstone in the Soldiers National Cemetery would have read “Unknown,” leaving Mrs. Humiston and her children to speculate as to how their soldier died. Instead, the Humiston family was given closure and could move forward with their lives. The families of 979 soldiers buried in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery were not as fortunate. One example of this is the tragic deaths of three brothers in Co. “B,” 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Adam, Enos, and Samuel Cramer each received a mortal wound while their regiment defended a line of battle directly west of the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary on July 1, 1863. When the 1st and 11th Corps were forced to retreat back through Gettysburg toward Cemetery Hill, these men, their commander, Colonel Robert Cummins, and many other Union casualties were left to the care of the jubilant Confederates. Adam and Enos died on the 1st, but Samuel, with his left arm and leg amputated, lingered for eight more days before succumbing to his wounds on July 9th. His brothers are buried in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in graves marked unknown, but when Samuel’s body was moved for burial, it was sent with a note detailing the death of his brothers and confirming his identity. (These men are distant relatives of the author of this post.) Continue reading “The Children of the Battlefield: The Picture that Identified Sergeant Amos Humiston of the 154th New York Volunteers”

Patriotism or Greed? More to the Story?

“Undoubtedly many of the citizens of Gettysburgh and vicinity are patriotic and generous, but they had a queer manner of showing it.”

By Sean Parke

July-24_crounse_articleThis blog post is a continuation of a topic first introduced in my earlier post entitled “Patriotism or Greed? Damage Claims after the Battle of Gettysburg.”

The adjacent artifact is a newspaper article by Lorenzo L. Crounse , a reporter for The New York Times. The  first post in this series cited an article that he wrote on July 7 and (published on the 9th) about the lack of patriotism among the citizens of Gettysburg (Click here to view Crounse’s July 7 article). The above article was written on July 21 and published on the 24th. This report is in response to a piece in the Gettysburg Star and Sentinel which defended the reputation of Gettysburg civilians and was signed by over twenty clerics and businessmen.

Continue reading “Patriotism or Greed? More to the Story?”

Patriotism or Greed? Damage Claims after the Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg brought the reality of war to northern civilians. Typically when people discuss the experiences of the citizens of Gettysburg they include tales of bravery, such as the well-known hero John Burns…

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The Battle of Gettysburg brought the reality of war to northern civilians. Typically when people discuss the experiences of the citizens of Gettysburg they include tales of bravery, such as the well-known hero John Burns, or the tragic Virginia “Jennie” Wade.  The stories rarely include themes of greed, selfishness, or unpatriotic behavior. However, this was a claim made against the citizens of Gettysburg in 1863. Lorenzo L. Crounse , a reporter for The New York Times wrote on July 5 that, “The actions of the people of Gettysburg are so sordidly mean and unpatriotic as to engender the belief that they were indifferent as to which party was whipped. . .. they have only manifested indecent haste to present their bills to the military authorities for payment of loses inflicted by both armies . . . .” This post will explore this accusation through an examination of a damage claim submitted by a Gettysburg resident.

Continue reading “Patriotism or Greed? Damage Claims after the Battle of Gettysburg”

A Rare Glimpse of Gettysburg Field Hospitals

The first two photographs above are by Frederick Gutekunst and were most likely taken sometime between July 9th and 11th, 1863, at the field hospital of the Army of the Potomac???s Second Corps. These images are unique in that they are the only know…

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The first two photographs in this article are by Frederick Gutekunst and were most likely taken sometime between July 9th and 11th, 1863, at the field hospital of the Army of the Potomac’s Second Corps. These images are unique in that they are the only known photographs taken of any Gettysburg hospital tents besides those at Camp Letterman, and the only photos of any hospital tents taken in the immediate aftermath of the battle.  This is striking in that Union corps field hospitals and twenty-four Confederate field hospitals were present when two prominent groups of photographers, one headed by Matthew Brady and another by Alexander Gardner, made their trips to Gettysburg.  Camp Letterman was also in the process of being established at the time that Brady, the latter of the two to visit Gettysburg, arrived.  Why did these preeminent photographers ignore these potentially powerful subjects?  Continue reading “A Rare Glimpse of Gettysburg Field Hospitals”

George Leo Frankenstein’s View of East Cemetery Hill

This 1866 painting by George Frankenstein depicts a good portion of the so-called ???fish hook??? of the Union line during the Battle of Gettysburg. The scene that Frankenstein depicted is largely unchanged from what it looked like on the night of Jul…

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This 1866 painting by George Frankenstein depicts a good portion of the so-called “fish hook” of the Union line during the Battle of Gettysburg. The scene that Frankenstein depicted is largely unchanged from what it looked like on the night of July 2, 1863 when the hardest fighting occurred at this spot. The furrows on the bottom right are particularly eye-catching. They are most likely fortifications constructed by the Union soldiers defending East Cemetery Hill.  What do these fortifications suggest about the fighting on East Cemetery Hill? Why are they featured in a painting completed three years after they were last used?

Continue reading “George Leo Frankenstein’s View of East Cemetery Hill”