Bury Them in Peace

The creation of the Soldiers??? National Cemetery in Gettysburg was designed to honor the fallen Union soldiers of the battle with a peaceful final resting place easily accessible for visitors. This was a difficult, costly, and momentous undertaking…

This post was first published on the Civil War Institute’s previous blog901 Stories from Gettysburg.
The creation of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg was designed to honor the fallen Union soldiers of the battle with a peaceful final resting place easily accessible for visitors.  This was a difficult, costly, and momentous undertaking, but its success is as important today as as it was in 1864. While only a small percentage of the total number of visitors to Gettysburg see the National Cemetery, it is important to recognize the hard work and dedication which went into its creation. Equally as important are those who were not buried in the cemetery, those who were left buried on the field until 1871, the Confederate dead.

After the initial burials of the dead soldiers of Gettysburg in July 1863, townspeople and officials noted a few problems with the grave sites: agricultural issues because bodies were buried on working farms, visitation issues for both known and unknown soldiers, shallow graves that failed to show the respect due for men who had died for their country, and the lack of a place  for communal remembrance. As a solution, Dr. Theodor Dimon, a relief surgeon sent from New York, suggested part of the Evergreen Cemetery should be purchased and turned into a national cemetery for the interment of the Union dead, as made possible by the passage of a law in 1862 allowing the Federal government to purchase land for use as national cemeteries. David McConaughy, president of the board of directors for Evergreen Cemetery, made a similar suggestion to the state of Pennsylvania to buy plots of land and bury all of the state’s dead there. Understanding the need for reinterment, David Wills, a prominent Gettysburg attorney, spearheaded the movement to purchase the land and create a national cemetery at Gettysburg for all Union men.

Continue reading “Bury Them in Peace”

Burying the Dead

???Burying the Dead ???Burial Parties were sent out, and those who could get away from their commands went out to view the scene of carnage, and surely it was a scene never to be forgotten. Upon the open fields, like sheaves bound by the reaper, in cr…

This post was first published on the Civil War Institute’s previous blog901 Stories from Gettysburg.
Burying_the_dead

“Burying the Dead “Burial Parties were sent out, and those who could get away from their commands went out to view the scene of carnage, and surely it was a scene never to be forgotten. Upon the open fields, like sheaves bound by the reaper, in crevices of the rocks, behind fences, trees and buildings; in thickets, where they had crept for safety only to die in agony; by stream or wall or hedge, wherever the battle had raged or their waking steps could carry them, lay the dead. Some with faces bloated and blackened beyond recognition, lay with glassy eyes staring up at the blazing summer sun; others, with faces downward and clenched hands filled with grass or earth, which told of the agony of the last moments. Here a headless trunk, there a severed limb; in all the grotesque positions that unbearable pain and intense suffering contorts the human form, they lay. Upon the faces of some death had frozen a smile; some showed the trembling shadow of fear, while upon others was indelibly set the grim stamp of determination. All around was the wreck the battle-storm leaves in its wake—broken caissons, dismounted guns, small arms bent and twisted by the storm or dropped and scattered by disabled hands; dead and bloated horses, torn and ragged equipments, and all the sorrowful wreck that the waves of battle leave at their ebb; and over all, hugging the earth like a fog, poisoning every breath, the pestilential stench of decaying humanity”

Continue reading “Burying the Dead”

The Louisiana and Mississippi State Monuments

The Louisiana and Mississippi State Monuments, located in close proximity on West Confederate Avenue on the Gettysburg Battlefield, were sculpted by Donald DeLue and erected within two years of each other. Louisiana???s monument went up first, in 19…

This post was first published on the Civil War Institute’s previous blog901 Stories from Gettysburg.
Roll_la_ms_monuments_photo_1

The Louisiana and Mississippi State Monuments, located in close proximity on West Confederate Avenue on the Gettysburg Battlefield, were sculpted by Donald DeLue and erected within two years of each other. Louisiana’s monument went up first, in 1971, followed by Mississippi’s in 1973. Both monuments were cast of bronze in Italy, and each cost $100,000. DeLue’s monuments are known for their capture of moments of extreme courage and their depictions of idealized bravery; his works on the field at Gettysburg are no exception.

Continue reading “The Louisiana and Mississippi State Monuments”

Samuel McCreary House

On August 10, 1863, The Compiler announced that the Tyson brothers were preparing to release their first group of battlefield photos. Many of the Tyson negatives have been lost over the years, but perhaps some of the most important survivors are t…

Mccreary_house_photo_1

The Tyson Brothers of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and their apprentice and eventual successor, William H. Tipton, immortalized the Samuel McCreary house through their photography in the years following the Battle of Gettysburg. Charles J. and Isaac G. Tyson were the first local cameramen to have recorded scenes on the battlefield during the summer of 1863. When they initially opened their gallery after their move from Philadelphia on August 16, 1859, they concerned themselves with portraiture rather than outdoor scenes and landscapes. Their first views of the Battle of Gettysburg were not taken until weeks after the battle was over, in part because they needed to obtain the equipment to accommodate outdoor views. Their gallery, located at present day 9 York St, remained open during the first day of the battle, before the townspeople were advised to evacuate the premises in anticipation of Confederate occupation.  In response to the sudden vacancy of the town, Charles Tyson asked a fellow citizen: “What does this mean?” to which the man replied: “It means that all citizens are requested to retire into their houses as quietly and as quickly as possible.” Fortunately for the Tyson brothers, their house and gallery were left untouched, although a cannonball lodged itself into the edifice of their studio. It was never removed and can still be seen today. Continue reading “Samuel McCreary House”

Bravely on the Battlefield: 1st Lieutenant George A. Woodruff

Throughout the Civil War, many West Point graduates chose either to fight for or against the United States. In the first days of July 1863, many of these West Pointers fought against each other on the battlefield in Gettysburg, and many of them lo…

This post was first published on the Civil War Institute’s previous blog901 Stories from Gettysburg.
Logan_woodruff_1

Throughout the Civil War, many West Point graduates chose either to fight for or against the United States. In the first days of July 1863, many of these West Pointers fought against each other on the battlefield in Gettysburg, and many of them lost their lives. One particular West Point graduate, 1st Lieutenant George A. Woodruff, fought bravely during the battle but lost his life on July 4th after being mortally wounded during Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd. He was a member of Battery I, 1st United States Light Artillery. While he never saw the end of the Civil War, Woodruff contributed to the Union’s victory through his actions on those three days in Gettysburg.

Continue reading “Bravely on the Battlefield: 1st Lieutenant George A. Woodruff”

Battle Studies: Perspectives on the Battle of Gettysburg by An Observer With the Army of Northern Virginia

Of the great body of writing on the American Civil War, perhaps little is more compelling to our modern audience than the first-hand accounts of its participants. There are many kinds of such accounts, including memoirs, diaries, letters, maps, an…

This post was first published on the Civil War Institute’s previous blog901 Stories from Gettysburg.

By Mary Roll

Of the great body of writing on the American Civil War, perhaps little is more compelling to our modern audience than the first-hand accounts of its participants. There are many kinds of such accounts, including memoirs, diaries, letters, maps, and photographs. Additionally, the war years saw various observers accompanying Union and Confederate armies alike. Some of these witnesses were reporters, detailing battles and campaigns for newspapers and magazines, while others were foreign military officers who attached themselves to American armies and kept diligent records of their experiences. One of these men, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, a British army officer who was present with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Gettysburg, wrote vividly and extensively of his experiences and observations made while accompanying Lee’s men on the road to Gettysburg. He carried his descriptive narrative through until the din of battle had faded and the Army of Northern Virginia found itself once again in retreat across the Potomac River. Fremantle’s writings offer modern readers a unique perspective on the events of July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 1863, and place us directly on the ground with Lee and his officers. Over the course of the three days of battle, Fremantle directly witnessed Lee’s meetings with his officers and staff. Fremantle also watched the unfolding events of July 3rd from Seminary Ridge, in the company of Lieutenant General James Longstreet. Fremantle spent a significant amount of time in the company of Lee, Longstreet, and their staffs, and the records he left behind demonstrate that his time spent with these men allowed him to see beyond the myths and legends of the decisions they made and positions they held. Additionally, Fremantle captures quite well how Lee’s common soldiers engaged with notions of duty and pride, as reflected in their actions on the field and in the immediate aftermath of defeat at Gettysburg.

Roll_fremantle_blog

Continue reading “Battle Studies: Perspectives on the Battle of Gettysburg by An Observer With the Army of Northern Virginia”

Photography and Battlefield Preservation: William A. Frassanito’s Revolution

With the publication of William A. Frassanito???s Gettysburg: A Journey in Time in 1975 came a disappointing realization regarding Civil War battlefield preservation — despite the National Park Service???s efforts to maintain those battlefields, as t…

With the publication of William A. Frassanito’s Gettysburg: A Journey in Time in 1975 came a disappointing realization regarding Civil War battlefield preservation — despite the National Park Service’s efforts to maintain those  battlefields, as they would have appeared at the time of the war, areas of the park were so grossly overgrown that the sites were no longer recognizable. Historical accuracy — defined in this sense as how the fields appeared at the time of battle in the 1860s — is one of the National Military Park’s main goals, but how can they restore something that they do not know is inaccurate?

Continue reading “Photography and Battlefield Preservation: William A. Frassanito’s Revolution”

The Story of Lewis Payne by Allie Ward

Lewis Payne His story started like that of many young men in the South. Lewis Thornton Powell was the youngest son of nine children born to the Baptist minister and plantation owner George Calder Powell. The Powell family was forced to sell their …

By Allie Ward ’14

Free_photo_lewis_payne_standing_in_an_overcoat_and_hat
Lewis Payne

His story started like that of many young men in the South. Lewis Thornton Powell was the youngest son of nine children born to the Baptist minister and plantation owner George Calder Powell. The Powell family was forced to sell their Alabama plantation due to financial difficulties when Lewis was young and moved to Live Oak, Florida, to start anew on a family farm. When news came that the Confederacy was in need of volunteers, Lewis and his two older brothers joined their ranks on May 30, 1861.  Private Powell and the 2nd Florida Infantry first marched into battle during the siege of Yorktown in April 1862. After this the 2nd was attached to Jubal Early’s Brigade and participated in numerous battles including Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Gains Mill, Second Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Continue reading “The Story of Lewis Payne by Allie Ward”

Crucible of War?: The Borough and the Battle of Gettysburg

Upon cresting Cemetery Hill, painter George Leo Frankenstein captured this panorama of the newly famous borough of Gettysburg. Frankenstein did not have to dodge gunfire nor breathe the smell of death as he strode up the gradual rise southeast of …

 By Brian Johnson ’14

Brian_borough_of_gettysburg_

Upon cresting Cemetery Hill, painter George Leo Frankenstein captured this panorama of the newly famous borough of Gettysburg.  Frankenstein did not have to dodge gunfire nor breathe the smell of death as he strode up the gradual rise southeast of town, for it was summertime, 1866, and only scant evidence remained of the landmark battle fought three years earlier.  But perhaps this reality weighed on his mind.  He was a painter who had come to capture a town and landscape made famous by war, but as he stood atop Cemetery Hill that experience must have seemed obscure.  Only the pair of cannon emplacements behind which Frankenstein placed his easel suggested that this was anything other than an ordinary community; but even these, visible in the foreground at the bottom of the painting, seem out of place amidst a backdrop of summertime green, neat houses, and rolling fields once again filled with crops.

Continue reading “Crucible of War?: The Borough and the Battle of Gettysburg”

The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama in Philadelphia

Following the first two days of fighting at Gettysburg between Union and Confederate troops, Robert E. Lee believed that his gray-clad veterans had nearly achieved victory and was determined not to leave Gettysburg without it. He also believed tha…

Following the first two days of fighting at Gettysburg between Union and Confederate troops, Robert E. Lee believed that his gray-clad veterans had nearly achieved victory and was determined not to leave Gettysburg without it.  He also believed that his army had weakened Meade’s center.  Thus, Lee’s plan for July 3rd was to open with a massive artillery barrage, and then strike the Union center with three divisions, including that of General George Pickett.  Then, according to Lee’s calculations, General Jeb Stuart would circle around the Union rear and General Ewell would assail the right flank to clamp the pincers when Pickett broke through the front.

Logan_cyclorama_1

Continue reading “The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama in Philadelphia”