Witness to History

When Frederick Gutekunst came to Gettysburg shortly after the seminal events of the Civil War had transpired, the landscape, that had undergone a transformation of historic proportions, was a subject different than that for which Gutekunst was at …

Katelyn_witness_1

When Frederick Gutekunst came to Gettysburg shortly after the seminal events of the Civil War had transpired, the landscape, that had undergone a transformation of historic proportions, was a subject different than that for which Gutekunst was at the time well known.  Born in Philadelphia, Gutekunst made a name for himself in the world of portrait photography, becoming a favorite of many notable Northern figures, with Walt Whitman and Ulysses S. Grant among his subjects.

While Gutekunst had established a successful photography business by 1861, following the events at Gettysburg he expanded his subject matter to include many scenes of the devastated battlefield in the aftermath of the battle that would ultimately define the town and the surrounding area.  In a series of photographs taken just three weeks after the battle, Gutekunst captures the devastation that the battle had thrust upon the small Pennsylvania town.

In the above photograph, taken from Cemetery Hill and looking eastward, Gutekunst captures a powerful image of a portion of the battlefield that depicts witnesses to one of the seminal moments in American history.  This photograph portrays three witnesses, both literal and symbolic, to the events and their ramifications for the town and its people. Continue reading “Witness to History”

Lewis Tway’s Tin Cup

On July 1, 1913, veterans of the American Civil War, both Union and Confederate, gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The anniversary activities served a dual purpose of commemorating the battle and those who p…

Katey_tway_1

On July 1, 1913, veterans of the American Civil War, both Union and Confederate, gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The anniversary activities served a dual purpose of commemorating the battle and those who perished there, and giving veterans the chance to come together and reminisce and share with each other experiences that few outsiders would be able to appreciate or understand. Despite worries that hostility may lie between veterans from the North and South the event as a whole was a harmonious occasion that ultimately commemorated the anniversary of one of the greatest battles fought on American soil.

For many, mention of the American Civil War conjures up notions of excitement and danger; these elements, while certainly present, had less of a presence than many of us would believe. In fact estimates say that up to 75% of a soldier’s time was spent marching and in camp, in situations that were relatively safe from the threat of combat. This led to periods that soldiers described as times of intense boredom.
Continue reading “Lewis Tway’s Tin Cup”

The Gatehouse: Entrance to Evergreen Cemetery

Three weeks after the battle of Gettysburg, when photographer Frank Gutekunst took this picture of the Evergreen Cemetery???s gatehouse the people of Gettysburg were still feeling the devastating effects of the battle. Although the Union troops had …

Cemetery_photo_1

Three weeks after the battle of Gettysburg, when photographer Frank Gutekunst took this picture of the Evergreen Cemetery’s gatehouse the people of Gettysburg were still feeling the devastating effects of the battle. Although the Union troops had effectively repelled Confederate forces from the small Pennsylvania town, the remnants of death and destruction remained. And while the armies returned to Virginia, the task of cleaning up the mess left behind fell to the citizens of Gettysburg. Thousands lay dead across the battlefield; still more remained behind because their injuries proved too severe for travel.
At the time of the battle, the population of Gettysburg numbered approximately 2,400 people. This represents roughly a quarter of the number of soldiers who were killed during the battle. With more corpses than citizens, the townspeople had the arduous task of recovering and burying the bodies in order to minimize the impact that thousands of decaying bodies would have on the air in the days following the battle. Continue reading “The Gatehouse: Entrance to Evergreen Cemetery”