Gettysburg Seminar Papers

GETTYSBURG 1895-1995:
The Shaping of an American Shrine

A Battle From The Start:
The Creation of the Memorial Landscape at the Bloody Angle in Gettysburg National Military Park
Dr. Charles C. Fennell
Adjunct Faculty Member of Harrisburg Community College
Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park

The American Civil War was fought in 10,455 places ranging from skirmishes with Indians in California to some of America's bloodiest battles in the East. [1] Yet when all things are considered, one Civil War site stands head and shoulders above all the rest, and that place is Gettysburg. There Pickett charged and Lincoln spoke. There the Union was preserved in the bloodiest single battle fought in the Americas. There Robert E. Lee brought his seemingly invincible Army of Northern Virginia to win a victory on Northern soil which, in all likelihood, would have undermined Northern resolve to continue the war. Confederate independence and disunion would have logically resulted. As Captain James T. Long, Union veteran and one of the first battlefield guides, so eloquently stated in his guide book, Gettysburg: How the Battle Was Fought, "It was at Gettysburg where the cursed rebellion reached its high-water mark. It was at Gettysburg where, beyond a doubt, it received its death blow at the stone wall of the bloody angle, where Pickett's charge terminated, where the battle of Gettysburg ended, where the heroism of the men of the Union Army kept our glorious country undivided." [2]

Almost as soon as the Battle of Gettysburg ended, the men who fought here sensed that something significant had taken place. On July 16, 1863, Frank A. Haskell who had participated in the battle of Gettysburg as a member of the Second Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac and as such participated in the repulse of Longstreet's assault on July 3, 1863, had the following to say:

I stood solitary upon the crest by "the trees" where less than three days ago I had stood before; but now how changed is all the eye beholds. Do these thick mounds cover the fiery hearts, that I the battle rage, swept the crest and stormed the wall? I read their names - them alas, I do not know - but I see the regiments marked on their frail monuments, - "20th Mass. Vols." - "69th P.V." - "1st Minn. Vols." - and the rest, - they are all represented, and as they fought, commingled here. So I am alone, - Sleep, noble brave! The foe shall not desecrate your sleep. - Yonder thick trenches will hold them. - As long as patriotism is a virtue, and treason a crime, your deeds have made this crest, your resting place, hallowed ground! [3]

The trees referred to by Haskell are the now famous Copse of Trees which became the focal point of Pickett's attack during the final Confederate assault on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863. Colonel Walter Harrison who served as Inspector General of Pickett's Division during that assault related this and other facts of the battle to Colonel John Bachelder, government historian, during a visit to the battlefield after the war. In a book about Pickett's Division written in 1870, he expressed his belief, shared by many others that the repulse of what was quickly becoming known as "Pickett's Charge" during the third day of the battle of the Gettysburg was the turning point of the American Civil War. As he stated, "For more reasons therefore than one, this terrible repulse at Gettysburg was the most crushing blow, and in fact the grand turning-point of the war. Apply, even in diminished ratio, this fearful loss of the best material to the other commands of the army of Northern Virginia, and you at once reach the downhill of resistance." [4] Simply stated, this last desperate attempt of Lee's army to shatter the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, an event popularly known as Pickett's Charge, became synonymous with the turning point of the American Civil War - the high water mark of the Confederacy. As one historian has put it, "If we grant - as many would be ready to do - that the Civil War furnishes the great dramatic episode of the history of the United States, and that Gettysburg provides the climax of the war, then the climax of the climax, the central moment of our history, must be Pickett's Charge." [5] Whether you subscribe to this theory of the turning point of the war or not, there is no doubt that the ground on which Lee's last assault was repulsed at Gettysburg became one of the most significant shrines to the American Civil War and represents the high water mark of the creation of the memorial landscape at Gettysburg National Military Park. For it was at the 'Bloody Angle' that the federal government's ability to preserve the historic resource and document what happened during the battle with memorials was, as perhaps in the battle itself, most severely tested.

The first attempt to preserve the battlefield at Gettysburg began with the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, hereafter referred to as the GBMA. This organization was created by David McConaughy, a local lawyer and active member of the Republican party. It appears that by August of 1863, he had taken the first steps to preserve the ground where the battle was fought. In a letter written to other concerned preservationists, he indicated that, "Immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, the thought occurred to me that there could be no more fitting and expressive memorial of the heroic valor and the signal triumph of our army, on the first, second, and third days of July, 1863, than the battlefield itself, with its natural and artificial defenses, preserved and perpetuated in the exact form and condition they presented during the battle." He continued, "Acting at once upon this idea, I commenced negotiations, and have secured the purchase of some of the most striking and interesting portions of the battle ground, embracing among these the heights of Cemetery Hill, on the center, which resisted the fiercest assaults of the enemy; the granite spur of Round Top, on the left, with its massive rocks and wonderful stone defenses, constructed by the Pennsylvania Reserves; and the timber breastworks, on the right, extending for a mile upon the wooded heights of Wolf Hill, whose trees exhibit the fearful effects of our musketry fire." [6] It is interesting that he made no reference to the ground where Pickett's Charge occurred.

On April 30, 1864, the Association created by David McCounaughy was designated the official agency for the creation of the memorial landscape at Gettysburg when it received the legal rights of a corporation from the Pennsylvania Legislature. [7] Therefore, it was to be the GBMA that created the guidelines for the placement of memorials, markers, and monuments on the historic field. More importantly, however, the GBMA established the precedent of government supervision which governs the placement of memorials to the present day. At a meeting of the Board of Directors held in October of 1884, the Superintendent of Tablets and legends was instructed to approve the inscriptions on the memorials to ensure their historical accuracy. [8] At a meeting on May 5, 1887, a much more important decision was reached when it was "resolved that hereafter regiments erecting monuments on the ground of the Association would be required to locate and place them in the position held by the regiment in line of battle, but that they would not be prohibited from erecting such might determine." [9] This proved to be a landmark decision for two reasons. First, it established the mechanism whereby Confederate monuments were prevented from being erected behind Union monuments which remains inviolate to this day. Secondly, it was because of this decision that the GBMA's legal position as the final authority for the placement of monuments was most seriously contested and, much like the battle, that contest involved the Angle.

The creation of Gettysburg as a national shrine involved the placement of monuments, markers, and memorials. Nowhere, perhaps in the world, are there more monuments per square foot than along the line where Longstreet's final assault was repulsed. Yet, surprisingly, monumentation came relatively late to the Angle. The first monument on the battlefield was erected in the cemetery by the survivors of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry which had sustained nearly 70% losses in the battle. [10] In the summer of 1878 the first memorial of any kind erected upon the battlefield outside the cemetery was placed by the General Strong Vincent Post, of the Grand Army of the Republic No. 67 of Erie, Pennsylvania, to mark the spot where General Vincent was mortally wounded on Little Round Top. [11] During the same encampment, the Colonel Fred Taylor Post, No. 19, of Philadelphia, placed a small memorial to mark the spot where Colonel Taylor fell in the Valley of Death at the base of Houck's Ridge. In 1879, the first regimental monument was erected by the survivors of the Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on the edge of Spangler's Meadow at the base of Culp's Hill, detailing that regiment's historic charge across the meadow on the morning of July 3. [12] Before the first monument of any kind was placed in the Angle, several other memorials were erected on various parts of the battlefield. These included the General Zook Memorial in the Wheatfield, the 91st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument on Little Round Top erected in 1880 and the regimental monuments of the 124th New York Volunteer Infantry, the 14th Brooklyn Volunteer Infantry, the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, the 88th and 90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry all placed on the field where these units fought in 1881. [13] Therefore, despite the fact that the Angle became the most popular spot for the placement of monuments, practically all other major portions of the Gettysburg Battlefield were marked before the first memorial of any kind was placed to document the spot where the battle was supposedly decided.

The first memorial to be place in the Angle was the Philadelphia Brigade Memorial near present day Hancock Avenue to the north of the famous copse of trees. This memorial, which is largely overlooked today, was erected on August 27, 1883, by the survivors of the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment who participated in the battle as members of the famous Philadelphia Brigade. [14] It was not long before other units that had a hand in repulsing Longstreet's Assault on Cemetery Ridge, wanted their participation remembered by the erection of monuments. In October of 1882, Massachusetts erected monuments to document where her honored sons fought to save the Union on the battlefield at Gettysburg. Three of these memorials were placed in the Angle near the Copse of Trees. The Copse of Trees was believed to be General Pickett's objective or point of advance on Cemetery Ridge. [15] Whether this clump of trees was the objective or not, it became synonymous with the farthest Confederate advance on the ridge and came to represent the center of the fiercest fighting. Because of the Angle's increasing importance as the turning point of the Civil War, it became obvious that other states would want to erect monuments there. The GBMA was forced to take action. At a meeting held on May 5, 1887, it was resolved "that hereafter regiments erecting monuments on the ground of the Association would be required to locate and place them in the position held by the regiment in the line of battle, but that they would not be prohibited from erecting such markers on the field, to indicate secondary or advanced positions, as the Association might determine." [16] Thus, the foundation for government direction of the placement of monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield was established. Eventually, Massachusetts removed her monuments from near the Copse of Trees to conform with this regulation and, in October of 1991, with the permission of the GBMA, erected three bronze markers to indicate their part in repulsing Pickett's Charge near where her monuments had been originally located.

Also prompting the GBMA to make a determination regarding the placement of monuments of the battlefield was the fact that the survivors of Pickett's Division wanted to erect a monument to that division on the spot where General Lewis A. Armistead, one of Pickett's brigade commanders, fell mortally wounded. In May of 1887, the committee representing Pickett's Division presented their petition to the GBMA and were told that "granting their application would be in violation of the regulation requiring all monuments to be on the line of battle. The proposed monument should be erected on the avenue to be opened along the Confederate line, and that a marker be placed to indicated where General Armistead fell." [17] It is interesting to note that both the decision to locate markers on the battle lines and the decision to locate Pickett's Division Monument on Seminary, not Cemetery, Ridge were made at the same meeting. Although this action by the GBMA seems petty and narrow minded today, it did eventually result in the preservation and monumentation of the Confederate line of battle on Seminary Ridge and the intervening ground between the two armies. One only has to go to Fredericksburg and stand behind the stone wall on Mayre's heights or the Carter House at Franklin and look out over the ground where two other very significant assaults were made during the Civil War to appreciate the implications of this decision. As this decision of the GBMA to refuse to approve the placement of a Pickett's division monument in the Angle seemed to jeopardize a proposed reunion of Pickett's men and the members of the Philadelphia Brigade to be held that coming July, the members of the 72nd Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the GBMA, erected the controversial Armistead in February of 1888. [18] The reunion, the first between Union and Confederate soldiers held at the Angle, was saved, but controversy continued to haunt the members of the 72nd Pennsylvania.

In 1887, the Pennsylvania State legislature passed a resolution appropriating fifteen hundred dollars for each Pennsylvania command to mark the spot where they were engaged in the Battle of Gettysburg. [19] The monument committee of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania selected a site twenty feet from the stonewall that provided the first line of defense against Pickett's Division. As explained by Private John Reed, the monument committee chairman, at the dedication of the monument, "When the location was selected, it became necessary to bring ample proof that the site would be historically accurate. This had been done, and the Commission was convinced beyond a doubt that the Seventy-second was in line during the cannonading of the rebels sixty yards to the left and rear of this spot, and when the enemy forced the troops from the first line of battle, you marched by the right flank until you nearly reached the north wall, faced to the front and engaged the foe. From that point you advanced fighting down to this wall having men killed and wounded in the advance, but in order to conform to the rules of the Memorial Association the position of your monument was agreed to be twenty feet from the wall." [20] On December 12, 1888, when John Reed, along with other members of the monument committee, attempted to dig for a foundation on the ground selected for the monument, he was arrested on a writ of capias ad respondendum, issued at the insistence of the Memorial Association and he was required to give and enter bail in the sum of five hundred dollars. [21] Reed's arrest triggered the most significant legal battle involving the placement of a monument in the history of the creation of the memorial landscape at Gettysburg.

On January 7, 1889, a bill in equity was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County by John Reed, Sylvester Byrne, Frederick Middleton, Julius B. Allen and Charles W. Devitt, representing the survivors of the Seventy-second Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, against the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association and John P. Taylor, Samuel Harper, J.P.S. Gorlin, John P. Nicholson and R. B. Ricketts, Commissioners appointed by the Governor of the State of Pennsylvania. The commissioners of the GBMA argued that "the Seventy-second regiment at the time of Pickett's charge, was supporting a battery and was about 300 feet in the rear of the stone wall at the 'Bloody Angle,' and somewhat to the left behind the copse of trees. That the space between the Sixty-ninth and two companies of the Seventy-first regiments at the stone wall, was unoccupied and was the open space in front of the battery; that when the enemy advanced upon the stone wall the Seventy-second regiment was ordered up the crest of the hill, about 275 feet in the rear of the stone wall, and there in line of battle fired upon the enemy as they crossed over the stone wall and occupied the angle, and in this exposed position lost very heavily in killed and wounded, but that they did not, as a regiment, move down upon the enemy." [22] In effect, the commissioners required the monument of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry to be erected on the east side of present day Hancock Avenue in line with the Forty-second New York and Nineteenth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regimental monuments 283 feet in the rear of the stonewall at the "Bloody Angle." While this case was in progress, the survivors of the Seventy-second purchased a small plot of ground from the owner of Codori Farm on the western side of the Angle and fully intended to erect their monument there if the case was decided against them. [23] However, the case, which required over two years to reach a verdict, was decided in favor of the men of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in May of 1891.

The Seventy-second regimental infantry monument depicting a typical soldier of the day, a youth, clothed in the uniform of the Fire Zouaves of Philadelphia, and in the attitude of a soldier clubbing his musket to illustrate the closeness of the struggle that had taken place in the Angle on July 3, 1863, was finally dedicated on July 4, 1891. [24] None of these resulted in legal action or produced such a feeling of bitterness as did the case involving the monument of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania. Speaking at the dedication of the Forty-second New York Infantry monument, Major General Daniel E. Sickles had the following to say:

"I cannot fitly perform this duty without giving expression to the surprise and indignation felt by the veterans of this famous battalion when they see their monument standing on a rear line, from which they advanced and repulsed at the approaching enemy, while troops that refused to advance in obedience to the repeated orders of their brigade commander, are permitted to place their monuments on a line much farther to the front than they ventured to march, until after the victory was won. I know that the trustees of the Battlefield Association are in no sense responsible for this outrage upon history. You, sir, and your associates, resisted this proceeding by all the means in your power; and it was not until you were constrained by your respect for a judicial decree that you desisted from your opposition to this injustice. My duty is discharge when I protest, as I do solemnly protest, in the name of history, and truth, and equity, against a judgement that awards the honors to a battalion that failed to earn them on the field and denies to the Forty-second New York Infantry the recognition it received from its brigade, division, and corps commanders." [25]

Although the GBMA lost their legal battle, the case was most important in that the courts, in effect, acknowledged the Association's and, later by implication, the Federal Government's legal right to regulate the memorial landscape at Gettysburg National Military Park. For the veterans of the Seventy-second Pennsylania, they could take pride in the fact that the placement of their monument was the only one on the field at Gettysburg sanctioned by law. As W.W. Wiltbank who was one of the legal councils for the members of the Seventy-second monument commission, stated that the dedication of the monument, "Of all the regiments that fought on this wide field, in the battle that saved the Union, it so happens that the location of yours has the singular glory of an approval of the judiciary as well as the executive; and the soldier who fights here in bronze, shall stand forever under the protection of the decree of the eminent officers of this country, ratified by the highest court of the State: a decree that here you did your greatest work, and that no man or body of men may gainsay it history and the laws have placed this effigy, and Pennsylvania protects it by her writ of perpetual admonition." [26]

Three weeks after, the survivors of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania dedicated their monument in the Angle, a more pregnant threat to the development of the memorial landscape was created as the Gettysburg Electric Railways received a charter under an act of the Pennsylvania Legislature providing for the incorporation and regulation of street railway companies. [27] Because of the interest in electric power and with it interest in electric powered rail transportation, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law governing the incorporation of "Street Railway Companies" in the Commonwealth. This act proved the harbinger of new legal battles for the GBMA for interest in electric powered transportation and with it a rail line to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield eventually reared its ugly head in Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Electric Railway Company was the brain child of Edward M. Hoffer, a salesman of farm equipment from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania. Hoffer indicated that he wanted to bring the benefits of electric power to the borough of Gettysburg while at the same time constructing a rail line to take people to the battlefield. On July 28, 1891, Hoffer received a corporate charter from the State of Pennsylvania as the Gettysburg Electric Railway Company putting $10,000 in the company. [28]

Hoffer probably did not anticipate opposition from the GBMA or other concerned preservation groups like the Grand Army of The Republic, because a rail line had been constructed across the Gettysburg Battlefield. This rail line had scarred the battlefield already. As Adams County grew in importance, the Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad extended its operations south from Cumberland County. In April of 1884, a line was cut across the field of Pickett's Charge to the base of Little Round Top. A right of way was acquired from Simon Cordor, William Patterson and George Weikert and permission to cross Hancock Avenue was approved by the GBMA in the Spring of 1884. No minutes of this decision by the members of the GBMA survive yet there is no doubt that the construction caused damage to the historic resources they were attempting to preserve. In 1885, General Winfield Scott Hancock toured the field with Colonel John B. Bachelder, government historian and member of the GBMA. In a letter Hancock expressed his concerns about how these transportation lines had altered the ground where he was wounded,

"Some of these trees have evidently been cut down, however, since the date of the battle and since my former visit there nineteen years ago, notably one which Stannard and others pointed out as near the place where Gibbon was shot, some time before I was struck. The 'avenue' had evidently cut off some of the fringe of timber and undergrowth in that direction and the railroad cutting has done the same on the other side. . . The recent construction of the railroad and the 'avenue,' on the left and right of the Vermont position, before referred to, have materially changed to topography in this respect..." [29]

The ground that the Gettysburg and Harrisburg railroad had disturbed was far removed from the Angle and as Hoffer was soon to find out this made all the difference. In August of 1891, the Gettysburg Town Council granted Hoffer a right of way "through the best streets of the town." Furthermore, as it was reported in a local Gettysburg newspaper, "The line will be seven miles long in the town itself, and the company is endeavoring, with good hopes of success, to secure the right of way over the battle grounds." [30] Although Hoffer was unable to persuade the GBMA to grant him access over their land, he did manage to secure right of ways through several tracks of private land which gave him access to the principal parts of the battlefield from which he paid $452.00. [31] The most important of these was the Crawford tract which included Devil's Den. On April 11, 1893, the company opened an office on the second floor of the Star and Sentinel Building in Gettysburg and advertised for workers. Four days later they began blasting a right of way through the boulders in Devil's Den. Gangs of Italian laborers were employed, many were housed in temporary quarters built on land owned by Tipton, the famous Gettysburg photographer, in the Devil's Den area.

Of course, the construction of the trolley lines led to criticism of the company from the townspeople as well as from battlefield preservationists. Locals complained that the construction of trolley lines from Chambersburg street to Baltimore street and from Chambersburg street to Carlisle street would prevent the erection of a soldier's monument in the center square because the power lines would be in the way. Another concern was that the trolley lines would hamper access to the local cemeteries. "Free and safe access to both our Cemeteries will be cut off. Baltimore street is the only access to the Evergreen Cemetery, and is an important access to the Catholic Cemetery. No funeral procession to either can thereafter be secure against the dangers which lurk in Electric cars rushing in the face of or behind horses." complained one concerned citizen. [32] Another local concern was that, "Our large hacking business is to be destroyed. The Borough will thereby lose practically the $1,000 now derived from the licensing of this business." [33] In conclusion, one affected citizen lamented, "our excited Councilmen refused to stop and think, but blindly jumped into the ditch dug for them, taking the people with them. There we are together - a subject for the derisive pity of all observers." [34] Despite the local feelings against the trolley company, the company continued with its plans to extend their operations to include the Gettysburg battlefield and that is where they met their most determined and effective resistance.

As more people complained, Hoffer increased his work force and increased the pace of construction. He wanted to complete the line, especially that part that included the battlefield, before anyone could stop him. Furthermore, he wanted to have the line completed before New York Day, July 1, 2, 3, 1893, when large numbers of veterans would be in town for the dedication of the numerous monuments erected by the State of New York to mark where her soldiers had fought and died to save the Union. As one New York veteran remarked, "We are informed that the work of mutilation and destruction is now pushed recklessly, and in contempt of all remonstrances, whether emanating from the Government, or from veterans, or from the press of the country, so that the interested parties may reap their first harvest of profit from the large assemblage of veterans who will be present on the approaching anniversary of the battle." [35] The route as finally envisioned by Hoffer would run out the Baltimore Pike, past Cemetery Hill, encircle the National Cemetery, thence along the Emmitsburg Road to the Peach Orchard, through the Wheatfield to the Devil's Den, and through the Valley of Death to Little Round Top Park. The return trip was to be made via the Bloody Angle and Hancock Avenue. [36] Although the lines were not completed in time to take advantage of the crowds of people on New York Day, the construction on the battlefield outraged many of the veterans. Rumors flowed that certain veterans planned to destroy the trolley railroad. General Daniel Sickles, a veteran of the battle of Gettysburg and Chairman of New York State Monument Commission, advised the veterans, "to let the trolley railroad alone; neither do anything to injure it, nor anything that will benefit it; do not put a penny in its treasury; do not ride on its cars." [37] The veterans never got the chance to implement Sickles' embargo as the lines were not completed in time.

By the time of the first trolley run on July 13, 1893, the United States Government had begun proceedings that would culminate in the establishment of the Gettysburg National Military Park. On May 25, 1893, Secretary of War Daniel S. Lamont created the Gettysburg National Park Commission with instructions "to take immediate steps to preserve the lines of battle on this historic field." [38] Prompting the Secretary's decision was the desecration caused by the excavation of the trolley line along Hancock Avenue and in front of the "Bloody Angle" around which spot clusters more historical interest than about any other point in that or any of the great battlefields of the country." [39] The commission was composed of John P. Nicholson of Philadelphia; Colonel John B. Bachelder of Massachusetts; and General William H. Forney of Alabama. The commissioners were instructed to halt further construction of trolley lines on the battlefield grounds that they would interfere with the preservation of historic landmarks. With the establishment of the Gettysburg National Park Commission, the federal government, for the first time, became directly involved with the attempts to preserve the historic resources. The threat posed to the historic resource by private enterprise led directly to the creation of Gettysburg National Military Park.

The threat of government intervention did not halt the construction but seemed to have the reverse effect to increasing the pace. As on observer noted, "The work on the vandalistic road goes on with ever increasing impetus. The company is straining every nerve to rush the work to completion so that should the Government interfere and take the battlefield, the electric people will get a big sum in damages." [40] Although the veterans were concerned by the desecration of construction on all parts of the battlefield, it was the proposed line in front of the Angle that most upset them and eventually they and not the government would first frustrate the plans of the "trolley vandals." John Reed Scott, a veteran of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania volunteers, best expressed the feelings of the veteran when he stated that, "If there is one spot on the battlefield that should be saved it is this stretch from where Hancock fell wounded to the Brien House, along which Pickett's Division of Virginians beat in vain in the grandest charge of the century, and which has gone into history as designating the 'High-Water Mark' of the Rebellion." [41] Colonel Bachelder also expressed his concerns directly to Mr. Hoffer that "the United States Government did not propose to allow such vandalism on a line of battle where General Garnett was killed." [42] The willingness of Mr. Hoffer to listen to the concerns of Colonel Bachelder and others was attributed to his knowledge that the Seventy-second Pennsylvania Regimental Association held the key to his plans to construct a line along Hancock's July 3 battle line. [43] During their legal battle with GBMA over the location of their monument, it will be remembered, the Seventy-second monument committee purchased a piece of ground thirty feet square on the western side of the wall that forms the "Bloody Angle" from Mr. Codori who had subsequently ceded the rest of his land along the wall to the trolley company. However, Codori sold the balance of his land to the Land Improvement Company and this company would not permit the trolley company to cross its holdings. Since the other side of the stone wall was owned by the GBMA, the trolley line had to cross the small plot owned by the survivors of the Seventy-second Pennsylvania. [44] Although Hoffer threatened to build a station in front of the Angle and walk people across the plot of ground owned by the Seventy-second Pennsylvania, the old veterans would not give in and, mainly as a result of their stubborn insistence, the plans to construct a line in front of the "High-Water Mark" were abandoned. [45]

38 "Secretary Lamont Acts Promptly," The Press, 26 May, 1893. It is also clear that Secretary Lamont's action was prompted by the special report of Judge Advocate General Major George R. Davis who was sent by the Secretary to make an examination of the Gettysburg battlefield and report specifically on the "injury that had been done by the Electric Railway Company." See also, "The Trolley at Gettysburg," Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 May, 1893, p. 2.

Although the schemes of the trolley company to construct a line at the Angle were abandoned, the company refused to vacate other parts of the battlefield where trolley operations were already in progress. Secretary of War Lamont was then forced to open legal proceedings for the condemnation of the land purchased by the Gettysburg Electric Railroad. Earlier, the mere threat of Government action had prevented a Chattanooga company from constructing a trolley line on the Chickamauga battlefield, but the Gettysburg company was made of sterner stuff and a most significant legal battle ensued. [46] The legal battle began on August 3, 1893, as the trolley company, represented by H. B. Howard, Baiting Gilber, and Judge David Wills in whose home President Lincoln stayed when he came to speak at the National Cemetery dedication, filed a paper thirteen feet long with the signatures of over 400 citizens, businessmen, and property owners along the trolley line, protested against, "the false impressions created by the unwarranted publications against the road and its construction". [47] On April 23, 1895, Judge Dallas, of the Circuit Court for the Third judicial Circuit, decided in favor of the trolley company and stated that the United States Government did not have the right to condemn private lands for purpose of preservation of areas of historical significance. [48] This decision not only threatened the Government's ability to protect the historic resources on the Gettysburg battlefield, but every historic site in America. Fortunately, on January 27, 1896, The United States Supreme court reversed the decision of the lower court and upheld the Government's condemnation rights. Simply put, the case involving the Gettysburg Electric Railroad established the foundation of the Untied States Government ability to protect, preserve and manage the country's historic resources. [49]

However, as the number of visitors to the battlefield increased, some kind of transportation infrastructure had to be developed. The GBMA decided to construct a series of improved roads to provide visitor access to the various battlefield locations that were now being marked with monuments. The Angle, of course, commanded their attention. At a meeting held on July 28, 1881, "it was determined to open an avenue along the line of battle from the Taneytown Road to Little Round Top, the Avenue to be sixty feet wide, except where necessary to embrace important points where the width was to be three hundred feet." [50] This avenue, eventually designated Hancock Avenue, was the first road built on the battlefield by the GBMA. Other roads were soon to follow. On July 27, 1882, it was resolved to construct an avenue from East Cemetery Hill by way of Culp's Hill, to the extreme right of the position occupied by the Twelfth Corps. [51] Meade Avenue, connecting his headquarters on the Taneytown Road to Hancock Avenue, was completed on November 1, 1897. [52] Other avenues that permitted access to the Union Positions near the Angle were Harrow Avenue which ran along the positions held by Harrow's brigade south of the Copse of Trees and Webb Avenue which looped off of Hancock Avenue into the Angle itself. Thus, roads became a very real part of the memorial landscape at Gettysburg National Military Park. Of all of these roads which once facilitated visitor access, only Hancock Avenue remains.

The GBMA's final contribution to the creation of the memorial landscape at Gettysburg was the erection of the High Water Mark Memorial near the Copse of Trees. At a meeting to the Association held on February 25, 1887, Colonel Bachelder was requested to design a tablet detailing the "movements of all commands engaged in the assault on July 3." [53] In the process of documenting the battle, Bachelder became impressed with the idea that the terrific fighting at what is now known as the Copse of Trees would mark the turning point of the American Civil War. [54] Soon after the battle the owner began to cut down the trees but was induced by Colonel Bachelder to stop, being convinced of their importance as a landmark. At a subsequent meeting of the Association, the Board of Directors decided to have the Copse of Trees enclosed in a iron fence, as a protection from relic hunters. [55] This was done under the direction of Superintendent of Grounds N.G. Wilson. The monument as designed by Colonel Bachelder is comprised of an open bronze book supported by two pyramides of bronze cannonballs. The book lists the commands of the Army of Northern Virginia that participated in Longstreet's assault and the commands of the Army of the Potomac that repulsed the charge. It was paid for by money donated by fourteen states all of which fought on the side of the Union during the war. Soon after the monument's dedication, additional tablets were placed on the left and rights sides of the book to list the various regiments that were involved in the fighting around the Copse of Trees on July 3, 1863. In 1895, a tablet listing the directors of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was placed on the back of the monument. The placement of this tablet was the last marker placed by the Association for later that year they turned over their holdings, which included 600 acres of land with 17 miles of avenue constructed thereon, giving access to 320 monuments, to the federal government, and thus, Gettysburg National Military Park was born. [56]

With the creation of the Gettysburg National Military park, preservation and further development of the memorial landscape was assured. The GBMA turned over to the government a national shrine already complete. The struggle to create the memorial landscape, like the battle of Gettysburg itself, reached its high water mark with the memorialization of the "Bloody Angle" on Cemetery Ridge. As Colonel Lewis R. Stegman relates, "In the entire range of American history - whether in Revolutionary or Civil War annuals - there is not another spot on this continent, identified with the story of battle, more renowned than the Angle. It was here that the most spectacular, and for the time it lasted, the severest conflict of the Civil War occurred. For the Army of the Potomac, their part in the engagement that culminated in victory for them on Cemetery Ridge is expressed in the words, 'High-water Mark of the Rebellion'; while for the Army of Northern Virginia, though beaten, it is attested that they evinced deeds of daring and determination that have seldom been equaled anywhere, or in any time, not even in the days of old when Greek met Greek." [57] It was also at the Angle at Gettysburg that Government control of the creation and preservation of the memorial landscape was most severely tested. It was, as we have seen, a battle from the start. And that battle still continues today. All one had to do is to stand in the Angle and face east to see that. But the fight to preserve the historic resources on the Gettysburg battlefield, as well as all other historic sites in the country, is worth the time and effort. Maintaining our national shrines is expensive, but it is truly money well spent. As Ex-Governor of Pennsylvania, Beaver stated at the dedication of the High Water Mark Memorial, "Let these monuments stand. Let them be preserved and perpetuated for all time to come. They provoke no jealousies. They harbor no resentments. They are eloquent in their mute appeal to patriotism and to duty. They have a mission and they meet its requirements well." [58] What is that mission? It is to remind us all what it means to be an American and the price our forefathers had to pay for us to enjoy the privilege. Here, in the Angle at Gettysburg Americans died fighting for their beliefs and no more can be asked of a man or a women than that they would given their last full measure of devotion for their ideals. That is what made America great and that is what keeps it strong today. And that is why national shrines like Gettysburg National Military Park are so important. As General Daniel Sickles observed when he spoke at the dedication of the Forty-second New York monument at Gettysburg, "There are nearly 400 monuments on this battlefield; all but two of them commemorate the services of the soldiers who fought this battle. I have seen many monuments in other countries erected in honor of commanders of armies, but it was reserved for us to signaiize in this manner the heroism of the rank and file of our battalions... There is no better way to prepare for the next war than to show your appreciation of your defenders in the last war. No nation can long survive the decline of its martial strength. When it ceases to honor its soldiers, it will have none." [59]


1 E.B. Long, The Civil War Day By Day: An Almanac 1861-1865 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1971), pp. 718-719.

2 James T. Long, Gettysburg: How the Battle Was Fought (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: E.K. Meyers Printing House, 1891), p. 5.

3 Frank L. Byrne and Andrew T. Weaver, ed., Haskell of Gettysburg: His Life and Civil War Papers (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1989), p. 199.

4 Walter Harrison, Pickett's Men: a Fragment of War History (New York: D. Van Nostrand, Publisher, 1870), p. 105.

5 George R. Stewart, Pickett's Charge: A Microhistory of the Final Attack at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863 (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1983), p. ix.

6 McConaughy to Rev. C. P. Krauth, Rev. S. S. Schumucker, J. B. Danner, &c, 14 August 1863, Gettysburg National Military Park, Guide Room Files. The timber breastworks on the right referred to are on Culp's Hill not Wolf Hill. Wolf Hill is still not preserved by the National Park Service and remains in private hands. For an accurate picture of the natural and artificial defenses referred to by Mr. McConaughy, see William Frassanito, Gettysburg: A Journey In Time (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975).

7 John M. Vanderslice, Gettysburg: Then and Now (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1983) p. 360. This book is considered the best source for information pertaining to the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. John Vanderslice was a director of the GBMA from 1880-1882, 1884-1896.

8 Ibid, p. 372.

9 Ibid, p. 376.

10 Although the cornerstone for the soldiers National Monument marking the supposed spot where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address was placed on July 4, 1865, I do not consider a cornerstone a monument. The Minnesota urn in the National Cemetery was erected in 1867. For the placement of the first monument in the cemetery, see James M. Cole and Rev. Roy E. Frampton, The Gettysburg National Cemetery: A History and Guide (Hanover, Pennsylvania: Sheridan Press, 1988), p. 21. According to Busey and Martin, the First Minnesota suffered 67.9% of the men engaged at Gettysburg. See Busey and Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses a Gettysburg, (Highstown, New Jersey: Longstreet House, 1994), p. 262.

11 Vanderslice, Gettysburg: Then and Now, p. 364.

12 Frederick W. Hawthorne, Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments As Told by Battlefield Guides (Published by the Association of Licensed Battlefield Guides, Gettysburg: Pennsylvania, 1988, Printed and bound by the Sheridan Press of Hanover, Pennsylvania), p. 88.

13 Vanderslice, Gettysburg, pp. 367-368.

14 Kathleen R. Georg, The Location of the Monuments, Markers, and Tablets on the Battlefield of Gettysburg, (Gettysburg: Pennsylvania, Gettysburg National Military Park, 1982), p. 15.

15 According to Colonel John Bachelder, who was the government historian of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Copse of Trees near the center of Hancock's line on Cemetery Ridge was the objective of Pickett's Division. See "High Water Mark," Gettysburg Compiler, 7 June 1892.

16 Vanderslice, Gettysburg, p. 376.

17 Ibid. See also "The Pickett Reunion," Gettysburg Compiler, 17 May 1887.

18 Many consider the Armistead marker the first Confederate monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield. This is simply not true. On November 19, 1886, the Second Maryland infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia was dedicated where they formed for battle on Culp's Hill on July 3, 1863. Furthermore, the Armistead monument is not a Confederate monument at all. It is made of New Hampshire granite and was erected with Yankee money contributed by the members of the 72nd Pennsylvania and the GBMA. See the Records at the GBMA in the Gettysburg National Military park, Historian's Files.

19 John P. Nicholson, ed., Pennsylvania at Gettysburg: Ceremonies at the Dedication of the Monuments Erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, W. M. Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1904), p. v.

20 Nicholson Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, p. 412. The GBMA required that monuments must be on the line of battle held by the brigade unless the regiment was detached. "If the same line was held by other troops, the monuments must be placed in the order in which the several commands occupied the grounds, the first being on the first line, the second at least twenty feet in the rear of it, and so on, the inscriptions explaining the movements." See Vanderslice, Gettysburg: Then and Now, pp. 382-383.

21 Appeal of the Gettysburg Battle-Field Memorial Association from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Adams County, No. 20, May Term, 1891, p. 378.

22 Ibid, pp. vi-vii

23 "The 72D Takes Action," The Evening Star, 27 May 1893. See also, Hawthorne, Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments, p. 119.

24 Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, vol. I, p. 412.

25 William F. Fox, New York at Gettysburg, vol. I (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, Printers, 1902), p. 327.

26 Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, p. 412.

27 John D. Denny, Jr., "Battlefield Trolley," The Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 3, 1968, p. 17.

28 "The Gettysburg Electric Railway Charter," Star and sentinel, Gettysburg, 4 August, 1891. Other members of the company under the original charter were H. G. Walmer, George P. Hoffer, F. B. Blessing and Henry Deck of Hummelstown, Dauphin County.

29 W.S. Hancock, December 17, 1885, letter to John B. Bachelder, Bachelder Correspondence, New Hampshire Historical Society. The avenue referred to by Hancock was the first one constructed on the field under the direction of the GBMA and was, ironically, named Hancock Avenue. The position that Hancock is describing is located to the west of the present day Vermont State Monument which sits along Hancock Avenue.

30 "The Electric Railway," Star & Sentinel, 18 August, 1891.

31 Ibid, 12 September, 1894.

32 Ibid, 11 August, 1891.

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid.

35 New York at Gettysburg, vol. 1, p. 204.

36 Ibid, 9 February, 1892.

37 New York at Gettysburg, Vol. 1, p. 204.

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

41 John Reed Scott, "The Gettysburg Desecration," Harper's Weekly, July 1, 1893, p. 622.

42 "Trolley Routed on the Battlefield," The Press, 3 June 1893. It seems that Bachelder believed that Confederate General Richard Garnett who led one of the brigades in Pickett's Division during the Battle of Gettysburg was killed in front of the present Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument. Since the trolley line is still visible as a walking path today, it is possible to locate fairly accurately where General Garnett was killed. He is the only General to participate in the Battle of Gettysburg who remains unaccounted for to this very day.

43 Ibid.

44 "The 72D Takes Action," The Evening Star, 27 May, 1893.

45 Ibid. See also, "Blasting at Gettysburg," Public Ledger and Daily Transcript, 17 June, 1893.

46 "Construction of a Railroad at Gettysburg to Be Stopped," Public Ledger and Daily Transcript, 10 May, 1893. As cited, "When the Chickamauga battlefield was converted into a National Park a railroad corporation attempted to do on that field what is now being attempted on the Gettysburg field, but the War Department defeated this by giving notice that the Government intended to condemn the lands for public purposes, and the Attorney General declared that this condemnation would extend to any franchise that might be held by any corporation to use any portion of the lands for private gains." However, the mere threat of condemnation was enough to discourage the beading of a trolley line at Chickamauga, so therefore, the Government's legal rights to condemn private property for public use were never tested in court.

47 "Vandals Plead For Their Charter," The Press, 3 August 1893.

48 "Gettysburg Park Controversy," The New York Times, 3 May 1895.

49 Trolley service was eventually discontinued in 1917, with the Gettysburg National Military Park purchasing the remaining right-of-way for $28,000. In 1918, the rails were torn up and sent to France to support the war effort. The trolley is still visible and is used by thousands of visitors every year as a walking path around Devil's Den. Very few of these visitors are probably aware of the controversy the path they are walking on caused or the significance it held for the creation of Gettysburg National Military Park.

50 Gettysburg: Then and Now, p. 368.

51 Ibid, p. 371.

52 "General Information Relating to the Work of the Commission on the Battlefield," Cope Note Book, Gettysburg National Military Park Files.

53 Gettysburg: Then and Now, p. 375.

54 "High Water Mark," Gettysburg Compiler, 7 June, 1892.

55 Ibid. The decision to enclose the Copse of Trees was most likely made at the September 22, 1886, meeting and the fence was erected sometime in 1887.

56 Gettysburg: Then and Now, p. 388.

57 New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg, Chattanooga and Antietam, Webb and His Brigade at Gettysburg (Albany; J. B. Lyon Company, Printers, 1916), p. 38.

58 "High Water Mark," Gettysburg Compiler, 7 June 1892.

59 New York at Gettysburg, p. 315

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