Posts Tagged ‘battle of gettysburg’

Jennie Wade house

Jennie Wade statue

As a follow-up to the previous post, these are photos of the Jennie Wade House, which of course was never known by that name during her life. Jennie was born and lived elsewhere, but she died in this house during the Battle of Gettysburg, and so it is the place most associated with her.

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Jennie Wade birthplace

Jennie Wade birthplace (2)

In the old section of Gettysburg, a house that doesn’t have a historical plaque or marker on it is in the minority. Any house that stood at the time of the battle bears a plaque stating that fact, like the top plaque on this house.

House plaques

However, this house is also the birthplace of Mary Virginia Wade, the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Twenty-year-old Ginnie Wade was staying with her sister, the Georgia Wade McClellan who unveiled the plaque. McClellan had just given birth when the sleepy little crossroads of Gettysburg was overrun by soldiers, and the family found themselves in the middle of the battle lines as the armies skirmished. Ginnie was kneading bread for baking when a bullet traveled through the door of the house and struck her in the back, killing her. Ginnie Wade’s sudden, tragic death brought her a fame she never could have expected in life, and Gettysburg now plays host to three tourist attractions associated with her: her grave in Evergreen Cemetery, the Jennie Wade House (her sister’s house where she was killed), and the Jennie Wade birthplace (a tasting room for Reid’s Winery).

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Peace Light

The Eternal Peace Light Memorial overlooks the scene of the early fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg, atop Oak Hill. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the monument in 1938 as part of the final Blue and Gray reunion on the 75th anniversary of the battle. In attendance were approximately 1,800 remaining veterans of the Union and Confederate armies, the youngest of whom was 88 years old. Built on northern and southern donations, the memorial is topped with an eternal flame. You can hear Roosevelt’s remarks and view photos from the event here.

It’s also the subject of one of the earliest photos I ever took with my own camera that was worth keeping.

1989 Gettysburg Field Trip

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Inscription in rock on Llittle Round Top

91st Pennsylvania

It’s not hard too find the monuments that have been erected all over the Gettysburg battlefield – in fact, one of the challenges for movies like Gettysburg is hiding the monuments from film. But there are other monuments that are more obscure, like stone carvings. One of these is on Little Round Top, on the boulder below and behind the 91th PVV monument. It marks the approximate location where Lt. Charles Hazlett died with the words: “Hazlett fell com’r Batt’y D 5 U.S.Art’y in battle July 2nd 1863.”

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John Burns statue

John Burns was a 67 year old veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War when the Civil War broke out. Burns tried to volunteer as a soldier once again but was turned down due to his age. He returned to his hometown of Gettysburg and became constable. When the Civil War appeared on his doorstep, he picked up his flintlock musket and went out to join the fray. Lt. Col. Thomas Chamberlin of the 150th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, recorded in his diary being approached by Burns and asked if he could join the regiment and fight. Colonel Wister of the 150th granted his permission and sent the elderly man into the woods by McPherson Farm, where he fought next to the famous Iron Brigade. He was wounded and captured but soon released. Burns became a national hero, even meeting President Abraham Lincoln when he visited in November to dedicate the National Cemetery. He passed away in 1872. The statue to him on the battlefield was dedicated on July 1, 1903, the 40th anniversary of his deeds in the battle.

John Burns, The Battle of Gettysburg: The American Civil War.

John Burns: Citizen Soldier at the Battle of Gettysburg. Civil War Sources.

John Burns of Gettysburg – Some Rare Trivia. Civil War Talk.

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College Lutheran Church (2)

During the Battle of Gettysburg, this church was, like almost every public building in Gettysburg, used as a hospital. Chaplain Horatio Howell of the 90th Pennsylvania was visiting the wounded in the hospital in full uniform, including his sword. On the first day of the battle, Union soldiers retreated through the town with Confederates in pursuit, and Howell was unfortunate enough to be caught in the chaos. Tradition states that one of these Confederate soldiers ordered the chaplain to surrender his weapon,and shot Howell on the steps of the church.

College Lutheran Church

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Pennsylvania Women Plaque

This is something a little different – this plaque is inside the Pennsylvania state monument at Gettysburg. I am not aware that there is anything else like this on the battlefield proper (but I’ve been wrong before). What it made me think about was that here is a plaque with no names, just dedicated to the loyal women of the commonwealth, and yet it probably contains more information than most of their tombstones did.

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Sometimes, I think about completely random things when I look at a piece of statuary. I’ll be walking around the cemetery, photographing things and considering what I might want to write about and – WHAM – out of nowhere, my train of thought will derail completely. I was reviewing my photos from Gettysburg, thinking deep weighty thoughts about bloody battles, when I suddenly realized what fabulous mustaches many of the statues had. I need help. But so do all of you, because you’re still reading. Anyway, since you’ve come this far, check it out and I think you’ll agree with me.

West Virginia (2)

84th New York Infantry (2)

74th Pennsylvania Infantry (2)

1st Pennsylvania Cavalry

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Alonzo Silsby served in the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery I, also known as Dilger’s Battery after its commander. According to Nancy West’s To Dwell with Fellow Clay, Silsby died of wounds received at the Battle of Gettysburg. I have visited both Silsby’s gravesite as well as the monument at Gettysburg that marks the general area where the Battery took up position.  Silby’s greatly eroded original tombstone does seem to mention the battle specifically, but he also has a newer government-issue monument.

1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery I (4)

1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery I (5)

1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery I (3)

1st Ohio Light Artillery Battery I (2)

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11th Mississippi Infantry

11th Mississippi Infantry

For me, there is no monument that more simply conveys the utter devastation wreaked on the Army of Northern Virginia by undertaking Longstreet’s Assault (what most people think of as Pickett’s Charge) than the one to the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment on Confederate Avenue at Gettysburg.   The monument was just dedicated in 2000.

11th Mississippi Infantry

On this day in 1863 at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lt. General James Longstreet’s Division of the Army of Northern Virginia (commanded of course by General Robert E. Lee) marched across 3/4 of a mile of open farmland to attack the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. The Confederate charge began with more than 12,000 soldiers and suffered over 50% casualties. As a young teenager, I walked Pickett’s Charge on a school trip – our group was assigned a Virginia regiment that I have long since forgotten. We learned to march in formation, and we each received a 3×5 index card with the name and a few details about a soldier of that regiment. I still recall very clearly that my soldier was William Norris, who did survive. As we marched across the field, the park ranger kept calling names where men fell – the student marching in the place of that soldier would fall out of line to walk behind the unit, and the rest of us would try to close ranks. Private Norris was one of the few to make it to the Union lines. I remember how very lonely it was to be one of the few still “charging,” and I was only playing pretend, not staring down the barrels of entrenched rifles and artillery.

11th Mississippi Infantry

The 11th Mississippi monument has a plaque that shows in stark, numeric terms the battle’s effect on them.  The regiment ended up being the left flank, exposing it to enfilade fire. 86% casualties (round down) – 86% of the soldiers who began the charge under their colors were no longer available for combat at the end – killed, wounded or captured.  77% of the soldiers in the regiment were killed or wounded – 27%  of the regiment killed outright or mortally wounded.  Company A, the University Greys who largely came from the University of Mississippi, earned particular distinction by suffering 100% casualties. No soldier of Company A present on July 3, 1863 would have been able to fight if the battle continued on July 4. It’s very nearly unimaginable – the numbers are staggering.

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