Posts Tagged ‘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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There aren’t a lot of crosses in Gettysburg National Military Park. The 142nd Pennsylvania has this rough-hewn, rugged cross.

142nd Pennsylvania Infantry

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Joanna Craig house (2)

When we took the Ghosts of Gettysburg tour during our vacation, and this story was the only one that had a tombstone associated with it. The house is rented out to college students every year, and the residents over the years have supposedly reported hearing the sound of a body falling down the stairs and thudding to the floor. When some work was being done on the grounds, workman unearthed a tombstone with the name “Joanna Craig” on it in the yard.

Joanna Craig house

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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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One of the more challenging aspects of wrapping your head around how people lived and thought in a different time is dropping the sense of inevitability and to some extent, labels. We tend to label and organize and categorize things, but that’s much easier to do with hindsight. People living in the thick of things aren’t always conscious of what will be essential to remember or what it will someday be called. One of the best examples I’ve heard of is the Battle of Gettysburg. When the soldiers marched into the little Pennsylvania town in late June and early July, they had no idea that this battle was going to be on of the most remembered. Some might not have even known the name of the place where they fought, and historians note that letters and diary entries from Gettysburg have to be identified through context because the soldiers, rather than calling it the Battle of Gettysburg, just mention things like having fought in a wheatfield or in a peach orchard. And so this tombstone is labeled not with our modern naming for this war, but as the War with Spain. The appellation the Spanish-American war must not have become standard until after this veteran’s death.

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