Gettysburg Monuments

The battlefield of Gettysburg is better marked, both topographically and by monuments, than probably any other battlefield in the world. Over a mil-lion dollars have been expended on the grounds and monuments. The ” Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association,” representing the soldiers engaged, has marked all the important points, and the tracts along the lines, over four hundred and fifty acres, have been acquired, so as to thoroughly preserve all the land-marks where the most important movements were executed. There are some five hundred monuments upon the field, placed with the utmost care in the exact localities, and standing in woods or on open ground, by the roadsides, on stony heights and ridges in gardens, and of all designs, executed in bronze, marble, granite, on boulders and otherwise. Marking-posts also designate the positions of the various organizations in the opposing armies. To the north and west of Gettysburg is the scene of the first day’s contest, but the more interesting part is to the southward. Ascending the Cemetery Hill, there is passed, by the roadside, the house of Jenny Wade, the only woman killed in the battle, accidentally shot while baking bread. The rounded Cemetery Hill is an elevated and strong position having many monuments, and here, alongside the little village grave-yard, the Government established a National Cemetery of seventeen acres, where thirty-five hundred and seventy-two soldiers are buried, over a thousand being the unknown dead. A magnificent battle monument is here erected, surmounted by a statue of Liberty, and at the base of the shaft having figures of War, History, Peace and Plenty. This charming spot was the centre of the Union line, then a rough, rocky hill. The cemetery was dedicated in November, 1863, Edward Everett delivering the oration, and the monument on July 1, 1869. At the cemetery dedication President Lincoln made the famous “twenty-line address ” which is regarded as the most immortal utterance of the martyr President, and has become an American classic. The British Westminster Review described it as an oration having but one equal, in that pronounced upon those who fell during the first year of the Peloponnesian War, and as being its superior, because “natural, fuller of feeling, more touching and pathetic, and we know with an absolute certainty that it was really delivered.” The President was requested to say a few words by way of dedication, and drawing from his pocket a crumpled piece of paper on which he had written some notes, he spoke as follows :

” Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new Nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting-place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain—that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

A mile across the valley the Lutheran Seminary is seen, the most conspicuous landmark of the Confederate line. To the southeast from the cemetery is Culp’s Hill, strewn with rocks and boulders and covered with trees. The Emmettsburg road goes south-ward down the valley, gradually diverging from the Union line, and crossing the fields that were the battleground on the second and third days. It is bordered by numerous monuments, some of great merit, and leads to the ” Peach Orchard,” where the line bends sharply back. Peach trees are replanted here as the old ones fall. The ” Wheat Field” is alongside, now grass-grown. Beyond it the surface goes down among the crags and broken stones of the “Devil’s Den,” a ravine through which flows a stream, coming from the orchard and wheat field, and separating them from the rocky “Round Tops,” the sandstone cliffs of the “Little Round Top” rising high above the ravine. The fields sloping to the stream above the Den are known as the ” Valley of Death.” Among these rocks there are many monuments, made of the boulders that are so numerous. A toilsome path mounts the ” Big Round Top” beyond, and an Observatory on the summit gives a good view over almost the entire battlefield. This summit, more than three miles south of Gettysburg, has tall timber, preserved as it was in the battle.

There are cannon surmounting the ” Round Tops,” representing the batteries in action. Across the valley to the west is the long fringe of timber that masked the Confederate position on Seminary Ridge. A picnic-ground, with access by railway, is located alongside the ” Round Tops.” The lines of breast-works are maintained, and upon the lower ground, not far away, are preserved the rough stone walls, and to the northward is the little umbrella-shaped grove of trees at which Pickett’s charge was directed. The Twentieth Massachusetts regiment brought here a huge conglomerate boulder from New England and set it up as their monument, their Colonel, Paul Revere, being killed in the battle.

There was no fighting along the Confederate line on Seminary Ridge until the scene of the first day’s conflict is reached, to the northwest of Gettysburg. Here is marked where General Reynolds fell, just within a grove of trees, and a fine equestrian statue of him has been erected on the field. From his untimely death, Reynolds is regarded as the special Union hero of the battle, as Armistead was the Southern. Nearby a spirited statue, the “Massachusetts Color-Bearer,” holds aloft the flag of the Thirteenth Massachusetts regiment, standing upon a slope, thus marking the spot where he fell at the opening of the conflict. Such is the broad and impressive scene of one of the leading battles of the world, and the greatest ever fought in America. But happily the passions which caused it have been stilled, and the combatants are now again united in their patriotic devotion to a common country. As Longfellow solemnly sounds his invocation in the Building of the Ship, so now do all the people in the reunited Union :

“Thus too, sail on, O Ship of State ! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate!”