Battlefield Guide Services

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Gettysburg National Museum Site - Then & Now - Photo Essay

Continuing our field trip visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
 A look at the the famous Rosensteel Museum.

The original 1921 era National Museum which housed the Rosensteel
collection. The collection began in 1863 by sixteen year old John
Rosensteel, who started collecting artifacts off of the field of battle.
This image is from a souvenir postcard from that time.
This structure stood across from the entrance to the National
Cemetery on Taneytown Road.

The expanded museum building as it looked in March of 2009, during the demolition
process. The building was sold and its 89,246 piece collection given to the National Park
Service in 1971. The NPS continued to use the facility as their Visitor Center
until 2009 when a larger building was opened below Hunt Avenue, between
Baltimore Pike and Taneytown Road. The site of the Rosensteel building
was to be torn down and the land restored to its 1863 appearance.
March 2009

November 2011

A view of the 1921 balcony in March 2009.
During their ownership, the Rosensteel family
lived above the museum. Those rooms became
offices for the NPS when they moved in.

The same view on November 18, 2011

In this March 2009 photograph, the second expansion of the building
is being taken down. This section had housed the original Electric Map
attraction in 1938. It was a popular tourist destination and gave a narrated
orientation program that explained the three day battle.

The same view on November 18, 2011.

A Civil War Centennial era postcard with a bus load of tourists arriving.

Similar view as seen in March 2009, during the demolition process.
Brochures for the museum. At left is a 1957 version. At right is a 1963
edition after a larger and expanded Electric Map feature was opened.

The inside of the 1957 brochure discusses the 1955 expansion of
the building which tripled their collection display space.

From the 1963 brochure, a view of the improved Electric Map
auditorium with a 960 person capacity.

The beginning of tearing down the Electric Map auditorium.
March 2009.

The 1955 expansion and office space are falling to the wrecking
crew in this March 2009 photograph. Nothing remains today of
this facility except the large parking lot and sidewalk.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spotsylvania's 23rd USCTs Marched In Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade 11-19-2011

The 23rd United States Colored Troops took a trip to Gettysburg, PA to participate proudly in the 148th Anniversary Commemoration of the Gettysburg Address, on November 19, 2011.
Forming up, moments before the start of the parade.
Left to right: Jimmy Price, Steward Henderson, James Anderson,
Kevin Williams, and John Cummings, your blog host.
Taking the turn onto Steinwehr Avenue (historic Emmitsburg Road),
from Baltimore Street, following the route taken by President Lincoln.
This photo courtesy of Rachel Zaborowski and Michael Colosimo.
Earlier that morning, keynote speaker Stephan Lang presented some
fittingly dramatic and moving remarks before the large audience
assembled at the National Cemetery Rostrum.
An actor and playwright, Lang is known for his many film roles
including portrayals of Confederate generals Pickett and Jackson.
Currently he stars in the science fiction television series Terra Nova.
After the program at the Rostrum, there was a graveside salute to
USCTs in the National Cemetery.
At right, Millicent Sparks gives a stirring presentation as
abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy, Harriet Tubman.
23rd USCT member Kevin Williams salutes the final resting place of one
 of two African American veterans buried in the Soldiers' National Cemetery,
Charles H. Parker, of the 3rd Regiment United States Colored Troops.
Photo by James Anderson.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gettysburg: Remembrance, Collective Memory, and the Space-Time Continuum

Please forgive your host for veering off of home turf, but allow me to take you on a field trip.
As I write, Gettysburg’s Remembrance Day is fast approaching, and with it the one hundred and forty-eighth anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. On the day it was delivered, November 19, 1863, it fell short for many who personally witnessed Lincoln’s presentation. It had been eclipsed by the oration of Edward Everett which went on for over two hours. Lincoln’s remarks came in at a little over two minutes, yet have become one of America’s masterpieces of ceremonial speeches.

Gettysburg itself became an immediate Mecca for memorializing, the dead and the living, almost as soon as the guns fell silent on July 3, 1863. Within twenty-five years of the battle, veteran organizations had begun dotting the landscape with what have now become approximately 1328 markers, monuments and memorials. Millions of visitors continue to make the pilgrimage each year, to walk the fields and climb the hills where over 35,000 men fell killed or wounded. Over eleven thousand more were captured or reported missing.

The Borough of Gettysburg, and the surrounding landscape, continues to evolve as man and nature make their impressions. The town has transformed into a tourist destination with all the trappings, both good and bad that come with that industry. One’s attitude towards that evolution can see it as inevitable or intrusive. Life must go on for those that make Gettysburg their home, and debates of appropriateness follow every step.

Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, as the procession makes its way
to the National Cemetery Dedication site. November 19, 1863.
The same view in March of 2009.

Out on the battlefield, the explorations of the annual visitors create numerous concerns for the caretakers of the site, the National Park Service. Erosion of the soil from constant foot traffic wears away at popular tour stops. Even the giant, diabase boulders of Little Round Top and Devil’s Den show the effects of time.

Visitors to Devil's Den -1909, from my personal collection
My wife and I emulate their experience - 2006
A veteran of the Federal Sixth Corps and his family, also visiting
Devil's Den. From my personal collection.
I attempt to walk in his footsteps, but will never fill his shoes.
November 2006, my wife and I emulate the countless visiting
veterans and their families who came to Gettysburg in November 1863,
and throughout the years, until none remained to return.

My personal journeys to Gettysburg began in the summer of 1969 with what became for many years a family tradition over the 4th of July holiday, my mother’s birthday. Throughout my childhood there grew many more excuses to visit the battlefield, supplemented by my own excursions as I became a freewheeling young adult. Now, at fifty, I continue my over forty year relationship with the most famous site of our nation’s defining struggle. I reflect on my own experiences, and those who have gone before me. I have watched many changes over the years, improvements and disappointments. It has become a place not only of national significance, but also a place of my own fond memories. Gettysburg is, as photo historian William Frassanito so aptly titled his first book, “A Journey In Time”.