SIR: The commission was appointed May 25, 1893, by Secretary of War Daniel S. Lamont, and consisted of Lieut. Col. John P. Nicholson, John B. Bachelder, esq., and Brig. Gen. W. H. Forney.
The letter of instruction for the guidance of the commission was dated May 29, 1893, and the board assembled for organization May 31,1893. Present, Colonel Nicholson and Mr. Bachelder. General Forney absent, detained by sickness at his home.
Upon organization the commission found important lines of battle occupied by an electric railway, the construction of which had begun early in April, 1893. After inspecting the road and the land over which it was constructed, on July 1 the full board assembled and selected Col. E. B. Cope as topographical engineer. He was appointed and the assistants selected, a room for the commission rented at Gettysburg, and the survey of the field was at once commenced and has been daily continued.
The first work was to establish a meridian, which in all the surveys since the war had never been done. The datum point of reference was the center of the square in the town of Gettysburg, and a meridian line was established on the high ground of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, near Hancock avenue.
The north point of this line is near the monument of the One hundred and twenty-sixth New York Infantry, and the south point near the line of the Benner property. The line was subsequently extended south to the Tenth New York Infantry Monument.
The location of the town of Gettysburg, geographically, has been determined to be latitude 39' 49' 15" and longitude from Washington 0' 14' 0" west; the altitude above tide water at the Center Square, 550 feet.
Using this meridian as a base of operations, there has been run many miles of back-sight transit lines on various parts of the field.
The commissioners completed the examination of the Seminary Ridge line on August 3, the Blocher property, on the Hagerstown road, south to and beyond the McMillan Woods, and decided to survey a preliminary line at once. The line begins at the Blocher Building and runs south to the Emmitsburg road at the James Felix property and traverses the line that was taken up and occupied by the Confederate army during the greater part of the second and third days' battle and affords a view of the entire line from the cemetery to Round Top. It has since been surveyed and extended to the Ridge road, 4,500 feet south.
Upon this avenue, and in rear of it, there remain many traces of the Confederate breastworks, and in all cases where stone walls were remaining that were known to have been used for defensive purposes they were included within the avenue.
At the north side of this avenue is a piece of timber containing about 4 acres, where the Confederate artillery was posted, which is included in the survey; also the Spangler Woods, in which are remains of breastworks, containing about 25 acres, situated near the middle of the avenue, was surveyed and computed. All the work was connected with the meridian by the Emmitsburg road.
On August 14 a Confederate avenue was surveyed, which was temporarily named the "Outside Wheatfield avenue" beginning at the Emmitsburg road, 800 feet southwest of the crossroads at the Peach Orchard, running easterly to the lands of the Memorial Association, thence in a southeasterly direction by the lands of the Memorial Association, and terminating on a west line of the Crawford tract, near Devil's Den.
On August 16 and 17 the Crawford tract was surveyed and found to contain about 47 acres, which was mapped in connection with the Tipton property and lands of the Memorial Association.
On August 18 a transit line was run from the Emmitsburg road on the crossroad to H. Spangler's woods, and thence to the Seminary Ridge line.
On August 22 and 23 the survey was made on the line of the Memorial Association on Little Round Top, and also on the boundary lines of the Tipton property, included between the said association property and the Crawford tract.
On August 24 the lines of the Pfeffer, Benner, and Codori properties were surveyed. This survey was completed September 10.
On September 11 survey was made of a lot of ground belonging to Charles Starner on the Seminary Ridge avenue line, with a view to purchase the property.
On the 12th and 13th the properties of James Felix, at the end of the avenue on the Emmitsburg road, was surveyed and also the lines on the properties of Mr. Wolf and Mrs. Plank. These properties are connecting on the avenue line and reach from the Wheatfield road to the Emmitsburg road.
On September 20 a transit line was made at the intersection of Reynolds avenue and Chambersburg street in Gettysburg, which was continued out the Chambersburg pike to Willoughby Run, and from near this point two avenues were run on the east side of the stream, ending at the Springs Hotel bridge. The other one, beginning on the west side of the bridge and following the right bank of Willoughby Run, terminates in a public road that leads in a northwesterly direction to the Herr Tavern road.
On September 21 to 23 the preliminary line for another avenue was surveyed. It begins at a point on the Chambersburg pike 880 feet west of Willoughby Run bridge, crossing the Springs Hotel property in a southerly direction, and ends at the Hagerstown road. This line was prolonged several miles to a previously located connecting point on the Seminary Ridge line.
On September 25 commenced a transit line upon Reynolds and Buford avenues to the line of timber beyond the Mummasburg road on the property of John Forney. Here we began a line for another avenue in an easterly general direction to the Carlisle road; thence continuing through property of the Blocher heirs and across Rock Creek; then in a southeasterly general direction to the Harrisburg road at the J. Benner House, continuing the line in the same general direction across the Western Maryland Railroad and York pike to the summit of Benners Ridge. From this point there was run a straight line to Benners Hill, and there the survey was temporarily suspended.
On September 28 began a careful survey of the field in the vicinity of the Springs Hotel, the object of which was to map that territory to the minutest detail, showing also all the projected Confederate avenues. The survey embraces an area of about 1 1/2 square miles. It has been carefully mapped, traced, and blue printed. This survey and the office work necessary to complete the map occupied the attention of the engineer corps until October 10.
On October 11 there was run a line from the point in the center of the square of the town by the Hanover road to a point connecting our line on Benners Hill, and also triangulated to the same point from East Cemetery Hill.
The engineer corps is now at work on a detailed survey of East Cemetery and Culps Hill and the ground to the east and other adjoining lands.
On August 28 the commissioners addressed a proposition to the attorneys representing heirs of the estate of General Crawford to purchase the land known as the Crawford tract for $700. The proposition was accepted after approval by the Secretary of War, and the deeds are now being executed.
On September 18 the commissioners purchased from Mr. Charles Starner 5.26 acres of land, at $50 per acre. The purchase was ratified by the Secretary of War, and the deed is now being executed.
On August 23 an excursion party from Winchester, Va., many of whom (veterans of the Stonewall Brigade) had been at the battle, visited Gettysburg. They went over the field in company with the commissioners (Mr. Bachelder and General Forney having gone to Hagerstown, Md., to meet them) and marked a number of positions of the respective commands of the Confederate army on Culp's Hill and elsewhere, and returned to their homes in the evening. They seemed deeply impressed with the importance of this work and enthusiastic in their assurance of cooperation from the Confederate veterans.
A summary of the field work of the engineer corps under the direction of the commission shows the following:
Twenty-seven miles of public roads have been run and a preliminary survey of 20 miles of avenues and proposed avenues was made, and 24 miles of property lines. As the work of constructing the avenues progresses other surveys will be necessary. The work has been plotted on a scale of 1 inch to 500 feet and reduced to one-half that size. Part of the work has been enlarged to 1 inch to 400 feet, and 1 inch to 200 feet, which is the scale of the large Warren map, 12 feet square.A large portion of the work has been traced and blueprinted.
The Commission has not thought it wise to open avenues until such times as land can be purchased at reasonable prices. This, it is believed, may be accomplished by watching the opportunity to buy odd lots which will be needed in open market at popular rates, by which plan the commission will not only secure lands desired, but a precedent will be established for the use of the court should the necessity for condemnation proceedings arise.
By the opening of spring the commission will be in condition to commence the construction of avenues and the locating on them of tablets marking the positions of troops.
Various communications, copies of which were promptly transmitted to the Secretary of War, passed between the commissioners and the president of the electric-railway, Mr. Hoffer. The position assumed by the commission, under the guidance of the Secretary of War, resulted in a suspension of the work upon the electric road at the parts the occupation of which had been objected to by the representatives of the Secretary of War. While all has not been accomplished that the commissioners desired in this connection, they feel justified in expressing the opinion that the road will eventually be removed from historic localities, at a small expense to the Government.
The hearty sympathy and cooperation of the Secretary of War in the efforts of the commission to remove the electric road from the occupation of the prominent parts of the battlefield has been a source of great satisfaction, and the board can not refrain from the mention of this fact.
The work of the commission has been hampered by the expectations of numerous people representing various interests, in their demands for high prices for land. Thus far their efforts have been unsuccessful, as shown by this report.
RECOMMENDATIONS. For the purpose of purchasing lands for avenues and marking the positions of troops embraced by the recent surveys, for the construction and fencing of the avenues, and for the manufacture of tablets and other markers to mark the positions of troops it is recommended that a sum not less than $50,000 be appropriated.
JOHN P. NICHOLSON,
JOHN B. BACHELDER,
W. H. FORNEY,
The SECRETARY OF WAR.
BLUE PRINTS ACCOMPANYING REPORT.
2.-Pfeffer, Codori, Benner, and adjoining properties
6.-Hancock avenue, etc.
7.-Springs Hotel property, etc.
8.-Codori property (part of).
11.-Memorial Association property (part of).
12.-Gettysburg Electric Railroad Company (part of).
13.-a map of the vicinity of Gettysburg, showing the work of the engineer corps of the United States Gettysburg Battlefield Commission from July 26 to November 1, 1893. 14.-Map showing the avenues secured, upon which are located the brigades of infantry and battalions of artillery engaged in the battle of Gettysburg.