SIR: The Gettysburg National Park Commission respectfully submit the following report of the progress and condition of their work, with some suggestions on what they think necessary for its successful prosecution in the future:
Since the last report Crawford avenue has been completed, leading northward from Devil's Den through the Valley of Death and across Plum Run to the Wheatfield road. The bridge over Plum Run was constructed in the same substantial style as the others which have been built on this field.
The commission, having heretofore given attention to the roads and avenues of the park of the second and third days' battlefield, have thought it wise this year to look after those on the first day's field, and have entered into contracts for the construction of Reynolds and Howard avenues, which mark the lines, respectively, of the First and Eleventh Corps of the Union Army and are together nearly 3 miles long. Howard avenue is finished. It leads from the Harrisburg road, near Rock Creek, westward by Barlow's Knoll to the Mummasburg road; is 20 feet wide, and constructed on the Telford plan in the best manner, like all the avenues on this field. Reynolds avenue, which is in two sections, will be completed, it is hoped, early next spring.
A number of other roads and avenues have been mentioned in previous reports as urgently needed to render accessible important and interesting sections of this great battlefield. The commissioners would have pushed them this year but for the lack of adequate means, and they will do so as soon as practicable. Among them are the avenues on the cavalry field and the road leading thither.
The commission long since constructed Telford avenues along the Confederate battle line of the second and third days' fight on Seminary Ridge, on each extremity of said line, the left of Hill's Corps and the right of Longstreet's, aggregating over 3 miles in length. Between these two parts of Confederate avenue there is a gap of 2 miles (long) along the left of Longstreet's Corps and the right of Hill's, across which the commission have been very anxious to construct a link needed to connect the two extremities aforesaid and thus complete the Confederate avenue from the Chambersburg pike northwest of the town southward and eastward to Round Top, a distance of over 5 miles.
No part of this battlefield is more interesting than the part covered by that gap in the Confederate avenue. Not only did important movements of the second day's battle originate there, but it was there the Confederate column of the third day under Longstreet was formed and began its advance on that final charge led by Pickett, so sublime in its daring and so tragic in its fate.
There is no part of this battlefield so inaccessible as this. Encumbered by bushes and briers and cross fences, with not even an open footpath over it, visitors here never see this ground because they can not reach it.
The only reason the commission have not constructed the avenue over it is because the Government does not own the land, not having the right of way, and the owners of the land ask such exorbitant prices for it that the Secretary of War and the commission do not feel justified in paying them. More than two years ago the Secretary of War authorized and instructed the commission to begin a proceeding in the circuit court of the United States to condemn the lands needed for said avenue, together with some adjacent woodlands, which it was important to preserve, the whole area being 105 acres, and the said proceeding was begun at once and is still pending. A jury of view was appointed, inspected the lands, heard the testimony offered on both sides, and made an award that was liberal to the respondents, ranging from $46 to $200 per acre, but they appealed to the court in term at Philadelphia and have since resorted to vexatious delays and continuances, so that the case is still pending and undetermined. Thus this important part of the Confederate lines is prevented from being opened and the military positions on it fixed and marked as intended by the Government.
The commission wish to emphasize the fact that the main hindrance to marking Confederate lines and positions, not only on the grounds just above spoken of, but on almost all of this field, as was the intention of Congress in establishing the Gettysburg National Park, is that the lands whereon said lines and positions are situated are not yet owned by the United States. Prompt action by the courts in condemning the needed lands when held at exorbitant prices, and liberal appropriations by Congress for the purchase of lands which can be bought at reasonable rates, are the two main requisites for the realization of the patriotic purposes of the Government with reference to this battlefield.
MARKING POSITIONS OF UNION TROOPS.
The West Virginia commission have recently erected the following: A granite monument to the Seventh West Virginia Infantry on East Cemetery Hill, and three granite tablets marking temporary positions of this regiment on the field at different stages of the battle; a granite monument to the First West Virginia Artillery in the National Cemetery; a granite monument to the First West Virginia Cavalry on the Taneytown road south of General Meade's headquarters; a granite monument to the Third West Virginia Cavalry on Buford avenue. All these monuments were dedicated by appropriate ceremonies on the 28th of September ultimo, attended by the governor of that State and his staff with many other citizens, and by the Second Regiment West Virginia Infantry Volunteers, which marched here from Camp George G. Meade for that purpose.
The Maine commission have also, since last report, erected stone tablets on Hancock avenue, near the high-water mark, to show the position of the Third and Fourth Maine Infantry Regiments on the third day of the battle.
The positions of the United States regular troops in this battle, consisting of 11 regiments of infantry, 4 regiments of cavalry, and 22 batteries of artillery, have been accurately located and are carefully noted on our maps, and also on the ground by markers, so that when the Government shall take steps to erect monuments to these troops, which their gallant services here certainly entitle them to, there will be no difficulty in placing them.
MARKING POSITIONS OF CONFEDERATE TROOPS.
Handsome and durable iron tablets with appropriate inscriptions are now being erected on substantial iron pillars, designating and briefly describing the services rendered by each of the following Confederate batteries, the respective positions of which have been marked for some time by mounted guns of like class and caliber as those of which each battery was composed, viz:
Taylor's Virginia Battery, Woolfolk's Ashland (Va.) Artillery, Parker's Virginia Battery, and Jordan's Bedford (Va.) Artillery, of Alexander's Battalion.
Manly's North Carolina Artillery, Fraser's Pulaski (Ga.) Artillery, McCarthy's First Richmond Howitzers, and Carlton's Troop (Ga.) Artillery, of Cabell's Battalion.
Bachman's German (S. C.) Artillery, Garden's Palmetto (S. C.) Light Artillery, Latham's Branch (N. C.) Artillery, and Reilly's Rowan (N. C.) Artillery, of Henry's Battalion.
Johnson's Virginia Battery, Rice's Danville (Va.) Artillery, Hurt's Hardaway (Ala.) Artillery, and Wallace's Second Rockbridge (Va.) Artillery, of McIntosh's Battalion.
Cunningham's Powhatan (Va.) Artillery, Watson's Second Richmond Howitzers, and Smith's Third Richmond Howitzers, of Dance's Battalion.
The above are all the Confederate batteries which occupied positions on ground of which the title has yet been acquired by the United States.
Inscriptions are being prepared and tablets of iron similar to those mentioned above will shortly be erected to designate the positions and briefly describe the evolutions and achievements of the following Confederate infantry commands, viz:
Kershaw's Brigade of McLaws's Division, and each of its component regiments, the Second, Third, Seventh, Eighth, and Fifteenth South. Carolina, and Third South Carolina Battalion.
Semmes's Brigade of McLaws's Division, with its Tenth, Fiftieth, Fifty-first, and Fifty-third Georgia Regiments.
Anderson's Brigade of Hood's Division, with its Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, and Fifty-ninth Georgia Regiments.
Benning's Brigade of Hood's Division, with its Second, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Twentieth Georgia Regiments.
Robertson's Brigade of Hood's Division, with its First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas and Third Arkansas Regiments.
Law's Brigade of Hood's Division, with its Fourth, Fifteenth, Forty-fourth, Forty-seventh, and Forty-eighth Alabama Regiments.
The method of marking the positions of troops on this field, as approved by the War Department, is to place the principal tablet or monument of each command at the position occupied by the command in the main line of battle, and to mark the several important positions subsequently reached by each command in the course of the battle by subordinate and ancillary tablets, with appropriate brief inscriptions giving interesting details and occurrences and noting the day and hour as nearly as possible.
The Confederate commands above mentioned are the only ones whose chief positions were upon ground now owned by the United States, and are, therefore, the only ones which can be marked until the Government shall acquire the lands on which they formed and fought.
The commission are much gratified to notice an awakening of interest in influential quarters among the people of the Southern States concerning this battlefield and the importance of erecting monuments to commemorate the heroism of their soldiers here, as the people and States of the North have done, and it is hoped that Congress will recognize and foster this praiseworthy sentiment springing up in the South by liberal appropriations of the moneys needed to purchase and acquire title to the lands on which the Confederate troops operated and where their monuments must be placed.
The commission will not encumber this report by going into the details of their work or attempting to specify the many minor expenses, amounting in the aggregate to a considerable sum, which are necessarily incident to the accomplishment of so great a design as the establishment of the Gettysburg National Park. They feel warranted in declaring that, though yet incomplete, this is already the best marked battlefield in the world, and to all those who desire to understand the character and the extent of the work done, they say, " Come and see."
While the commission are satisfied that they could judiciously and economically use in pushing this work during the next year a much larger sum, they hereby earnestly request and recommend that not less than $75,000 be appropriated.
JOHN P. NICHOLSON,
Wm. M. ROBBINS,
The SECRETARY OF WAR.
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS TO ACCOMPANY COMMISSIONERS' REPORT.
Howard avenue, from Barlow Knoll.
Howard avenue, east from Carlisle road.
Howard avenue, west from Carlisle road, showing shoulder stones.
Howard avenue, east from Mummasburg road, ready for paving.
Gen. John P. Reynolds statue, from the southwest.
Spangler's Spring, foot of Culp's Hill.
Hitching rail, Slocum avenue, near Spangler's Spring.
Guard rail on retaining wall, Slocum avenue.
Hitching rail, Slocum avenue, summit of Culp's Hill.
Style of stone wall rebuilt by the commission on Hancock avenue.
Meade avenue, from Taneytown road.
Style of gate adopted by the commission.
Meade avenue from near Hancock avenue, showing paved gutter.
Sodded bank on Sedgwick avenue.
Sodded bank on Sedgwick avenue near Wheatfield road.
Guard rail on retaining wall, Little Round Top.
Sodded bank, section 6, Confederate avenue.
Crawford avenue, from Wheatfield road.
Bridge on Crawford avenue over Plum Run.
Crawford avenue, from Devil's Den.
Guard chain and balls and paths at Devil's Den.
LIST OF BLUE PRINTS TO ACCOMPANY COMMISSIONERS' REPORT.
324.-Cross sections of the different avenues built on the Gettysburg battlefield.
325.-Design for Spangler's Spring.
326.-Plot of land conveyed to the United States by George Spangler, on which is erected First Maryland, Battery A, monument. 327.-Perspective and detail drawing of Spangler's Spring.
328-Plot of land conveyed by Nathaniel Lightner to the United States of America, on which is erected First New York, Battery M, monument.
329.-Guard rail on retaining wall along South slope of Sykes avenue.
330.-Guard rail for retaining wall north slope of Little Round Top.
331.-Property of Jacob Masonheimer.
332.-Seat of observation tower.
333.-Map showing where Gen. Daniel E. Sickles was wounded July 2,1863.
334.-Plot of land conveyed by Samuel Bushman to the United States of America.
335.-Bridge over Crawford avenue on Plum Run.
336.-Plot of property conveyed by Samuel O. Robinson to the United States.
337.-Plot of property of Jacob Masonheimer conveyed through Samuel O. Robinson. to the United States of America.
338.-Field of Longstreet's assault, C-3.
339.-Plan of cellar drain at Dougherty's house.
340.-Width of tires on wagons used for tourists within the Gettysburg National Military Park.
341.-United States property and land included within the Sickles bill.
342.-Property of heirs of Abraham Trostle on the Gettysburg battlefield.
343.-Hitching rail and posts.
344.-Drainpipe on avenue.
345 -Pipe wall, catch-basin, and gutter paving.
346.-Gate to be used in the Gettysburg National Park.
347.-Plan of water cart.
348.-Land company's land.
349. Tract of land belonging to Calvin Gilbert on Barlow's Knoll.
350.-Plot of land belonging to land and improvement company on which to erect Reynolds statue.
351.-Plot of tracts of land belonging to heirs of J. Bender.
352. -Plan of Howard avenue.
353.-Plan of Reynolds avenue, section 1.
354.-Plan of Reynolds avenue, section 2.
355.-Map showing obstruction placed in Brooke avenue, Gettysburg battlefield, by the Gettysburg Transit Company.
356.-Plot of land belonging to heirs of J. Bender on Barlow's Knoll.
357.-Plan of path to summit of Big Round Top.
358.-West Gettysburg, B-3.