Gettysburg, Pa., July 1, 1909.
SIR: The commissioners of the Gettysburg National Military Park respectfully submit the following report of the progress of their work for the fiscal year ended
June 30, 1909:
The number of visitors to the field has been greatly in excess of that of previous years, and their conduct has been orderly and exemplary.
It has been the aim of the commission to preserve the landmarks and appearance of the field as it was during the war, and with this purpose in view trees have been replanted in positions where they existed at the time, undergrowth has been cut out, and the lines generally defined by historical tablets.
The avenues as designated have worn well and, being guttered, have not been injured by the heavy rains during the past year.
Few changes have been made in the working force of the field, as the men employed have been well trained and efficient.
The engineer, Lieut. Col. E. B. Cope, and his assistant have been actively engaged every day in the year, except holidays, either in the office or on field work.
The general aspect and condition of affairs in the park have been satisfactory to the commission and to those interested.
The following roads have been repaired and piked under contract made by the commission (contract which expired December 1, 1908), viz: Emmitsburg road from the borough line of Gettysburg to the peach orchard, Harrisburg road from borough line to Rock Creek bridge, and Wheatfield road from Sickles avenue to Sedgwick avenue--a total distance of 14,535 feet.
A contract was made with M. & T. E. Farrell December 1, 1908, to grade and pike the Hanover road from Rock Creek bridge, 5,700 feet; also a contract of same date with the same persons to build a two-arched culvert over Benners run on said road. The grading on the west end of this road requires very deep cutting and much filling to reduce the high hill east of Rock Creek to a proper grade for travel.
This work is well under way and will be completed August 1, 1909.
The Hanover road leads in the direction of the east cavalry field, and it is proposed to open a roadway to connect with the avenues of that field, the distance being about 1 1/2 miles, and which is comparatively level.
There is a short piece of road of the Wheatfield road from the peach orchard westerly to the West Confederate avenue, a distance of 1,700 feet, which it is proposed to pike, thus connecting these two avenues with the other avenues of the park.
The erection of 45 monuments to the services of the Regulars of the United States Army in the Gettysburg campaign has been previously reported. All were completed July 1, 1908, except the large and principal monument and the four bronze tablets. The inscriptions were prepared under the direction of the National Military Park Commission, and the tablets were cast and mounted. This completed the contract for the erection of these monuments.
A contract was made September 1, 1908, to furnish and deliver 30 markers, to be made of Winnsboro (S.C.), granite, 10 to be erected to the divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia and 20 to the divisions of the Army of the Potomac, on the Gettysburg battlefield. These markers have been erected, except the one to Kilpatrick’s cavalry division, the site for which has been selected, and the marker will be put in place in a short time. Bronze tablets for the Confederate markers have been mounted upon the granite, which is 7 feet high, 50 inches wide, and 24 inches thick; also a plate of bronze with the letters “C.S.A.” The inscriptions for the Union tablets have not yet been cast, but the corps badge of bronze has been placed on each.
The location of the Pennsylvania State memorial has been selected east of Hancock avenue and south of Pleasonton avenue, a situation satisfactory to the Pennsylvania State commission.
The legislature of Virginia appropriated $50,000 for a monument to be erected to the soldiers of Virginia who were engaged in the battle of Gettysburg. A commission was appointed to carry out the provisions of this act, viz., Gov. Claude A. Swanson (chairman), Col. H. A. Edmondson, Maj. John W. Daniel, Capt. S. P. Read, and Col. Thomas Smith. This commission visited Gettysburg battlefield to select a site for the monument, and failing to decide upon a location, deferred action until meeting in the near future.
Twenty-five thousand dollars was appropriated by the legislature of Connecticut to erect a monument to Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick on the battlefield. The location and design for this monument has not, up to this time, been decided on.
The legislature of Delaware passed an act giving authority to the commission to remove the Second Delaware monument from the Wheatfield to the left of Brooke’s brigade, its position during the battle. This change was approved by the Secretary of War.
In the report of 1908 the bronze itinerary tablets were in process of erection. These have now been set up and completed. A large number of iron tablets are distributed over the battlefield, and are kept in repair by repainting. The guns at positions representing batteries on the artillery line are also kept in repair. No new gun carriages have been placed since the last report.
The purchase of the Haller property on the Emmitsburg and Wheatfield roads was made. Some of the buildings on the land, erected since the war, were taken down, others moved to a more suitable location, and the whole put in complete repair. A tablet will be set up marking the location of the Wentz house--the name of the owner at the time of the battle.
An offer has been made for the purchase of the hospital woods, containing about 19 acres, on the south side of York pike; also an offer to purchase a tract on the west side of the Emmitsburg road opposite the peach orchard. This contains about 9 1/2 acres.
Permission having been granted by the Secretary of War for the occupation of the United States land by the Pennsylvania National Guard, subject to such rules and regulations as the commission might see fit to impose for the preservation of government property, a division of the national guard arrived July 14, 1908, going into camp and remaining until July 24, 1908.
Instructors were detailed by the War Department during the encampment. A detachment of United States officers from Fort Leavenworth, Kans., on a journey of observation, were also present at that time. There were severe electric storms during the encampment, causing injury to many soldiers and death to three.
The governor of Pennsylvania attended the encampment and on July 21, 1908, reviewed the division.
The graduating class of 1909 from West Point, N.Y., arrived at Gettysburg early on the morning of May 11, 1909, 10 officers and 114 cadets, Colonel G. J. Fiebeger,
U. S. Army, professor of civil and military engineering, in command. They made a two-day technical study of the field, including the east cavalry field.
Arrangements having been made to dedicate the United States monuments erected to the Regulars who fought on this field, an order was issued by the War Department detailing the following organizations to participate in the dedication May 31, 1909, viz: The Fifth U.S. Infantry, three troops of the Fifteenth Cavalry, two batteries of the Third Field Artillery, eight companies of the Coast Artillery Corps, and the band, all under the command of Col. Calvin D. Cowles, Fifth U. S. Infantry.
The President and party arrived at 10 o’clock. A salute was fired by one of the regular batteries on the arrival of the train. The President was met and taken for a three-hour drive over the battlefield.
A dedication stand was erected and occupied by the President of the United States, Secretary of War, and other distinguished officers and guests from Washington and other places. It is estimated that over 40,000 persons were assembled on the field in the vicinity of the monument on May 31 to witness the unveiling ceremonies. The exercises were conducted according to the following programme:
Monday, May 31, 1909--2 p.m.
Music: “America,” Thirteenth Coast Artillery Corps Band.
Prayer: Chaplain H. N. Chouinard, Fifth U.S. Infantry.
Address by Hon. William H. Taft, President of the United States.
Unveiling of the monument, by Miss Helen H. Taft.
Music: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Thirteenth Coast Artillery Corps Band.
National salute: Battery D, Third Field Artillery (troops presenting arms).
Address by the Secretary of War, Hon. J. M. Dickinson, transferring the monument to the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission.
Response by Lieut. Col. John P. Nicholson, chairman.
Laurel wreaths placed at the base of the monument by the oldest surviving regimental or battery commander present.
Taps, by trumpeters en masse.
Review of the troops by the President.
It having been proposed to establish a national roadway from Washington City to the Gettysburg National Military Park, to be known as “The Lincoln Memorial Way,” a prospect of additional access and interest is thereby opened which will probably materialize in the near future.
Respectfully, JOHN P. NICHOLSON, Chairman.
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Manuscript by: Eileen M. Murphy
Source: Annual Reports of the Secretary of War
National Archives and Records Administration
Washington, DC