At a stated meeting, held October 3, 1894, of the Directors of the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association, a resolution was adopted authorizing the appointment of a committee to prepare and publish a history of the Association.
At the stated meeting, May 22, 1895, Hon. Edward McPherson, chairman of the committee appointed in accordance with the resolution, submitted a report upon the history and its cost of publication.
Major-General Daniel E. Sickles, U.S.A., offered a resolution, which was unanimously adopted, authorizing, under the supervision of Vice-President Colonel C. H. Buehler, the publication of two hundred and fifty copies of the history of the Memorial Association, and making an appropriation for the expense thereof.
Vice-President Buehler appointed Mr. McPherson to compile and publish the history.
Upon the deaths of Colonel Buehler and Mr. McPherson, the duty devolved upon the Executive Committee of the Association to select an historian.
At a stated meeting of the committee, John M. Vanderslice, Esq., whose long and faithful service to the Association as a Director and as Secretary of the Committee on Tablets and Inscriptions made him especially qualified for the work, was unanimously selected to prepare the history, and a sub-committee was appointed to supervise the publication.
This book is the result of his labors, and it is believed that the important
work of the Association in connection with the preservation of the historic
battle-field of Gettysburg is fully and fairly set forth for future reference.
CONGRESS having passed an act on February 11, 1895, "to establish a
National Military Park at Gettysburg," the Board of Directors of the Gettysburg
Battle-field Memorial Association, at a meeting held May 22, 1895, having
been previously authorized to do so by a vote of the stockholders, decided
to transfer to the United States government the six hundred acres of land
which had been acquired by the Association, upon which seventeen miles
of avenues had been constructed, giving access to the most interesting
points of the battle-field, and to consign to the care and protection of
the general government the three hundred and twenty monuments which had
been erected upon the field by the several States and by regimental associations.
GETTYSBURG was the first cemetery in the country dedicated to the exclusive burial of soldiers, and was the first of our many national cemeteries.
A few days after the terrific battle, Governor A. G. Curtin, of Pennsylvania, hastened to the relief of the sick and wounded soldiers, visited the battle-field and the numerous hospitals in and around Gettysburg, for the purpose of perfecting the arrangements for alleviating the sufferings and ministering to the wants of the wounded and dying. He appointed David Wills, Esq., of Gettysburg, to act as his special agent there.
The governor, with that profound sympathy and that care and anxiety for the soldier which always characterized him, approved the design for a soldier's cemetery, and directed a correspondence to be entered into at once with the governors of the other States having soldiers buried on the battle-field. The governors of the different States, with great promptness, seconded the project, and the details of the arrangement were subsequently agreed upon. Grounds favorably situated were selected by the agent, and the governor directed him to purchase them for the State of Pennsylvania, for the specific purpose of the burial of the soldiers who fell in defence of the Union in the battle of Gettysburg, lots in this cemetery to be gratuitously tendered to each State having such dead on the field. The expenses of the removal of the dead, of the laying out, ornamenting, and enclosing the grounds, of erecting a lodge for a keeper, and of constructing a suitable monument to the memory of the dead, were to be borne by the several States, and assessed in proportion to their population, as indicated by their representation in Congress. The governor stipulated that the State of Pennsylvania would subsequently keep the grounds in order, and the buildings and fences in repair.
Seventeen acres of land on Cemetery Hill, at the apex of the triangular line of battle of the Union army, were purchased by Pennsylvania for this purpose. There were stone fences upon these grounds, which had been advantageously used by the infantry, and upon the elevated portions many batteries of artillery had been planted.
The following-named commissioners, appointed by the governors of the different States which had soldiers buried in the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg, met in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the 17th of December, 1863: Hon. B. W. Norris, of Maine; Hon. L. B. Mason, of New Hampshire; Mr. Henry Edwards, of Massachusetts; Mr. Alfred Coit, of Connecticut; Hon. Levi Scobey, of New Jersey; Mr. David Wills, of Pennsylvania; Colonel James Worrall, of Pennsylvania; Colonel John S. Berry, of Maryland; Mr. L. W. Brown and Colonel Gordon Lofland, of Ohio; Colonel John G. Stephenson, of Indiana; Mr. W. Y. Selleck, of Wisconsin. Mr. David Wills, of Pennsylvania, was elected chairman of the meeting, and Mr. W. Y. Selleck, of Wisconsin, secretary.
After some discussion, a committee of four was appointed to prepare
and put in appropriate shape the details of the plan in reference to the
Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Colonel John G. Stephenson,
of Indiana, Mr. Henry Edwards, of Massachusetts, Hon. Levi Scobey, of New
Jersey, and Mr. David Wills, of Pennsylvania, constituting the committee,
made the following report:
"Whereas, In accordance with an invitation from His Excellency, A. G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania, the governors of the several States appointed commissioners, who met at Harrisburg, December 17, 1863, to represent the States in convention, for the purpose of making arrangements for finishing the Soldiers' National Cemetery; therefore, be it
"Resolved, By the said commissioners, that the following be submitted to the different States interested in the Soldiers' National Cemetery, through their respective governors.
"First. That the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shall hold the title to the land which she has purchased at Gettysburg for the Soldiers' National Cemetery, in trust for States having soldiers in said cemetery, in perpetuity, for the purpose to which it is now applied.
"Second. That the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania be requested to create a corporation to be managed by trustees, one to be appointed by each of the governors of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and of such other States as may hereafter desire to be represented in this corporation, which trustees shall at their first meeting be divided into three classes, the term of office of the first class to expire on the 1st day of January, 1865, the second class on the 1st day of January, 1866, and the third class on the 1st day of January, 1867, the vacancies thus occurring to be filled by the several governors, and the persons thus appointed to fill such vacancies to hold their office for the term of three years. This corporation shall have exclusive control of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.
"Third. The following is the estimated expenses of finishing the cemetery:
Enclosing grounds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $15,000.00
Burial expenses and superintending . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000.00
Headstones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10,000.00
Laying out grounds and planting trees . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,000.00
Lodge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,500.00
Monument . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25,000.00
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . $63,500.00
"Fourth. That the several States be asked to appropriate a sum
of money, to be determined by a division of the estimated expenses according
to representation in Congress, to be expended in defraying the cost of
removing and reinterring the dead, and finishing the cemetery, under directions
of the cemetery corporation.
"Fifth. When the cemetery shall have been finished, the grounds
are to be kept in order, the house and enclosure in repair, out of a fund
created by annual appropriations made by the States, which may be represented
in the cemetery corporation, in proportion to their representation in Congress."
The report of the committee was unanimously adopted.
Letters from the governors of the following States, which were not represented by commissioners, were received, expressing their disposition to approve any reasonable action of the meeting in reference to the completion of the cemetery at Gettysburg, - viz., Hon. Horatio Seymour, New York; Hon. Austin Blair, Michigan; Hon. James Y. Smith, Rhode Island; Hon. William Cannon, Delaware; and Hon. Henry G. Swift, Minnesota.
The following committee was appointed by the chairman, with the view to procure designs for a monument to be erected in the cemetery: Hon. Levi Scobey, New Jersey; Hon. B. W. Morris, Maine; Mr. D. W. Brown, Ohio; Colonel J. G. Stephenson, Indiana; and Colonel John S. Berry, Maryland.
The plans and designs of the cemetery, as laid out and designed by Mr. William Saunders, were adopted.
"The Soldiers' National Cemetery" was incorporated by an Act of Legislature of Pennsylvania, approved March 25, 1864.
The cemetery is beautifully located upon the highest ground of Cemetery Ridge.
The enclosure around it consists of a very substantial, well-built stone
wall, surmounted with heavy dressed coping stone. This wall extends along
the east, north, and west sides of the grounds. The division fence between
the Soldiers' National Cemetery and the local cemetery is of iron. The
front fence and gate-way are of ornamental iron-work. The gate-way bears
The gate-lodge is a handsome stone building, two stories high. The grounds
are beautifully graded and tastefully planted with trees and shrubs. The
erection of the head-stones, costing over $20,000, and which took over
a year to complete, is a most permanent and durable piece of work.
The eminent landscape gardener, Mr. William Saunders, of the Department
of Agriculture, Washington, was employed to lay out the grounds. His remarks
on the design were as follows:
"In constructing a design for the cemetery, the following considerations and details suggested themselves as objects of paramount importance:
"First. The great disparity that exists with reference to the space required for the interments of each State necessitates a discrimination as to position and extent, while the peculiar solemnity of the interest attached by each State to each interment allows of no distinction. Therefore, the arrangement must be of a kind that will obviate criticism as to position, and at the same time possess other equally important requirements and relations to the general design.
"Second. The principal expression of the improvement should be that produced by simple grandeur and propriety.
"Third. To arrange the roads, walks, trees, and shrubs, so as to answer every purpose required by utility, and realize a pleasing landscape and pleasure-ground effect, at the same time paying due regard to economy of construction, as well as to the future cost of maintenance and keeping the grounds.
"Fourth. To select an appropriate site for the monument.
"In order to secure the conditions embraced in the first of the above propositions, a semicircular arrangement was adopted for the interments. By referring to the plan, the propriety of this mode will, I think, be conceded without further explanation. The ground appropriated to each State is part, as it were, of a common centre; the position of each lot, and, indeed, of each interment, is relatively of equal importance, the only difference being that of extent, as determined by the number of interments belonging to each State. The coffins are deposited side by side, in parallel trenches. A space of twelve feet is allowed to each parallel, about five feet of which form a grass path between each row of interments. The configuration of the ground surface is singularly appropriate at the point selected, falling away in a gradual and regular slope in every direction from the centre to the circumference, a feature alike pleasing and desirable. In order to secure regularity, the head-stones are precisely alike throughout the entire area of lots, and are constructed so as not to detract from the effect and prominence of the monument. The head-stones form a continuous line of granite blocks, rising nine inches above the ground, and showing a face or width of ten inches on their upper surface. The name, company, and regiment are carved in the granite, opposite each interment, thus securing a simple and expressive arrangement, combined with great permanence and durability.
"The prevailing expression of the cemetery should be that of simple grandeur. Simplicity is that element of beauty in a scene that leads gradually from one object to another in easy harmony, avoiding abrupt contrasts and unexpected features. Grandeur, in this application, is closely allied to solemnity. Solemnity is an attribute of the sublime. The sublime in scenery may be defined as continuity of extent, the repetition of objects in themselves simple and commonplace. We do not apply this epithet to the scanty tricklings of the brook but rather to the collected waters of the ocean. To produce an expression of grandeur we must avoid intricacy and great variety of parts, more particularly must we refrain from introducing any intermixture or meretricious display of ornament.
"The disposition of trees and shrubs is such as will ultimately produce a considerable degree of landscape effect. Ample spaces of lawn are provided. These will form vistas, as seen from the drive, showing the monument and other prominent points. Any abridgement of these lawns by planting, further than is shown in the design, will tend to destroy the massive effect of the groupings, and in time would render the whole confused and intricate. As the trees spread and extend, the quiet beauty produced by these open spaces of lawn will yearly become more striking. Designs of this character require time for this development, and their ultimate harmony should not be impaired or sacrificed to immediate and temporary interest. Further, to secure proper breadth of scene, few walks or roads are introduced. A main roadway or drive of sufficient width courses around the grounds; a few paths or walks are also provided for facilitating the inspection of the interment lots. Roads and walks are exclusively objects of utility; their introduction can only be justified by direct necessity.
"The centre of the semicircle is reserved for the monument. An irregularly shaped belting of dwarf shrubbery borders and partially isolates it from the lots. It may be suggested that the style of the monument should be in keeping with the surrounding improvements, showing no effort to an exhibition of cost or ostentatious display on the one hand, and no apparent desire to avoid reasonable expense on the other.
"The gate-way and gate-house should be also designed in the same spirit, - massive, solid, substantial, and tasteful.
"With regard to the future keeping of the ground, the walks should be smooth, hard, and clean, the grass kept short, and maintained as clean and neat as the best pleasure-ground in the country. No effort should be wanting to attain excellence in this respect.
"TO DAVID WILLS, ESQ.,
"Agent for A. G. Curtin, Governor of Pennsylvania:
"SIR, - I herewith submit the following brief report of the results of my labors as the superintendent of the exhuming of the bodies of the Union soldiers that fell on the battle-field of Gettysburg.
"The contractor commenced the work of exhuming on Tuesday, the 27th of October last, and finished yesterday. The work has been protracted much beyond our original anticipations, by reason of the ground being frozen for a long time during the winter, thus entirely suspending the work, and also by the number of bodies exceeding our first calculations.
"The number taken up and removed to the Soldiers' National Cemetery is 3354, and to these add the number of the Massachusetts soldiers, taken up by the authorities of the city of Boston, by special contract, amounting to 158, making the total number of removals 3512. Of these, 979 were nameless, and without any marks or surroundings to designate the State from which they volunteered. The rest were, in most instances, marked with boards, on which the name, company, and regiment were written in pencil or cut by their comrades who buried them. In some instances the regiment to which the soldier belonged was discovered, and sometimes only the State from which he volunteered, and in these cases they were buried in their appropriate State lot.
"There was not a grave permitted to be opened or a body searched unless I was present. I saw every body taken out of its temporary resting-place, and all the pockets carefully searched; and where the grave was not marked I examined all the clothing and everything about the body to find the name. I then saw the body carefully placed in the coffin, and if there was a head-board, I required it to be at once nailed to the coffin. At the same time I wrote the name, company, and regiment of the soldier on the coffin, numbered the coffin, and entered in my book the same endorsement. This book was returned to your office every evening, to copy and compare with the daily return, made by the superintendent of the interments in the cemetery. In these scrutinizing searches the names of a number of lost soldiers were found. They were discovered in various ways, sometimes by the pocket-diaries, by letters, by names in Bible or Testament, by photographs, names in pocket-books, descriptive list, express receipts, medals, names on some part of the clothing, belt, or cartridge-box, etc.
"There were some articles of value found on the bodies - money, watches, jewelry, etc. I took all relics, as well as articles of value, from the bodies, packed them up, and labelled them, so that the friends can get them. There are many things valueless to others which would be of great interest to the friends. I herewith submit a list of names of persons and articles found upon them, and you will, no doubt, take means to get information to the friends by advertisement or otherwise, so that they may give notice where and to whom these things shall be forwarded. I have two hundred and eight-seven such packages.
"The bodies were found in various stages of decomposition. On the battle-field of the first day the rebels obtained possession before our men were buried, and left most of the unburied from Wednesday until Monday following, when our men buried them. After this length of time they could not be identified. The consequence was that but few on the battle-field of July 1 were marked. They were generally covered with a small portion of earth dug up from alongside of the body. This left them much exposed to the heat, air, and rains, and when these bodies were taken up there was nothing remaining but the dry skeleton.
"Where bodies were in heavy clay soil or in marshy places they were in a good state of preservation. Where they were in sandy, porous soil they were entirely decomposed. Frequently our men were buried in trenches, a shallow ditch, in which they were laid side by side.
"Before we commenced our work the battle-field had been overrun by thousands
of sorrowing friends in search of lost ones, and many of the graves were
opened and but partially or carelessly closed.
"In searching for the remains of our fallen heroes we examined more than three thousand rebel graves. They were frequently buried in trenches, and there were instances of one hundred and fifty in a trench.
"It may be asked how we could distinguish the bodies of our own men from those of the rebels. This was generally very easily done. In the first place, as a general rule, the rebels never went into battle with the United States coat on. They sometimes took the pantaloons from our dead and wore them, but not the coat. The rebel clothing is made of cotton, and is of a gray or brown color. Occasionally I found one with a blue cotton jean roundabout on. The clothing of our men is of wool, and blue, so that if the body had on the coat of our uniform, it was a pretty sure indication that it was that of a Union soldier. But if the body were without a coat, then there were other infallible marks. The shoes of the rebels were differently made from those of our soldiers. If these failed, then the underclothing was the next part examined. The rebel cotton undershirt gave proof of the army to which it belonged. In no instance was a body allowed to be removed which had any portion of the rebel clothing on it. Taking all these things together, we never had much trouble in deciding, with infallible accuracy, whether the body was that of a Union soldier or a rebel. And I firmly believe that there has not been a single mistake made in the removal of the soldiers to the cemetery by taking the body of a rebel for a Union soldier.
The grounds are laid off in lots for each State, proportioned in size to the number of bodies identified as those of soldiers belonging to such State. There is also a lot set apart for the burial of the remains of those who belonged to the regular service. The graves of about one-third of the dead were unmarked, but these bodies are deposited in prominent and honorable positions at each end of the semicircular arrangement of the lots. The grounds naturally have a gradual slope in every direction from the centre of the semicircle to the circumference. Each lot is laid off in sections, with a space of five feet for a walk between each section. The outer section is lettered A, and so on in alphabetical order. As the observer stands in the centre of the semicircle, facing the circumference, the burials commence at the right hand of the section in each lot, and the graves are numbered numerically. A register was made of the number, name, regiment, and company of the occupant of each grave. Two feet of space is allotted to each, and they are laid with the heads toward the centre of the semicircle. At the head of the graves there is a stone wall, built up from the bottom as a foundation for the headstones, which are placed along the whole length of each section, and on which, opposite each grave, are engraved the name, regiment, and company of the deceased. These headstones are all alike in size, the design being wholly adapted to a symmetrical order, and one which combines simplicity and durability. No other marks are permitted to be erected.
A few of the States sent agents to Gettysburg to superintend the removal and burial of their dead, while most of them intrusted the arrangements for that purpose to the agent of the State of Pennsylvania. The Boston city authorities, in concert with the Governor of Massachusetts, sent an efficient committee to Gettysburg, who made the removals of the Massachusetts dead by their own special arrangements.
The State of Pennsylvania, in 1865, published in book form a complete
list by States of all the burials, giving, where possible, names, companies,
and regiments. The following is the number of burials by States:
Maine ........................................ 104
New Hampshire ........................... 49
Vermont ...................................... 61
Massachusetts ........................... 159
Rhode Island ............................... 12
Connecticut ................................. 22
New York ................................ 866
New Jersey ................................ 78
Pennsylvania ............................. 526
Delaware ................................... 15
Maryland ................................... 22
West Virginia ............................. 11
Ohio ........................................ 131
Indiana ...................................... 80
Illinois ......................................... 6
Wisconsin ................................. 73
Minnesota ................................ 52
U.S. Regulars ......................... 138
Unknown -- Lot North ........... 411
Unknown -- Lot South ........... 425
Unknown -- Lot Inner Circle .. 143
Total .................................... 3555
The consecration of these cemetery grounds was, in due time, suggested by Governor Curtin. Hon. Edward Everett was invited to deliver the oration, and the 19th of November, 1863, was fixed upon as the day. To Major-General D. N. Couch, commanding the Department of the Susquehanna, was committed the arrangements. Birgfield's Brigade Band, of Philadelphia, was invited to furnish the music for the ceremonial of consecration, which was done gratuitously. The Presidential party was accompanied by the Marine Band from the Navy-Yard at Washington, and the military detachment was attended by the band from Fort McHenry, Baltimore.
The President of the United States was present and participated in the solemnities, delivering a brief dedicatory address. The occasion was further made memorable by the presence of large representations from the army and navy, the Secretary of State, the Ministers of France and Italy, the French admiral and other distinguished foreigners, and several members of Congress; also of the governors of a large number of the States, with their staffs, and a vast concourse of citizens from all the States.
Letters were received, in reply to invitations addressed to them, from Major-General Meade, Lieutenant-General Scott, Admiral Charles Stewart, and the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. Salmon P. Chase, regretting their inability to be present and expressing their approval of the project.
"Agent for the Governor of Pennsylvania, etc.:
"SIR, -- I have the honor to acknowledge the invitation which, on behalf of the governors of Pennsylvania and other States interested, you extend to me, and the officers and men of my command, to be present on the 19th instant at the consecration of the burial-place of those who fell on the field of Gettysburg.
"It seems almost unnecessary for me to say that none can have a deeper
interest in your good work than comrades in arms, bound in close ties of
long association and mutual confidence and support with those to whom you
are paying this last tribute of respect; nor could the presence of any
be more appropriate than that of those who stood side by side in the struggle,
shared the peril, and the vacant places in whose ranks bear sad testimony
to the loss they have sustained. But this army has duties to perform which
will not admit of its being represented on the occasion; and it only remains
for me, in its name, with deep and grateful feelings, to thank you and
those you represent for your tender care of its heroic dead, and for your
patriotic zeal, which, in honoring the martyr, gives a fresh incentive
to all who do battle for the maintenance of the integrity of the government.
In the afternoon of the 18th the President and the distinguished personages
accompanying him arrived at Gettysburg by a special train. In the course
of the evening the President and Secretary of State were serenaded, and
the following remarks were made by Mr. Seward, in response to the call:
"FELLOW-CITIZENS, -- I am now sixty years old and upward; I have been in public life practically forty years of that time, and yet this is the first time that ever any people, or community, so near to the border of Maryland, was found willing to listen to my voice; and the reason was that I saw, forty years ago, that slavery was opening before this people a graveyard that was to be filled with brothers, falling in mutual political combat. I knew that the cause that was hurrying the Union into this dreadful strife was slavery; and when, during all the intervening period, I elevated my voice it was to warn the people to remove that cause, while they could, by constitutional means, and so avert the catastrophe of civil war, which has fallen upon the nation. I am thankful that you are willing to hear me at last. I thank God that I believe this strife is going to end in the removal of that evil, which ought to have been removed by deliberate councils and peaceful means. I thank my God for the hope that this is the last fratricidal war which will fall upon the country, which is vouchsafed to us by Heaven, -- the richest, the broadest, the most beautiful, the most magnificent, and capable of a great destiny, that has ever been given to any part of the human race. And I thank Him for the hope that when that cause is removed, simply by the operation of abolishing it, as the origin and agent of the treason, that is without justification and without parallel, we shall henceforth be united, be only one country, having only one hope, one ambition, and one destiny. To-morrow, at least, we shall feel that we are not enemies, but that we are friends and brothers, that this Union is a reality, and we shall mourn together for the evil wrought by this rebellion. We are now near the graves of the misguided, whom we have consigned to their last resting-place, with pity for their errors, and with the same heart full of grief with which we mourn over a brother by whose hand, raised in defence of his government, that misguided brother perished.
"When we part to-morrow night, let us remember that we owe it to our
country and to mankind that this war shall have for its conclusion the
establishing of the principle of democratic government, the simple principle
that whatever party, whatever portion of the community, prevails by constitutional
suffrage in an election, that party is to be respected and maintained in
power until it shall give place, on another trial and another verdict,
to a different portion of the people. If you do not do this, you are drifting
at once and irresistibly to the very verge of universal, cheerless, and
hopeless anarchy. But with that principle this government of ours, the
purest, the best, the wisest, and the happiest in the world, must be, and,
so far as we are concerned, practically will be, immortal. Fellow-citizens,
"O God, our Father, for the sake of Thy Son, our Saviour, inspire us with Thy Spirit, and sanctify us to the right fulfilment of the duties of this occasion.
"We come to dedicate this new historic centre as a national cemetery. If all departments of the one government which Thou hast ordained over our Union, and of the many governments which Thou hast subordinated to our Union, be here represented; if all classes, relations, and interests of our blended brotherhood of people stand severally and thoroughly apparent in Thy presence, we trust that it is because Thou hast called us, that Thy blessing awaits us, and that Thy designs may be embodied in practical results of incalculable and imperishable good.
"And so, with Thy holy Apostle, and with the Church of all lands and ages, we unite in the ascription, 'Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.'
"In emulation of all angels, in fellowship with all saints, and in sympathy with all sufferers, in remembrance of all Thy works, in reverence of Thy ways, and in accordance with Thy word, we laud and magnify Thine infinite perfections, Thy creative glory, Thy redeeming grace, Thy providential goodness, and the progressively richer and fairer developments of Thy supreme, universal, and everlasting administration.
"In behalf of all humanity, whose ideal is divine, whose first memory is Thine image lost and whose last hope is Thine image restored, and especially of our own nation, whose history has been so favored, whose position is so peerless, whose mission is so sublime, and whose future is so attractive, we thank Thee for the unspeakable patience of Thy compassion and the exceeding greatness of Thy loving-kindness. In contemplation of Eden, Calvary, and Heaven, of Christ in the Garden, on the Cross, and on the Throne; nay more, of Christ as coming again in all-subduing power and glory, we gratefully prolong our homage. By this altar of sacrifice, on this field of deliverance, on this mount of salvation, within the fiery and bloody line of these "munitions of rock," looking back to the dark days of fear and trembling and to the rapture and relief that came after, we multiply our thanksgivings and confess our obligations to renew and perfect our personal and social consecration to Thy service and glory.
"Oh, had it not been for God! For lo! our enemies, they came unresisted, multitudinous, mighty, flushed with victory and sure of success. They exulted on our mountains, they revelled in our valleys; they feasted, they rested; they slept, they waked, they grew stronger, prouder, bolder every day; they spread abroad, they concentrated here; they looked beyond this horizon to the stores of wealth, to the haunts of pleasure, and to the seats of power in our capital and chief cities. They prepared to cast a chain of slavery around the form of Freedom, binding life and death together forever. Their premature triumph was the mockery of God and man. One more victory, and all was theirs! But behind these hills was heard the feebler march of a smaller, but still pursuing host. Onward they hurried, day and night, for God and their country. Footsore and way-worn, hungry, thirsty, faint, -- but not in heart, -- they came to dare all, to bear all, and to do all that is possible to heroes. And Thou didst sustain them! At first they met the blast on the plain, and bent before it like the trees in a storm. But then, led by Thy hand to these hills, they took their stand upon the rocks and remained as firm and immovable as they. In vain were they assaulted. All art, all violence, all desperation, failed to dislodge them. Baffled, bruised, broken, their enemies recoiled, retired, and disappeared. Glory to God for this rescue! But, oh, the slain! In the freshness and fulness of their young and manly life, with such sweet memories of father and mother, brother and sister, wife and children, maiden and friends, they died for us. From the coasts beneath the Eastern star, from the shores of Northern lakes and rivers, from the flowers of Western prairies, and from the homes of the midway and border, they came here to die for us and for mankind. Alas, how little we can do for them! We come with the humility of prayer, with the pathetic eloquence of venerable wisdom, with the tender beauty of poetry, with the plaintive harmony of music, with the honest tribute of our Chief Magistrate, and with all this honorable attendance; but our best hope is in Thy blessing, O Lord, our God. O Father, bless us. Bless the bereaved, whether present or absent; bless our sick and wounded soldiers; bless all our rulers and people; bless our army and navy; bless the efforts for the suppression of the rebellion; and bless all the associations of this day and place and scene forever. As the trees are not dead though their foliage is gone, so our heroes are not dead though their forms have fallen. In their proper personality they are all with Thee, and the spirit of their example is here. It fills the air, it fills our hearts. And, long as time shall last, it will hover in the skies and rest on this landscape, and the pilgrims of our own land and from all lands will thrill with its inspiration, and increase and confirm their devotion to liberty, religion, and God.
"Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom
come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our
daily bread. And forgive us our debts. As we forgive our debtors. And lead
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen."
"Standing beneath this serene sky, overlooking these broad fields now
reposing from the labors of the waning year, the mighty Alleghanies dimly
towering before us, the graves of our brethren beneath our feet, it is
with hesitation that I raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence
of God and Nature. But the duty to which you have called me must be performed;
grant me, I pray you, your indulgence and your sympathy.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"And now, friends, fellow-citizens of Gettysburg and Pennsylvania, and
you from remoter States, let me again, as we part, invoke your benediction
on these honored graves. You feel, though the occasion is mournful, that
it is good to be here. You feel that it was greatly auspicious for the
cause of the country that the men of the East and the men of the West,
the men of nineteen sister States, stood side by side on the perilous ridges
of the battle. You now feel it a new bond of union that they shall lie
side by side till the clarion, louder than that which marshalled them to
the combat, shall awake their slumbers. God bless the Union! it is dearer
to us for the blood of brave men which has been shed in its defence. The
spots on which they stood and fell; these pleasant heights; the fertile
plain beneath them; the thriving village whose streets so lately rang with
the strange din of war; the fields beyond the ridge, where the noble Reynolds
held the advancing foe at bay, and while he gave up his own life, assured
by his forethought and self-sacrifice the triumph of the two succeeding
days; the little streams which wind through the hills, on whose banks in
after-times the wondering ploughman will turn up, with the rude weapons
of savage warfare, the fearful missiles of modern artillery; Seminary Ridge,
the Peach Orchard, Cemetery, Culp's, and Wolf's Hills, Round Top, Little
Round Top, humble names, henceforward dear and famous, no lapse of time,
no distance of space, shall cause you to be forgotten. 'The whole earth,'
said Pericles, as he stood over the remains of his fellow-citizens who
had fallen in the first year of the Peloponnesian war, -- 'the whole earth
is the sepulchre of illustrious men.' All time, he might have added, is
the millennium of their glory. Surely I would do no injustice to the other
noble achievements of the war, which have reflected such honor on both
arms of the service, and have entitled the armies and the navy of the United
States, their officers and men, to the warmest thanks and the richest rewards
which a grateful people can pay. But they, I am sure, will join us in saying,
as we bid farewell to the dust of these martyr-heroes, that wheresoever
throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read,
and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals
of our common country, there will be no brighter page than that which relates
the BATTLES OF GETTYSBURG."
President Lincoln then delivered that immortal address, that masterpiece of English composition, which will ever rank him among the world's greatest orators:
"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 battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for 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 poor 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 which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. 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 that cause for which they here gave the last
full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead
shall not have died in vain -- that the nation, under God, shall have a
new birth of freedom -- and that the government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The design of the monument, as executed by Mr. J. G. Batterson, of Hartford, Connecticut, is intended to be purely historical, telling its own story with such simplicity that any discerning mind will readily comprehend its meaning and purpose.
The superstructure is sixty feet high, and consists of a massive pedestal, twenty-five feet square at the base, and is crowned with a colossal statue representing the Genius of Liberty. Standing upon a three-quarter globe, she raises with her right hand the victor's wreath of laurel, while with her left she gathers up the folds of our national flag under which the victory has been won. Projecting from the angles of the pedestal are four buttresses, supporting an equal number of allegorical statues representing, respectively, War, History, Peace, and Plenty.
War is personified by a statue of the American soldier, who, resting from the conflict, relates to History the story of the battle which this monument is intended to commemorate.
History, in listening attitude, records with stylus and tablet the achievements of the field and the names of the honored dead.
Peace is symbolized by a statue of the American mechanic, characterized by appropriate accessories.
Plenty is represented by a female figure, with a sheaf of wheat and fruits of the earth, typifying peace and abundance as the soldier's crowning triumph.
The main die of the pedestal is octagonal in form, panelled upon each
face. The cornice and plinth above are also octagonal, and are heavily
moulded. Upon this plinth rests an octagonal moulded base bearing upon
the face, in high relief, the national arms. The upper die and cap are
circular in form, the die being encircled by stars equal in number with
the States whose sons contributed their lives as the price of the victory
won at Gettysburg.
The States made the following appropriations for the enclosing, laying
out, ornamenting, and maintenance of the cemetery, between 1864 and 1872:
Maine .............................................. $4,300.00
New Hampshire ................................. 2,255.34
Vermont ............................................ 2,600.00
Massachusetts ................................... 9,471.83
Connecticut ....................................... 3,000.00
Rhode Island ..................................... 1,600.00
New York ...................................... 26,072.86
New Jersey ....................................... 4,205.30
For the purchase of lands ............ $2,324.27
Treatment and care of the dead ........ 835.40
Proportionate share for
maintenance, etc. .........................20,000.00
Removal of Confederate dead to
Washington Cemetery, Maryland . 3,000.00
Total for Pennsylvania: 26,159.67
Michigan ......................................... 6,000.00
Maryland ........................................ 4,205.30
Illinois ........................................... 11,961.00
Wisconsin ....................................... 2,526.36
Minnesota ....................................... 1,686.50
In 1872 the cemetery was transferred to the care of the National Government, since which time it has not only been kept in the manner originally designed, but improvements have been made from time to time, and to-day, with its high and prominent location, its beautiful and artistically arranged trees and shrubbery, its well-kept lawns, it is one of the most attractive cemeteries of the land. In one end of the cemetery is a unique rostrum constructed of stone pillars, covered with creeping and blooming vines, which is used for the services of memorial Day and similar occasions.
The following persons have delivered the Memorial Day orations in the
1868. Rev. J. A. Brown, D. D. ................... Gettysburg.
1869. Professor H. Louis Baugher .............. Gettysburg.
1870. Rev. C. A. Hay, D. D. ...................... Gettysburg.
1871. Rev. J. B. Young ............................... Gettysburg.
1872. Rev. J. A. Brown, D. D. .................... Gettysburg.
1873. Rev. S. S. Palmer .............................. Gettysburg.
1874. Rev. M. L. Gunoe ............................. Gettysburg.
1875. Fred. Staley, Esq. ............................. Gettysburg.
1876. Fred. Staley, Esq. ............................. Gettysburg.
1877. J. M. Vanderslice, Esq. ..................... Philadelphia.
1878. General Benj. F. Butler ..................... Boston, Mass.
1879. General Wm. McCandless ................ Philadelphia.
1880. Hon. C. G. Williams ......................... Wisconsin.
1881. Hon. Julius Burrows .......................... Michigan.
1882. General Joseph Hawley .................... Connecticut.
1883. Edward Gearhardt, Esq. ................... Danville, Pa.
1884. Major Martin Maginnes .................... Montana.
1885. Hon. S. Mc. Swope ......................... Gettysburg.