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GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
Gettysburg, Pa., October 1, 1901. SIR: The commissioners of the Gettysburg National Park respectfully submit the following report of the condition and progress of their work, with suggestions as to what is needed for its further prosecution. In accordance with your recent order, this report, unlike all previous ones, does not include our work to the present date, but to the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1901.
The avenue known at present as West Confederate avenue and mentioned in our last report as being under contract has been completed. Like all the avenues, it is constructed on the Telford system and will last for centuries. It is 20 feet wide and over 2 miles long, running from the Hagerstown road near the seminary southward along Seminary Ridge, following the Confederate battle line of the second and third days, and for the first time rendering perfectly accessible to visitors the ground on which the Confederate column was formed and started on its charge of the third day. The southern terminus of this avenue is at the Wheatfield road, and there it makes connection with an avenue, also 2 miles in length and similar in construction, running along the line of General Longstreet on the second day, and then curring eastward to Round Top. It may not be amiss, as it shows the durable character of these works, to state the fact that the last-mentioned avenue was constructed six years ago, has been in use ever since, scarcely cost one cent for repairs, and is, if possible, in better condition to-day than when the Government received it from the contractor.
The completion of the West Confederate avenue not only makes accessible the lines and positions of the Confederate infantry and artillery on Seminary Ridge, but opens up a more satisfactory view of a large part of the battlefield, including some of the most important and interesting Union positions, thereby enabling the military critic better than ever before to study the scene of the great conflict and many of its more prominent features from various points of observation.
Pleasanton avenue has been laid out by the engineer and is now being constructed. It runs from Hancock avenue, near the point where General Hancock was wounded, eastward to the headquarters of the
cavalry on the Taneytown road, about one-third of a mile. The total length of the avenues now on the battlefield, all constructed on the Telford plan, is about 164 miles.
A number of other avenues should be constructed, among them Buford avenue on the first day's field, another along the line of the Twentieth Maine on Vincents Spur of Little Round Top and thence to Plum Run Valley and Devils Den, another along the line of Wright's Division, the left of the Sixth Corps, from between the Round Tops southeastwardly across the Taneytown road, and others connecting the cavalry battlefields and positions, both east and south of Gettysburg, with the battlefield of the infantry.
Under permit of the Secretary of War, the Taneytown road, from the borough line of Gettysburg to a point beyond General Meade's headquarters, will soon be converted into a Telford avenue. The same, in our judgment, should be done with the Mummasburg road from the western end of Howard avenue to Buford avenue, also the Hagerstown road from the southern end of Reynolds avenue to the Confederate avenue on Seminary Ridge, also the Wheatfield road across the entire battlefield from east to west and the road leading from Crawford avenue to United States avenue.
MONUMENTAL TABLETS. The flanks of the Union and of the Confederate armies respectively have been fixed and marked by iron tablets with suitable inscriptions.
The position of the One Hundred and Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Regiment on Hancock avenue on the third day of the battle has been established and will soon be indicated by an appropriate and durable marker.
The spot where Gen. Daniel E. Sickles was wounded, on the evening of the second day, has been indicated by a handsome granite marker with an appropriate inscription.
Thirteen handsome and durable itinerary tablets have been erected at a similar number of towns and villages within a day's march of Gettysburg, with inscriptions setting forth the movements of the several corps, divisions, and minor bodies of troops constituting the Union Army on the days immediately before and after the battle, and specifying the date and the hour of such movements, respectively.
Preparations are being made to erect similar tablets at suitable points setting forth in like manner the movements, during the same period, of the several bodies of troops composing the Confederate army.
Historical tablets of iron are being prepared and will soon be erected along the recently completed Confederate avenue on Seminary Ridge, to mark the respective positions of Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade and Wofford's Georgia Brigade, of McLaws's Division; of Kemper's, Garnett's, and Armistead's Virginia brigades of Pickett's Division; of Wilcox's Alabama, Perry's Florida, Wright's Georgia, Posey's Mississippi, and Mahone's Virginia brigades of Anderson's Division; of Archer's Tennesssee, Pettigrew's North Carolina, Davis's Mississippi and North Carolina, and Brockenbrough's Virginia brigades of Heth's Division; of Scales's North Carolina, Lane's North Carolina, McGowan's South Carolina, and Thomas's Georgia brigades of Pender's Division. The tablets contain carefully prepared inscriptions describing the part taken in the battle by each brigade, and stating its numbers and losses.
Guns of the same class and caliber as those which composed each of the batteries are also being placed along that avenue to indicate the position of each battery, viz:
Moody's Battery, 24-pounder howitzers.
Brooke's, Graham's, Crenshaw's, McGraw's, and Moore's batteries,
Napoleons. The gun carriages are wholly of iron, and they are immovable, being fastened to large stones grouted 'in the ground. Historical tablets of iron are placed by every battery and artillery battalion, with inscriptions recording the part each took in the battle, the number of rounds fired, the losses suffered, and other interesting details.
WORK OF ENGINEERS' DEPARTMENT—MAPS.
In addition to the multiplicity of other important duties and services of the engineer, Lieut. Col. E. B. Cope, and his assistants, which have been faithfully performed in the office and on the field, two large maps of the battlefield, on a scale of 600 feet to the inch and embracing an area of 17 square miles, have been completed. One of them shows the topography of the battlefield with accuracy in every detail as it was in 1863 when the battle was fought, and on this the commission purpose having correctly indicated the positions of the troops on both sides engaged in the battle for every hour of July 1, 2, and 3, 1863. The other map, besides the topography in general, shows the timber, streams, fences, rocks, buildings, mounted guns, avenues, monuments, in short, everything on the battlefield as it is at the present time.
Much work has been and is still being done to restore in all respects the battlefield as it was at the time of the battle. One of the most important tasks is the preservation and restoration of the forests as they existed then, and much has been done toward accomplishing this object. Much has also been done toward rebuilding the stone fences inclosing the fields, nearly all of which served as breastworks and defenses for the troops of one or the other of the armies during the battle. Many thousands of yards of these stone fences and walls have been restored, a large portion of them during the present year.
WATER DRAINS ALONGSIDE THE AVENUES.
After constructing the Telford avenues along the lines of battle, as the ground here is almost all undulating, although, fortunately, in most places on the battle lines not steep, it was found absolutely needful to have good water drains along at least one, if not both sides of every avenue at almost all points, in order to prevent continual damage to them by washing from the frequent heavy rains. Fortunately we found on Big Round Top a well-nigh inexhaustible supply of stones of the exact size and thickness required to pave neatly and durably, and without great expense or trouble, the drains alongside of our avenues, and elsewhere on the field where needed, and much of this work has been done this year with most satisfactory results.
There are five regularly employed guards or watchmen on the battlefield. We have found them necessary to prevent desecration and injury of the public works on the battlefield by thoughtless or mischievous visitors, and particularly the mutilation of monuments by the sacriligious relic hunters that sometimes infest the grounds with the sense of reverence wholly undeveloped.
ACQUISITION OF LANDS. Since our last report conveyances have been executed for the Francis Althoff tract of 12.75 acres lying at the head of Plum Run Valley and adjoining the “Wheatfield,” and also for the Basil Biggs tract of 48 acres lying between Hancock avenue and the Taneytown road, a short distance south of General Meade's headquarters.
A parcel of land has been purchased from Peter Swisher, containing 2.42 acres, situated along the eastern side of Sedgwick avenue, and on which were the headquarters of both General Sedgwick and General Sykes, just north of Little Round Top. And another parcel has also been purchased from said Swisher containing 9.20 acres, situated west of Sedgwick avenue and adjoining the Althoff tract and Plum Run Valley. Numerous military movements took place on it, and its posses sion by the United States was important.
A proceeding, approved by the Department, was begun since our last report to condemn a parcel of land containing about 12 acres, situated near the Devils Den and between the Round Tops. It is thickly covered with large bowlders and quite valueless intrinsically, but there was severe fighting on and over it in the afternoon of the second day. Moreover, its owner has permitted it to become the scene of revelries which many right-minded people consider a desecration of the ground consecrated by the blood of hundreds of heroes and patriots. The proceeding was begun under the jurisdiction of the United States circuit court for the eastern district of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, which appointed and qualified the jury of view; but the case was removed to the court of the middle district of Pennsylvania at Harrisburg, Pa., upon the creation of that district by the last Congress. The jury of view inspected the land and heard evidence in the case at Gettysburg on the 7th of May and rendered their verdict of $6,150 for the respondent, who has taken an appeal to the court in term. The Park Commission have also appealed on behalf of the United States, and the case stands for hearing at the next term of the court.
There are also other tracts and parcels of land which may have to be condemned and acquired by the Government to prevent them from being put to uses by the owners which would disfigure the battlefield, and they can not be purchased except at such exorbitant figures as no jury of view would sanction.
In conclusion, the commission repeat what we have said before, that the thousands of visitors who throng the Gettysburg National Park, including great numbers of veterans from all sections of our country, emphatically approve the Government's design to make this battlefield an enduring monument to American valor, and are gratified to see how successfully that design is being realized.