Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Hangover


Right now I am suffering from a hangover.  No, not the usual kind you think of but one I have experienced three times before.
  
The befuddled and lightheaded fog is due to the fact that my brain cannot take anymore review of miniscule facts and picayune information.  Today was my fourth effort in taking the examination for Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg. 

It is difficult for me to predict how I fared so it will be easier to await the letter from the ranger in charge of the program.




My first foray into the examination process was in 2006 when I scored 77%.  It was obviously too low to qualify but not bad for a candidate living 475 miles away.

I retired in 2007 and moved to Adams County,  to a location in the suburbs of Cashtown.  The Gettysburg National Military Park was the wife-approved mistress that wooed me to the area.  It was a fulfillment of a pipe-dream that was ten years in the making.

Once I settled in, I started taking all the tours of the battlefield I could, including the Guide Series that was offered by the Harrisburg Area Community College.  I got involved in a study group and then took the exam in 2008.  I then scored a 90%, but still I missed the cut for the orals.

In 2010, I dropped the study group because of a full time job and eventually scored a 95%.  I still missed the cut.  I also quit the full time job when I realized why I had retired in the first time.

For today's exam I approached the test in a earnest but relaxed manner as opposed to the frenetic pace of the past.  I was not nervous or agitated as I calmly opened the test packet.  While I answered the questions I realized that I actually enjoyed taking the test!  I did not care whether I scored well or not, I really did enjoy the process.

The most satisfying moments of the morning were spent in conversations with like minded people who were seeking that coveted position of Battlefield Guide.  It is a position of honor and respect awarded to a few individuals that can with historical accuracy and deep appreciation, tell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg. 
Personally, I was greatly honored to be greeted with warm respects and well wishes by no less than ten Licensed Battlefield Guides that I have come to know in the last few years.

Regardless of the results of this 2012 exam, I believe I have accomplished a great deal in the past few years.

I still marvel at the fact that the battlefield is only minutes away as opposed to hours.  I have several history projects going on that I hope will lead to publication.  I have made friends with many people who understand and respect the study of the past.  I am glad I made the decision to move here and I feel honored that someday I may have the opportunity to guide others on America's most hallowed ground.



I feel better now.  My head is clearer and the little nap did me good.  Now...., where is that scotch?!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Your Own Time Machine



One interesting and easy way to explore history is to peruse issues of old newspapers.  This can be accomplished by visiting your local library, the Adams County Historical Society or at home by browsing the worldwide web.

In this inquiry I chose the November 16, 1918 issue of the Gettysburg Compiler to examine.  The major headline that day was "GERMANY SURRENDERS" which reports the terms of the Armistice which notably took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.  November 11 became the national holiday of Armistice Day but it eventually evolved into Veteran's Day which now celebrates the contributions of all military veterans, living or dead, for any service. 

The second place story was the continuing death toll of the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918.  The paper listed twenty three deaths for the week in the general population, the vast majority of which were due to the flu and Camp Colt reported six soldiers succumbed to the deadly virus.  It was interesting to note that two of the civilian dead included two veterans of the Civil War reminding us that in 1918, the war was still a recent memory for many Americans.

A small notice told of the death of Colonel Robert Bruce Ricketts, seventy-nine years old of Lake Ganoga, Pennsylvania.  Ricketts had commanded the First Pennsylvania Light Artillery on East Cemetery Hill during the Battle of Gettysburg fifty-five years earlier. 

An advertisement relating to the flu epidemic was sponsored by The Vick Chemical Company of Greensboro, North Carolina.  The firm manufactured Vick's Vapo-Rub and the ad warned pharmacists to only order small batches of their product.  The supplies of the concoction were severely depleted due to the epidemic.  They insisted small batch orders would be filled and therefore more product would be available to more customers.

An intriguing ad by G. W. Weaver and Son of Gettysburg was found and its message was to buy union suits made by Munsingwear.  The cartoon in the ad depicts several doughboys clad only in union suits and campaign hats carrying bayoneted rifles as they advanced toward the enemy.  The caption below the sketch read, "The Battle Cry of Free "Em".  Further on, it was written, "In War Time as in Peace "the Munsingwear Line Holds."  Indeed.

An interesting border was given to that ad and two others that appeared in the newspaper that day.  The borders consisted of the repeating pattern of swastikas.  Through the centuries the swastika has been featured in many cultures in art, architecture and print.  It was a sign which meant to be good or of being higher of self.  In general usage, it was a symbol of good luck.

In 1918, the swastika symbol was used as a good luck symbol for the American troops sent overseas.  It was used in print associated with their heath and well being as well as being emblazoned across the American Bald Eagle on a good luck token.

The symbol became known as an emblem of shame and inhumanity because in 1920 the Nazi Party adopted it as their official party symbol. 

A short visit to yesteryear via old newspapers is interesting, entertaining and educational.  It also helps us to understand our past.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Proclamation 5269


October 19, 1984

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation


Photograph courtesy of the United States Government
As we remember the faith and values that made America great, we should recall that our tradition of Thanksgiving is older than our Nation itself. Indeed, the native American Thanksgivings antedated those of the new Americans. In the words of the eloquent Seneca tradition of the Iroquois, ``. . . give it your thought, that with one mind we may now give thanks to Him our Creator.''

From the first Pilgrim observance in 1621, to the nine years before and during the American Revolution when the Continental Congress declared days of Fast and Prayer and days of Thanksgiving, we have turned to Almighty God to express our gratitude for the bounty and good fortune we enjoy as individuals and as a nation. America truly has been blessed.

This year we can be especially thankful that real gratitude to God is inscribed, not in proclamations of government, but in the hearts of all our people who come from every race, culture, and creed on the face of the Earth. And as we pause to give thanks for our many gifts, let us be tempered by humility and by compassion for those in need, and let us reaffirm through prayer and action our determination to share our bounty with those less fortunate.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in the spirit and tradition of the Iroquois, the Pilgrims, the Continental Congress, and past Presidents, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 1984, as a day of National Thanksgiving. I call upon every citizen of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship to celebrate, in the words of 1784, ``with grateful hearts . . . the mercies and praises of their all Bountiful Creator. . . .''

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.

Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Proclamation 3036 - Thanksgiving Day, 1953



November 7, 1953

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Photograph courtesy of 

Executive Office of the President of the United States



As a nation much blessed, we feel impelled at harvest time to follow the tradition handed down by our Pilgrim Fathers of pausing from our labors for one day to render thanks to Almighty God for His bounties. Now that the year is drawing to a close, once again it is fitting that we incline our thoughts to His mercies and offer to Him our special prayers of gratitude.

For the courage and vision of our forebears who settled a wilderness and founded a Nation; for the "blessings of liberty" which the framers of our Constitution sought to secure for themselves and for their posterity, and which are so abundantly realized in our land today; for the unity of spirit which has made our country strong; and for the continuing faith under His guidance that has kept us a religious people with freedom of worship for all, we should kneel in humble thanksgiving.

Especially are we grateful this year for the truce in battle-weary Korea, which gives to anxious men and women throughout the world the hope that there may be an enduring peace:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, in consonance with the joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, do hereby call upon our people to observe Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November, 1953, as a day of national thanksgiving. On that day let all of us, in accordance with our hallowed custom, forgather in our respective places of worship and bow before God in contrition for our sins, in suppliance for wisdom in our striving for a better world, and in gratitude for the manifold blessings He has bestowed upon us and upon our fellow men.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed
DONE at the City of Washington this Seventh day of November in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-eighth.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Most Important Event in 1860


It occurred at Cooper Union, in New York City. It was Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech. After the speech was reported he became a political personality with national leadership capabilities.

The speech was a piercing objective analysis of the subject of slavery and its status in law. Lincoln outlined the constitutional history of slavery and by addressing the institution head on he highlighted that it was the hottest political issue of the day.

Slavery by itself did not start the Civil War but it was by far the most powerful and main topic of concern of the southern plantation politicians. It’s inclusion in many of the ordinances of secession help to lend credence to this notion.

Lincoln essentially grabbed the bull by the horns in the Cooper Union speech and that eventually catapulted him into the Republican nomination and eventually the presidency. It also gave the hot headed and misguided southerners a reason for secession. Their mistake was they never thought the Unionists, north or south would go to war to save the country they cherished.

Once slavery was the decisive issue it had to be dealt with for a final solution. Lincoln brilliantly used his executive powers for emancipation (a military tactic that had been used for centuries) to his advantage. It was the snowball that rolled down the hill to become the biggest avalanche in American history. It lead to the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments which not only rocked the foundations of the American democracy but made slavery a bane of civilized governments on a worldwide basis.

The year 1860 was defined by a speech given by a lawyer from Illinois, in New York City on February 27, 1860. The country still trembles from its connotations.

Read Lincoln's Cooper Union Speech here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Adams County Aids the Continental Army



In response to the fighting between British troops and colonists at Lexington and Concord, on April 19, 1775, the Second Continental Congress placed the Massachusetts volunteers in their own service and selected George Washington to command them.  This action gave birth to the Continental Army.

Congress also authorized the raising of ten companies of riflemen, for one year's service as additional manpower.  Pennsylvania was expected to provide six companies of these troops but the commonwealth provided nine.  These companies became known as Colonel Thompson's Battalion of Riflemen.

This sign at 44 York Street in Gettysburg
 marks the location of Gettys' Tavern.


York County, which at that time included what is now Adams County,  was represented by Captain Michael Doudel's Company.  It was, "... enlisted principally at Samuel Getty's Tavern..."  This company provided at least forty (probably much more) men to the total of 849 men listed for the battalion.  Included in this company was Lt. Henry Miller of Fairfield (then Millerstown) and Private John Dother, of Marsh Creek.  Doudel's men (Company C) left York on July 1 and arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts on July 25.

Upon their arrival they made a favorable impression to the local populous.  An army surgeon noted, "They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height."  As to their prowess as marksmen he commented, "... their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers, who expose themselves to view, even at more than double the distance of common musket shot."

Within four days the company skirmished at Charlestown Neck and lost one man to capture.  The rigors of the march and combat may have contributed to Captain Doudel becoming ill.  It was so severe that he resigned and as a result, Henry Miller was promoted to captain. 

The men of Company C fought well but they received a reputation of being insubordinate and undisciplined.  When two companies were needed to leave Cambridge and join an expedition to invade Canada, Lieutenant Colonel Hand reported, "The General [presumably Washington] refused peremptorily to take the York company." 

In spite of this imperfection, their fighting and shooting skills keep them in good stead.   Company C and the entire battalion continued to do good service around Boston.  They exhibited tenacious fighting at Ploughed Hill and Lechmere's Point.  Their military proficiency did not go unnoticed by General Washington.

On January 1, 1776, the army was reorganized and the battalion became the first regiment of the Continental Army complete with its own flag which bared the motto, "domari nolo" (I will not be subjugated).  The strength of the regiment  was 693 officers and men.

Frustrated with a stalemate in Boston, the British troops departed the area.  Washington received information that their destination was New York City.  As a consequence, on March 14, under orders from General Washington, the regiment and five others left Massachusetts and marched to New York City.  The journey for the regiment took two weeks.

Washington recognized the rifle regiment's value and recommended to Congress the men be offered a two year term of reenlistment because their term would soon expire on June 30.  The offer was made and most of the men reenlisted.   

July 1, 1776 marked the formation of the First Regiment of the Pennsylvania Line in Continental service.  John Dother remained a private and Henry Miller had been promoted to major.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The World's Largest Outdoor Art Gallery


Large collections of fine art, in the form of sculpture, are usually associated with museums located in sprawling urban areas.  I believe it is safe to say that the largest outdoor collection of this fine art is located in Adams County.

Bust of Lincoln in the National Cemetery.

Over thirteen hundred pieces of art are exhibited on about twenty-five square miles of a combined landscape of urban and country backdrops.  These works include carved pieces of stone and cast bronze panels and statues. These masterpieces commemorate and honor valiant deeds performed and sacrifices offered.  They remind the present and future generations of these heroic and sometimes tragic accomplishments.  This open-air museum is the Gettysburg National Military Park.


The battlefield began to be monumentalized in 1867 when former members of the First Minnesota Infantry placed a memorial urn in the National Cemetery.  

The majority of the monuments were placed on the field in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Most monuments represent regiments, brigades, army corps, military commanders, politicians or states which provided troops that participated in the conflict.

General Winfield Scott Hancock
equestrian statue on East Cemetery Hill
.

Depending on the date of placement on the field, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, the United States War Department or the National Park Service may have  dictated the rules for wording, composition of materials and placement of the memorials.  Funding for the monuments varied and may have included a governmental entity, a veterans organization, fraternal organization or a religious society.


The North Carolina monument by Gutzon Borglum on
South Confederate  Avenue.

Many of the regimental monuments are loaded with historical information concerning their participation in the battle.  Information etched on the stone or cast in the metal may include particular movements, exploits of the men, where the regiment was recruited from and a record of their war service.  Some may also display a cast bronze panel that depicts a significant event during the battle.  These panels themselves are works of fine art.

Lady Liberty atop the New York State
 monument in the  National  Cemetery.


Some of the foremost sculptors of that era who have their works displayed on the field include Donald DeLue, Henry Kirke Bush-Brown, John Quincy Adams Ward, J. Massey Rhind, Lee Lawrie, Cyrus Dallin  and Gutzon Borglum.  

The most prolific of these artists at Gettysburg was  Henry Kirke Bush-Brown.  He produced three titanic sized equestrian statues of Generals John Reynolds, George Meade and John Sedgwick.  He also sculpted a lifelike bust of President Abraham Lincoln at the memorial to the Gettysburg Address located near the west entrance of the National Cemetery.  

Equestrian statue of General John Fulton Reynolds.


Cyrus Dallin not only sculpted the General Winfield Scott Hancock statue at the Pennsylvania Memorial but also the impressive “The Picket” equestrian statue.  It is located in nearby Hanover and commemorates the cavalry action of the Battle of Hanover which occurred on June 30, 1863.

Monument to the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry.


One of the sculptors whose works appears on the field in three places is Charles W. Reed, an artist from Boston and veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg.  He was a bugler in the Ninth Massachusetts Battery.  Reed along with his former battery commander John Bigelow, designed all three memorials to the Ninth.

The list of all the talented artists whose works adorn the field is too long to mention in this short tome.  It would take weeks for you to visit and examine each monument or statue.  If you haven't viewed these works I would advise you to do so, after all, this monumental collection is located in your own backyard.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Adams County Pennsylvania in the French and Indian War


A Forgotten War

The French and Indian War began in 1754.  The primary combatants were British America and the Iroquois Confederacy verses French Canada and several Indian tribes that were enemies of the Iroquois,  such as the Shawnee and the Delaware.

During this conflict western York County (present day Adams County) was considered the frontier.  Residents in this area would be prone to attacks by Indians and their allies.

Hance Hamilton lived on a farm near Marsh Creek when the war began.  Due to concerns about Indian attacks, he decided to raise a militia company.  Captain Hamilton trained his men well and they were eventually sent to Bedford County to garrison Fort Littleton in 1756.  Captain Hamilton was made commandeer of the fort.

In the spring of 1756, McCord's Fort located a short distance from present day Chambersburg,  was attacked by Indians.  They overran the fort and then fled west with their captives.  A militia force that followed the retreating Indians was augmented by a company of men sent by Captain Hamilton.  When the militia caught up with the Indians they fought  The Battle of Sideling Hill.  The militia lost the battle and the survivors took refuge in Fort Littleton.  Several York County men were casualties of that engagement. 

Later in 1756, Captain Hance Hamilton and his men marched with Colonel Armstrong and helped that officer in defeating the French and Indians at Fort Kittaning.    In 1758, Hamilton was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the First Battalion of The Pennsylvania Regiment and participated in the Forbes Expedition that secured Fort Duquesne from the French.

After the close of the war, Hance Hamilton returned to farming and milling in York County.  His marriage produced ten children and he died on February 2, 1772. He is buried  in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. 

There were no official government forts built in present day Adams County during the war but four blockhouses or stockades were reported to have been built.  They were built in the vicinities of Buchanan Valley, Marsh Creek, Bonneauville and on the Low Dutch Road.  In spite of these fortifications, some settlers were unable to use them or they weren't available at the time of the attacks.  As a consequence, several residents of the area were killed or abducted.

On April 5, 1758, a band of Shawnee Indians and Frenchmen attacked the Jemison homestead in Buchanan Valley.  Sixteen year old Mary Jemison was abducted while her brothers escaped, but all others in the family were killed.  She was brought to Fort Duquesne where she was adopted by two Seneca women.  In spite of several opportunities to leave, she married twice and remained with her adopted Seneca people until she died at the age of ninety-one in 1833.  She is buried at Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County, New York.

On April 13, 1758, a band of Delaware Indians attacked the Richard Bard family at their home in Virginia Mills, near Fairfield.  Several family members and friends were killed in the attack.  Shortly after capture, Richard Bard escaped but his wife Catherine was left behind.  After two and a half years of captivity, Catherine was reunited with Richard at Fort Augusta in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

Fortunately for residents of York County, the hostilities ceased in Pennsylvania in 1760.




Learn more of Mary Jemison


The French and Indian War in Pennsylvania



Monday, June 18, 2012

The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779

The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of the American Revolutionary War remains largely forgotten.  Learn more about this seminal event in American History by going on the tour.  The Newton Battlefield is practically all on private property.  On this tour, you will be allowed to stand and tour right in the middle of the action due to the kind permission of the local landowner.  The tour begins in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and ends in Lowman, New York.

Don't miss this chance to walk the hallowed ground of this pristine battlefield of the American Revolution.








Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shikellamy

This is a little bit of early American history that few ever learn about.  It pays to leave the interstates and to leisurely amble along the local roads and learn something new and view beautiful landscapes.


These photographs were taken in Sunbury, Pennslyvania, adjacent to the majestic Susquehanna River.  The Susquehanna River Valley played an integral part in our nation's history.  


The river's headwaters begin in Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York.  It then runs in a southerly direction into Pennsylvania and back into New York State.  It then reenters Pennsylvania and eventually flows through Maryland and empties into the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace, Maryland.  


The river is 464 miles long and the West Branch of the Susquehanna joins the main stream at  Northumberland, Pennsylvania.  The valleys that it flows through possess  breathtaking vistas filled with captivating history.  


Enjoy the photographs.














Monday, May 28, 2012

A Rising Star


He was born August 8, 1836, at York Springs, and he was the eldest of eight children in the family.  He attended Cumberland Valley Institute and Juniata Academy where he excelled in mathematics and civil engineering.

In 1857 he was hired by the United States government as an engineer assigned to survey government lands in Nebraska.  He returned to the area in 1859 and settled in Baltimore working for the Adams Express Company.  After the firing on Fort Sumter he enlisted in Company K, First Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves.

Enlisting as a private he was almost immediately promoted to sergeant.  Several months later he was promoted to lieutenant of Company K and then regimental adjutant.  The regiment marched to Dranesville and then to Manassas and it ended up camped at Falmouth, Virginia.  The First then reported to assist General McClellan's forces and started in on the Peninsula Campaign.

At the Battle of Glendale, the adjutant was wounded by a minie ball that hit the left thigh.  To add insult to injury, he was captured by the Rebels and sent to Libby Prison, in Richmond, Virginia  Unbeknownst to him, he was promoted to captain on June 30, 1862.

His stay in prison was short and he was exchanged in September.  He was sent to David's Island General Hospital located in New York State, to convalesce.  He was able to rejoin the 1st PA Reserves at Sharpsburg, Maryland, just after the Battle of Antietam.

The First was at the Battle of Fredericksburg and participated in General Ambrose Burnside's Mud March.  It missed Chancellorsville since it was assigned to the Defenses of Washington but it was back in the field in late June to join in on the Gettysburg Campaign.  By this time our accomplished and intrepid soldier attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, surely a rising star.

At the Battle of Gettysburg the First was sent to stabilize the Union line in the Wheatfield area and indeed it did.  As night fell on July 2, the regiment held its position behind a stone wall at the northern end of Houck's Ridge.  On July 3 the regiment assisted in regaining some ground in the Wheatfield.  During this battle the young lieutenant colonel was in charge of the operations of the skirmishers.

The PA Reserves continued with the Army of the Potomac for the remainder of 1863 and in 1864 participated in Grant's Overland Campaign.  The First left the front June 1, 1864, because the three year enlistments expired however some of the soldiers did reenlist for other service.  The indefatigable lieutenant colonel eventually became colonel of the 192nd Pennsylvania Infantry.  Finally our soldier mustered out of service on August 24, 1865. 

His promotion to colonel was a brevet promotion for gallant conduct at the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.  On March 13, 1865, he received a brevet promotion of brigadier general for gallant conduct at the Battle of North Anna River.

After the war, General William Warren Stewart worked as a civil engineer for several railroads and for the federal government.  His remarkable service in the army and his career as an engineer reflect his natural ability as an intellectual and leader of men. 

He died in Chambersburg on March 18, 1916, and  is buried in the Presbyterian Graveyard in York Springs.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

President Lincoln and General McClellan

"It is called the Army of the Potomac but it is only McClellan's bodyguard...If McClellan is not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a while."

Abraham Lincoln

What is your opinion?  Was President Lincoln justified in making this comment?


Monday, April 23, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania


Gettysburg National Military Park; Destination of Presidents

President Abraham Lincoln was invited to Gettysburg by attorney David Wills.  He rendered a few appropriate remarks at the dedication of the Soldier's National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.  His address to the crowd has become perhaps,  the most famous speech in history.  The Gettysburg battlefield thus became the destination of future presidents.

Including Lincoln, about sixteen sitting American presidents have visited the national cemetery and battlefield at Gettysburg.  Some of those include Grover Cleveland, William Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Richard  Nixon and George W. Bush. 

The reasons for visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park vary but some have given a Memorial Day speech, spoke at a veterans' reunion or dedicated a monument.  The battlefield is also in close proximity to Camp David and Washington, D. C.

President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the speakers rostrum in the National Cemetery on May 30, 1904.  In spite of a pouring rain, 10,000 people listened to President Roosevelt's Memorial Day speech.  The president also received a tour of the battlefield given by two veterans of the battle.  The tour guides were former Union Corps Commanders, Generals Daniel Edgar Sickles and Oliver Otis Howard. 

On July 4, 1913, at the 50th Reunion of Gettysburg Veterans, President Woodrow Wilson spoke to the assembled crowd.  President Wilson was not too enthusiastic about stopping at Gettysburg for the occasion but a political advisor convinced him it was the right thing to do.  After the appearance, the president continued on to his family vacation in New Hampshire.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, visited Gettysburg to deliver a Memorial Day talk on May 30, 1934.  He returned to the military park on July 3, 1938, to dedicate the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on Oak Ridge.  This coincided with the last and 75th Reunion Anniversary of Gettysburg Veterans.  There was also an unconfirmed report of a third visit on a pleasant afternoon in 1943.  Witnesses say they recognized both the president and his companion, Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Dwight Eisenhower has been associated with Gettysburg since 1915, when as a cadet at the United States Military Academy, he visited the field for the first time.  In 1918, Major Eisenhower served as post commander for Camp Colt at Gettysburg which was at the time the army's tank training center.  In 1950, Ike purchased a 189 acre farm adjacent to the Gettysburg battlefield.  As president and former president he entertained people such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and President Charles De Gaulle, at the Eisenhower farm.

On September 10, 1978, while President Jimmy Carter was attempting to work out the Camp David Peace Accords, he decided to take a little break and visit the Gettysburg battlefield.   Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Carter walked the battlefield in hopes of finding common ground on the pressing issues at hand.  Before long and to everyone's surprise,  President Sadat was dominating the conversation, expounding on the battle since he had studied it in military school in Egypt.  While at the National Cemetery, Prime Minister Begin was able to recite the Gettysburg Address from memory.

The Gettysburg National Military Park, an internationally famous battlefield, a destination of world leaders, and it is situated in our own backyard.

Churchill visits Ike at Gettysburg                                        Eisenhower - Khrushchev Anniversary Visit




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

George Washington Reconsidered


"Washington was the most important man in America, whether he was onstage or off, for twenty-four years; for seventeen of those years, he was front and center.  It is a record unmatched in our history, scarcely matched in the histories of modern democracies."

            from Founding Father, Rediscovering George Washington by Richard Brookhiser, page 162


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania

From Suffering Comes Compassion

The flu epidemic had gotten so bad at Camp Colt that the facility was put under quarantine in late September of 1918.  The influenza had made it into Adams County. The military installation had the most cases since it was an efficient incubator and superb conduit of infection.

The epidemic thrived because the camp was in the process of being broken up.  Staffing was down and the hospital was a shadow of its former self and more significantly, the nursing staff was drastically cut.  The Gettysburg Times for 3 October reported that twenty-one soldiers died in a single day at Camp Colt.  The outbreak by now had affected the whole community.

The local Red Cross set up a temporary, one hundred bed hospital at Xavier Hall on West High Street, for the military's worst cases.  Volunteers assisted as aides and attendants and the public also supplied food and medicine.  With the increased exposure more civilians were affected by the disease.  Burgess William Weaver recalled, "...it seemed that our whole town was a hospital and morgue."

In a public statement, Major Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of Camp Colt, thanked the local community for their support and sacrifices, "... during the recent regrettable epidemic."  Estimates vary but by the end of the year, close to 200 soldiers had died from the influenza.

One of the local volunteers who contracted the flu was Annie M. Warner, the sixty-five year old wife of local businessman John M. Warner. John was eighty-five years old..  Fortunately for the Warners, Annie survived her sickness and her recovery inspired John to have a hospital built in honor of his wife.

In 1918 there were no hospitals close to the Borough of Gettysburg.  The closest hospitals were located in York, Carlisle or Harrisburg.

In 1919, John Warner, with the assistance of local businessmen and concerned citizens, formed a corporation which aided in construction of the hospital.  The hospital was to be named the Annie M. Warner Hospital.  Its purpose was , "... for relieving the wants of the afflicted who may be suffering from accident or disease without distinction of race, color, creed or condition..."  John Warner contributed six acres of land and $25,000 to the project.

Money for construction, staffing and equipping the hospital came from many sources.  The funding ranged from money raised from food sales and dances to subscriptions from local citizens and assistance from the state legislature. 

On March 25, 1919, Annie Warner broke the ground at the site of the proposed hospital.  The cornerstone was laid on July 1, 1919.  Construction of the forty bed, two story hospital was completed in September of 1920 but due to another shortage of nurses, the building was not occupied.  Finally on March 17, 1921, the Annie M. Warner Hospital admitted its first patient.

In 1980 after fifty-nine years of service the original building was demolished so a modern and larger hospital could be built.  On July 1, 1982, the name was changed to The Gettysburg Hospital to better represent the community in which it serves. Today, the hospital is once again undergoing renovation.

Regardless of all the changes, the caring, selfless and compassionate legacy of John and Annie Warner will carry on forever in Adams County. 

Gerald J. Desko @ 2012.All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Items From Adams County Pennsylvania

An Icon of Adams County

In 1832 the economy was sound and the location of the town allowed easy access from a wide geographic area.  The need for the services the firm offered, had steadily increased.  These were the major factors that caused the enterprise to thrive. 

Practically from the beginning, they knew their original facility was too small to accommodate the number of people they would have. The building was woefully inadequate but lack of funding blocked expansion.

In  February 1834, the legislature, with the support of Thaddeus Stevens, provided funding for $18,000 over a six-year time frame.  In April1835, the institution purchased six acres of land on the north side of Gettysburg on the top of a small prominence amidst the open terrain, for their new building.

The designer of the building was architect and engineer John Trautwine.  It may have been the largest building in Gettysburg at that time,  measuring 150 feet long by 50 feet wide and was 4 stories high with a cupola centered on the roof.  It was Greek Revival in style sporting a portico on the south side of the structure, complete with four Doric columns.  Construction began in April of 1836 and it was completed in the fall of 1837. 

The Edifice, as it would be called, now had room for its enrollees.  It had classrooms, dining hall, staff offices, library, chapel and rooms for the steward and his family.  In the near future additional buildings were added to the institution.  Linnaean Hall was added in 1847 and the White House was added in 1860.  There were also some other support buildings on the grounds which included a springhouse, smokehouse, oven, stable, washhouse and privies.

The events of July 1, 1863, turned the institution upside town.  First, signalmen from the Union Army interrupted activities inquiring about and briefly occupying the cupola.  Because of the chaos, business was suspended until further notice.  By nightfall, members of the Confederate Army occupied the building from top to bottom.

During the battle the Edifice was used as a Confederate hospital, housing up to about 700 soldiers.  It remained a hospital well after the battle ended.  One person visiting the building during this time reported the rooms and halls full of wounded soldiers.  Moans shrieks and cries could be heard throughout the building and the sight of blood was evident on the floors and on books that were temporarily used as pillows. 

The dead were placed in temporary graves dug adjacent to the Edifice.  The bodies would be removed after a period of time but bits of human bone were periodically found in the area.  The last pieces found were in 1937, when the Beachem portico was added to the north side of the building.

The Edifice, the Old Dorm, or Pennsylvania Hall had survived the Battle of Gettysburg.  The building survived the institution changing its name from Pennsylvania College to Gettysburg College in 1921. It also survived a renovation, rather than a demolition, from 1969 to 1970, which transformed the building from an academic building into an administrative building. 

This iconic building and its hallowed halls was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972.

The American flag atop the cupola of Pennsylvania Hall flies twenty-four seven and is a thirty-four star flag as it was in 1863. 

When you visit Gettysburg. please take time to walk the Old Quad at Gettysburg College and personally view, "Yonder beautiful and stately college edifice."

Pennsylvania Hall - view from the Old Quad, south side.

The Cupola with the thirty-four star flag flying.



The north side of Pennsylvania Hall showing the Beachem Portico.