1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Gettysburg During the Centennial

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by James N., Jun 29, 2016.

  1. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Part I - The Gettysburg Battlefield

    Image (24).jpg

    Since I've been anticipating this September's CWT Reunion in Gettysburg, my thoughts have been returning to my very first visits to the town and park. This was back in the summers of 1961 and 1964 during the Civil War Centennial; the first time was with my mother who drove all the way from Dallas, Texas there and back (pre-Interstate!) on the occasion of the July reenactment of First Manassas which we attended as spectators. Three years later in the August following our graduation from high school and before beginning our freshman year in college my friend Mike and I borrowed my father's Pontiac station wagon (remember those?) and duplicated the journey, but this time taking three instead of two weeks to do it. Of course the highlight of both trips - the reenactment in beastly 100 degree weather notwithstanding - was Gettysburg!

    Image (25).jpg

    This three-page leaflet was at the time the National Park Service's Gettysburg tour folder; note on the map there was NO visitor center in 1961, plus the location of the Cyclorama! I never even saw the park office/museum which was apparently located in the old post office - instead, visitors were supposed to stop at one of the five stone ranger stations at the edge of the battlefield and pick up these leaflets or there they could employ the services of a local licensed battlefield guide. My mother opted for the latter though since I was by then a Gettysburg "veteran" I did the duty myself when Mike and I visited in 1964. In the text of the NPS guidebook below notice the 1961 times and rates for those services:

    Image (26).jpg

    The park tour route has changed several times over the years; note that it begins on McPherson's Ridge, makes a loop to Oak Hill, then back down Seminary Ridge to Warfield Ridge, then through the sites of Longstreet's attack, back up Cemetery Ridge to Cemetery Hill, ending in the area of Culp's Hill and Spangler's Spring. Notice also that there were only a paltry 14 stops on a battlefield as big as Gettysburg and how many places fail to be included!

    Image (28).jpg

    Although my mother and I made use of the guide for one of the shorter "highlight" trips, we followed that up with one of our own deviating somewhat from the tour folder to go places like Barlow Knoll and East Cavalry Field which were not included in the regular itenerary.

    Image (29).jpg
    I know in other threads here on the forum readers have said they like seeing old photos of the battlefield, and since that's what I'd come to Gettysburg for in the first place I hope you enjoy seeing it as I first did back in the 1960's. Most of the battlefield and the monuments don't look all that different today, at least not until you reach the southern half of the park. Please excuse the quality of the photos I was able to get at the time with my trusty Kodak Brownie camera; of course the prints have faded quite a bit as well over the intervening half-century too!

    Image (3).jpg

    For my "virtual tour" here I'll combine the color shots from 1961 with the few black-and-white ones like the one of the Reynolds statue below obviously marked 64. These will be pictured here and in the next two posts in the order we would've seen them back then on the NPS tour.

    Image (17).jpg Image (4).jpg

    The Chambersburg Pike and McPherson barn have hardly changed; my photo below, however turned out poorly because I forgot to completely wind the film before the next shot! (Remember having to do that back before digital cameras!?)

    Image (18).jpg

    The photo below was taken by my mother and shows me, age 14, at the Virginia Monument.

    Image (27).jpg

    Next, Part II - The battlefield tour continues...
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    12,907
    Location:
    north central florida
    Brings back memories as I was there in 63.
     
    James N. likes this.
  4. Yankeedave

    Yankeedave 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Messages:
    3,783
    Location:
    grumbling in the rear rank
    Weres part 2!
     
  5. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Part II - Scenes from the Second Day's Fighting

    Image (19).jpg
    The Peach Orchard.

    Image (21).jpg
    The Wheatfield with the Round Tops in the background.

    Image (20).jpg
    Union guns near Devil's Den.

    Image (14).jpg

    Two views of Gouvernor Kemble Warren's statue on Little Round Top.
    \
    Image (22).jpg

    Below, the view in 1961 from Little Round Top; note Devil's Den barely visible at left center. Of course much of this ground is once again open today following the NPS's ongoing land clearing to return the battlefield to its appearance in 1863 during the battle.

    Image (15).jpg

    The photo below is the view from the observation tower on Big Round Top looking toward Gettysburg; Little Round Top is barely discernible near the extreme right.

    Image (16).jpg

    Image (12).jpg

    Heading back north on Cemetery Ridge we encounter the largest monument on the field, the Pennsylvania Memorial; below is a view taken from the observation deck looking to the northeast showing Culp's Hill at left and Wolf Hill at right:

    Image (13).jpg

    Next, Part III - End of the battlefield tour
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  6. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Centennial Battlefield Tour, Part III
    Image (11).jpg

    The High-Water Mark Monument at the famous copse of Trees.

    Image (10).jpg

    The monument marking the spot of Lewis Addison Armistead's mortal wounding in the foreground with the Angle in the Stone Wall in the background.

    Image (9).jpg

    George Gordon Meade's headquarters in the tiny Leciester House.

    Image (8).jpg

    East Cemetery Hill, dominated by the equestrian statue of Winfield Scott Hancock.

    Image (23).jpg
    Image (6).jpg

    Above, 10-pounder Parrott rifle on Culp's Hill; below, view from the tower there looking toward Round Top in the distance at left with Cemetery Hill barely visible at right.

    Image (7).jpg

    The tour ends on a note of reconciliation appropriate for the times with the story (possibly apocryphal!) of soldiers from both sides sharing Spangler's Spring the night of July 2.

    Image (5).jpg
    Image (30).jpg

    Another source I found extremely useful both in 1961 and 1964 which was much more informative than either the NPS tour folder or guidebook was this one by Lt. Gen. Edward J. Stackpole with excellent diagrammatic maps by his longtime collaborator Col. Wilbur S. Nye. Note there are 22 stops which include much more than the NPS tour. The only drawback to this is that some of the park roads have changed becoming one-way since its original publication, though a revised edition is still sold in Gettysburg's souvenir shops!

    Image (31).jpg

    This is the end of the tour of the battlefield itself, but next time I will show you some of my favorite tourist haunts within the town and environs, so look for Part IV!
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  7. Anna Elizabeth Henry

    Anna Elizabeth Henry 2nd Lieutenant Silver Patron

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2015
    Messages:
    2,796
    Location:
    New York, New York
    Such an impressive collection of photos from the era, thanks so much for sharing them! :geek:
     
  8. Tom Elmore

    Tom Elmore First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,469
    Interesting. My first visit to the field was in the latter part of July, 1963, when I was seven years old. It must have made a lasting impression!
     
  9. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Messages:
    3,910
    Location:
    Due west of the Free State stronghold of Lawrence
    James, thank you for the time, thought and care you put into threads such as this one. What a treat for everyone who's coming in September! (And even for those of us who aren't.)
     
  10. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Messages:
    13,303
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania
    Thanks for sharing! Little crazy thinking it was then ' only ' 100 years post-battle! Dad took our youth group to Gettysburg in time to bring home that booklet- have it here somewhere! Little bit of a shock seeing it, forgot all about it.

    What a great road trip! We saw so much ' youth ' doing other things in the 60's, they've forgotten to document this, too. 100 degrees sounds about right- must not have been a lot different from where you all started out!
     
    James N. likes this.
  11. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Part IV - Tourist Accommodations and Other Attractions
    Image (5).jpg

    Of course the battlefield and National Military Park that contains most of it are the real attractions at Gettysburg, but by no means are they the only attractions, as any visitor soon learns, possibly to distraction! This following posts will detail only a few of the most "important" - to me anyway!

    Image (13).jpg

    My mother and I spent two nights at a venerable Gettysburg institution, the Peace Light Inn, and Mike and I also stayed here one night. This was an old-fashioned tourist court having little separate cottages. Its best feature was also its worst and one which soon doomed it to all but a memory: it was actually located on the battlefield of the first day within easy walking distance of its namesake the Peace Light! As I remember, it stood right on the line taken by the Union I Corps and very near statues of James Wadsworth and Abner Doubleday; it disappeared in some of the NPS expansion of the battlefield around the time of the Mission 66 project and was gone by the time of my next visit.

    Image (24).jpg

    A positive boon to a couple of teenagers between high school and college was this establishment; make NO mistake, the real attraction here was - and possibly still is!? - the Cannon Cafeteria! The "museum" and its diorama were literal "fronts" for the cafeteria in back; if pedestrian and unmemorable, the food was eminently affordable! One thing about this place I do remember favorably though was the ballyhooed Battle Orientation Film which was nothing but an animated map with division and brigade-sized rectangles moving over terrain. This sounds awful and many visitors likely found it either boring or incomprehensible, but Mike and I were dedicated board wargamers and so to us it was like watching one of our games of Avalon-Hill Gettysburg unfold before our eyes and so loved it!

    Image (25).jpg

    Image (30).jpg

    As I recall, at the time of our visit in 1961 the vaunted and much-anticipated Cyclorama turned out to be closed to the public in readiness for its transfer to its location in the new NPS Visitor Center on Cemetery Ridge just north of the Angle and Meade's Headquarters. By the time of my visit in 1964 it had opened and so I finally got to see the Cyclorama; this leaflet was given to everyone who viewed it. Of course now even that 1960-era Mid-century Modern structure has also been demolished and the Cyclorama moved yet again, this time to its commercial home and away from the NPS.

    Image (8).jpg

    Another long-time Gettysburg institution to have bitten the dust in fairly recent years was the Rosensteel's Gettysburg National Museum and its "famous" Electric Map, being touted in this brochure as NEW because this one had recently replaced the original which I understand was nothing but a few Christmas tree bulbs on an undetailed relief map.

    Image (21).jpg

    The so-called National Museum didn't actually become so for several years after my Centennial visits when the NPS purchased it and its contents from the Rosensteel heirs and converted it into an even newer Visitor Center prior to my next visit in the early 1980's. Unfortunately it too has been demolished and the irreplaceable Rosensteel collection transferred to the new, improved visitor center run by the Gettysburg Foundation where most of it languishes in storage "safely" away from the prying eyes of the unwashed masses.

    Image (10).jpg

    The map below gives a good idea of why the 1920's building was unfortunately torn down - it was too near the battlefield and National Cemetery and created huge traffic snarls as tourists strove to get in and out of the several parking lots.

    Image (9).jpg

    Next, Part V - More Museums
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  12. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Part V - Soldiers, Soldiers, Soldiers!
    Image (6).jpg

    Today the historic 1770's Dobbin House is known as one of Gettysburg's nicest and priciest restaurants, but in the 1960's it was home to a large-scale diorama featuring 57mm military miniature soldiers made by Bussler Miniatures in Wollaston, Mass. and other firms. As a modeler and collector of toy soldiers I was greatly impressed by this place. Now I realize how clunky and unsatisfactory it was as both a diorama and an attraction, but as a teenager I loved it!

    Image (7).jpg

    Image (14).jpg

    In a somewhat similar vein was the famous Cliff Arquette's Soldiers Museum which occupied a building on the Baltimore Pike that had supposedly served as headquarters for Oliver O. Howard commanding the Union XI Corps and later was transformed into an orphanage for children of fallen Union soldiers.

    Image (12).jpg

    In the 1950's Cliff Arquette enjoyed fame as a regular guest of host Jack Paar on The Tonight Show and was one of my and my mother's favorites, with his homespun cracker-barrel humor as character Charley Weaver. His routines were very much in the vein of his character's supposed hometown Mount Idy, Arkansas, loosely based on the real Mt. Ida and nearby another fictional hometown, that of Wistful Vista in the long-running Lum 'n Abner radio shows.

    Image (11).jpg

    Image (15).jpg

    Cliff Arquette featured his sculpted and hand-painted figures in the museum but padded them out with artifacts and military miniatures in dioramas by Hansen Miniatures and other makers as well. (I particularly remember a Fort Sumter diorama I liked.) Postcards available at the museum show above, General Robert E. Lee and a Confederate Infantryman; and below, a New York Zouave and a soldier of the famous pre-war 7th Regiment, NY State Militia.

    Image (17).jpg

    This was known as the Soldiers Museum instead of being strictly a Civil War museum because like many modelers and military uniform enthusiasts he also appreciated attire of other periods as well. The figures below represent a member of Custer's 7th Cavalry, ca. Little Big Horn in 1876 and an 1885 Militia officer.

    Image (19).jpg

    Next, Part VI
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016
  13. Buckeye Bill

    Buckeye Bill 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Messages:
    3,775
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Awesome, James!!!
     
    huskerblitz and James N. like this.
  14. E_just_E

    E_just_E 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    Messages:
    4,859
    Location:
    Center Valley, PA
    Awesome indeed!
     
    huskerblitz and James N. like this.
  15. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    Part V - The National Civil War Wax Museum
    Image (26).jpg

    Like with Cliff Arquette's Soldiers Museum this long-running but now-defunct attraction aspired to more than merely the Battle of Gettysburg, evinced by the glum-looking General Ulysses S. Grant featured on the back cover of its brochure. I have previously in another thread described how in 1964 we were surprised when one of the "wax mannequins" turned out to be a guard springing to life in order to deter little (and probably not-so-little!) hands from touching the real mannequins!

    Image (31).jpg

    During the Centennial the exhibits were fresh and new, therefore looking reasonably lifelike and realistic. As you can see below, they were placed in life-size diorama-like thematic tableaus that sometimes featured unlikely combinations such as the inclusion of Nathan Bedford Forrest alongside Jeb Stuart, John Mosby, and Jubal Early; or George Custer talking with Barbara Fretchie!

    Image (28).jpg

    But the piece de resistance was the so-called BATTLEROOM supposedly depicting Pickett's Charge below: In addition to the bloody struggle going on at The Angle in the foreground, note G. K. Warren on Little Round Top at right and a conference of Lee, Longstreet, and Pickett in the left background. This wasn't all seen at once like in the photo, but highlighted sequentially by colored lights, music, and narration. At the end, all went dark for a few moments until Abraham Lincoln rose majestically in the background under a single spotlight while the Gettysburg Address was played over background music of the Battle Hymn of the Republic!

    Image (29).jpg

    While at Gettysburg in 1961 I purchased this souvenir book by one of my favorite illustrators, the late Frederic Ray, long-time art director of Civil War Times and Civil War Times Illustrated Magazines.

    Gburg Sketches.jpg
     
  16. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    12,907
    Location:
    north central florida
    Sort of funny,member buckeye bill just sent me some old NPS booklets and included is the one from Gettysburg which is mentioned above but not shown.I had this book when I was there in 1963,talk about bringing back memories.
     
    Buckeye Bill and James N. like this.
  17. CheathamHill

    CheathamHill First Sergeant Trivia Game Winner

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Messages:
    1,128
    wow what a breakdown of all things Gettysburg in the mid 1960's. Well done and thnaks for this!
     
    Northern Light and James N. like this.
  18. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz Captain Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2013
    Messages:
    5,858
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Very much so. This is so cool to see the old brochures. Thank you @James N. for sharing these treasures!
     
    Northern Light and James N. like this.
  19. MRB1863

    MRB1863 Captain Forum Host

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014
    Messages:
    6,377
    Location:
    Lemoyne, PA (35 miles N. of Gettysburg)
    Thank you for the wonderful walk down "Memory Lane" Gettysburg, PA!!!
     
    James N. likes this.
  20. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner
    Featured Book Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2013
    Messages:
    7,109
    Location:
    East Texas
    It's somehow sad to realize that all these institutions fondly remembered are now only memories - at least the Electric Map itself survives even though it's no longer at Gettysburg!
     
    MRB1863 likes this.
  21. Northern Light

    Northern Light Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2014
    Messages:
    7,101
    Wow, this is interesting! I went to the wax museum with my sister a few years ago, and the statues were so old and grungy looking, it was kind of creepy. Great gift shop, though!
     
    James N. likes this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)