New York Announces Funding to Restore State's Monuments at Gettysburg

Nov. 5, 2002--The nice, clean, restored Pennsylvania monuments at Gettysburg will no longer be allowed to look down on their grungy brother statues from New York.
A New York state grant of $250,000 has been transferred through the nonprofit Rockland Civil War Roundtable to restore the 111 New York monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
The presentation was made at the Rockland County Fire Training Center by state Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City, chairman of the state Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, and Assemblyman Alexander Gromack, D-Congers. Morahan said the grant project would be administered by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
"These monuments that honor the New York regiments who bravely fought and died, some of them only kids 16 to 18, have fallen into disrepair," Morahan said. "It is important that the New York regiments who sacrificed their lives in this pivotal battle be suitably honored and the monuments restored to their proper condition."

Brion Fitzgerald, the National Park Service's chief ranger at Gettysburg who attended the presentation, said the monument restoration grant would go a long way in helping reduce the operating deficit at the 6,000-acre military park.
Fitzgerald outlined New York's contribution to the key Union victory. Of the Union states that participated during the three-day battle, New York's 23,000 soldiers were second only to Pennsylvania in the number of troops deployed. With nearly 6,700 killed, wounded or missing, New York suffered more casualties and has more soldiers buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery than any other state.
The Rockland Civil War Roundtable is among 125 volunteer groups that have "adopted" sites at Gettysburg, which they help the National Park Service maintain.

Roundtable President Paul Martin said his group is fulfilling the wishes of Gen. Daniel Sickles of New York, Union commander of the 3rd Corps at Gettysburg, who said in 1893 that "the monuments erected here must always be guarded and preserved."
"This generous grant from the state of New York for the restoration and repair of the New York monuments at Gettysburg will ensure that those who fought and fell shall never be forgotten," Martin said.
Rockland Sheriff James Kralik, a licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg, and then-Sen. Joseph Holland, now Rockland commissioner of social services, approached Gromack several years ago, seeking state funding for the monument restoration effort at Gettysburg.
"If we remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion in the Civil War, then we will remember those New York veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and those who fight in Afghanistan today," Kralik said.
The state grant, although appreciated, will not completely cover the cost of restoring the New York monuments. Donations to the preservation and care of monuments at Gettysburg should be sent to Gettysburg National Military Park, 97 Taneytown Road, Gettysburg, PA 17325, Fitzgerald said.

Courtesy of:
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil War

Lynn Cheney to Give Remembrance Day Address in Gettysburg Nov. 19

Nov. 4, 2002--Lynne V. Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, will be the featured speaker during the Gettysburg Address Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Her appearance is sponsored by the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania, the Civil War Institute and the Gettysburg National Military Park. The annual event brings scholars and historians to Gettysburg to mark the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal address in 1863.

Cheney is author or co-author of six books, including Kings of the Hill, a book about figures from Henry Clay to Sam Rayburn who played powerful roles in the House of Representatives. Her most recent book is America: A Patriotic Primer, an alphabet book for children of all ages and their families. Remembrance Day events on the 19th will begin with a wreath laying ceremony at 10:15 a.m. at the Soldiers’ National Monument in the Cemetery. The Lincoln Fellowship luncheon and general meeting will be held in the Gettysburg College Ballroom at noon and pre-registration is required.

The featured speaker will be Bradley R. Hoch, local physician and author of the book, The Lincoln Trail in Pennsylvania: A History and Guide. Hoch’s lecture is entitled "Abraham Lincoln: Reluctant Prophet."

At 8 p.m. in the Gettysburg College Ballroom, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Mark E. Neely, Jr. will present the 41st Annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture. Neely is the McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era at Pennsylvania State University. His lecture is entitled, "Retaliation: The Problem of Atrocity in the American Civil War."

Since the "official" Remembrance Day falls on a Tuesday this year, other activities are planned for the weekend before. On Nov. 16 the following events are planned:

--A parade will be held at 1 p.m. sponsored by the Sons of Union Veterans.

--at 3:30 p.m., a service will be held at the Lincoln Cemetery on Long Lane, across from the Gettysburg Recreation Park. Lincoln Cemetery was established in 1867 as a burial site for the African-American community. Approximately 400 people are interred at the Lincoln Cemetery including 30 Civil War soldiers. Jim Wego, Lincoln Cemetery Association Chair, will speak on the theme "Courage Under Fire."

Courtesy of:
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil War

Second Harper’s Ferry Land Parcel Saved

Nov. 1, 2002--The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has announced a $300,000 transportation enhancement grant for battlefield preservation at Harpers Ferry. The grant is the key ingredient in a $1.7 million deal to save 232 acres on historic School House Ridge.

This announcement comes just days after word that the Murphy’s Farm area had been purchased by The Trust for Public Land to be turned over as an addition to Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park.

"School House Ridge is a monument to the valor and sacrifice of our fore bearers," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "If this property is allowed to fall prey to development, one of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in America will be marred forever."
Earlier this year, CWPT began a nationwide fundraising campaign to raise both private and public funds to protect three tracts on School House Ridge. Confederate occupation of School House Ridge was key to Stonewall Jackson's September 1862 siege of the picturesque river town.
Joining Lighthizer at the news conference was West Virginia Delegate John Doyle (D-Shepherdstown), who spearheaded the effort in the state legislature to secure the $300,000 grant. Lighthizer praised Doyle's efforts, stating, "This deal wouldn't have been possible without the enthusiasm and support of Del. Doyle. His commitment to protecting the historic treasures of Jefferson County has saved this unique resource from the backhoe and bulldozer."

Doyle, now serving his tenth term in the West Virginia House of Delegates, has long been a friend of Harpers Ferry. In addition to securing the $300,000 transportation enhancement grant, Del. Doyle also helped CWPT obtain another $55,000 for Harpers Ferry through the state budget digest process. Thanks to his efforts, CWPT awarded Doyle its 2002 State Leadership Award.
In his remarks, Doyle noted that this grant has been in the works for some time, stating, "I've been working on this grant for over a year, and am extremely pleased to be able to help the Civil War Preservation Trust acquire this historic property."

Doyle also pitched the tourism benefits of preservation, telling attendees: "I think promoting historic tourism in Jefferson County is a great thing for the local economy. We need to continue to rely on historic tourism."
CWPT has a long history of preserving hallowed ground at Harpers Ferry. In 1995, CWPT rescued 56 acres of battlefield land directly across from School House Ridge.

Gettysburg Coster Avenue Mural Features Special Guest at Rededication

Oct. 8, 2002--There's a very good reason why the rededication ceremony for the recently repainted Coster Avenue mural in Gettysburg was scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.

It's the only day and time that fit into Ed Bearss' schedule to allow him to attend.

And the reason that his attendance was particularly important, especially to artist Mark Dunkelman, is that without Bearss' support the refurbishment to the unique painting would probably never have come about.

The mural depicts what is known as the "Fight at the Brickyard," with particular emphasis on the actions of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry. Dunkelman is especially interested in the 154th New York because his great-grandfather was a member of the regiment.

The brickyard action, part of the July 1 battle by the Union's often-scorned 11th Corps, has never attracted much in the way of public or scholarly attention. Coster Avenue, a dead-end street so obscure that even Gettysburg regulars are unclear where it is. The NPS owns only a tiny bit of land, perhaps an acre or two, because the 154th NYVI monument is there.

In the 1970s a warehouse was built on York Street whose back abutted directly onto the NPS land where the brickyard fight took place. Dunkelman, at first depressed, then had an idea.

"I saw that this wall was going to be a very unsightly backdrop only 10 feet away from the monument," he said. "Eventually the idea came to me that I could make the wall disappear and bring back the scene that appeared on that very site during the Battle of Gettysburg."

The warehouse owner was agreeable, and Dunkelman set to painting. As he was financing the entire 80 foot long project from his own pocket, it took considerable time to complete, then paint on panels, then ship the panels from his home in Rhode Island to Gettysburg, then attached to the warehouse with brackets.

It was finally dedicated on July 1, 1988, the 125th anniversary of the fight depicted in the mural.

Time, bad air, and gravity did to the painting what it does to us all, and in recent years it became clear that the painting needed serious restoration. Dunkelman again started fundraising.

"I found it impossible to get a grant to pay for the thing," Dunkelman told the York Sunday Register. "I started a sort of halfhearted effort to raise money; this is not my favorite thing to do."

One of the people he happened to ask was Ed Bearss, retired chief historian for the National Park Service and extremely popular leader of Civil War tours. This turned out to be an extremely wise move.

"Ed told me that before the mural went up, he never bothered to take visitors to Coster Avenue, but since the painting is there, he takes all his groups there to see it," Dunkelman said. "I said to him well then, you know Ed, because you've seen the mural in recent years, it's looking rather shabby."

Bearss told Dunkelman that for 2001 he would select the mural as the project sponsored by the Bearss Brigade, a group of fans and supporters who give money each year to a cause Bearss chooses.

"Consequently I went down to Falls Church, Va., to celebrate his birthday, and came home with an envelope stuffed full of checks," Dunkelman said. The Bearss Brigade raised more than $4,000 for the restoration.

Courtesy of:
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil War

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Point Lookout Flag Case

Oct. 16, 2002--Virtually all the soldiers buried at Point Lookout National Cemetery in Maryland died as soldiers of the Confederate States of America. Yet the cemetery is a unit of the Veteran's Administration of the United States of America.

What flag should fly over these dead Americans?

The US Supreme Court sided with the VA's ruling that only the stars and stripes should be displayed in national cemeteries, refusing to hear an appeal of a case brought by Patrick J. Griffin, a former leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Griffin had asked to be allowed to erect a flagpole, smaller than the existing ones holding US flags, to display a historically correct Confederate national flag at Point Lookout, which served as a holding camp for Confederate prisoners during the Civil War.

The case began after a Confederate flag which had been flown unofficially by a cemetery employee was ordered removed when a visitor complained. The unauthorized display had gone on for four years before the complaint was registered. The removal was ordered in 1998.

Under current VA rules, the Confederate flag can be displayed at Point Lookout on two days a year, Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day, a legal holiday in some Southern states. Other banners, including the black and white "POW-MIA" flag, are also displayed on occasions when private groups request them.

Griffin had initially had success with the case, when a federal judge had rejected the government's argument that the flag could provoke racial controversy or demands for counter-demonstrations.

"The context of the display militates against any potential that a prohibited message of racial intolerance could be inferred," U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson wrote. The judge approved Griffin's request to fly the battle flag, separate from the U.S. flag and on a shorter pole.

The VA, defending its policy, appealed the ruling. The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Washington-based Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit both found that the government had sufficient reason to limit the flag display.

The government's message that the Point Lookout dead were being honored "as Americans" might be confused by display of the Confederate flag, the 4th Circuit said. The Veteran's Administration was also justified in wanting to prevent demonstrations and demands for other potentially controversial displays, that appeals court said.

Ruling on the broader question of whether the flag policy was unconstitutional for all the 119 national cemeteries, the Federal Circuit said the Veteran's Administration could decide for itself what displays are compatible with the solemn atmosphere of a national cemetery.

Griffin claimed the flag policy violated the First Amendment right to free speech.

Courtesy of:
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil War













Monocacy Park Officials Hope New Study, Future Additions, Boost Visitation

Oct. 14, 2002--It's the newest Civil War battlefield park in the NPS system, opened in just eleven years ago. It gets next to no visitors, with just 18,000 coming through last year. The action that took place there is more notable for what might have happened than what actually did. And, oh yes, it has a major highway running smack through the middle of it.

Monocacy National Battlefield marks the closest the Confederacy ever got to sacking Washington DC, when Gen. Jubal Early attacked in July of 1864. Now it's celebrating the release of a major new archaeological study on the site, and officials are looking forward to the opening of a visitor center in 2005.

The study is a look at the history of the 1,600-acre site, from prehistoric times to the 19th century. The project uncovered evidence of farm structures and specific troop encampments, and marks the beginning stages of a $3.5 million project to explore the site's physical history.

Along with the new visitors center at Monocacy will come a more extensive network of trails and interpretive programs. Officials hope this will boost attendance, and then some interest both public and professional about the conflict.

"Everybody comes in with the concept that just because this wasn't a big battle, it wasn't important," said Gloria Swift, park ranger at Monocacy National Battlefield. "We're a small battle, but the ramifications and the overall scope are tremendous."

The park was approved by Congress in 1934, but was essentially undeveloped until 1993, when the current visitors center opened. Before that, there were no interpreters, no facilities and, until this year, no signs directing visitors from Interstate 270, which runs through the park. Frederick County's rapid growth in recent years has virtually surrounded the park with new development, the Washington Post reported.

The area is a historically rich site both in the Civil War era and long before, but has been overlooked for the bigger, bloodier, more glamorous battles that raged around Washington from 1861 to 1865. Both politics and journalism were involved in the neglect, according to one of the few historians who has written about Monocacy's fight.

"Historians will tell you that [Early] probably wouldn't have lasted very long in Washington," said B. Franklin Cooling, author of "The Battle That Saved Washington, a History of the Battle of Monocacy." "But [the Confederates] had just come through the Shenandoah Valley and seen how it had been completely torched [by Union troops], and they were more than likely to have done the same."

Damage, however slight or militarily unimportant, would have been politically disastrous in an election year. Lincoln was already convinced that unless a military miracle took place, he and his party would lose, the war would stop and the Union would never be reunited.

"It appears the Union cause will lose in the fall elections and that the Democrats will elect General McClellan with his peace program," Lincoln wrote that summer.

"Politically, had the Confederates gotten into the capital, the damage they could have done could have been catastrophic, even if the physical damage was not so bad," Cooling said.

Fortunately for Lincoln and the Union, Gen. Lew Wallace (better known as the writer of "Ben-Hur") managed to scrape together a force of recuperating soldiers from hospitals, old men and young boys, and government clerks taken from their desks and handed guns. Outnumbered three to one but fighting defensively, Wallace's scratch force lost their one-day battle.

The one day, however, delayed Early's advance long enough for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to rush troops from Petersburg to Washington to run Early off. Fortunately for Lincoln, most of the war correspondents stayed in Petersburg so the battle got little press coverage.

The neglect continued. Until Cooling's work in 1997, only one full-length book had been written on the battle, "Fighting for Time," published in 1932 by Glenn H. Worthington, who witnessed the battle as a child.

"I think we all, as historians, have kind of slighted" Monocacy, Cooling said.

As has the public. Compared to the 18,000 who visited Monocacy last year, Gettysburg saw almost 1.8 million and Manassas had 822,0000 visitors.

Courtesy of:
Civil War Interactive: The Daily Newspaper of the Civil War