Re-enactment benefits Gettysburg Civil War sites

Preservation: Tillie Pierce Homestead, Lincoln Train Station, Seminary Ridge buildings were helped last year.

June 26, 2005|By Gregory Romano | Gregory Romano,SUN STAFF

While the annual Gettysburg battle re-enactment always provides a great deal of action and excitement, it also serves to support preservation around the area.

Every year, the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee chooses a number of different organizations to support. The 141st Gettysburg Re-enactment, which took place last summer, was no different.

One of the organizations supported by the re-enactment was the National Trust for Historic Gettysburg. According to the Annual Gettysburg Civil War Battle Re-enactment Web site, the National Trust is involved in a number of restoration efforts around Gettysburg.

One of these efforts involves the Tillie Pierce Homestead on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg. Tillie Pierce was 15 when the battle occurred, and she wrote a moving memoir, At Gettysburg, or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle, describing the fighting from the perspective of a teenage girl.

The National Trust is also working on the restoration of the historic Lincoln Train Station. According to the Gettysburg community Web site, a train rolled through this station for the first time in 1858, five years before the battle that would make the city famous.

During the battle of Gettysburg, the train station took on the role of a hospital for wounded soldiers. In the months after the battle, important supplies for the wounded continued to come in through Lincoln Train Station.

Also, according to the community Web site, the train station had its most important visitor, for whom it is now named, when President Abraham Lincoln arrived on Nov. 18, 1863. The next day, Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. Because of all this, the National Trust is working to restore the Lincoln Train Station to its original form.

Founded in 1959

The Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association, which was founded in 1959 as the first private organization created to protect the Gettysburg battlefield from development, was also supported by last year's battle re-enactment. The association has taken on many historic preservation projects over the years. It is restoring the Daniel Lady Farm on Hanover Road.

The Daniel Lady Farm was used significantly during the Battle of Gettysburg. "It is very important because there is direct testimony by Louisiana troops saying that General Robert E. Lee stayed there the first night of the battle," said Craig Cabba, a member of the association.

Besides being used as Lee's sleeping quarters, the farm had other uses during the battle. As the battle progressed through the weekend, the farmhouse and barn were converted into hospitals for Confederate soldiers.

The association is fully restoring this important part of Gettysburg history. According to Cabba, this full restoration includes comprehensive masonry, landscaping, and rooftop repair. The proceeds from last year's re-enactment went to this cause.

The re-enactment also supports the Seminary Ridge Preservation Association, which works closely with the Lutheran Theological Seminary. These organizations work to restore the buildings on Seminary Ridge.

One of its current projects is Schumacher Hall. Schumacher Hall, which is recognized by its cupola, was used a great deal during the Battle of Gettysburg.

"On the first day of the battle, General Buford of the Union army watched the movements of Confederates coming into Gettysburg from the west from there," said Donna Nicholson, president of the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation.

"Later on, when the Confederates were in control of Seminary Ridge, Gen. Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army went to the cupola and observed the troops," she said.

Also a hospital

Besides being an observation post, Schumacher Hall also served as much more. According to Nicholson, the hall served as a hospital for Union and Confederate troops during and after the battle. Because of the role Schumacher Hall played in the fighting, the Preservation Association believes it to be a worthy restoration project.

"Schumacher Hall has had very little done to it since 1832," said Nicholson. "Because of its significance, it is important to capture what it once was and restore that to the building."

Along with the restoration of Schumacher Hall, the Preservation Association is creating an interpretive walking tour on Seminary Ridge.

According to Nicholson, wayside markers will be placed along the ridge to tell the story of the first day of the battle. This will help enhance a visitor's experience of Seminary Ridge.

Equestrian group

The final organization supported by the re-enactment is the Gettysburg Equestrian Historical Society, which was formed 11 years ago by a group of concerned equestrians.

"Our main goal is to work to maintain the equestrian trails at Gettysburg National Military Park," said Rick Fait, vice president of the society.

According to Fait, with the proceeds from last year's re-enactment, the society donated $10,000 to the National Park Service. This money led to the purchase of a vehicle that is used to help maintain the trails throughout the park.

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