Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Historic Homes: Pierce and Weikert

Last week we looked briefly into the life and times of Matilda Pierce through my brief  review of Tanya Anderson's wonderful book--Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg.  So this week, let's continue our introduction with a few locations important to her story.  (By the way, Anderson provides many diverse and intriguing photos in her history.)

To start, let's look at Tillie's home, located on the corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets. (I took this photo yesterday  after meeting my sister for lunch in Gettysburg). From these windows, Tillie first watched free blacks fleeing toward Culp's Hill to escape the  Confederate Army, advancing on Gettysburg. Next she witnessed a Confederate cavalry followed by hundreds infantrymen. As Anderson explains, "The foot soldiers--desperately in need of food, horses, and clothing--raided business, homes, churches, and farms for goods." And the Pierce family was no exception, as they, too, were soon to be raided.

If you read last week's review, you know that Tillie accompanies her neighbor (with young children) to flee to the countryside and farm of her parents, never imagining that the grisly and tragic war would follow them.  The Weikert barn and home would soon host hundreds of injured and dying soldiers, some whose names have been immortalized. And Tillie Pierce was there. 

Yesterday I also drove out the Taneytown Road to locate and photograph this historic location. Although privately owned, the farmstead proudly announces its historical significance as a Civil War Hospital. 

Finally, for more photos of the Weikert Farm and to learn more of its history, including information on Tillie's role, visit the Gettysburg Daily. Wherever I go, the Daily has been there first.

Until next week . . .  Here's hoping you soon "get with Gettysburg!"

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tillie Pierce: A Must Read Book

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg is a perfect book, balancing historical scope (the Battle of Gettysburg) with an intimate narrative of a fifteen-year-old girl caught within  the three-day maelstrom of war. Anderson allows us to experience the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes and words of  Matilda  "Tillie" Pierce, who accompanies her neighbor Hettie (whose husband is in the army) and children to escape the  imminent dangers posed by the Confederate and Union armies converging on the town. By foot they hurry from Baltimore Street to what they expect will be a safer locale, farther south of town, along the Taneytown Road, east of Little Round Top. They head to the residence of Hettie’s parents: the Weikert Farm. For those who know a little about the Gettysburg Battle, this farm was about to become a field hospital for over 700 soldiers, from both the North and South.

Anderson retells the story first written by Matilida Pierce Alleman herself  as a mature woman and published in 1889: At Gettysburg; or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle.  In retelling the story, Anderson provides what “Tillie” could not: the larger historical context within which to place the personal narrative.  And she does so deftly, not only through a concise yet interesting overview of the political and social struggles between North and South but also through photographs taken from that period and side bar information on cultural customs  (like hiding a child’s shoe in the walls of a house for good luck) and current history relevant to key locations during the battle.

What is most amazing, of course, is Tillie’s specific experiences, narrated mostly by Anderson and sprinkled with direct quotes from Alleman’s own narrative (a book I intend to read immediately).   A wonderful story teller, Anderson’s account will keep you glued to the pages of this incredible story.

I highly recommend this book and can’t imagine a school library without it.

Georgia Anne Butler

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New York State Monument

Last week when posting on the Soldiers' National Monument, I promised to return this week to the Gettysburg National Cemetery to look at another--the New York State Monument. 

Standing 93 feet high, this colossal monument is striking to behold.  Atop a towering granite column stands a female figure, representing the state of New York, about to place a wreath on a soldier's grave.  (I took this zoom image from directly beneath.)  In her left hand she holds a staff,  though I can't discover what balances on top the staff.  This monument is dedicated to all the sons of New York who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, and the figure weeps for the fallen.

Of all the monuments I've seen to date, this is the most memorable. The bronze relief that circles the column depicts officers wounded or killed in battle, including Brigadier General S. H. Weed, who died defending Little Round Top, and Major General J. F. Reynolds (of Pennsylvania, one of three non-New York natives depicted in the relief), who died early on the first day of battle.

To see the monument in its entirety, I again send you to Stone Sentinels, my first stop when researching the story behind the monuments I photograph.

Come back next week for something different, when I'll review the book Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson. 

Until then . . . Here's hoping you can soon Get with Gettysburg!

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Soldiers National Monument

On Monday I made a quick visit to the Gettysburg National Cemetery,  final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. And today I'd like to share my images of the Soldiers' National Monument, located on the site believed to be where President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.  

Since moving to Gettysburg in the fall of 2011, I've visited the National Cemetery a few times, discovering something new each time.  For instance, I've seen the Soldier's National Monument but until now (with a bit of research) didn't know particulars about the monument, that is, who sculpted it, who the figures represent . . . and more.  To obtain this information, I needed to visit  only one site--Gettysburg Daily (a blog currently on hiatus).  If you want the whole story, check out the link below.

If you've time only for a brief highlight, stay with me a moment more. 

Sculpted by Randolph Rogers (an American Neoclassical sculpture who lived mostly in Italy), the 60 foot-high monument is the lofty foothold of Liberty, who holds in her right hand the "victor's wreath of laurel." Far below her sit the embodiments of History, War, Peace, and Plenty. History, represented by the muse Clio (we met her earlier this year in my post February 12 post) writes of the heroic deeds reported to her by War, in the form of a solder.

While gracing the other side of the twenty-five foot square base are the figures of Plenty and Peace.

However, for me, the magnificence of this sculpture is humbled among the many marked and unmarked monuments to the fallen of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Check back next week for a look at another major monument in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Until next time . . .

Georgia Anne