Sunday, May 22, 2011

Finally Feeling Better
After close to 2 weeks feeling like death, I'm finally feeling better.  My studies are progressing (not as fast as I'd like them to, but who am I to complain).

A friend of mine from work recently went to Charleston SC (which is on my list for this year, along with Gettysburg, Antietam (both again), and Manassas).  During his adventures he was nice enough to grab a model of the Hunley for me, as a Navy vet who served on a sub tender, I thought that was pretty damned cool of him.

And as my short term attention span goes...

The June 2000 issue of Civil War Times had an article on the best and worst monuments at Gettysburg, as one who was never afraid to give an opinion, I'll comment on their posts, and add a few suggestions of my own.

I threw in pictures where I have copies, the rest you have to look up on your own as I won't use somebody else's pictures here.  A great reference for pictures of monuments, please go to...

The 5 worst monuments (from 5 to 1) according to Civil War Times

21st Pa Cavalry
Yeah, a pretty funky looking monument, they suggested it looks like something from a Godfather movie, and I really can't disagree.
20th MA Infantry
Basically a large conglomerate type of rock on a pedestal.  Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it was taken from a playground in Roxbury, Massachusetts, so it's a part of home for those who couldn't return.  Among the complaints of the overall appearance, the writer also questions the validity of the story.

90th PA Infantry
A stone replica of a tree that was destroyed by artillery fire.  There is a bird nest as well as accouterments of battle.  Again a rather plain memorial, but the story behind the bird nest is it was allegedly dislodged during the battle and replaced by a member of the unit while under fire.

2nd NJ Infantry
Their complaint about this one is how it seems out of place, and seemingly representing an image of a nuclear warhead.  But in my opinion the Minie ball represents a major step forward in military technology, and is quite fitting on this battlefield.

Lt. General James Longstreet Monument
One of the most recent monuments on the battlefield, the Longstreet Monument was dedicated in 1998.  The two biggest complaints about this monument revolve around the size of the horse and the fact that the monument isn't on a pedestal.  The original design for the monument (which can be found in the visitor center)  was for it to be on a pedestal, similar to that of the Union corps commanders.  While I agree with the argument regarding the size of the horse, the monument is at ground level which brings it down from the godlike proportions of the others out there.

Original Design of Longstreet Memorial

Finished Product Longstreet Memorial

The 5 best (from 5 to 1) according to Civil War Times

73rd NY Infantry
As a firefighter and a veteran, this is one of my favorite monuments on the battlefield.  It's always on my must visit list.  The story behind the monument is great also, the representations are of two twin brothers of the 73rd NY, both of whom were killed during the war.

Gouverneur K. Warren Monument
A nice enough monument of the Chief Engineer from the Army of the Potomac.  But the location and views from it are what sets it apart from others.

State of Mississippi Monument
This was dedicated in 1973, again one of the more modern monuments.  It has an action scene of a member of Barksdale's brigade attacking a fallen Union color bearer.  For the most part, I'm not a fan of the modern monuments.  The older ones were of design approved by the regiments they represented, so there is a direct connection between the men who fought the battle and the monument they chose to represent their deeds and fallen comrades.  Not so with the modern monuments.  The things I do like about them (the modern monuments) is the time is put into the sculpture representing the units they depict, and they commemorate units that had nothing to represent their actions (Confederate troops more often than not).

State of North Carolina Monument
This was dedicated in 1929 so there is still a sense of connection with the men who fought here.  It shows multiple soldiers in an action pose, charging towards the enemy while being encouraged forward by a wounded comrade.  The detail in this bronze piece also makes it one I return to frequently.

Irish Brigade Memorial
I'm of Irish decent.  This is quite simply put, my favorite monument from any battlefield.  It represents the 63rd, 69th and 88th NY.  It is a large Celtic cross that has an irish wolfhound lying at its base as he waits for his master to return.

My take on the monuments of Gettysburg...
I have my favorites, and ones that I think are "better" than others.  But that being said, remember what I said while discussing the Mississippi monument.  The "older" monuments were of a design chosen an approved of by the members of the unit they represent.  Many of them actually depict a member of the unit.  There is a direct connect with the past and these monuments.

My List

42nd NY Tammany Regiment
They were from NYC, their monument shows a native american warrior...what is the significance?  On my not favorite list.

56th Pennsylvania
This must be on my "favorites" list as I  have taken several pictures of it.  I think I like the balance of the rifles with the colors in the middle.

11th Pennsylvania
Sometimes the story makes the monument special to me.  At the base of the monument is a pit bull named Sallie.  She was given to an officer in the regiment.  She was found after the battle protecting the bodies of her men.  She was killed in battle at Petersburg.

74th Pennsylvania
The detail in the soldier's face showing his sadness and anguish is moving to me.

 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry
Like the 21st PA Cavalry that was mentioned by the magazine article, this horse looks scared or perhaps in pain.  As far as monuments go, I find this one disturbing.

2nd Company Massachusetts Sharpshooters
This is a neat monument, it's missing the rifle (vandalism), but seen from the valley below, it's as if a soldier is looking down on you trying to decide whether or not to shoot.

116th Pennsylvania (Irish Brigade)
I'm on the fence with this one.  It's a beautifully done monument, depicting a soldier who was killed on Stony Hill.  There are days I really like this monument, and days that it just brings such feelings of sorrow.

Other Monuments I Like
Like the magazine article I didn't include the Pennsylvania or Virginia monuments.  But I am very fond of both.    

The Virginia monument depicts Lee on Traveller, with representations of every type of soldier that was part of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The Pennsylvania monument is the largest on the battlefield.  Among other items of interest are the bronze plaques on the outer perimeter of the monument that name every soldier from Pennsylvania who fought at Gettysburg.

The 40th New York monument.  This is by Devil's Den and depicts a soldier in laying down behind rocks looking to take a shot.

On the above list, as earlier stated, I like the Irish Brigade monument, 73rd New York, and the North Carolina monument.  

My lists of "best and worst" monuments aren't complete, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1300 monuments at Gettysburg, each has its positives and negatives.  The important thing to remember is what they commemorate.

One thing that breaks my heart and angers me is when I read stories about the vandalism of these monuments.  This is an ongoing issue.  Some monuments have been splashed with paint, others have had parts broken off of them, others still have been dragged (yes dragged) to the point of near destruction.  If you want to do something positive for the battlefield go to The Gettysburg Foundation and either donate your time or money.

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