Meeting The Civilians of
By Christine Tibbetts
|Seminary Ridge Museum opened July 1, 2013, ten
paintings by artist Dale Gallon enlarged as eight-foot
murals, joining four floors of interactive story-telling
exhibits with films, music, voices and thoughtful
intended, but the battles of Gettysburg and their strategies
elude me. Re-enactments too.
Travel to famous, greatly honored places
should excite and uplift, so I've skirted Gettysburg for a
Poor attitude for a traveler. I see the
error of my ways now that I've walked the battlefield, visited
some 1863 homes and hospitals, paid attention to the letters and
diaries of Civil War civilians, and opened my attitude to the
musing available in the outstanding Visitor Center and Museum in
the National Military Park.
This is not a recount of what's obvious
about the soldiers to historians and battle strategists. This is
a story suggesting where to muse about the other people.
"Day's End July 1st"
by Dale Gallon, commissioned for the Gettysburg
Seminary Ridge Museum
Evening of July 1, 1863
Gettysburg, PA - The wounded being collected &
treated on the east side of the Seminary
sun sets over the destruction of battle around the
Seminary, wounded soldiers (mostly Union) are being
gathered, and carried into the building. Others lie on
the ground outside. Confederate forces are establishing
a camp for the night. Nearby General Robert E. Lee
confers with his officers, utilizing the vantage point
of Seminary Ridge to evaluate the terrain in front of
them beyond the town of Gettysburg. Lee can just
discern along the clearly visible landmarks of Culp's
Hill, Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge, Union infantry
and artillery units streaming into new lines.
Seminary Ridge Museum is a major place. So
is Shriver House Museum. Bed and breakfast inns with specific
echoes from the battle days too.
"Voices of Duty and Devotion"
opened July 1, 2013–150 years to the day after the Battle of
Gettysburg began Seminary Ridge Museum: four
floors of personal, reflective, history-based conversations in
the 1832 building from which Union General John Buford watched
early battle developments July 1, 1863.
You too can see that sweep of Pennsylvania
land from the cupola of the museum. Red flag meant Civil War
hospital located here, and this cupola held a red flannel
petticoat, presumably belonging to Mary Ziegler.
She was the cook for seminary students, her
husband Emanuel the steward. Together, after the battles, they
encountered many people seeking their men.
That included the couple who walked 21
miles over mountains from Chambersburg, looking for their son
Civilians are the story in the Shriver House Museum
in downtown Gettysburg where Director
Nancie W. Gudmestad shares details
filled with research and tenderness.
Four sons had died in the war and the
Zieglers helped them locate Charlie on the third floor of the
Seminary; he recognized his parents, and died.
See what I mean? In Gettysburg I found
civilian stories, people embattled for sure but not in battle.
Clearly I could have encountered them had I visited earlier, but
now preparations for the sesquicentennial bubble with
Helped me muse about life those days in my
petticoats had Gettysburg been my 19th century birthplace.
Hettie Shriver was 27 when the soldiers
appeared in front of her house on Baltimore Street; daughter
Sadie was seven and Mollie only five.
Husband George, of course, was off to war.
Next door lived 15-year-old Tillie Pierce who later wrote her
view of a neighborhood suddenly filled with soldiers, guns and
canons, wounded, dying and dead men and dead horses.
I time traveled, exploring every bit of the
Shriver family home with director docent Nancie W. Gudmestad.
Sometimes I put myself in Hettie's shoes, sometimes the little
Their home as you and I visit is 152 years
old, meticulously restored; scientific testing proves copious
amounts of blood spilled in the attic floor where Confederate
sharpshooters set up.
As I tried to be Hettie, in her kitchen, I
found scant personal wisdom wondering how I'd help my little
daughters process life with 24,000 seriously wounded men in our
town of 400 buildings, and 12,000 dead men and horses.
Many Union and some Confederate wounded entered this
front door when today's
Baladerry Inn served as a hospital
during and after the battles of Gettysburg, July
The civilian experiences intrigued other
travelers when I chatted over breakfast at the Baladerry Inn,
travelers who had not yet discovered the Shriver House Museum. I
recommend planning a few hours there.
It's in the midst of a charming downtown so
let the musing settle with some strolling, shopping, dining,
Then go, or go again, to Seminary Ridge
Museum. Formal opening was July 1, 2013; here's what I know from
a hard-hat visit in September the previous year.
"We will talk about history and religion in
ways not always possible," Barbara Franco told me, because of
being a historical society and an active seminary. She's the
founding executive director, passionate about ideas and the
stories behind the stories.
"The Seminary was in the center of the
battles," she said, America's first seminary and still active
today. I didn't meet the current leader of Gettysburg's Lutheran
Theological Seminary, but the life story of Samuel Schmucker who
founded the school is interesting to know when you go.
Anti-Slavery, Princeton theology graduate.
First wife died, second wife a woman from Virginia with slaves.
A dozen children combined.
Could their conversations have been as
lively as their household? The galleries and interactive
exhibits designed for every floor sound energetic too.
Overlooking the battlefield next to the
of Maj. Gen. G. K. Warren on Little Round
allows daunting contemplation.
Videos on every level. Music true to 1863.
Diary stories. Interaction with the Ziegler children, Hugh age
10 and Lydia, 12, growing up in the Seminary when the soldiers
Life cast figures in Seminary Ridge Museum
should give reality checks to visitors like me, wondering about
the wounded and their helpers.
"More than 600 patients were here," Franco
said, "and we know the names of at least 400, plus nurses and
The museum is reaching out to their
descendents, Franco said. "We want to know what happened
"What is the continuing impact of what
happened in Gettysburg in July 1863?"
Other intended consequences of the
exhibitions, seminars and conversations developed for Seminary
Ridge Museum are:
•considerations of compassion and empathy
•religion and slavery from 19th century
viewpoints plus what Franco calls
•"the unfinished work for freedom."
Incentive for me to return yet again.
Consider too a November trip.
Remembrance Day is celebrated with a parade and ceremony and
a somber luminary event in Soldiers' National Cemetery.
The look of Soldiers National Cemetery --
different from Arlington and Normandy
Nov. 19, 2012 was Dedication Day and
Lincoln's brief remarks delivered four months after the battles
were the focus. Steven Spielbeg was the guest speaker.
Sure you and I memorized "Four score and
seven years ago ..." decades ago and see photos of children in
black paper hats doing so this decade.
Meant more hearing it here. In context. I
believed that was Abe's voice as I stood in the National
Military Park Museum gallery dedicated solely to his two minutes
Edward Everett gave the main speech that
1863 day, two hours worth, setting aside the land to bury Union
Looking at life as it was lived just prior
to the battles
is a powerful part of Gettysburg experiences.
This is the Sherfy family farm,
with a worm fence in
front, movable as needed
Exhibitions, touch-screen videos, films,
interactive audio displays, artifacts, thoughtful questions,
abundant galleries abound in this museum, well worth another
story and a longer trip.
But here's a tip when you go: try to be a
stowaway in the Cyclorama because it is so fascinating the
15-minute limit is not sufficient. Here's how:
Entry is a long, steep escalator. Exit is a
stairway. Linger quietly on the steps and you might get to see
the show again.
This detailed painted battle scene is 42
feet tall and 377 feet long, hanging on rings like a shower
curtain with weights on the bottom.
Weighs 11 tons. Atlanta's Civil War scene
Cyclorama is 40 feet smaller. Gettysburg's was painted by Paul
Dominique Philippoteaux, first seen in Boston in 1884,
apparently a short-lived genre, replaced by motion pictures.
Look straight ahead at this massive
painting, walking the circle to see it all. Elsewhere in town,
take a look at the Diorama for another perspective.
President Abraham Lincoln arrived in this train station
to share a few short
remarks at the dedication of the
for Union soldiers killed in Gettysburg.
This is a private business, presenting a
30-minute light and sound show of the three days of battles
across 6,000 acres. The little scale helped battle-challenged me
to get some perspective.
These 20,000 hand-painted soldiers are the
scale of HO train models, director Sharon Widener told me.
That's 1/72nd scale.
Same scale for almost a thousand cannons
and horses on 800 square feet. Don't think I misled you when you
enter this corner building on Steinwehr Avenue. Diorama's in the
back; t-shirts and trinkets in the front.
Good idea to sleep comfortably and dine
well while traveling; even more true perhaps in Gettysburg with
so much to contemplate.
Musing time makes sense.
I added to the contemplative time in bed
and three-course-breakfast inn built in 1812, Hospital Road is
the address, battlefields on three sides, bike-riding distance
from the National Military Park.
Funny to me the name is Scottish since the
history here and the access opportunities are so Civil War.
Baladerry Inn was a Civil War hospital and
I found that a powerful concept simply standing at the original
narrow front door, wondering about wounded Yanks and Rebs in
first-floor rooms to my left and right and up the stairs to
three rooms you can reserve.
Same wooden floors. Some of the same
wavy-glass windows. Innkeepers Judy and Kenny Caudill consider
the enormous weeping Douglas fir at their door as much a
treasure as the sweeping views across the front and side yards.
Proprietor Judy Caudill creates three-course breakfasts
every morning for guests in the Baladerry Inn.
They balance new rooms and renovations with
powerful history. Their land was the George Bushman family farm,
and records show Brig. Gen. Strong Vincent, mortally wounded in
the Gettysburg battle, died at Bushman's.
The Twelfth Corps hospital treated 1,131
Union and 125 Confederate soldiers, Judy told me. That means
right where I was.
In my own room at the Baladerry Inn, I
thought about Catherine Hoffman Bushman in hers.
Age 38 when the battles began. Bullet piercing her quilt.
I thought about Charlie's mother too, and
all the children. And Hettie Shriver's husband George who died
in the Andersonville prison.
I'll be back.