Heritage & News - December 2003Gettysburg, PA - Chancellorsville, VA - Manassas, VA ( reproduced from issue 73 of Crossfire, the magazine of the ACWRT(UK)
Compiled by Ken Grant-Coker
It is a story of mixed success. Chancellorsville battlefield protesters were successful in preventing an outer connector beltway around Fredericksburg which would have been one of the principal threats to the integrity of the battlefield around the Mullins farm area and the historic Orange Turnpike. On the Manassas battlefield protesters were able to save the site of Lees HQ at Second Manassas and prevent the Disney Corporation from building a massive theme park. However, the historic Stone House intersection has now been increased to a four lane monstrosity which has destroyed the historic scene of that area, the giant statue of Thomas Jackson now looks down on acres of pavement which was once the site of the battlefield hospital of the Stone House.
The Gettysburg battlefield museum is to be replaced with a new state of the art museum which will be built further south and east between Taneytown Road and Baltimore Pike. It is intended that it will be "invisible" leaving the view of the battlefield unobstructed. The project is expected to take two years, at a cost of some $95 million, to complete the old museum will be demolished and the site restored to its 1863 condition. As part of the new project the gigantic cyclorama depiction of Pickett's charge will be restored to its former glory. The restoration, costing more than $9 million, is expected to take three years and the restorers intend to recreate the original three dimensional diorama and to restore the optical illusions that have been lost over the years and allow visitors once again to experience the painting the way it was originally intended. When the painting was first displayed "the experience was said to be so realistic that veterans wept" The work has already started with preliminary preservation treatment and the first two of 27 panels will be removed for restoration in February 2004. The restoration of the remaining panels will commence in August 2004 when the gallery will be closed to public view and reopened again in the new Gettysburg Museum and Visitors centre in late 2006.
The original museum and visitors site
The current facilities sit right on the battlefield, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting. It is located on the "famous fishhook" and the current car park covers the spot between Ziegler's Grove and Cemetery Hill where hundreds of soldiers were killed in combat as the Union strove to hold its defensive lines.
Spring Muster at Gettysburg
The ' Winds of Valor' organisation devoted to the battlefield preservation and the interest and preservation of American Heritage is to hold a spring muster at Gettysburg to be held over the weekend of May 14th through to the 16th 2004. Highlights will include 7 professionally guided tours, a benefit Dinner and Dance, with period dancing and music, for the Civil War Preservation Trust. The focus will be on the July 2nd actions with in depth studies of Culp's Hill, Cemetery Hill, Benner's Hill, Evergreen Cemetery and related areas.
by Ken Grant-Coker
Photo: Jim Campi, CWPT
© ACWRT(UK) 2003