Skip to content

1864 April 2: Gettysburg Cemetery and the Reynolds Statue

April 7, 2014

The following report on the battlefield and cemetery at Gettysburg is from the April 2, 1864, issue of The Polk County Press.

The Battle-ground of Gettysburg.

THE BODIES OF OUR SOLDIERS
RE-INTERRED—INCIDENTS.

A letter from Gettysburg in the Baltimore “Sun” says :

All the bodies of the Union soldiers have now been disinterred from the pits and trenches where they were hastily thrown after the battle, and carefully buried in their appropriate places in the cemetery.

The total number of bodies thus removed and entombed is three thousand five hundred and twelve.  About one thousand of them are unknown, and deposited in that part of the enclosure set apart for those unrecognized.  Nearly or quite a fourth of the whole number of the slain belong to the State of New York.  Many of the unknown bodies have since been recognized, their names having been discovered from letters, photographs, medals, diaries, clothing, and other things found upon the corpses.  Quite an amount of money, in small sums, ranging from the fractional part of a dollar up to fifty dollars, was also found upon these bodies by those who disinterred them.  Thirty-six dollars in gold were found in the pocket of one, and thirty to forty dollars—paper and gold—in the garments of others, besides many relics, mementoes, &c.  All this money and these relics have been taken care of by the committee, properly labelled, and held in safe-keeping for the relatives, should they ever be discovered.  An elegant hunting-case gold watch and five or six silver watches were also found upon different bodies.

Reynolds portrait statue

Reynolds portrait statue²

The Cemetery Association will be fully organized as soon as the charter, now before the Pennsylvania Legislature, becomes a law, authorizing the power of incorporation.  Workmen are busily engaged  improving the grounds, and will continue until the place is completed.

Mr. Willis [sic]¹ further informs me that he received a letter on Saturday last from a committee of First United States Army Corps, stating that the members of said corps had now raised a sufficient sum of money to enable them to erect a suitable monument somewhere on the battle-field where their brave commander, Gen. Reynolds, fell, in commemoration of his gallant services.  The committee favors the idea of erecting it on the spot where their  chieftain was slain, but it is not considered eligible on account of its being out of the way.  The suggestion is therefore made to erect it on an elevated position within the cemetery, and this probably will be acceded to.²

1.  David Wills (1831-1894), a lawyer and judge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the principal figure in the establishment of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.  He had purchased, on behalf of the state of Pennsylvania, seventeen acres for a cemetery and was in charge of the Gettysburg Cemetery dedication in November, 1863, at which President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
2.  Today there are four different bronze monuments at Gettysburg of General John F. Reynolds, as well as a granite monument that marks the spot where he fell. The bronze portrait statue pictured here, by sculptor J.Q.A. Ward, is located in the National Cemetery. “It was the first bronze portrait statue placed on the Gettysburg battlefield,” and was dedicated on August 31, 1872.”Within months after Reynolds’ death, a committee was appointed to raise funds for the placement of a memorial where Reynolds fell. With contributions from both officers and enlisted men, nearly $5700.00 was raised for the memorial which when completed would cost just over $15,000. The bronze used for the Reynolds would be made of melted down cannons used during the Civil War.”
The image and information are from the Gettysburg Sculptures website. The Levi Mumper albumen photograph is from the 1890s and this digital version has been copyrighted by Gettysburg Sculptures.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: