Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Controversy Continues At Gettysburg

Source: The Civil War News July 2009 The effort to return the national battlefield military park to its appearance on July 1, 2 and 3, 1863 continues to draw both praise and anger. The park has removed 284 acres of non-historic trees and intends to remove 292 additional acres. The park is also replanting 115 acres of historic wooded areas and 109 acres of orchards have already been planted at 36 sites. They have planted over 40,000 plants of historic thickets including over 10.5 miles of fencing. The superintendent at Gettysburg has said, that visitors to the park have had to use their imaginations in the past inorder to understand Hood’s attack against Devil’s Den. Critics point out that visitors have been imagining for 140 years what happened there, why do so many offending trees have to be removed in order to “see what the soldiers saw”? Dan Siderio of Gettysburg Pa. states that not only can we now see “what the soldiers saw”, we can also see sheds, warehouses, trucks, equipment, public restrooms and private homes that were once hidden by thousands of trees which have now been removed. And what of the veterans who actually fought at Gettysburg? What did they envision the park would become? Research by Sue Martin of Mount Joy Pa., shows that the reunion booklets of the surviving veterans envisioned trees, flowers and monuments as a peaceful memorial to their fellow soldiers who had fought and died there. However, Chis Shelton of Indianapolis, Indiana, states that Gettysburg is a National Military park, not a recreational area, a bird sanctuary or a bike park and that the park service never should have allowed the trees and vegetation to grow haphazardly in the first place. The “story” above is only a sampling of the controversy being played out in the Civil War News’ monthly articles and letters to the editor. I’m wondering how members of the NSCWR feel about the restoration of the Gettysburg Battlefield. Let me know at andrewathanas@hotmail.com.
Excerpted by Andy Athanas