Gettysburg Monuments: Lasting Memorials to Sacrifices at Gettysburg
At Gettysburg, monuments to both Union and Confederate troops are visible on the battlefield. Gettysburg National Military Park preserves one of the world’s largest collections of outdoor sculptures. Close to 1,400 statues, sculptures, markers and tablets stand where men fought — memorials to the sacrifices at Gettysburg. You can honor the memory of those who fought at Gettysburg by helping us preserve these Gettysburg monuments.
Gettysburg Monuments History
Almost as soon as the Battle of Gettysburg ended, efforts to commemorate and honor those who fought at Gettysburg began. Soldiers’ National Cemetery was the first to receive a monument in 1869. A white memorial urn honors the 1st Minnesota Infantry, which suffered extreme losses during the fighting on July 2, 1863. Over the years, veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg placed more monuments and markers in locations where their units had fought on the battlefield.
Memorials were generally erected in the center of a particular unit’s formation; flank markers — small, square stones — indicate the ends of the line. Initially, many Union veterans objected to the idea of placing Confederate monuments on the battlefield, but as the bitterness of the Civil War subsided, the idea of Gettysburg monuments honoring Confederate sacrifices was accepted. The United States War Department began to encourage the installation of monuments to Confederate troops in the late 1800s. The first monument to a Confederate regiment, the 2nd Maryland Infantry CSA, was dedicated in 1886 at Culp’s Hill.
Notable State Memorials at Gettysburg
At Gettysburg, monuments also take the form of state memorials. The Virginia Memorial was the first state memorial to honor Confederate soldiers who fought at Gettysburg. Completed in 1917, the Virginia Memorial depicts General Robert E. Lee astride his horse, Traveller. Other notable state memorials include the Pennsylvania Memorial, the only memorial to record all the soldiers from the state of Pennsylvania who participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Bronze figures of a wounded Union and Confederate soldier side by side are featured on the Maryland Memorial.
Confederate and Union Generals at Gettysburg
Gettysburg monuments also honor Confederate and Union Civil War generals, such as George G. Meade, John F. Reynolds, John Sedgwick, Winfield S. Hancock, Oliver O. Howard, Henry Slocum and James Longstreet. A few memorials to lower-ranking soldiers are here at Gettysburg, too, such as the memorial to Pvt. George Nixon, the great-grandfather of former U.S. President Richard Nixon.
John Burns, a Gettysburg civilian, is honored at Gettysburg. The 69-year-old Burns, a veteran of the War of 1812, fought beside the members of the Iron Brigade at Gettysburg. He was injured in the battle and, soon after, became a national hero. Burns’ monument was dedicated on July 1, 1903 — the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Gettysburg Monuments Today
Today, visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park can stand at any of the markers or monuments and picture the battlefield from the perspective of the units that fought at Gettysburg. Battlefield rehabilitation at Gettysburg is underway in an effort to return the landscape as closely as possible to its 1863 appearance.
Gettysburg National Military Park is preserving the vision of Civil War veterans who originally began the effort to preserve the battlefield. It is how they wanted their comrades to be remembered. And it is how they, themselves, wanted to be remembered.
Learn more about Gettysburg monuments by downloading our Art in the Park brochure.