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Civility

So we, the people, can preserve our liberty and our greatness in time of peace only by ourselves exercising the virtues of honesty, of self-restraint and of fair dealing...

President Theodore Roosevelt 
Gettysburg, Pa.
Memorial Day, May 30, 1904 

Gettysburg is remembered as the site of one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. With more than 51,000 casualties over the course of three days, the encounter was anything but civil. 

War rarely is. 

And, while addressing a Memorial Day crowd at Gettysburg in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reminded the audience of the lessons of the battlefield and the need for “honesty,” “self-restraint” and “fair dealing” as keys to preserving our country’s greatness. 

We are not as divided now as we were in 1863, but as it was in Roosevelt’s time, the need for civility continues today.  

Here, where you contended in mortal combat a half century ago, you meet today to clasp each other’s hand in warm embrace and to extoll the virtues in each other found.

Congressman J. Hampton Moore (Pa.)
50th Anniversary of the Battle, 1913
Gettysburg, Pa.

Gettysburg reminds us that we can be civil and resolve our differences even in the most difficult circumstances:

  • Following the July 1 fighting along Oak Ridge and Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg citizen J.F. McKentrick used the large spring at the Samuel Cobean farm to fill canteens and provide water to wounded soldiers from both armies.
  • In Gettysburg teenager Liberty Augusta Hollinger’s personal recollections of the battle, the then-16-year-old recalled her mother as “tireless in her willingness to bake and work and to carry cheer and comfort to the suffering soldiers” of both North and South.
  • In Lydia Zielgler Clare’s account of the battle and its aftermath, the then-13-year-old Gettysburg resident recalled her family providing food and “some little act of kindness” to the wounded and dying on both sides.

Whether it’s in preserving our democracy, dealing with each other in a fair and constructive manner or remembering our past and how we should commemorate it, we know we can be civil.

Gettysburg inspires. We know we can come together even after the most horrific conflicts. We know we can preserve our greatness. 

We know we can be civil. 

It’s another way to look at Gettysburg and ourselves. This is Gettysburg Revisited.

Revisit Gettysburg

A massive battle. A place of solemn remembrance. An emblem of democracy. 

Learn more about reimagining Gettysburg and its inspirational messages of civility.

Revisit & Reimagine Gettysburg

Revisit Gettysburg and take another look at the sites and messages of civility you may have missed the first time:

The Angle
Monument

Recognized as a symbol of both the brutality of the battle and the reconciliation found afterward, the monument marks the site of the Copse of Trees used as a landmark for Pickett’s Charge.

During reunions in 1887 and 1913, veterans from both sides met at the Angle in a display of civility.

Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial

Civility in Battle: Located in the National Cemetery Annex, the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial depicts Union Captain Henry Bingham—staff assistant to General Winfield Hancock—assisting fallen Confederate General Lewis Amistead.

Capturing a scene of civility and respect between two opposing sides, Bingham is shown receiving Amistead's watch and personal effects to be delvered to Amistead's friend, General Hancock.

George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital

Site of a Union field hospital where 1,900 wounded soldiers received medical treatment. In spite of the hostilities waging around them, caregivers provided assistance to soldiers from both sides of the battle. 

“Those who wore gray were cared for with our own boys in blue, as they lay side by side in the same tents.” - Rebecca Price, volunteer nurse stationed at George Spangler Farm. 

Veterans from both sides of the battle returned to Gettysburg in 1913 to honor the fallen, reminisce with their friends and extend their hands to their former enemies over fences where they once fired.