On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, the Gettysburg Foundation hosted USS Gettysburg sailors at the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital. Continuing its partnership of more than 30 years with the USS Gettysburg, the Foundation was pleased to welcome the crew back to Gettysburg.
Sailors under the leadership of Chaplain Jamin Bailey from the USS Gettysburg provided volunteer labor replanting and restoring the historic apple orchard at the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital. Under expert guidance from local orchard owner and retired U.S Army surgeon, Bill Pulig, the sailors helped plant, mulch and fence the new trees. When mature, the 50 or so trees will represent the historic orchard that was on the site at the time of the 1863 battle.
The Spangler family had a thriving orchard on the property when the Battle of Gettysburg suddenly transformed their farm into a Civil War field hospital. The orchard became a temporary burial site for more than 200 Union and Confederate soldiers who died at the farm. These dead soldiers were buried in the orchard because the ground there would remain undisturbed – unlike the farmland under cultivation. Union soldiers were disinterred for burial in the Gettysburg National Cemetery in time for President Abraham Lincoln’s visit for the cemetery’s dedication in November 1863. However, the confederate dead remained buried in George Spangler’s orchard until southern states could marshal the resources to move them to Richmond years after the battle.
The orchard restoration was completed just weeks before the Gettysburg Foundation hosts Family Day at Spangler on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 28, 2022, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. with limited parking on-site, 488 Blacksmith Shop Road, Gettysburg. Visitors can also view the newly replanted orchard when they visit the George Spangler Farm & Field Hospital during the summer season for living history and programming on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., June 10 through August 14, 2022, with access via shuttle from the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg.
Named for the Battle of Gettysburg, the USS Gettysburg’s motto is, “Deeds, Not Words,” reflecting the willingness of those who fought at Gettysburg and those who have served on the ship to translate strength of conviction into decisive action. Crewmembers have continued to not only serve their country while aboard the ship, but also take action to preserve history here in Gettysburg.
The Gettysburg Foundation is grateful for the service of the crew and glad to partner with the USS Gettysburg. We look forward to future opportunities to connect in Gettysburg.