The Gettysburg Foundation has been given a unique war log in the middle of the fierce fighting during the Battle of Gettysburg. This historically significant artifact was generously donated by Foundation board member Craig Bashein from Cleveland, Ohio. “I know the artifact will be in good hands with the Gettysburg Foundation,” said Mr. Bashein, who has been a Civil War Collector for over 25 years. “One of the goals of the Board of Directors is to improve the visitor experience and there is no better way to engage audiences than displaying one of the most iconic artifacts from the battlefield. It should be exciting for the public to know that the 'Gettysburg War Log' is returning home." This "victim of war" is considered the most substantial and historic war log from the Battle of Gettysburg surviving today.
“We are delighted to accept this tangible piece of history,” said Matthew C. Moen, president of the Gettysburg Foundation. “Craig's donation is vivid evidence of the violence that occurred on American soil, not far from our Museum and Visitor Center. We are thankful to Craig for entrusting us with this exceptional artifact.”
According to its oral history, the log was taken from a large section of an oak tree located in the Copse of Trees on Cemetery Ridge which was the center point of the Confederate’s assault on the Union line on July 3, 1863 during Pickett’s Charge. The tree not only witnessed the battle, but also suffered considerable damage from artillery shelling from both Union and Confederate forces. The log has numerous cannonball, canister shot, and shell fragments in its bark. This artifact was originally on display at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893.
"Artifacts like this give us a glimpse of the physical trauma of battles like Gettysburg,” said Christopher Gwinn, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Gettysburg National Military Park. “Riddled with shot and shell, it's a counter-point to the pastoral beauty of today's park and a stark reminder of what this landscape must have looked like in July of 1863."
Visitors can now view it on display in the Rotunda of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.