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Gettysburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park. The nucleus for the park began shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg, when the state‐sponsored Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association sought to raise private funds for a permanent Soldier's National Cemetery there. In October 1863, the association began exhuming 3,354 bodies of Union soldiers for permanent burial on a site at the edge of the battlefield. In November 1864, at the dedication ceremonies for the cemetery, President Abraham Lincoln delivered what later became known as the Gettysburg Address, a brief address in which he defined American democracy and sanctified the war for the Union.

In 1895, in order to forestall railroad lines being built through the battlefield, Congress established the Gettysburg National Military Park. The National Park Service succeeded the War Department in administering the site in 1933. In 1972, a controversial privately owned observation tower was constructed. Many preservationists and Civil War organizations continue to express alarm over the commercialization of parts of the battlefield not under federal control.

Despite its national symbolism, the battlefield retained strong regional and local ties. State governments and veterans’ groups, on both sides, erected commemorative statues, markers, and other memorials. For decades, Civil War veterans gathered at Gettysburg for reunions, which by the 1890s often included ex‐Confederates. In recent years, reenactments have taken place outside the park boundaries, except for the motion picture Gettysburg (1993), which was filmed inside the park.
[See also Battlefields, Encampments, and Forts as Public Sites; Cemeteries, Military Commemoration and Public Ritual.]


John S. Patterson , A Patriotic Landscape: Gettysburg, 1863–1913, Prospects, 7 (1982), pp. 315–33.
Edward Tabor Linenthal , Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields, 1991.
Garry Wills , Lincoln at Gettysburg, 1992.

G. Kurt Piehler

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