156th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg


156th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

July 1-3, 2019 - The three day Battle of Gettysburg marked a turning point not only in the course of the American Civil War, but also for the future of the United States of America. Join Park Rangers and Licensed Battlefield Guides during the 156th Anniversary for a series of free guided walks and talks that discuss, explore, and reflect on this important chapter in our nation’s history.

Click here for complete details

History's Headlines - Civil War Piano Man



History's Headlines - Civil War Piano Man
from WFMZ.com
by Frank Walen - CRWT Board Member

It was at roughly 4:00 p.m. on June 15, 1863 when the Williamsport, Pennsylvania telegraph in the local telegraph office began to pound wildly. The words it tapped out were clear. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had crossed into Maryland where it was assumed he would quickly take Hagerstown. But the three columns of troops were clearly headed for bigger game: Harrisburg. The state capital was in the sights of the invading army. Confusion gripped the crowd that gathered in the streets. A placard of the news quickly gathered folks around it. Among them was a tall, slender man with a high forehead and bushy mustache. That he was not a local was clear but many in the crowd must have recognized him as Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the pianist who was set to give a performance that night in the town of 5,000.

Known for his flamboyant piano pieces that mixed Black, Latin and Caribbean rhythms with patriotic airs, the New Orleans native was sometimes attacked for his performances for lacking dignity. But by and large the public loved them. And an artist who had been praised by no less a figure than Frederic Chopin could not lack confidence.

Despite his Southern roots- he had cousins in the Confederate Army- Gottschalk, who had grown up with and seen up close what he called "the horrors of slavery," was a strong supporter of the Union cause. The spirit of national movements in 19th century Europe was progressive, he wrote, but the South's movement only offered the regressive force of slavery for its existence. Gottschalk played several concerts in Washington where President Lincoln and his wife, along with General Grant, were in the front row. Gottschalk noted that at first glance Lincoln was not a handsome man. But something in his eyes suggested "the expression of goodness and something of honesty in his countenance… that caused the exterior to be forgotten."

But on that June day Gottschalk had one thing in his mind, get his manager to cancel the concert set for Harrisburg. "It is evident, " he wrote in his journal "that people who expect every moment to be bombarded are not in the state of mind to listen to music…to say nothing of the…
Click here to read the rest of the article on WFMZ.com

Millions in Economic Benefits Generated by Tourism at Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS


Tourism to Gettysburg NMP and Eisenhower NHS creates $87.5 Million in Economic Benefits

Gettysburg, PA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 992,025 visitors to Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site in 2018 spent $64 million in communities near the two parks. That spending supported 812 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $87.5 million.

 “Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Kristina Heister. “We are delighted to share the story of these places and the experiences they provide.”

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in Pennsylvania and how the National Park Service works with Pennsylvania communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go towww.nps.gov/ Pennsylvania. 

In Memoriam - Dr Richard Sommers


Dr Richard Sommers died May 14, a huge loss for Civil War historians everywhere. Dr Sommers spoke nine different times to our Round Table, most recently at the June 2016 meeting. What follows is his obituary...

Dr. Richard J. "Dick" Sommers (born, August 11, 1942; passed away, May 14) was the son of the late Walter J. and Harriett Ruth (Lewis) Sommers. He is survived by his wife Marilyn Tracy Sommers; brother, Walter A. Sommers (Robin); nephews, William L. Sommers (Vicky); Cameron Smeak, and niece, Amanda Scott (Cameron), and ten first cousins. He was born and raised in south-suburban Chicagoland and earned his B.A. from Carleton College and his Ph.D. from Rice University. Dick devoted his 44-year professional career to military history in the U.S. Army Military History Institute/U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center/U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks. Even in nominal "retirement," he taught one course each July. In 2015, the War College designated him a "Distinguished Fellow." Besides his official government service, Dick pursued his personal scholarship through his own books, articles, and presentations on military history, especially on the Civil War. His Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg remains a classic which inspired a whole genre in that field. The expanded 150th anniversary of that book earned the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award as the best book of 2014. His most recent book, Challenges of Command in the Civil War, was published in 2018. Beyond writing, he welcomed opportunities to spread military history, both professional and lay, through teaching at the Army War College, through encouraging fellow researchers at the Institute, and through sharing such interest abroad. He addressed Civil War Round Tables and the Civil War Trust from Boston to Austin, from Atlanta to Seattle, and he was especially active in his home Harrisburg Civil War Round Table, where he served since 1971, including 32 years as Program Chairman. His more personal side was as Tracy's beloved husband. They married in 2011 and were seldom apart. He was the most perfect husband-loving, gracious, witty, thoughtful-a noble gentleman. He and Tracy shared many interests and after retirement travelled primarily in the west and mid-west sharing places from their growing up years. He resided in Carlisle. He was grateful for privilege of worshipping at the First Presbyterian Church of Carlisle, where he was a long-time member, ruling elder and clerk of session. The family will receive friends, 6:00-8:00 p.m., May 31, at the Hoffman Funeral Home, 2020 W. Trindle Rd., Carlisle, PA. Church services will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, 2A N. Hanover St. Carlisle, PA 17013 on June 1 at 11:00 am. No flowers are requested. Memorial gifts may be given to the church or to the Army Heritage Center Foundation, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hoffman Funeral Home and Crematory, 2020 West Trindle Road, Carlisle, PA 17013. To sign the guestbook, please visit www.hoffmanfh.comwww.pennlive.com/obits

Published on Pennlive.com and in The Patriot-News from May 17 to May 26, 2019

Explore Four Battlefield Structures During “Doors Open Gettysburg” on May 4


Explore Four Battlefield Structures During “Doors Open Gettysburg” on May 4

 Gettysburg, Pa.  – The fourth annual Doors Open Gettysburg event offers an insider’s look at the preservation and history of four magnificent battlefield and farm structures at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. This free event is held during National Historic Preservation Month in cities and towns throughout the United States and internationally.

On May 4, from 10 am to 2 pm, the National Park Service will open four historic structures on the Gettysburg battlefield and the Eisenhower farm to the public for a rare look at buildings ranging from newly restored to those in need of repair. Visitors will be able to explore the Edward McPherson Barn; the Josiah Benner Barn; Meade’s Headquarters – the Lydia Leister Home; and the Eisenhower Show Barn.

“Doors Open Gettysburg highlights the park’s important historic preservation mission and the stories these buildings can tell,” said Kristina Heister, Acting Superintendent, Gettysburg National Military Park. “This event is a great opportunity for our community and park visitors to learn more about Gettysburg and how we take care of these resources.”

  •  Edward McPherson Barn: A landmark on the First Days Battlefield, the barn is the only surviving element of the Edward McPherson Farm. It was used as a field hospital and aide station during and after the fighting. Park along Stone and Meredith Avenue.

  •  Josiah Benner Barn: Recently rehabilitated by the National Park Service, this Pennsylvania Bank Barn was occupied by elements of both the Union and Confederate armies on July 1, 1863. Park in the gravel driveway between the Benner House and Barn, Old Harrisburg Road.

  •  Meade’s Headquarters - The Lydia Leister Home: Home of the widow Lydia Leister and her children, the two-room structure became the Headquarters of the Union Army of the Potomac. General George G. Meade held his famous “Council of War” here on the evening of July 2, 1863. Park in the National Cemetery Parking Lot, or along Hancock Avenue.

  •  Eisenhower Show Barn: Often the first stop for international dignitaries visiting the Farm, President Eisenhower used his award winning Black Angus cattle to create a friendly atmosphere for conversation with foreign leaders such as Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and French President Charles De Gaulle.  Enter from Red Rock Rd and park in the gravel parking lot. 

Please note that the buildings are not wheelchair accessible. No tickets or reservations are necessary for Doors Open Gettysburg. The event is free.

Click here for Web Version with map


Gettysburg NMP - new acting superintendent through August

Kristina Heister.jpg

Kristina Heister has arrived as the acting superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. She will serve in this position until approximately August 10, 2019.

  Heister currently serves as the Superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, a unit of the National Park Service that extends 73.4 miles along the Delaware River from Hancock NY to Port Jervis NY.  

“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to serve as acting superintendent for Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site. I feel truly honored to assist, even for a short time, with the protection of sites that are so important to the preservation of the United States, telling the American story, and that are loved and treasured by the American people” said Heister. “I look forward to working with my NPS colleagues, park visitors, partners and the local community.”

Heister began her National Park Service career as a biologist at Valley Forge National Historical Park (NHP) in Pennsylvania. Since then she has served in a variety of natural resource management positions in parks and regions throughout the country, including Appomattox Court House NHP. In her next NPS post, she spent six years with the inventory and monitoring program working collaboratively to design a long-term monitoring program for parks in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. In 2006, she returned to Valley Forge NHP as the chief of natural resources where she led an interdisciplinary effort to develop a highly controversial White-tailed Deer Management Plan and created a complex network of partnerships that integrated work with local non-profit organizations, youth programs, volunteerism, teachers and students.

Heister also served as the Chief of Natural Resources for the Northeast Region between 2012 and 2014, where she led a multidisciplinary team of subject matter experts to promote science-based management in parks and increased park involvement in decision-making.

  Heister graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s of science in biology from Salisbury State University and received her masters of science in wildlife and fisheries science in 1995 from The Pennsylvania State University.

Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and their commemorations. Learn more at www.nps.gov/gett

Eisenhower National Historic Site preserves and interprets the home and farms of the Eisenhower family as a fitting and enduring memorial to the life, work, and times of General Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, and to the events of far-reaching importance that occurred on the property. Learn more at www.nps.gov/eise


Gettysburg NMP plans prescribed fire in a portion of the battlefield in April


Gettysburg National Military Park plans prescribed fire in the southern portion of the battlefield in April


Gettysburg, PA – Gettysburg National Military Park fire managers are preparing for a prescribed fire on one day during April, weather permitting. The plans call for burning portions of a 117 acre burn unit between the Slyder Lane and South Confederate Avenue. Fuel and weather conditions must be within certain parameters and that will determine the exact date for the operation. Prescribed fires allow fire managers to conduct a safe burn under optimal conditions with sufficient resources available to meet specific objectives for the management of battlefield resources. Gettysburg’s overall objectives are to maintain the conditions of the battlefield as experienced by the soldiers who fought here; perpetuate the open space character of the landscape; maintain wildlife habitat; control exotic invasive species; reduce shrub and woody species components; and reduce fuels in wooded areas to reduce fire hazard.

Temporary Road and Trail Closures Planned

During the prescribed fire, South Confederate Avenue will be closed. Closures may last two or three days. Pedestrian and equestrian trails located within the burn area will also be closed. Additional roads, trails and areas may be closed temporarily if smoke conditions reduce visibility to a level that would cause visibility problems and public and firefighter safety concerns. Up-to-date information on this and any other closures and fire activity will be posted on the park's web and social media sites.

The timing of the prescribed fire is dependent on conditions being within required weather parameters such as wind, temperature, and relative humidity. The prescribed fire will be conducted from approximately late morning through the afternoon, followed by patrol and monitoring to ensure the fire is completely out. A combination of lawn-sprinklers, hoses, mowed lines, and fire engines will be used to create a buffer and fire break to protect monuments and other cultural resources in the burn area. National Park Service staff will monitor air quality and smoke impacts as well as visibility on nearby roads.

Visit our Planning web page for more information about our Fire Management Plan.

Jason Martz
Visual Information Specialist

Public Information Officer (acting)

Gettysburg National Military Park

Office: 717-338-4423

Cell: 571-358-0516

More than a century later, a soldier’s Civil War flag returns to Maine


More than a century later, a soldier’s Civil War flag returns to Maine
Portland Press Herald 
Link to original article

 A rare American flag that was flown during the Civil War has returned to its roots and will soon be on display at a military history museum in Maine.

“It’s tattered to pieces, but beautiful,” said Lee Humiston, the founder, director, and curator of the Maine Military Museum in South Portland.

The flag, which has 35 stars, belonged to Major James H. Whitmore, a native New Englander who fought with the 15th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War. It arrived at the museum on March 9, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Whitmore was a commander of Company B of the 15th regiment, which was organized in 1861 and saw action in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

“They were the first unit to hit the ground in Texas,” Humiston said in a telephone interview.

According to an obituary in The Boston Globe, Whitmore served with Major General Benjamin Butler in New Orleans and Major General Nathaniel P. Banks at the Red River expedition, which was a series of battles that took place along the Red River in Louisiana.

Whitmore was born in Bowdoinham, a town about 30 miles north of Portland, and worked as a teacher for “some years” before he moved to Massachusetts and settled in Lynn, where he “followed his trade as an expert mason” and also worked as an inspector, the Globe reported.

After Whitmore died in February 1896, his daughter inherited his American flag, and then she passed it on to her nephew, George Meshko. The keepsake from Whitmore’s war years became a cherished family heirloom, and very well could have remained out of public view for years to come.

But that changed when Humiston got a phone call from the son-in-law of Whitmore’s great-grandson. He told Humiston that the flag was in Denver, Colorado and the family wanted to bring it back to Whitmore’s native state.

Lee Humiston of the Maine Military Museum receives flag from the Civil War that he says was the first to fly over Texas shores. The flag belonged to Major James H. Whitmore of the Fifteenth Maine Regiment.  Staff photo by Derek Davis

Lee Humiston of the Maine Military Museum receives flag from the Civil War that he says was the first to fly over Texas shores. The flag belonged to Major James H. Whitmore of the Fifteenth Maine Regiment. Staff photo by Derek Davis

Humiston said Whitmore “lived a good part of his life” in Maine, and the family told him the flag should “come home.”

That was back in November. After agreeing to donate the flag to the museum, they then began figuring out the logistics of getting the precious flag from Colorado to Maine.

The flag measures about five-and-a-half feet tall and seven-and-a-half feet wide, and one shipping company quoted them a price of $50,000 to fly the flag to Maine, according to Humiston.

“It’s gigantic,” he said.

The family ultimately ended up paying close to $900 to put the flag in a protective crate and an additional $2,000 to ship it by truck from Colorado, he said.

“The crate weighed 480 pounds,” Humiston said. “Nothing was going to happen to that flag.”

The truck began its cross-country journey with its patriotic cargo on March 1 and it arrived at the museum eight days later, he said.

“It got here safe and sound,” he said.

Joyce Huntley, 92, of Dunedin, Fla., said she’s happy that her great-grandfather’s flag is in the museum where it can be viewed by all. It was very special to her great-grandfather.

“The flag was always with him,” she said. “It went through thick and thin with him.”

The flag will be put on display at the Maine Military Museum along with some Civil War rifles and a picture of Whitmore. History buffs who would like to see it for themselves are welcome to visit the museum any weekend between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (from Memorial Day to Veterans Day the museum will be open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday).

Humiston said the flag is the only intact Civil War artifact from the 15th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment that he’s ever seen.

“It’s a beauty,” he said.

The descendents of Whitmore are pleased to share this piece of family history with the museum, and relieved that the flag is back in Whitmore’s home state of Maine.

“Our flag has come home,” said Huntley.

Penn State Lehigh Valley - Five@Five (Lectures on the American Civil War)


Spring 2019 Lecture Topic

The Five @ Five Lecture Series features five one-and-a-half-hour lectures on a given subject in order to provide an in-depth look at the topic. This spring the topic will be The American Civil War presented by David M. Longenbach, lecturer in history at Penn State Lehigh Valley. In this five part series we'll explore the military campaigns of the Civil War from the firing on Fort Sumter to the surrender at Appomattox Court House. Join us for this exciting examination of America’s bloodiest conflict.

May 8: 1861: A Year of Rebellion

May 15: 1862: Blood and Indecision

May 22: 1863: The Year of Decision

May 29: 1864: The North Assertive

June 5: 1865: The Naval War, Technology, & Aftermath

Schedule & Cost


Lectures will be held from 5:00-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from May 8-June 5, 2019 in room 311B. 


$59 per person

Registration is required for all of these lifetime learning opportunities. Contact Jessica Kemmerer at 610-285-5133 or jlb995@psu.edu.