May 27

The Soldiers’ National Monument, sculpted by Randolph Rogers. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 8:36 AM on Friday, November 19, 2010.

The National Park Service is currently seeking funding for a project to repair the Soldiers’ National Monument in Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Today we’ll show you some of the deterioration to the monument and the repairs needed.

The monument is sixty feet high with a twenty-five foot square base. The stone that comprises the majority of the structure is a light grey granite from Westerly, Rhode Island. On four separate buttresses are four allegorical marble figures. The allegorical figure here is “War,” represented by the American soldier. The marble is badly in need of cleaning. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

In fact, the marble on all of the seated figures is in need of cleaning. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

The cornerstone of the monument was laid on July 1, 1865. From the June 27 issue of that year’s Adams Sentinel: “The cornerstone of the National Monument will be laid by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the officers of which have made arrangements to be present here on the occasion. [...] The military display will also be very fine and the music of the first order. Preparations are being made by the different committees, the hotel keepers, and the citizens generally, to do their best to accommodate the large crowd that is expected.” This view was facing southeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Clio, the muse of History. According to Licensed Battlefield Guide, Ralph Siegel, “The Soldiers National Monument is the first of the “great” Gettysburg monuments and is a masterpiece of the great Randolph Rogers. He was an expatriate American working from a studio in Rome when he made these five figures. He is acknowledged as one of the great American sculptors of the 19th Century.” This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Clio’s missing digit is on her left hand as well. The figure of War relates the stories of battle to Clio, who writes them down. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Atop the monument is the “Genius of Liberty,” holding the victor’s wreath of laurel in her right hand. The 18 stars below the pedestal represent the “States whose sons gave their lives” at Gettysburg. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

On the left, Plenty, and on the right, Peace. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

The monument supervisor for the National Park Service also reports that the National Park Service is seeing “displacement of the seated figures and granite due to failing joints, which increases [with] the effect of the freeze/thaw cycles.” This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

The monument was dedicated on July 1, 1869. In the Gettysburg Compiler on June 25, 1869, David Wills wrote the following: “The Board of Managers of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, through its Committee of Arrangments, respectfully invite all the soldiers who were in the Battle of Gettysburg, and the military, civic and municipal organizations of the country, and the citizens generally, to participate in the ceremonies of the Dedication of the Monument on the first of July.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

To give you an idea of just how far the monument has deteriorated, take a look at this photo from 1903. Notice how clear and the bright the marble and stone is. The iron fence no longer surrounds the monument. This view was taken facing northeast circa 1903.

Here is a detail of the previous photo which you can click to enlarge to see a closeup of the marble figures, as well as the intact digits. This view was taken facing northeast circa 1903.

This 1882 photograph was taken by William Tipton facing southwest, and shows the Soldiers’ National Monument in the background.

National Park Service spokesperson Katie Lawhon explains to us that the park “currently [has] a project funding request pending for National Park Service funds for the repairs and an overall restoration of the monument. The project would fund a condition assessment, treatment recommendations, and possibly the work itself.” Katie also tells us that as soon as the project receives funding the National Park Service “will proceed with the work to repair all deficiencies of the monument, including the missing digits.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011.


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