John F. Kennedy’s Gettysburg Visit 5: Presented by LBG Richard Goedkoop
March 20, 2009
In Part 5 of our series on President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Gettysburg, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Richard Goedkoop presents the stop at the North Carolina State Monument. From left to right are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Battlefield Guide Colonel Jacob Sheads, and President John F. Kennedy. Sheads would later say of this photograph, “There I was, standing between one of the most beautiful women in the world and my Commander In Chief. Whose question do I answer first? Why the President’s question of course!” This view was taken facing west at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
On March 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy with some friends and members of his family drove from a church service at Camp David, Maryland to tour the Gettysburg Battlefield. Their guide was Jacob Melchior Sheads, a longtime Gettysburg High School History Teacher and seasonal historian with the National Park Service. Licensed Battlefield Guide Richard Goedkoop follows what we know of the route that the Kennedy party took around the battlefield.
This map shows the locations of the videos that we have shot during the Kennedy segments. Videos 1-3 were taken at Edgewood Bowling Lanes on the Emmitsburg Road, which is off the map. Videos 4, 9 and 10 were taken at the Stony Hill or “Loop” area. Videos 5-6 were taken at the High Water Mark/Angle Area. Videos 7-8 were taken on Little Round Top. Videos 11 and 12 were taken at the North Carolina Monument. This map was created facing north at approximately 6:45 PM on Thursday, March 19, 2009.
The Kennedy group left the Wheatfield area, then drove north along Seminary Ridge’s West Confederate Avenue. They drove around the Virginia monument, and a photographer captured this picture as they have already passed the front of the monument and were looking back at it from the monument’s north side. Colt Park and Cemetery Hill are in the background above the vehicle. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
Under-Secretary of the Navy, Paul Fay, disappointed by General Robert E. Lee’s performance at Gettysburg, asked Kennedy, “Mr. President, I’m surprised that Lee is held in such high esteem by the Southerners after such a catastrophe.” Kennedy replied, “I’m sure there were some conditions behind his decisions that even the historians missed… Besides, it had been a long campaign, and that may have sapped his strength. It’s not fair to judge him a failure because of one defeat. Besides, he was more than just a military leader.” The previous black and white photograph was taken by the cannon on the left. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Thursday, March 12, 2009.
There are actually four cannon here, belonging to the Madison (Mississippi) Light Artillery. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Thursday, March 12, 2009
When we began this series, we did not know exactly where this photograph was taken. We appreciate the help of Licensed Battlefield Guides Dr. David Gutknecht and Rich Kohr in leading us to this location. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
Although the cannon is now farther away from the driveway we feel this modern picture matches up pretty well with the location of the previous black and white photograph. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Thursday, March 12, 2009.
Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Dr. Richard Goedkoop stands in front of the North Carolina State Monument. It was dedicated on July 3, 1929 and cost $50,000. This view was taken facing west at approximately 4:30 PM on Saturday, February 14, 2009.
In Video #11, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Goedkoop explains that the Kennedy party was attracting a crowd by the time they reached the North Carolina monument.
Colonel Sheads showed President and Mrs. Kennedy the wayside exhibit between West Confederate Avenue and the North Carolina monument. This view was taken facing west at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
Here is a view of the modern wayside exhibit in the location. of the previous black and white photograph. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Thursday, March 12, 2009.
When they reached the North Carolina monument, Paul Fay wrote that “the battle was discussed at length…It seemed incomprehensible that (Lee) would have committed such a great force on a frontal attack uphill without waiting to learn whether Stuart’s cavalry was ready to attack the Union forces from the rear. Stuart never appeared. Pickett’s men were slaughtered.” We happen to find the “Stuart attacking from the rear” comment very interesting. Is that really what Colonel Sheads was telling the Kennedy group? This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
Except for Caroline Kennedy and Sally Fay, the primary members of the Kennedy party are present in this picture. From left to right are Paul Fay III, Paul Fay Jr., Colonel Sheads, Mrs. Kennedy, President Kennedy, and Anita Fay. They are looking at the front (east side) of the North Carolina monument. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
In Video #12, Licensed Battlefield Guide Richard Goedkoop relates a story of how impressed President Kennedy was with Colonel Sheads’ tour.
After seeing the area around the North Carolina Monument, the tour wasn’t over, but the President appears to have been anxious to get to the next part of the tour. Here he waits for the rest of this party at the wheel of the Mercury. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
As Caroline and Mrs. Kennedy reach the vehicle, the President might be pointing out how the Round Tops can be seen from this location. Paul Fay wrote of the other visitors to the battlefield encountering the President: “Most respected his privacy, but they would almost fall all over themselves trying to observe his every move.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 1:00 PM on Sunday, March 31, 1963.
Traffic moved north on West Confederate Avenue in 1963. Here is a view from the location of the two previous black and white photographs. The sidewalk to the North Carolina monument is on the right. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Thursday, March 12, 2009.
Most of the black and white photographs of our series on the Kennedy visit were graciously supplied to us by one of Jacob Sheads’ sons, Tim Sheads. Tim and his wife Debbie own the Carrie Sheads House on Buford Avenue (the old Chambersburg Pike).
Please visit their store, S & S Sutler of Gettysburg, located behind the Carrie Sheads House at 331 Buford Ave Gettysburg, PA 17325. Their telephone number is 717-338-1990.
S & S Sutler of Gettysburg is filled with items for reenactors and others who are interested in Civil War history. This photograph was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:00 PM on Sunday, February 15, 2009.
See our previous posts on the Carrie Sheads House:
See our previous posts on Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides:
Gettysburg Guide Room: The Final Days on March 8, 2008.
Lights Out at the Electric Map on April 13, 2008.
New Guide Room at the New Visitor Center on April 19, 2008.
New Association of Licensed Battlefield Guide Office and Library Opens on August 25, 2008.
Evergreen Cemetery Headstone Damage with LBG Deb Novotny on October 20, 2008.
Camp Letterman with LBG Phil Lechak here.
Gettysburg Artillery with LBG George Newton here.
“Mammy’s Little Baby Loves Guided Tours” with LBG Charlie Fennell on November 23, 2008.
Bucktails on McPherson’s Ridge Part 1 with LBG Rich Kohr on November 26, 2008.
Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Exam 2008 on December 6, 2008.
Gettysburg Hawk Hunting with Licensed Battlefield Guide Dave Weaver on December 14, 2008.
Colonel Edward Ephraim Cross with LBG Rich Bellamy here.
Licensed Battlefield Guide Rich Kohr: William Wible’s Gettysburg Quarry on January 21, 2009.
The Gettysburg Electric Trolley with LBG Rich Kohr here
ACHS Battle of Gettysburg Civil War Research Room with LBG Tim Smith on February 10, 2009.
Lutheran Theological Seminary Cupola with LBG Tim Smith here
John F. Kennedy’s Gettysburg Visit with LBG Richard Goedkoop here.
Gettysburg Harrisburg Railroad with LBG Don Walters here.
Neill Avenue (Lost Avenue) with LBG Ted Gajewski here.