1938 Gettysburg reunion

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1938 Gettysburg reunion
encampment: June 29-July 6[1]
ceremonies & events: June 1–4 [2]
Gettysburg ELPMemorial.jpg
North of the veterans' camp, the Eternal Light Peace Memorial was unveiled during the reunion.
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Adams
Encampment Gettysburg College &
Gettysburg National Military Park
Mummasburg Rd & Howard Av (no marker has been placed for the encampment) [3]:64
 - coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
File:Battle of gettysburg half dollar commemorative obverse.jpg
To raise reunion funds,[4] in June 1936 Congress authorized 50,000 US Mint commemorative half dollars (obverse shown above)—each was dated 1936 despite being struck in 1937.[5] Sculptor Frank Vittor had used Union veteran James Power Stanley of the Battles of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, North Anna, and Spotsylvania for the model,[6] A special US postage stamp was also advocated for the reunion's opening day.[7] Unsold coins were destroyed.[5][8]
External media
"ATTENDANT" medal issued to veteran's son
Overhead view of dedication
Roosevelt seated with white fedora
Veterans: GAR & UCV commanders,Stamets/Turnbough/Vance, Tift/Gordon/Wilson/Bollinger, Hatch/Wingrove
Films of veterans, parade, camp, Roosevelt, unveiling, & handshake over stone wall with rebel yell
Tank parade at college, Roosevelt in convertible & accepting memorial

The 1938 Gettysburg reunion was an encampment of American Civil War veterans on the Gettysburg Battlefield for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The gathering included approximately 25 veterans of the battle[3]:72 with a further 1,359 Federal and 486 Confederate attendees[9] out of the 8,000 living veterans of the war.[10] The veterans averaged 94 years of age,[11] Transportation, quarters, and subsistence was federally funded for each veteran and their accompanying attendant.[12] If an attendant was needed it was provided.[1][13] President Franklin D. Roosevelt's July 3 reunion address preceded the unveiling of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial; a newsreel with part of the address was included in the Westinghouse Time Capsule for the 1939 New York World's Fair.

The reunion's support personnel included 19 officers and 250 enlisted men of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and there were 3,185 United States Army personnel in total.[14] A "regular army camp" that displayed modern weapons was east of the northward tracks of the Reading Railroad to the Gettysburg College buildings,[3]:64–5 while the Third Corps headquarters tent was south of Gettysburg near The Angle.[15] There were 548 police; from the Pennsylvania State Police and officers from New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh;[14] and a Gettysburg College building[16] was the "base hospital"[17] under the First Regular Army Medical Regiment.[18]


  • 1935: Pennsylvania created a commission for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg[19]
  • 1936: The House Military Affairs Committee recommended the Haines Bill for forming a federal committee to work with the Pennsylvania reunion commission.[20]
  • 1937 January 25: State senator John S. Rice, chairman of the Pennsylvania reunion commission, sponsored a bill for the commission to develop a memorial to be dedicated at the 1938 reunion, with a "Gettysburg Peace Memorial Fund" for an observation deck 75 ft (23 m) above the Big Round Top summit and a flame 30 feet higher[21] (the abandoned 1910 plan was for a 1913 cornerstone at The Angle.)
  • 1937 February 6: The first joint meeting of the federal and Pennsylvania state commissions.[21]
  • 1937 May 8: The Pennsylvania reunion commission's headquarters at the Hotel Gettysburg annex began selling the "Gettysburg commemorative half dollars" for $1.65; the hotel and two Gettysburg banks also sold the coins.[4]


January 15: The navy sent the 75-man Marine Corps Band for the reunion (4 other bands were also at the camp).[22]
February: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, formed a 9-person committee for the reunion.[23]
April 18: The Works Progress Administration began improvements to the 25 sq mi (65 km2) of the Gettysburg National Military Park.[24]
April 26: Veterans' camp construction began at the "north end of Gettysburg College and on adjacent private property".[3]:52 The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) on Seminary Ridge provided manpower for building the veterans camp,[25] and about 50 enrollees at CCC camp MP-2 of Company #1355-C served as guides for the veterans.[26]
May 16: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill[27] for the federal transportation and camp appropriations of $900,000[28] (federal memorial funding had also failed in 1912).
June 25: The 1st Medical Regiment arrived from Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania to provide medical care for the reunion.[29]
June 29: Twelve special Pullman trains arrived carrying veterans[30] (4 from the east, with the remainder from the north and west).[31]


July 1, Friday (Reunion Day): Opening ceremonies in the Gettysburg College Stadium[32] were in the morning and included an address by Secretary of War Harry Hines Woodring, chairman of the United States Commission.

July 2, Saturday (Veterans' and Governors' Day)
- The 3-mile-long parade[33] for 2 1/2 hours was between the reviewing stand in the college stadium and the intersection of the Baltimore Pike and the Emmitsburg Road, through the Lincoln Square; and included three groups: distinguished visitors first, followed by U. S. Army units and equipment, and nmore than 50 drum and bugle corps.[34]
- A Marine Corps Band concert was held in the Gettysburg College stadium (the only remaining Jewish Civil War veteran, Daniel Harris, was a guest on the platform).[35]
July 3, Sunday (President's Day)
- Sunday morning memorial service in college stadium[17]
- Veterans shook hands across the stone wall at The Angle as during the 1913 Gettysburg reunion.[9]
- Attendance for the Eternal Light Peace Memorial dedication was 250,000 (100,000 were "stuck on automobile-packed highways".)[36]
- As Roosevelt's 9 minute address ended at sunset, the Peace Memorial covered by a 50 foot flag[16] was unveiled by George N. Lockwood and Confederate A. G. Harris (both age 91)[37] with 2 regular army attendants.[35]
- Army aircraft staged a simulated air raid on Gettysburg[38] at dusk, and searchlights were directed from the ground at the planes while they dropped flares.[39]
July 4, Monday (United States Army Day)
- Military demonstrations included tank[which?] maneuvers by the 66th Infantry's Provisional Tank Battalion near the college's Glatfelter Hall[3]:75 and an air show with 18 Northrop A-17As from Barksdale Field and, from Langley Field, 18 Consolidated PB-2s & 6 B-17 Flying Fortresses.[3]:52
- Fireworks were launched[40] from the crest of Oak hill.[41]

July 5: The 62nd Coastal Artillery departed for Fort Totten, the 12th Infantry (without 1 company) to Fort Howard (Maryland), and the Third Cavalry to Fort Myer.[35]
July 6: The 66th Infantry departed for Fort Meade and the 6th Field Artillery to Fort Hoyle.[35]
July 7: The 34th Infantry (without 1 company) departed for Fort Meade.[35]
July 8: The 34th Infantry headquarters company departed for Fort Meade (the 8th Quartermaster Regiment remained until ~July 25 to dismantle the veterans camp.)[35]
September 23: A World's Fair time capsule with a "permanent acetate film by RKO-Pathé" (15 minute newsreel)[42] with part of Roosevelt's Gettysburg reunion address and numerous other events was lowered into a 50 ft well.[43]

Veteran attendance[14]/reservations[12]
State #
California 150
Texas 130
Pennsylvania 115
Ohio 103
Georgia 63
Florida 48
Mississippi 42
North Carolina 35
30 others, avg 34
Alabama 32
Tennessee 31
Maryland[44] 22
South Carolina 19
Kentucky 16
Louisiana 15
Virginia 14
Arkansas 9
Nevada 1
Wyoming 1
Rhode Island 0


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Gettysburg Celebration to be Attended by 3,500 Vets". The Daily Times. June 11, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5oUuAAAAIBAJ&sjid=134FAAAAIBAJ&pg=5168,5491447&dq=1938+gettysburg+fireworks&hl=en
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Cohen, Stan B (1982). Hands Across the Wall. Charleston, West Virginia: Pictorial Histories Pub. Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    p. 64 NOTE: The overhead camp image shows tents south of Howard Av and west of the Biglerville Rd beyond the Mummasburg Rd to the former Reading Railroad line which extended northward from the rail "+" intersection (bottom left of photo) before the northward railway was moved westward circa 1939 when the Round Top Branch was removed.
    p. 75 NOTE: The image of tanks side-by side has the 1888 Glatfelter Hall behind at a distance and an angle which places the tanks to the southwest, nearly on the current location of a portion of Constitution Av.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Reunion Coins On Sale Here". Gettysburg Compiler. May 8, 1937. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar". CoinSite.com. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Veteran Poses for Commemorative Coin". Prescott Evening Courier. May 24, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Public Thinks". The Modesto Bee. February 16, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  9. 9.0 9.1 Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  10. "Anniversary Reunions of Civil War Veterans". GSA.gov. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Veterans Reunion At Gettysburg Closes Monday". Eugene Register-Guard. July 5, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 NOTE: The following news article's numbers for reservations are italicized in the table: "TWO VETERANS OF CIVIL WAR CLASP HANDS". St. Petersburg Times. June 28, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Blue and Gray Meet". The Cambridge City Tribune. July 14, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Here and There: ...four-star peak of Big Things that came to Gettysburg..." Gettysburg Times. Times and News Publishing Company. April 21, 1944. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Woodring, Earle speak At Veterans' Reunion". Reading Eagle. July 1, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-10. the headquarter's tent of Major General James K. Parsons, of the Third Corps area, pitched within easy pistol shot of that bloody angle where Pickett's men notched the extreme advance of the battle.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Throng at Gettysburg Hears Roosevelt Call For Peace Campaign". Reading Eagle. July 4, 1938. Whitworth guns of Hill's Corps [on Oak Hill] that raked Union positions on Big Round Top, a mile and a half [sic] distant.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Roosevelt 1913 Gettysburg reunion address)
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Here and There with the Vets" (Google News Archive). Star and Sentinel. July 9, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-12. The following veterans and attendants attended the anniversary from Long Beach. ... Hammaker, 94, left the Warner hospital today for the base hospital<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Gettysburg's Last Reunion Days End". The Pittsburgh Press. July 5, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Senator Rice Sponsors Bill for Gettysburg Peace Memorial". Gettysburg Compiler. Jan 20, 1937. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "House Group Approves U. S. Reunion Aid". Gettysburg Times. Times and News Publishing Company. April 10, 1935. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Measure Calls for Creation of $100,000 Fund; Eternal Light To Be Built on Battlefield and Dedicated at Anniversary and Reunion in 1938" & "'1938' Banquet is Postponed". The Star and Sentinel. January 30, 1937. Retrieved 2011-02-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Marine Band to Play Here". The Star and Sentinel. January 15, 1938. Retrieved 2011-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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    NOTE: The "stadium" identity is unclear, as a Gettysburg College tribute page states the dedication game of Memorial Stadium was the 14-12 Bucknell upset in 1928. But the College's embellished sports page for Clark Field has the contradictory claim it was "erected in 1938 in a ceremony attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt." However, the herein references clearly identify the contradiction that Roosevelt, on the planned stopover en route from Hyde Park NY to the White House, traveled to and from the 1938 Oak Hill dedication directly by motorcade from/to his special train for the 9 minute reunion address. Moreover, the claim that the stadium was "erected in ... a ceremony attended by ... Roosevelt" is dubious since the stands, press box, and other depicted stadium structures required more than the time of a "ceremony" to be erected (and reunion facilities were in place before Roosevelt arrived). Although Roosevelt, who's train was near the extension of West Lincoln Av, may have passed near the construction; a source is needed to identify if the President also attended a ceremony at (unfinished?) Clark Field. (In 1918, the college's Nixon Field had been used for Camp Colt athletics.)
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