Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Pattern of Senseless Destruction

Over the years, a combination of careless inattention, vandalism, and outright criminal activity have caused irreparable damage to the sacred monuments and markers at the Gettysburg Battlefield. These monuments, erected and dedicated mostly by the battle’s veterans, cannot be replaced. Despite the exceptional efforts of the National Park Service to restore any damage inflicted, the original monuments, or portions of them, are often forever lost.

Here is a brief chronology and listing of only some of the damaged treasures.

February 16, 2006:

The 114th Pennsylvania Monument (Dedicated in 1886): Torn from its pedestal and thrown to the ground damaging the monument and a wrought iron fence.

The 11th Massachusetts Monument (Dedicated in 1885): The upper granite portion of the monument was thrown from it’s base, the arm irreparably shattered and the sword stolen.

The 4th New York Battery Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Torn from its pedestal and dragged more than 160 feet causing extensive damage. The perpetrators severed and stole the monument’s head.

Total damages estimated at about $75,000.

January 18, 2005:

8th Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument (Dedicated in 1890): Bronze sword stolen.

Total damage estimated at $3,000

September 15, 2004:

Alexander Hays Monument (Dedicated in 1915): Bronze sword stolen.

Total damage estimated at $1,200

May 2004:

58th New York Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Hit by car. The driver hit the monument so hard that she broke her ankle.

Total damage estimated at $20,000

May 2004:

Granite marker on Reynolds Avenue: Backed over by a school bus.

Total damage estimate unknown

March 3, 2004:

4th Ohio Right Flank Marker (Dedicated in 1887) and two granite fence posts: Destroyed by a driver who lost control of a pick-up truck. The marker was damaged beyond repair.

Total damages estimated at between $5,000 and $10,000

November 12, 2003:

74th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Driver hit the monument after losing control of her SUV. The monument was broken it into several pieces large and small.

Total damages estimated at between $15,000 and $20,000

October 21, 2003:

Battery E, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery Cannon Carriage (Dedicated in 1896): Shattered by a hit and run driver after he plowed down 80 feet of fencing. Unknown persons stole parts of the broken cannon carriage, which was slightly over 100 years old, before National Park Service staff could collect them all.

Total damages estimated at between $10,000 and $13,000

November 1999

17 Monuments Vandalized: Vandals poured oil over 17 monuments threatening permanent discoloration.

Total damages estimated at over $4,000

July 1999

90th Pennsylvania Monument (Dedicated in 1888): Thieves stole several pieces of bronze ornamentation from the monument including a knapsack and a rifle.

Total damages estimated at over $12,900

Respectfully submitted,


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