Monday, November 2, 2009

Gettysburg Veteran

This is a picture of a Veteran of the Battle of Gettysburg. The picture was taken in 1913, at the Battlefield. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Battle. One has to wonder what he is writing.


  1. It's amazing that so many of those participants lived into old age, given what they went through as well as the average life expectancy for the era.

    My guess is that he's making notes and/or reviewing his remarks for a speech.

    He looks like a distinguished gentleman, and I like the medal he's wearing.

  2. he's writing "just think, in 96 yearsI will be the old picture of the day"

  3. He isn't writing anything; he's reading and using his finger to follow along. That medal doesn't look familiar...the crossed guns would indicate cavalry but I don't recognize the rest of it.

  4. The 1913 reunion was attended by some 50,000 veterans! The youngest was 61 (12 years old at the battle) and the oldest claimed to be 112.

    By 1938, the 75th anniversary, only 1800 veterans attended. Here's a link to a video with film from the 75th.

  5. Heather, the medal he is wearing indicates that he is a veteran from Virginia and the crossed cannons indicate that he was an artillerist. Virginia produced three ribbons for this event. They are the same except that the ribbon color is different depending on their branch of service - blue with stacked rifles for infantry, yellow with crossed sabers for cavalry, and red with crossed cannon for artillery. At the top it says "Virginia" then the insignia of their branch, below that "Gettysburg" and "1913." The man in profile at the very bottom is Robert E. Lee. See here for a cavalry example:

    I couldn't find a web image of the artillery one.

  6. He does have a little stub of a pencil in his hand. If you enlarge the photo to 400% you can see it.
    He sure looks at peace sitting there. He probable is writing his thoughts from that terrible time when his life was nothing but absolute chaos. What a difference it must have been. From men dead and dying all around him, to now just a warm sunny day to reflect on the terrible thing war is and was.

  7. Here's an example of the Virginia Infantryman's reunion badge:

  8. Oops, somehow the line got cut off, here's the full link:

  9. It would be remarkable to be sitting in a peaceful, serene pastoral setting and recall the chaos of battle from a past era.

    The gentleman, no doubt, is amazed how one can view the present surroundings and see no clue that a horrific battle took place there.

    He likely lost a close buddy in that war.

  10. As always an interesting photo.

    Having just caught up with the past few days of old photos I am reminded of my history teacher from my school days in the sixties. Being an older teacher she would tell us that as a young girl Civil War Veterans would march or ride in wagons for veterans Day parades. Her grandfather also marched along with his old friends.
    It seemed to be a warm recollection for her as I remember she was staring out the window while she was speaking.

  11. Great dialogue on this photo. Enjoyed looking at the medals you found Nate.And Anonymous, you are right, it does look like a little stub of pencil in his hand.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with tomorrow PJM!

  12. Whether he was reading or writing, I STILL think he was working on a speech of some sort.

    This is one of the best photos I've seen from this era, the detail is so clear.


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