Last Great Gettysburg Reunion of 1938

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75th Gettysburg Reunion

Last Battle of Gettysburg Reunion Photo, Photos of Confederate Union Battle of Gettysburg Veterans Soldiers in 1938, Pickett’s Charge, Division, The Bloody Angle Cemetery Ridge, Seminary Ridge Picture
The Last Gettysburg Reunion
Battle of Gettysburg 75th Anniversary
 
Introduction

In 1938, seventy five years after the fight, at the last great reunion of the Blue and the Gray at Gettysburg, a small group of veterans from Virginia and Pennsylvania met near the "Angle." As cameras rolled and clicked, the old gentlemen shook hands over the stone wall where General Hays' Division stood on July 3, 1863. Though it is unknown whether any of these veterans were actually present during the fighting at the Angle, this particular photograph was used to publicize the event and illustrate the last meeting of the two associations that had met at the Angle up to 1913. By 1938, there were barely a handful of veterans surviving from either army, who had actually been at Gettysburg seventy five years before. Twenty years prior to this reunion, the First World War had ended, and three years later, in 1941, Pearl Harbor would be attacked and the nation would be thrust into the war of all wars.

Last Gettysburg Reunion
The Handshake in 1938.jpg
1938 Gettysburg Reunion

Handshake over the stone wall, July 3, 1938.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Summary

The 1938 Gettysburg Reunion, aka 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, was commemorated June 29 through July 6 on the Gettysburg Battlefield and attended by approximately 25 veterans of the battle and an additional 1,359 Federal and 486 Confederate veterans out of the 8,000 surviving veterans of the American Civil War (1861-1865). For the event, the Federal government funded or provided each veteran with transportation, quarters, subsistence, and if required, an attendant. 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. Although several decades had passed since the Civil War, numerous inventions and technological innovations had occurred. From Reconstruction to the 75th Anniversary of Gettysburg, inventions included the telephone, phonograph, incandescent light bulb, electric fan, escalator, automobile, air conditioning, airplane, television and radio. And while the Panama Canal had been built, the guns of the First World War had also long since been silenced.

Gettysburg Battlefield Map
Gettysburg Battlefield Map.jpg
Pickett's Charge at Battle of Gettysburg

Sources: Gettysburg National Military Park; Gettysburg Celebration to be Attended by 3,500 Vets". The Daily Times. June 11, 1938; Blue, Gray Veterans Gather At Gettysburg for Reunion". Reading Eagle. Jun 29, 1938; Flame Burning on Monument at Gettysburg". The Telegraph Herald. July 4, 1938; Library of Congress; National Archives.

Recommended Reading: Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library). Description: The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration than in the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was asked to memorialize the gruesome battle. Instead he gave the whole nation "a new birth of freedom" in the space of a mere 272 words. His entire life and previous training and his deep political experience went into this, his revolutionary masterpiece. Continued below...

By examining both the address and Lincoln in their historical moment and cultural frame, Wills breathes new life into words we thought we knew, and reveals much about a president so mythologized but often misunderstood. Wills shows how Lincoln desired to change the world and…how his words had to and did complete the work of the guns, and how Lincoln wove a spell that has not yet been broken.

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Recommended Reading: Pickett's Charge, by George Stewart. Description: The author has written an eminently readable, thoroughly enjoyable, and well-researched book on the third day of the Gettysburg battle, July 3, 1863. An especially rewarding read if one has toured, or plans to visit, the battlefield site. The author's unpretentious, conversational style of writing succeeds in putting the reader on the ground occupied by both the Confederate and Union forces before, during and after Pickett's and Pettigrew's famous assault on Meade's Second Corps. Continued below...

Interspersed with humor and down-to-earth observations concerning battlefield conditions, the author conscientiously describes all aspects of the battle, from massing of the assault columns and pre-assault artillery barrage to the last shots and the flight of the surviving rebels back to the safety of their lines… Having visited Gettysburg several years ago, this superb volume makes me want to go again.

 

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. Description: America's Civil War raged for more than four years, but it is the three days of fighting in the Pennsylvania countryside in July 1863 that continues to fascinate, appall, and inspire new generations with its unparalleled saga of sacrifice and courage. From Chancellorsville, where General Robert E. Lee launched his high-risk campaign into the North, to the Confederates' last daring and ultimately-doomed act, forever known as Pickett's Charge, the battle of Gettysburg gave the Union army a victory that turned back the boldest and perhaps greatest chance for a Southern nation. Continued below...

Now, acclaimed historian Noah Andre Trudeau brings the most up-to-date research available to a brilliant, sweeping, and comprehensive history of the battle of Gettysburg that sheds fresh light on virtually every aspect of it. Deftly balancing his own narrative style with revealing firsthand accounts, Trudeau brings this engrossing human tale to life as never before.

 

Recommended Reading: Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg, by James M. Mcpherson (Crown Journeys) (Hardcover). Review From Publishers Weekly: The country's most distinguished Civil War historian, a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Battle Cry of Freedom) and professor at Princeton, offers this compact and incisive study of the Battle of Gettysburg. In narrating "the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere," McPherson walks readers over its presently hallowed ground, with monuments numbering into the hundreds, many of which work to structure the narrative. Continued below...

They range from the equestrian monument to Union general John Reynolds to Amos Humiston, a New Yorker identified several months after the battle when family daguerreotypes found on his body were recognized by his widow. Indeed, while McPherson does the expected fine job of narrating the battle, in a manner suitable for the almost complete tyro in military history, he also skillfully hands out kudos and criticism each time he comes to a memorial. He praises Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine, but also the 140th New York and its colonel, who died leading his regiment on the other Union flank in an equally desperate action. The cover is effective and moving: the quiet clean battlefield park above, the strewn bodies below. The author's knack for knocking myths on the head without jargon or insult is on display throughout: he gently points out that North Carolinians think that their General Pettigrew ought to share credit for Pickett's charge; that General Lee's possible illness is no excuse for the butchery that charge led to; that African-Americans were left out of the veterans' reunions; and that the kidnapping of African-Americans by the Confederates has been excised from most history books.

 

Recommended Reading: The Gettysburg Companion: A Guide to the Most Famous Battle of the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: There have been many books about Gettysburg, but never one to rival this in scale or authority. Based on extensive research, The Gettysburg Companion describes the battle in detail, drawing on firsthand accounts of participants on all sides in order to give the reader a vivid sense of what it was like to experience the carnage at Gettysburg in early July 1863. The many full-color maps--all specially commissioned for the book--and the numerous photographs, charts, and diagrams make this book a feast for the eyes and a collector's dream. Includes a massive library of 500 color illustrations.

 

Recommended Reading: Last Chance For Victory: Robert E. Lee And The Gettysburg Campaign. Description: Long after nearly fifty thousand soldiers shed their blood there, serious misunderstandings persist about Robert E. Lee's generalship at Gettysburg. What were Lee's choices before, during, and after the battle? What did he know that caused him to act as he did? Last Chance for Victory addresses these issues by studying Lee's decisions and the military intelligence he possessed when each was made.

Packed with new information and original research, Last Chance for Victory draws alarming conclusions to complex issues with precision and clarity. Readers will never look at Robert E. Lee and Gettysburg the same way again.

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