Musselman Library: A trove of Civil War treasures
Recent acquisitions bring a wealth of priceless stories to campus. A Civil War-era flag donated by local resident Richard Ogden is pictured below.
The Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the American Civil War (2011-2015) has been a notable time for Civil War buffs – and really anyone who appreciates American history. This period of historical reflection and the associated excitement has been especially palpable at Gettysburg College – perhaps nowhere more so than Musselman Library.
Musselman Library’s Special Collections has seen an uptick in Civil War-related donations of late. These artifacts – and the memories that come with them – are invaluable additions to the College’s collection.
“With so much attention focused on the Sesquicentennial, it is extraordinary to be able to share with students the very objects that witnessed that portion of history,” said Carolyn Sautter, Director of Special Collections and College Archives. “These generous donations bring the colors, sounds, and stories of the Civil War right into the Special Collections Reading Room and make our class visits so memorable for students.”
Read on to find out more about some recently acquired Civil War-related treasures.
Civil War-era flag
Donated by local resident Richard Ogden
Now in his late 80s, local resident Richard Ogden has clear childhood memories of the tattered 34-star flag that his aunts hung proudly on the front porch of their home in Gettysburg.
According to a note written by a relative, M. G. Ogden: “This flag was first unfurled to the breeze when Lincoln was elected President in 1860. It floated all through the battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, on Fathers house near Cemetery Hill. Was struck by thirteen minnie [sic.] balls. Shell exploded and tore the upper part of the field.”
The Ogden family has a long history in Adams County. They were tenant farmers on the Rose Farm property at the time of the battle.
Through the years, the flag was kept in the family and eventually passed down to Ogden’s father, who stored it in a long underwear box at a small bank in nearby Bendersville. There it remained for over 70 years until November 19, 2012, the 149th anniversary of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, when Ogden presented the flag to library director Robin Wagner.
Ogden had met Wagner in 2001 when a student, Emily Holland ’04, introduced them. Holland had interviewed Ogden, a former Marine, for a WWII oral history project. He mentioned the flag, but at the time was unsure what to do with it.
“Musselman Library will honor the story of this flag,” said Wagner. “Its legacy will inspire students to learn more about the history of this area and the local families who contributed to the war effort.”
The flag is hanging in the Harner Room on the third floor of Musselman Library.
Also on display in the Harner Room is a Civil War-era 34 star silk flag that is on loan to the College from the private collection of Angelo Scarlato. This flag bears a portion of the phrase “The Union as our Fathers made it.” That motto is most often associated with Clement Vallandingham, the Democratic Congressman from Ohio who was the leader of the Copperheads and a strong supporter of constitutional states’ rights.
Civil War artifacts and Pennsylvania Hall diorama
Donated by Bill Cleary, parent of Ian Cleary ’15
Civil War enthusiast Bill Cleary recently donated a number of items to Special Collections. Among them is an 1850 Foot Officer’s sword and mourning cockade worn by George O. Vail, a member of the Union Continentals who served as the Guard of Honor over Lincoln’s remains in Buffalo, NY, on April 27, 1865.
Cleary also donated a first edition of Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, published in 1885 after Grant’s death, and documents relating to slavery and indenture.
He is an avid collector of Civil War miniatures, including over 8000 soldiers collected over 30 years. Cleary and his associates, Amy Lindenberger and Don Griffin, have built a diorama of Pennsylvania Hall depicting it as a hospital in the days after the Battle of Gettysburg. Cleary has named the piece, "The Price of Freedom" and hopes that it will convey the chaotic conditions faced by the citizens of Gettysburg, including members of the Pennsylvania College community in July 1863.
A diorama reception and unveiling will take place Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. in the Musselman Library Apse, with remarks from Cleary, President Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, and Natalie Sherif ’14.
Civil War-era drum
Donated by Charlotte Smedley
While thumbing through a magazine at her doctor’s office in Florida, Charlotte Smedley was drawn to an article about Gettysburg College and the Civil War Institute. She realized she had just found the perfect home for the Civil War-era drum belonging to her great grandfather, a drummer boy with the 7th Artillery, New York State Militia out of Albany, N.Y.
Smedley wanted to ensure this family treasure was in a place where many people would be able to appreciate it. She contacted Special Collections, and before long she and her husband delivered it to Gettysburg with accompanying artifacts like its strap, drumsticks, documents and photographs.
“Because of the excellent historical information that accompanies this drum, we can tell the story of not only the drum itself, but the boy who used it and the family that cared for it throughout the years,” said archivist Amy Lucadamo. “It is rare that donations arrive with such extensive background. We are honored to have this drum in our collection.”
Civil War Colt revolver
Donated by Robert and Victoria Patton, parents of James D. Patton ’13
Thanks to Robert and Victoria Patton, the parents of James D. Patton ’13, Special Collections now possesses an 1861 Navy Colt—one whose lineage connects Gettysburg College to two of history’s most important wars.
It was originally the property of Waller Tazewell Patton, a 27-year-old colonel in the Confederate army who was killed in Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. Rescued and preserved, the gun was inherited by the colonel’s great-nephew, George S. Patton, Jr., eventual commander of the United States Third Army in World War II.
Read more about these acquisitions and others, and Musselman Library news in the Fall 2013 edition of the Friends of Musselman Library newsletter.
Currently on exhibit in Special Collections:
Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African American Artifacts of the Civil War Era
This exhibit follows African Americans on their journey from the antebellum days of slavery through the Civil War years as United States Colored Troops and freedmen to citizenship in post-bellum America. These artifacts and documents are on generous loan from the private collection of Angelo Scarlato.
Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens is on display through December 13. Special Collections hours are Monday through Friday 1-5 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday 6-9 p.m. For more information, call 717-337-7002.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803
Posted: Mon, 18 Nov 2013
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