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Looking Back on the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of The Battle of Gettysburg; Part 1

Illustration by John Maxwell appearing on the front cover of the Official Program of A Nation United on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg (Collection of S. H. Smith)

In a previous post, I noted that the planning for “A Nation United on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1963” began more than seven years prior to the observance.  The 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Commission (better known as the Pennsylvania Commission) was created by an Act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly on April 20th 1956 and signed into law the same day by Governor George M. Leader.

The illustration by John Maxwell appears on the front cover of the Pennsylvania Commission’s Official Program.  The majority of this 20-page program focuses on the July 1-3, 1963 Centennial events at Gettysburg, although one page is devoted to displays, exhibits and special events in surrounding communities.  The following keynote is stated in the program:

Keynote of the three-day commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg by the Pennsylvania Commission is A NATION UNITED.  Under a single flag, descendants of both factions who struggled on this bloody battlefield one hundred years ago join together during this observance to pledge their allegiance as citizens of the United States to the Nation’s Flag—The Stars and Stripes.

Related Gettysburg & Lincoln posts include:


The Official Program of A Nation United on the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg notes:

During the several days before the Centennial events at Gettysburg, several Pennsylvania communities which were involved in the 1863 Confederate invasion will conduct commemorations.  These include Columbia-Wrightsville, Hanover, Carlisle, Camp Hill, and Waynesboro.

The opening event at Gettysburg on June 30th featured an address by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Special Civil War exhibits were provided by the Department of Defense.

The famous locomotive, “The General”, was on display at the Western Maryland Railway Station in Gettysburg.  This locomotive was involved in the “Great Locomotive Chase” during the Civil War.  The story of the “Great Locomotive Chase” attained additional fame when Walt Disney made a 1956 film of this real life event.  To tell you the truth, as a 14-year-old in 1963, the movie was the first thing I recalled when I saw the locomotive in Gettysburg.

The chase began in northern Georgia during April of 1862 when about 20 volunteers from the Union Army were led behind enemy lines by a civilian scout, James Andrews, in a raid to cause as much damage as possible to a railroad; vital to the Confederate cause.  The Western and Atlantic Railroad line ran from Atlanta to Chattanooga.  Andrews and his men commandeered a train, pulled by the locomotive named “The General,” and took it northward toward Chattanooga, Tennessee, doing as much damage as they could to the railroad along the way.

Using a succession of locomotives, Andrews’ Raiders were pursued by Confederate forces.  Since the Union men were cutting the telegraph wires, the Confederates could not send warnings ahead to forces along the railway.  Confederates eventually captured the raiders and executed some of them quickly.  Most of the Union Army volunteers in Andrews’ raiders were among the first to be awarded the Medal of Honor by the US Congress for their actions.

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