Gettysburg statue damage spawns memories of Ellsworth Zouaves
One of the monuments vandalized at the Gettysburg battlefield commemorated Pennsylvania’s Zouave infantrymen.
Many folks connect with the Zouaves because of their colorful uniforms — baggy pants and unusual hats.
Early in the war, a Zouave unit emerged from York County. James A. Stahle headed the Ellsworth Zouaves.
Zouave units copied the dress of soldiers fighting in French colonial armies, complete with gaudy uniforms, turbans or fezzes — conical, tassled hats. The York unit wore a colorful Zouave uniform of blue pantaloons and jackets with red and white hats adorend with a blue band.
Zouave units earned reputations for their skills in performing military drills, and Stahle’s men worked hard on their precision exercises.
The Ellsworth unit later formed part of the 87th Pennsylvania, a regiment made up primarily of York and Adams soldiers who fought through war’s end. (For more on York County’s Civil War history visit this blog’s Civil War category).
Park service officials estimate that the 500-pound Zouave statue in Gettysburg will cost $8,000 to repair and remount.
A story on the unfortunate damage from the York Daily Record/York Sunday News follows:
Three monuments at the Gettysburg battlefield were found vandalized Thursday morning and early damage estimates approach $75,000, a National Park Service representative said.
Katie Lawhon, a park spokeswoman, said the monuments at the battlefield were erected in the years after the fierce three-day battle in 1863.
Two of the monuments – the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Monument and the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument – stood near Emmitsburg Road.
The 4th New York (Smith’s) Battery Monument, dedicated in 1888, sustained the most damage, Lawhonsaid.
The monument at the famous Devil’s Den, a rocky section of the battlefield, will cost the park approximately $35,000 to $50,000, Lawhon said. Vandals pulled down the statue of a union artillery man and dragged it 162 feet across the road. The dragging caused most of the major damage, she said. The vandals removed the head from the statue and took it from the scene.
The 11th Massachusetts monument was dedicated in 1885 at the intersection of Emmitsburg Road and Sickles Avenue, Lawhon said. The vandals pulled the sculpture of an arm holding a sword from the monument, destroyed the arm and stole the hand and the sword, she said.
They caused approximately $20,000 worth of damage, Lawhon said. The arm needs to be resculpted and cast in bronze, and the a new sword needs to be recast as well.
“The sword wasn’t original,” she said. “It’s been stolen a few times before.”
Vandals also defiled the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument, which is also on Emmitsburg Road in front of the Sherfy house, Lawhon said. It was dedicated in 1886. Vandals toppled the monument and pulled the life-size statue of a Zouave infantryman weighing more than 500 pounds off the pedestal, causing it to fall on a decorative fence.
“This was the least damaged,” she said. It will cost the park $8,000, because the statue needs to be repaired, and the monument needs to be reset, Lawhon said.
Lawhon said a timetable for repairs has not been set.
“We have to locate the funding before we can do anything,” she said.