National Geographic : 1963 Jul
National Geographic, July, 1963 the battle: A bullet tore through two doors and struck 20-year-old Jennie Wade as she was kneading dough in a kitchen. The Confederacy won the first day, but in winning it pushed the Union into defensive strongholds. For two days more the South strove mightily against those positions, and more than once victory was near. There was no want of courage and valor on either side at the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field and all the other bloody places. Strung along Cemetery Ridge, the Union Army battled from a natural citadel against which the South, in one of warfare's great est assaults, could not prevail. I could see why, on the face of it. One could no more hide from rain than evade the terrible fire that spewed down that open slope. I could also see-looking from Oak Ridge -the continuing story of Gettysburg, the eternal blending of past into present. Scores of new homes had edged into this most fa mous of American battlefields. Was more of this blooded terrain to be scooped out for the basements of suburbia? Back to town I went to discuss this with Robert L. Bloom, secretary-treasurer of the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Associ ation and chairman of Gettysburg College's history department. The National Military Park, he explained, occupies 3,162 acres in a great arc around the town. The problem is that within the park lie several parcels of privately owned land. "We are trying to help buy this land," he said, "before-well, before it's too late." Here and there, he went on, it was already too late: those new homes I had seen on the battlefield, for instance. Contributions have come from all over the United States and from foreign lands; the association has bought 55 acres, deeding them to the Federal Government, and is negotiating for more of the 600 acres remaining. There is another side to this story. Some persons oppose the association. Land it buys, they point out, no longer pays taxes; land that cannot be developed precludes growth. "Certainly, go ahead and build on it," a third-generation Gettysburgian said to me. Exploring Devil's Den, a boy can imagine himself either a Union or a Confederate soldier. Each side held the fortress of boulders for a few hours on July 2, 1863. KODACHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERBATES LITTLEHALES© N.G.S .