June 10 Gettysburg Campaign: What Happened to the Bryant Farm

Both Horner and Ware remained in their respective camps this day. Horner wrote about Grant at Vicksburg and Banks at Port Hudson on the Mississippi River. His fellow soldiers worked on digging rifle pits all day at the Upton Hill part of the defensive lines around Washington.

Ware is getting some details of the Battle of Brandy Station, of officers wounded and prisoners captured. In an auspicious aside he says that “some important moves are on hand both armies in motion & will soon meet.”

One thing that Ware doesn’t realize is the attrition rate among Confederate officers. Some historians say that they were just too brave for their own good, officers even up to the rank of brigadier generals always leading from the front. Since the publication of 35 Days to Gettysburg, I’ve had the chance to visit all the major Civil War battlefields. Franklin, TN, was typical. In a frontal assault against prepared Union positions the Confederates lost 6 general officers. Although much of the battlefield has been covered with factories and pizza restaurants, the bullet-riddled structures of the Carter family are still standing.
Talking recently to a friend who has lived in Gettysburg nearly all his life, I told him how I once edited and copied tapes of interviews of older people from Gettysburg who remembered how the place looked years ago.

Now, I begin to realize, I am one of those older people who remember a number of things about the battlefield that may have been forgotten.

When I first came to Gettysburg to live in the summer of 1970, I remember the Cyclorama Center as the NPS Visitor Center. It was our headquarters until the NPS purchased the Electric Map building. So it was with mixed emotions that I saw the Cyclorama Center demolished earlier this year.
We gave our Civil War soldier demos out in the yard of the Bryant Farm. There was a picket fence around the yard (no longer standing) that kept the visitors at arm’s length. After every Cyclorama showing, a ranger would bring the entire group out—50-60 people—so we had quite an audience for every program.

The Bryant Farmhouse had fascinated me from my days as a young tourist. The west side of the wooden structure, the side toward the fields of Pickett’s Charge, looked like Swiss cheese from the bullet holes in it. To me they were real, visible, relics from the battle that anyone could walk up to and touch. Later, to be working as an interpretive park ranger in the very yard of the Bryant Farm, gave me a feeling that is hard to describe. While I was still with the park, historians (or some other administrators) made the decision to tear down the Bryant Farmhouse and replace it with an exact replica—minus the bullet holes, of course. The decision, to me, was strange. Why tear down the original structure and replace it with a copy? I asked, and was told that, partially because of the bullet holes, the structure was unsafe and needed to be torn down. I remembered photos of the Carter buildings at Franklin and later saw them in person and they looked fine, so the Bryant Farm demolition decision made even less sense. I also wonder what happened to the bullet-pierced wood siding from the house. The last scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” flashes to mind….

Mark Nesbitt Ghosts of Gettysburg Quote


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