Where to Find Gettysburg’s Best and Worst Monuments
At Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee will forever look across that open field toward the copse of trees. Gouverneur Warren will always survey the rocky downslope of Little Round Top. Dozens of foot soldiers will always defend their posts. And Father William Corby will always pronounce absolution over the bloody fields. These men are all immortalized in stone and bronze statues for present and future generations to admire.
In the last few years, the National Park Service has gone to great lengths to restore the Gettysburg battlefield to its historic 1863 appearance. This, of course, can never truly be achieved because of the more than 1,300 monuments, markers and statues dotting the battlefield. As many observers have noted, these markers have become historic in themselves and are the subject of books, websites and Flickr galleries. Many of these distinctive markers are must-sees for visitors.
Although all art is subjective, here is one take on the best and worst monuments at Gettysburg. “Worst” does not mean boring. In fact, those who took that dubious honor are among the battlefield’s most memorable—there are literally hundreds of other markers that are banal and forgettable, perhaps of interest only to students or descendants of this or that particular regiment.
You’ll also find two notable memorials missing from the list—the State of Pennsylvania Monument, the classical domed structure that is visible from many parts of the battlefield, and the State of Virginia Monument, with its elegant equestrian statue of Lee high on a pedestal. These two monuments effectively represent North and South themselves on this hallowed ground, and they’re not to be missed. But the others listed here are arguably more moving, more interesting or more confounding.
Photography by Eric Forberger