The sun was out, and the air was bright, clear and clean, but a bitter cold wind swept across Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg on November 23, 2013, during the rededication of the 1879 monument to Captain James H. Cooper’s Battery B, 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery (P. 15). That battery had been raised in Lawrence County, Pa., about midway up the western border of the state. Many of the men in the unit came from tiny Mount Jackson, almost in Ohio.
A monument to the battery was dedicated at Mount Jackson in 1912, paid for by local donations. I’m a native of Lawrence County, and while I was growing up my parents would frequently take me to see the obelisk and its accompanying cannon. I was fortunate to have such a powerful connection to the Civil War so close by. And even though that biting wind stung my ears during the rededication of the Gettysburg monument last November, I felt very fortunate to be on hand for that ceremony as well. The moving observance on Cemetery Hill rekindled my connection to the gunners from my home county. Next time I’m “back home,” I think I’ll stop by Mount Jackson and revisit the monument there. It’s been a while.
Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.