Currently viewing the tag: "Gettysburg National Military Park"

The Day the South Won

Richard D. L. Fulton

Based on The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg by Richard D. L. Fulton and James Rada, Jr.

We have all been taught that the South “lost” the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, fought when the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, collided with the Union Army of the Potomac, under General George Meade.

While one could argue ad infinitum the validity of declaring the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg a Confederate defeat, Confederate forces did, in fact, defeat the Union forces and win the Battle of Gettysburg on that hallowed ground—only 59 years too late.

The year was 1922, four years after the end of the First World War, when more than 5,000 Marines—including the entire Fifth and Sixth Corps—along with their artillery, antiaircraft guns, M1919 tanks, dive and torpedo bombers, scout planes, and observation balloons descended upon Gettysburg—following their week-long, more than 80-mile trek from Quantico, Virginia, to the historic Civil War battlefield of 1863—for their annual summer maneuvers.

The troops left Quantico on June 19, arriving in Gettysburg on June 26. Some of the supplies and equipage were flown in or sent by railroad. It was said that it took the column more than a half hour to pass any given point along the line of the march.

The planned activities were two-fold: to train the troops and to hold public reenactments to promote the Marine Corps in the eyes of the public. The Marines held their public reenactments (specifically reenacting Pickett’s Charge, the game-changer that, on July 3, 1863, concluded the Battle of Gettysburg) on July 1, 3, and 4. The July 1 and July 3 reenactments were held in Civil War fashion, in conformity with the actual charge that occurred.

But the July 4 reenactment was another thing, altogether, because that day’s version of Picket’s Charge would be fought with all of the fire and fury and equipage of a World War I battle. 

“On July 4, the Marines will fight the Battle of Gettysburg as they think it ought to have been fought… with tanks, airplanes, observation balloons and machine guns. They don’t need any rehearsal for this. They learned a good deal about it in France.” The (Baltimore) Sun, June 28, 1922.

Prior to the July 4 battle, the Marines announced that Colonel Frederick L. Bradman would be portraying Confederate General Robert E. Lee, while Major H.B. Pratt would portray Confederate General James Longstreet, and Confederate General George Picket was portrayed by Colonel James K. Tracey.  Apparently, no one was assigned to represent the Union command.

Among the multitude of civilians that had arrived to see the battle was Colonel E.B. Cope, superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, who had actually been attached to Union General Meade’s headquarters at Gettysburg during the July 3, 1863, charge. A number of Veterans of the war were also present to view the reenactment.

The Marines divided up their numbers to create the Union and Confederate forces needed to fight that battle. 

Preparing for battle, the Confederate Marines were able to use their current uniforms by modifying how such was worn, including refiguring the slouch and floppy hats to the appropriate style. Beets were boiled to be used as blood during the battle.

The battle opened on July 4, with an artillery fire and the lofting of a Confederate observation balloon, which immediately triggered a dogfight between Union and Confederate bi-wing aircraft, the highlight of which was the shooting down of the observation balloon, which fell, burning the ground. The pilot threw out a dummy and, shortly after, parachuted himself out of the burning assemblage. The burning balloon landed somewhere on the west side of Seminary Ridge.

Around 10:30 a.m., smoke candles were lit ahead of the massed Confederate infantry to simulate the fog of war that would have been generated by all the mystery and artillery fire of July 3, 1863. Then came the Confederate advance, but unlike the deployment of Southern troops during the actual charge, in which the troops would have advanced in long shoulder-to-shoulder lines, they advanced in Squads and platoons as they would have done in battle in 1922.

The Marines advanced onto Emmitsburg Road, where they deployed machine gun crews and their weapons units, supported by squads of infantry. The (Baltimore) Sun wrote on July 5, “The audience heard only the thunder of artillery and the tat-tat-tat of machine gun and the crack of rifles… while the visible infantry appeared and disappeared within the voluminous amount of smoke.”

As the Marines prepared to advance on what today is referred to as the High Water Mark (which marks the furthest Confederate troops advanced on the July 3, 1863, charge), Confederate dive bombers strafed the Union troops posted behind the stone wall that further denotes the High Water Mark.

Then came the tanks, which The (Baltimore) Sun described as seeming, “Like lazy animals, already gorged with battle and bored with the slaughter, they wobbled through the oat fields, converging on the Codori House, and at a few hundred yards began spitting flame and smoke from their one-pounders.”

Union troops were offering serious resistance in the Codori House and outbuildings, so the Marines ordered up two tanks to take them out. Another two tanks were deployed on the left flank of the Confederate advance. One of the tanks rolled up to the Codori House and fired a smoke round into the house through a window and the Union resistance ceased.

The rifles used in the battle fired blanks, but blanks had not been developed at the time for machine guns, so the machine guns were firing live rounds. Berms had been created a short distance around the Codori Farm, into which the machine gunners directed their fire. The tank more than likely only fired smoke rounds, as well as their machine guns. Every so many Confederate Marines carried shotguns with smoke shells that they would fire into the ground as they progressed to simulate artillery shell impacts.

The Union troops had also created several mock pillboxes between Emmitsburg Road and the High Water Mark, in which they placed their machine guns—probably firing also into the temporary berms—and these were soon silenced by the tanks.

The battle was also monitored by judges, delegating points for gains made or losses taken. When the Confederate Marines cleared all of the Union resistance from Emmitsburg up to the High Water Mark, the battle was called off, and the Confederate Marines were judged to have been the victors. The South had just effectively won the Battle of Gettysburg.

The (Baltimore) Sun wrote, July 5, 1922, “Cemetery Ridge fell today, the blazing hills and knolls that hurled back the Confederate Army’s massed attacks in 1863 were silenced this morning by the United States Marines. Attacking like Indians among the wheat shocks and through the stubble and oat fields, while big guns pounded to pulp and machine guns peppered to death the fortresses that had held the old Union Army safe 59 years ago.”

The Marines left Gettysburg on July 6 and marched back to Quantico. They would not engage a Civil War enemy again until their summer maneuvers in 1923, when they advanced on the New Market Battlefield in Virginia, only this time as Union troops!

  Source: Last to Fall, Fulton/Rada

Three of four “Confederate” tanks await the battle.

Source: Last to Fall, Fulton/Rada

“Confederate” Marine setting up machine guns on Emmitsburg Road.

Source: Last to Fall, Fulton/Rada

“Confederate” Marine platoons assault the Codori House.

Although it is referred to as the Gettysburg casino, a newly proposed plan to place a racetrack and casino in Freedom Township would actually be closer to Emmitsburg than Gettysburg.

David LeVan, who has tried unsuccessfully twice before to put a casino in Adams County, has proposed a horse racetrack and casino called Mason-Dixon Downs at 4200 Emmitsburg Road. LeVan is an Adams County businessman who owns Battlefield Harley-Davidson, northeast of Gettysburg.

Besides gaming, the facility would also offer Standardbred harness racing. LeVan told the Gettysburg Times that Mason-Dixon Downs would be along the Mason-Dixon Line, less than a mile from the Emmitsburg Road. It is a 700-acre parcel that is 2.5 miles from the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center and 3.2 miles from Gettysburg National Military Park. He also told the newspaper that it would create hundreds of jobs.

In a press conference announcing the project, he said, “We’ve listened to those who were concerned about our previously proposed location. That’s why this project is located 2.5 miles further southeast, across a major highway and along the Maryland border.”

This also places the casino and racetrack closer to Emmitsburg. Mason-Dixon Downs could open as early as 2019.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs says that the people in town with whom he has spoken feel that the casino and racetrack would be a good thing for Emmitsburg.

“It’s speculative right now,” Briggs said “but the business people are very receptive to it. They feel if it did come about, it would have a positive effect on their businesses.”

Briggs said that although a portion of the property extends into Maryland, he doesn’t know if any state or county officials have been contacted about it, but town officials haven’t been. He believes that the project, if it happens, would have some impact on the town.

“We have 215 acres on the east side of U.S. Route 15,” Briggs said. “It could stimulate development there. That would be a good thing.”

In 2006, LeVan proposed placing a casino near the Route 15 and Route 30 intersection near his motorcycle business. It was rejected by the Pennsylvania State Gaming Control Board, in part, because of its nearness to the Gettysburg Battlefield. In 2010, LeVan proposed a second location at the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center. It was further away from the battlefield but about ten miles closer to Emmitsburg. The proposal was also denied.

LeVan will be applying for a category 1 gaming license, which is sometimes called a racino license. It allows racetracks to have up to 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines. Pennsylvania law allows for seven of these licenses. Six have been awarded so far.

For LeVan’s proposal, it would be a two-step process. The license was intended for existing racetracks, but allowances were made for new facilities. Mason-Dixon Downs would have to have hosted at 150 days of live racing by the second year of the license approval. However, Pennsylvania is currently considering softening this requirement.

It is expected that the project would benefit Hanover Shoe Farms near Littlestown, which is known for its breeding harness-racing horses.

This project is still in its early stages, and officials are waiting to see more details. The project already ran into its first delay when the Freedom Township Board of Supervisors failed to move the proposal forward to the planning commission until more details are received.

Another hold up (this one known beforehand) was that the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission needed to work out the application process for a harness racing track.

James Rada, Jr.
National-Park-Service-logoYou don’t have to travel out west to visit a national park; you can find five National Park Service sites in Frederick County, Maryland (described below), plus the Gettysburg National Military Park located to our north just over the Pennsylvania state line. This year would be a great year to visit these parks because the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial!

“America’s national parks are beautiful, emotional places,” Ed. W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site, said in a park news release. “Places like Gettysburg National Military Park, Flight 93 National Memorial, and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail tell us more about who we are and help us understand history. Many parks are natural wonders that offer scenic getaways, wildlife viewing, and other adventures. The centennial is about celebration, discovery, and making new connections.”

The National Park Service (NPS) began when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Organic Act” on August 25, 1916. This legislation not only created the NPS, but it give the NPS the job “…to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

“It had far-reaching ramifications, which continue to impact 6,815,195 park visitors per year in Maryland alone. Even individuals who have never visited a park, if such people do exist, are impacted by the tourism dollars that are derived from NPS sites in their communities,” said Mary Mannix, Maryland Room Manager with the Frederick County Public Libraries.

In 1916, there were 35 parks and monuments under National Park jurisdiction; today there are over 400. They are located on over 84 million acres of land throughout our 50 states, along with DC, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Maryland is home to 16 of these national parks. More than 300 million people visit national parks in the United States annually. This is roughly 1,000 times the number of people who visited U.S. national parks in 1916.

With such a large anniversary for the NPS, you can be sure that more than the parks will be holding celebrations in its 407 national parks. Many individuals will host cookouts and celebrations, and in Frederick County, the Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) is hosting a series of talks and activities in conjunction with the NPS.

“To celebrate the 100th anniversary of this momentous act, Frederick County Public Libraries is partnering with several of Frederick County’s NPS sites for a year-long celebration of events, unique programs, and informational displays,” said Mannix.

Patrons can join in storytime walks in Catoctin Park; hear a talk about James “Snap” Rouzer, a 19th century bounty hunter; brush up on outdoor skills; or learn about moonshining in the area.

In Emmitsburg, patrons can view the art of Catoctin Artists in Residence and come face-to-face with some of the birds and animals from Catoctin Mountain.

To encourage participation in these events, the library system and NPS are offering a free overnight stay in the Canal Quarters at Point of Rocks (Lockhouse 28).

For every NPS/FCPL Centennial partnership program you and your family attend in 2016 in the parks and libraries, you will have a chance to enter into the drawing for the overnight stay.

Visit for more information. The drawing will take place on December 31, 2016, and the winner will be notified.
Find out more about what’s going on to celebrate the National Park Service anniversary in your local library at

James Rada, Jr.

Ranger - Jim RadaJeremy Murphy (pictured right) was born and raised in Emmitsburg, graduating from Catoctin High in 1998. He visited both Catoctin Mountain Park and Gettysburg National Military Park on field trips and summer trips, never realizing that he would grow up to become the chief law enforcement officer for the Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Murphy, who has been with the National Park Service (NPS) for fourteen years, took over the duties of planning, direction, and execution of programs dealing with law enforcement and resource protection, emergency services, and safety for the park rangers.

“I’m happy to be here,” Murphy said. “My family lives in the immediate area, and my wife’s family is from Taneytown.

Previous to coming to Gettysburg, Murphy was chief ranger for the Visitor Protection and Resource Education Division at Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick. He also served in law-enforcement ranger positions at Catoctin Mountain Park, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, and Delaware Water Gap NRA. Prior to law enforcement, he worked for the resource management division and the maintenance division at Catoctin Mountain Park.

“I actually went to school and studied wildlife management and then I shifted to forestry,” Murphy said.

When he graduated from Penn State, Murphy originally tried to get a job with the Pennsylvania Forestry Service, but was turned down because he didn’t live in Pennsylvania at the time.

He had worked as a trail crew member for the NPS, which was seasonal work. He tried to get a job with NPS on a permanent basis through the NPS intake program, but the organization wasn’t hiring biologists. He did find out that they were hiring law-enforcement rangers. He applied and was hired.

“I’ve never regretted it,” Murphy said. “I like that my days are never the same.”

He has kept his work sites near his hometown, which has worked out well. He was involved with the sesquicentennial events for the Civil War sites in the area and the bicentennial events at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. When he was working at Catoctin Mountain Park, he even met President Bush. He is currently the planning section chief for the planned Papal visit this month to Independence National Historical Park.

“Each park I’ve been at has moments for me that stand out,” Murphy said.

His favorite park, however, is the Delaware Water Gap Park.

“It was the first park I was at on a permanent basis, and it was a treasure trove of natural resources,” he said. “I could go out and spend all day just hiking the trails.”

Murphy met his wife, Erin, through a mutual friend while he was working at Harpers Ferry National Military Park. They live in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, with their three children—Wyatt, Ayla, and Tristan.