On Friday April 17 CWL joined 299 others in cleaning up the George Spangler farm at Gettysburg. The farm served as the Federal 11th Corps hospital and includes the summer outdoor kitchen in which Confederate general Lewis Armistead died.
The other 299 were members of Tourism Cares which is an association of those working in the tourist industry as planners; the association exists only to provide historic sites with volunteer labor. In the past Tourism Cares has rehabilitated Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans and a portion of George Washington's plantation at Mount Vernon. At the clean up event, Tourism Cares presented a $10,000 check to the Gettysburg Foundation which owns the farm.
I am telling you that these tour planners and sales folk know how to plan reception. On Thursday evening at the Visitors Center I signed in, picked up a Yingling, lots of tender beef roast, roasted vegetables on a stick, another Yingling, more more roast beef. Then I found the desserts: cheesecake in cupcake papers and dark chocolate dipped strawberries. After have just gotten out of the car at the end of a four hour drive from Pittsburgh, I was ready to indulge. The registration fee for a volunteer was $99. I started to feel good about doing yard work in a National Park with these guys.
On Friday morning, shuttle buses from the Visitors Center dropped us off at the farm which is located about a half to three-quarters of a mile due south of Powers Hill. Short saws, rakes and branch shears were distributed along with gloves. Three empty tractor trailer-sized dumpsters were filled by noon. Fence posts and wire fencing, cinder blocks, old farm debris, vines, and stones were cleared from the farm lane, the buildings, and the farm boundaries. The farm house and the sheads were cleaned out. The barn was not touched. The weather boarding is attached with square head nails and the entire building appears for the most part untouched since 1863.
On Friday evening a reception was held at the Gettysburg Hotel on the square. I worked the food, beer and desserts fairly hard for about 90 minutes while enjoying a Civil War era dance band and then two guys in Hawaiian shirts, synthesized music and decent vocals singing Motown. About 8:30 I realized I had been sunburned that day and needed to cool down outside. I took a stroll over to a cigar shop and then up Baltimore Street to the Reliance Mine saloon to meet Jim Glessner of the American History Store on Steinwehr.
Are you familiar with the saying, "Beer on whiskey, mighty risky. Whiskey on beer, never fear"? I live by it; so it was Jameson's neat for the rest of the night. With a group portrait of the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides over the bar and a stack of William Frassanito books on the shelf, I settled comfortably into a group discussion of where Farnsworth's Charge actually occurred. Then Bill Frassanito came in with 30 Batchelder maps and the evening became wonderfully suspended until about 1p.
On Saturday morning I joined the Tourism Cares Association's bus tour of the battlefield with a licensed guide. Afterward I drove over to the Adams County Historical Society located in the famed Seminary building west of the borough and studied the society's files on the Spangler Farm. More to come later on the George Spangler Farm, Lewis Armistead and the 11th Corps hospital.