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Gettysburg National Cemetery

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1863, William Saunders. Baltimore Pike
  • Soldiers National Monument

Born in Scotland and trained at Kew Gardens near London, William Saunders became associated with Philadelphia horticulturalist Thomas Meehan in 1854. After Andrew J. Downing's death, Saunders finished the garden plans for the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and in 1862 was appointed botanist and superintendent of horticulture for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Saunders was given the daunting task of providing a suitable memorial for the thousands of dead left on the battlefield, most of whom were unidentified. His solution merged the national fashion for the picturesque with a military arrangement of the graves, which are arrayed in semicircles around a small hill on the crest of which is the Soldiers National Monument (J. G. Batterson). It stands near where Lincoln spoke at the dedication the following fall. Identity of the buried varies from individual names noted on arcs of stone laid level with the ground, to groups from specific units and from larger groups noted only as a specific number of unidentified men. The effect is not unlike the contour plowing of the German nurturing of the landscape and is clearly a source for Winifred Lutz's Tides of War in Harrisburg (see DA20).

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas

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