Historian Quotes about Seminary Ridge at Gettysburg

What do the leading historians of the Civil War and authorities on the Battle of Gettysburg have to say about saving this hallowed ground on Seminary Ridge?

“The Trust continues its superb work in reclaiming essential parts of the first day’s battlefield at Gettysburg. After saving the ground around Lee’s headquarters, the Trust has moved south of the Chambersburg Pike to focus on part of the late afternoon’s action that featured hard fighting between William Dorsey Pender’s Confederate division and Union First Corps units, including the Iron Brigade. Preservation of these 18 acres will allow visitors to gain a much better grasp of action that preceded the final Union withdrawal to high ground around Cemetery Hill. These ongoing efforts by the Trust ensure that future visitors to Gettysburg will have a splendid opportunity to follow critical elements of the fighting that made Gettysburg the most storied military event of the nation's greatest crisis.”
— Gary Gallagher, author and former director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History, University of Virginia

“On this ground occurred the end of the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg and the beginning of the end of the Civil War. The scene of the last stand of Union troops on the first day fighting and the location of General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters for the next two, this land has tactical through strategic importance. To preserve it is an act of faithful stewardship. It preserves another link for future generations to understand the Battle of Gettysburg, and the great sacrifices made by earlier citizens on our behalf.”
— Col. Doug Douds, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), U.S. Army War College

“Some of the hardest and most important fighting at Gettysburg on July 1st took place on the grounds of the Lutheran Theological Seminary. After being driven from their position in McPherson's woods in the afternoon, the Iron Brigade and other Union troops retreated to Seminary Ridge to make a stand, while North Carolina and South Carolina troops came on and renewed the attack, finally driving the Yankees in retreat through town to Cemetery Hill. Because the Seminary land is not part of the National Military Park, it is vulnerable to potential development, so the acquisition and easements of these acres will save a crucial part of the battlefield.”
— Jim McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“Admirable preservation successes have secured most of the July 1 battlefield at Gettysburg—yet the scene of the final climactic Confederate charge, to take Seminary ridge, remains unprotected.  The Trust recently acquired Lee's Headquarters, just across the pike, and now undertakes the challenge of preserving the adjacent site of that violent attack. South Carolinians who spearheaded the desperate assault called their ordeal ‘fearful,’ launched ‘across an open plain swept by the enemy's guns.’ ‘Such a rattle of musketry I never heard surpassed,’ a surgeon wrote to his wife.  The torrent of fire cut ‘many brave fellows...down in death!’  The chance to preserve the scenes of their bravery and suffering is tremendously appealing.”
— Robert K. Krick, author of Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain

“Throughout the morning of July 1, 1863, Seminary Ridge served as a staging area for the Northern Army west of town. On the afternoon of that day, it was strengthened into a formidable defensive position upon which the Union First Army Corps made a desperate final stand before retreating through the town. The ridge was taken by Confederate forces in one of the more successful frontal assaults of the battle. On July 2nd and 3rd, the ridge north and south of the Seminary was converted into a Southern defensive position, and artillery from its environs pounded the Union line on Cemetery Hill. Currently, the area in question is the scene of the heaviest fighting of the battle, still in private hands, and the preservation of this ground is a crucial step in honoring the men who fought and died there.”
— Timothy H. Smith, Licensed Battlefield Guide, Gettysburg, and Research Assistant, Adams County Historical Society

“Guiding groups around Gettysburg for three decades, and working on Seminary Ridge for eight years, I can honestly say the tracts of land the Civil War Trust is now working to preserve at Gettysburg, are among the most historically significant of the Gettysburg Battlefield still in private hands. On or near this ground stood some of Gettysburg’s most recognizable personalities including Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, J.E.B. Stuart, John Reynolds, John Buford and so many more. Here, on July 1, heavy fighting raged. On July 2 and 3, Lee used these grounds as his part of his headquarters complex and on July 4 the Confederate defensive line was here as the Southern Army began its retreat. So now is your chance to make some history by saving these important battlefield parcels. These tracts should be preserved today!”
— Wayne E. Motts, Licensed Battlefield Guide, Gettysburg, and CEO, The National Civil War Museum

“Late afternoon on July 1, the first day of Gettysburg. The Yankees’ Iron Brigade desperately digs in for a last stand at the Lutheran Seminary on Seminary Ridge. Here is the crux of the long and bitter day’s fighting. Colonel Abner Perrin’s South Carolina brigade is rallied to the charge. ‘Filled with admiration for such courage as defied the whole fire of the enemy,’ wrote a man in the attacking column, ‘the brigade followed, with a shout that was itself half a victory.’”
— Stephen Sears, author of Gettysburg

Preserve 15 Acres at Gettysburg – Willoughby's Run
Gettysburg Preservation Update: Summer 2024 After securing the downpayment last year on our multi-year campaign “First Blood at Willoughby’s Run,” we...

Related Battles

Adams County, PA | July 1, 1863
Result: Union Victory
Estimated Casualties