Wednesday, April 17, 2013

News--Gettysburg's New Seminary Ridge Musem Opens July 1 {Pittsburgh Post Gazette}

Seminary Ridge Opening To Mark Gettyburg Anniversary, Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, April 14, 2013.

. . . A major part of the celebration will be the opening of the $15 million Seminary Ridge Museum, which, appropriately, takes place July 1. It's been created in a large building that was a Lutheran theological seminary in 1863 and which became a makeshift hospital for both Union and Confederate troops wounded in the fighting.

PG map: Seminary Ridge Museum
Construction of the new museum "will allow visitors to walk the halls of a building where wounded soldiers suffered, hear their voices of duty and devotion and stand in the spot in the cupola on Seminary Ridge where Union Gen. John Buford stood to observe the approaching Confederate forces," said museum director Barbara Franco.

The seminary, which educated Lutheran pastors, was founded on the ridge in 1832 and is still located there, although it has expanded and modernized, with many more classroom and administrative buildings than it had 150 years ago.
The four-story, red brick building that was the original seminary building has been turned into a Civil War museum. It still has its tall cupola on top -- a one-time bell tower where Buford spotted thousands of Confederate troops advancing from the west toward his small band of cavalry, who stepped down from their horses to fight. "He could see the Confederate campfire lights off in the hills to the west," Ms. Franco said. "He could see that the Union was vastly outnumbered."
. . . . . 
The museum's depiction of the medical care includes lifelike, human-size figures created to represent the suffering soldiers, with many stretched out on beds or the floor.
In many cases Union soldiers who were wounded on the first day of battle didn't receive any care for three days because Confederates controlled the makeshift hospital and were tending to their own wounded. Care for these Union soldiers didn't come until July 4, when rebel forces finally retreated south to Virginia. The seminary was used as a hospital until September 1863.

One room shows a surgeon with a saw preparing to amputate the leg of a soldier, with (fake) blood all over the floor. There was chloroform and ether to somewhat ease a patient's suffering.
"The pain these guys must have been in, with broken arms and legs and gunshot wounds, is unbelievable," Ms. Franco said. She added the museum has done research to uncover the names of all the patients treated in the hospital and the nurses who treated them. The second floor is devoted to moral and theological disputes during the war. "Religion played a major role in the war, with both North and South claiming God was on their side," Ms. Franco said.

She's hoping to attract a new crowd to Gettysburg -- Christians and others interested in social justice issues, including the owning of slaves and what the Bible has to say about it. She said biblical quotations were used by both pro- and anti-slavery advocates to justify their positions.
One second-floor room is devoted to Adams County abolitionists who helped escaping slaves flee from the South through the Underground Railroad, a series of houses where they stayed.
Ms. Franco hopes to attract 70,000 people a year to the museum.

The Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation was formed in 1999 to bring greater public knowledge of what happened that July 1. Working with it on the museum were current officials of the seminary and the Adams County Historical Society. Also, a mile-long outdoor walking trail around the seminary property is being created by the National Park Service and a promotional group called Main Street Gettysburg.

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