74th PA Monument at Gettysburg
Damaged in Automobile Accident
16 November 2003
The news is not good, unfortunately, as initial reports and pictures indicate that the 74th PA Monument at Gettysburg was severely damaged on the night of the 13th of November 2003 when a Ford Explorer smashed into it. The driver, Laura Staub of Gettysburg, survived the crash. The NPS issued a press release indicating that initial estimates to repair/replace the damaged part of our beloved monument.
Inquiries have been made, over the weekend, to the NPS office asking for additional information and specifics about insurance being an option to address the cost of the restoration/repair/replacement. Also, inquiries have been made about any needs for additional funding, as well as the extent of the damage to the “dying Gaul” flag bearer.
Discussions are already underway with members of the 74th Descendant’s group associated with this website regarding potential fund raising possibilities if that need materializes. Please continue to check here for more information, for I will post it to this page as we get answers to the inquiries made.
A very sad day indeed for the Regiment.
19 November 2003
Katie Lawhon provided more information, good news actually, regarding the monument status. NPS has been in contact with Ms. Staub’s insurance company and there is insurance funds for the repair and restoration. When the monument was struck, as noted in the pictures provided by NPS, the center section/third literally was forced out so quickly that the soldier/flagbearer portion fell onto the base and the shock of that may have been what caused the break of that sculpture.
These monuments are considered historic structures and as such the objective of NPS is to seek repair of the structure. The driver did have insurance and NPS administration has already been in contact with the insurance company regarding the need for funds to repair this damage. The soldier was found in three main pieces, with some smaller pieces, that were secured that evening. These included the head, torso, and a portion of the flag.
There are a lot of details still being worked out, but Katie Lawhon noted that the funding of the repair and restoration would be taken care of by the insurance. The methodology used would probably be an appropriate use of pins, epoxy and where necessary new material to restore this monument to its original glory. The big challenge will be the staff time needed for this effort. NPS does have monument preservation/restoration staff who are familiar with the various techniques required for this type of work. However, that division at Gettysburg recently lost a staff member (of an original team of three) as a result of budget cuts to the battlefield’s operational budget. So, the repair of this will take time. She did note that she would check to learn whether or not the soldier’s remaining portion would remain on the monument until repaired or be removed to the repair facility.
Kathy also noted that the battlefield has an extensive archives not open to the public at the present of materials associated with the dedication of each of the battlefield’s monuments. Bret and I will be in contact with that person to see if we can learn more about the construction, cost, etc., of this precious relic our ancestors left for us and others to admire.
While the funds are there for the repair of this important part of our history, we may want to consider funding raising so that if something happens where such funds are not available, or other projects want to be pursued (battle flag preservation – that still needs to be looked into; Freeman’s Ford historical marker; etc.) funds would be available.