Gettysburg National Military Park
Mystery History Photograph Challenge
Virtual Program for Students and Families
Calling All Battlefield Detectives!
Can you figure out where we are on the Gettysburg battlefield?
Thank you for participating in this Winter’s Mystery History Photo Challenge!
Here are your instructions:
-->First: Carefully study the twenty-one site clues below and be sure to bookmark this page for use as a reference. Each of the site clues below contains a photograph as well as important information about where it is, what it is, and what happened there during the battle. You might also want to identify the location of each on the Gettysburg National Military Park map.
-->Second: Check in on our Facebook page for Teachers, Students, and Families, every Saturday morning in January and February 2021 at 9:00 a.m., for a new photographic clue as to our Mystery History location each week. Each week's Mystery History location will be one of the sites identified below.
-->Third: Using that photograph from our Facebook page as well as the clues below, try to figure out each week's Mystery History location!
-->Finally, keep a journal or a listing of each of the Mystery History locations and the next time you visit the battlefield, be sure to take a photograph of yourself at each of locations. Be sure to share what you learned about each location with your parents, teachers, and friends.
Good luck to all of you historical detectives out there!
Places To Know
First Shot Marker at Whistler House
Where Is It?Approximately 3 miles to the west of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Whistler’s, or Knoxlyn Ridge, alongside what is today known as Route 30 but what was known at the time of the battle as the Chambersburg or Cashtown Pike. What is it? A small granite monument. What Happened Here? This monument marks the spot where a Union officer named Marcellus Jones claimed to have fired the very first shot of the Battle of Gettysburg. When Did It Happen? July 1, 1863
11th Pennsylvania Monument
Where Is It? Approximately 1 mile north-west of the Gettysburg Diamond, of Roundabout, on Oak Ridge. What is it? A monument to a Union regiment known as the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, which has a granite pedestal and two bronze statues—one of a soldier; and one of a small terrier dog. What Happened Here? From this position, the 11th Pennsylvania fought Confederate soldiers advancing from the north and the west. After being forced back in the face of superior numbers, the regiment’s beloved mascot dog—Sallie—remained behind to look after the dead and help comfort the wounded. When Did It Happen? July 1, 1863
Coster Avenue Monuments and Mural
Where Is It? Approximately .2 miles northeast of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, east of Stratton Street What Is It? A rectangular piece of ground with several monuments and tablet, with a large and unique mural painted on the side of a neighboring building; the mural depicts the battle action that took place on the afternoon of July 1, 1863 What Happened Here? Although today there are many homes in this neighborhood of Gettysburg, at the time of the battle, this was largely open ground at the northern limit of town. Here, three small Union regiments under the command of Colonel Charles Coster went into position (around the brick kilns belonging to John Kuhn) in order to buy some time for the retreating soldiers of the Union 11th Corps. Coster’s men held firm for about 20 minutes and suffered nearly 500 Gettysburg before being driven back for an overwhelming Confederate force, which outnumbered Coster’s men here three-to-one. When Did It Happen? July 1, 1863
Eternal Peace Light Memorial
Where Is It? Approximately 1 mile north-west of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Oak Hill. What Is It? A large monument, rising 48 feet tall, and composed of granite from Maine and Limestone from Alabama, with a flame burning at the top. What Happened Here? During the Battle in 1863, Confederate soldiers held this high ground and used it to launch attacks. Fast-forward 75 years to the year 1938, and this Memorial—which stands for peace—was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Did It Happen? Dedicated on July 3, 1938
Widow Mary Thompson Home
Where Is It? Approximately ¾ mile west of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Seminary Ridge. What Is It? A one-and-a-half story, 1200 square-foot stone house, built in 1833—thirty years before the battle. What Happened Here? Mary Thompson, a nearly 70-year-old widow, resided in this home at the time of the battle. Fierce battle action raged around her home on July 1, 1863, but she remained, despite the dangers. After the fighting there on July 1, Confederate General Robert E. Lee—the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia—used this location as army headquarters. When Did It Happen? July 1-4, 1863
Virginia State Memorial
Where Is It? Approximately 1 ½ miles southwesterly from the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Seminary Ridge What Is It? A 41-foot-tall granite monument featuring numerous statues of Confederate soldiers and topped by a statue of General Robert E. Lee riding his warhorse Traveler. What Happened Here? Despite much opposition from Union Veterans, the Virginia Memorial was the first Confederate state memorial to be placed on the Gettysburg Battlefield. It honors the nearly 20,000 Virginians who fought for the Confederacy at Gettysburg, as well to the commander of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee, who was also from Virginia. It stands near the spot where, on July 3, 1863, Lee watched the failed attack known as Pickett’s Charge. When Did It Happen? Monument Dedicated on June 8, 1917
Observation (Longstreet/Warfield) Tower
Where Is It? Approximately 2 ½ miles southwesterly from the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Warfield Ridge. What Is It? A tall and narrow, iron tower, that rises nearly 80 feet, and is commonly called the Longstreet Tower after Confederate General James Longstreet who, during the battle, set up his headquarters near where the tower now stands. Some people refer to it as the Warfield Tower, named after the family who lived on and owned the land where the tower now stands.
What Happened Here? Long after the battle, this tower was built by the War Department to help visitors better understand the battle. From the observation platform at top, one gets a commanding view of the Second and Third Days’ Battlefields, as well as a great look at the nearby Eisenhower National Historic Site. When Did It Happen? Constructed in 1895
Where Is It? Approximately 2 ¾ miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, at the southern end of Houck’s Ridge What Is It? An outcropping of diabase sill formed millions of years of age and featuring gigantic boulders; one of the most popular spots on the Gettysburg Battlefield. What Happened Here?Fierce fighting between Union soldiers who were positioned on top of and around the large rocks and boulders and Confederate soldiers who were attacking from the west. Confederate soldiers drove back the Union defenders here but were unable to gain the higher ground known as Little Round Top about 500 yards to the east. When Did It Happen? July 2, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately 2.2 miles southwesterly of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, at the intersection of the Emmitsburg and Millerstown Roads What Is It? A large fruit orchard, which is smaller today than it was at the time of the battle. The fruit trees here were planted in the late 1850s by farmer Joseph Sherfy, whose large red house and barn still stand nearby. What Happened Here?Union General Daniel Sickles moved his men here from their assigned position about one mile to the east, thinking this was better ground. Unfortunately, he formed his men into a salient here and they were later attacked by overwhelming Confederate forces from two sides. The fighting here was intense and horrific and, of course, the fruit trees were very badly damaged during the battle. When Did It Happen? July 2, 1862
Little Round Top
Where Is It? Approximately 2.7 miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, and about 500 yards east of Devil’s Den What Is It? One of two rocky hilltops that figured prominently in the battle. The western side of this hill was cleared of trees shortly before the battle. It is one of the most popular places to visit on the Gettysburg Battlefield, and the view from the top is amazing. What Happened Here? This was the far left, or southern flank of the Union battle line, and an important high ground position that both sides fought for possession. It was used as an observation post and signal flag station. There was a dramatic bayonet charge down the southern side of the hill and a desperate stand of Union soldiers on top. In the end, Confederate forces were unable to gain this high ground. When Did It Happen? July 2, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately 2 miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, along what is known today as United States Avenue, but known as the Trostle Farm Lane at the time of the battle. What Is It? A large, two-story wood house, which has eight rooms, and a gabled roof covered with wood shingles. The house was built in 1860 and is part of a 134-acre farm. Nearby is a large brick bank barn, springhouse, corn crib, wagon shed, and other farm buildings. What Happened Here? Catherine Trostle and her nine children were living here at the time of the battle. They were forced from their home on the afternoon of July 2, 1863, when Union General Daniel Sickles made his headquarters nearby and as the Second Day’s Battle was about to begin. There was heavy fighting around the house and barn late that afternoon between Mississippians and a Union artillery battery. Damage from the battle can still be seen on the south side of the barn. When Did It Happen? July 2, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately 1 ½ miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on lower Cemetery Ridge What Is It? Composed of granite set over an iron and concrete frame, standing at 110 feet tall and 100 feet wide, and featuring nine bronze statues and 90 bronze plaques, this is the largest monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield. What Happened Here? Wishing to pay tribute to its native sons who fought at Gettysburg, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1907 set aside $150,000 and commissioned this large Memorial. There are four archways topped by a large granite dome on top of which stands the Winged Angel of Victory and Peace. The names of more than 34,000 Pennsylvania soldiers who fought at Gettysburg are inscribed upon the plaques that surround the base of the monument. There are also statues to Pennsylvania generals, as well as one to President Lincoln When Did It Happen? Dedicated September 27, 1910
Where Is It? Approximately 1 ¼ mile south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Cemetery Ridge, in between the Emmitsburg and Taneytown Roads What Is It? Manmade feature where two stone walls (built by farmers) join to form a right angle. What Happened Here? Union soldiers were in position behind this angle in the stone walls on Cemetery Ridge when they came under a heavy cannonade and then massive infantry attack known as Pickett’s Charge. Of the 12,000+ Confederate soldiers who began the attack, only a few hundred made it to and over the Angle. After a few minutes of intense, hand-to-hand fighting the Confederates retreated. The Angle forms part of the Confederates’ “High Water Mark” at Gettysburg. When Did It Happen? July 3, 1863
Abraham Brian House
Where Is It? Approximately one mile south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Cemetery Ridge What Is It? One-and-a-half story wooden, clapboard dwelling, with a pitched roof and wooden shingles; nearby is a pump for a well, as well as a barn. What Happened Here? In 1857, African American farmer Abraham Bryan purchased this home and barn, which sat upon a twelve-acre farm. He lived there with his wife, Elizabeth, and at least two of his children. Fearing being kidnapped and sold south into slavery, the Brian family fled their home before the battle. During the battle Union soldiers went into position here and a Union general named Alexander Hays used the home as his headquarters. The Brian family returned to find their home riddled with bullet holes, their windows shattered, fences toppled, and crops trampled. When Did It Happen? July 1-3, 1863
Widow Lydia Leister House
Where Is It? Approximately 1.1 miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on the southern slope of Cemetery Hill, along the Taneytown Road What Is It? Wooden, one-and-a-half story, two room farmhouse with open porch, and three concrete stairs. What Happened Here? Recently widowed, Lydia Leister purchased this home which stood upon a nine-acre farm in March 1861. She worked hard to turn the land into a productive, self-sustaining farm for her and her children. But on the evening of July 1, 1863, with the battle now raging at Gettysburg, she and her children were told to leave their home. Soon afterwards, General George Meade, the commanding general of the Union Army of the Potomac, made Lydia Leister’s home his Headquarters. The home was heavily damaged during the battle, especially during the Cannonade that took place just before Pickett’s Charge. Lydia Leister returned to find her home and her farm fields heavily damaged. When Did It Happen? July 2-3, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately 1 mile southeast of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout and east of the Baltimore Pike (today known as Route 97) What Is It? A hilltop that is 630 feet in elevation, and which is densely covered in trees and strewn with large rocks and boulders. What Happened Here? Realizing the importance of this high ground, Union generals ordered their men to take position here. To help make this a stronger position, Union soldiers began digging earthworks, cutting down trees, and piling up stones. This was the far right (northern) flank, or end, of the Union battle line at Gettysburg. This was the only part of the Gettysburg Battlefield that witnessed fighting during all three days of the battle. Although Confederates gained some ground on lower Culp’s Hill on the night of July 2, Union soldiers were able to hold onto this very important high ground during the battle. When Did It Happen? July 1-3, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately 1.3 miles southeasterly of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, at the southern base of Culp’s Hill. What Is It? A natural spring (water) that flows from the southern side of Culp’s Hill. What Happened Here? Soldiers from both sides drank the fresh, cool water the flowed here in this natural spring, and legend has it that during the middle of the night, soldiers from both armies called a truce and secretly met there to fill their canteens, though this is likely just a myth. Still, this spring remains a very popular spot on the battlefield. A permanent stone and concrete base and cover was built there. A bronze plaque there reads: “One Country and One Flag. The Strife of Brothers is Past.” When Did It Happen? July 2-3, 1863
Where Is It? Approximately ¾ south from the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundtable What Is It? A large hilltop that rises about 500 feet, with its crest running generally in a northeast to southwesterly direction What Happened Here? Much more ‘open’ and with far fewer trees and buildings on top as there is today, this hilltop (named Cemetery Hill because of the Evergreen Cemetery), was arguably the key, or most important part of the Union battle line during the Battle of Gettysburg. Union troops rallied on this high ground on July 1 and held onto it for the duration of the battle, even though Confederates came close to capturing it on the night of July 2. When Did It Happen? July 1-2, 1863
Location of Gettysburg Address
Where Is It? Approximately ¾ miles south of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Cemetery Hill. What Is It? A high point of ground on Cemetery Hill, within the town’s Evergreen Cemetery. What Happened Here? On November 19, 1863, about 15,000 people gathered to attend the Dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. There was a platform built on this high point of ground, and from there a number of speakers gave speeches. The most famous being President Abraham Lincoln who, on that date, delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the most important political speeches in American history. When Did It Happen? November 19, 1863
Gettysburg Train Station
Where Is It? Approximately 450 feet north of the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout, on Carlisle Street What Is It? Beautifully designed Italianate train depot, or station, featuring tall arched windows, and a low pitched roof with eaves. What Happened Here? Opened for operation in 1858 (just five years before the battle), the Gettysburg Train Station connected Gettysburg by rail to Hanover, about 16 miles to the east. During and after the battle, the train station became a hospital as well as a hub for incoming supplies and outgoing wounded men who were sent to either larger hospitals or home. Perhaps most famously, however, this is the Train Station that Abraham Lincoln arrived at when he journeyed to Gettysburg on November 18, 1863. After delivering his Gettysburg Address the following afternoon, Lincoln also used this train station to depart Gettysburg. When Did It Happen? November 18-19, 1863
David Wills House
Where Is It? Directly on the Gettysburg Diamond, or Roundabout in Downtown Gettysburg. What Is It? A large, three-story red brick house, with many windows, green shutters, and two doors. What Happened Here? This large home was owned by David Wills, a young Gettysburg lawyer who led the effort to organize the Soldiers’ National Cemetery after the Battle. Wills invited President Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” at the Dedication of the Cemetery, and when Lincoln accepted and traveled to Gettysburg he stayed overnight in the David Wills House, where he actually finished up his famous speech. When Did It Happen? November 18-19, 1863