Last updated: September 23, 2022
Gettysburg National Military Park
This memorial honors President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Civil War Monument
The Battle's Aftermath and Creation of the CemeteryThe Lincoln Address Memorial is unique: it commemorates the speech Lincoln gave here and not the man himself. Thus, it is one of the few memorials in the world dedicated to honor a speech. The bronze bust of Lincoln, by sculptor Henry Bush-Brown, reveals the heavy toll the war and the nation’s suffering had upon him. Inscribed in bronze on the right is the Gettysburg Address. On the left is the letter Lincoln received inviting him to speak at Gettysburg.
The recovery efforts began almost immediately following the battle. While relief for the wounded began to trickle in, the dead were hastily buried in shallow graves across the battlefield within one week of the battle. These crude graves were seen as a temporary solution for the disposal of the dead, and were completed quickly for fear that an epidemic might spread in the hot, humid summer conditions. The markings of these burials were also very rough and temporary, typically a wooden board with the soldier’s name written in pencil, placed at the head of his grave. Not surprisingly, many of these identifications were lost when exposed to the weather and other elements. It would be the effort to give these men proper and permanent burials that eventually led to the creation of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
A committee was formed, consisting of representatives from all of the loyal states who lost soldiers here. Headed by David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney and the Pennsylvania state agent, the committee decided upon a plan to create a common burial ground for the Union dead. The natural eminence of this hill, coupled with its importance to the Union victory, led the committee to select this 17 acre site as the location for the new soldiers’ cemetery. The land was purchased and the reburial of the Union soldiers began on October 27.
While this work got underway, Wills and the committee began to plan a suitable dedication ceremony for the new cemetery. They invited Edward Everett of Massachusetts to deliver the main oration. A former governor, congressman, senator and secretary of state, Everett was also one of the most famous orators of the day. While Abraham Lincoln was also invited, his role in the ceremony was to be a secondary one; David Wills’ invitation contains perhaps the key to the brevity of the Gettysburg Address, asking the President to deliver, “…a few appropriate remarks."