The Gettysburg National Park Commission [The Commission is also referred to as the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission or the Gettysburg Park Commission], established by the United States Department of War, after they took over the administration of the park from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association (whose funds had expired) on March 3, 1893, and whose stewardship was later transferred to the National Park Service in 1933 (SOURCE), took a pictorial inventory of many of the existing monuments in the eventual historic district (a majority of them seem to have been Pennsylvania monuments being there are over one hundred of them). I have found hundreds of these pictures on Virtual Gettysburg, a comprehensive website which pictorially inventories all the monuments and provides minor narratives as well. All the photos look the same as if they were taken by the same camera and in the same approximate time period. Even the angles are all the same, positioning the monument at a slight right angle, revealing a little of the left part of the monument. The entire park looks so young and immature when the photos were taken. After all, the Battle of Gettysburg was thirty-seven years old at the time and war veterans were only in their fifties. I have never been able to find any photo credits (I have a sneaking suspicion some of the photos may have been snapped by members of the Park Commissions and published in their annual November report to the War Department) but I know they are public domain because their copyrights have all expired. Most of my pictures I use come from a website called Virtual Gettysburg. It seems however, all the pictures of the New York monuments were either borrowed from or shared with a New York monuments website. That site, The New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs can be found HERE. This 1900ish picture was on the Virtual Gettysburg site and can be found HERE.
Clearly it is evident, through a survey of historical pictures and other archival information (such as the annual Commission reports), much change has occurred at Gettysburg Battlefield. With the passage of legislation affording historical status to this site as well as placing it under the auspices of the National Park Service, its patrons and caretakers had to groom and prepare the area to make it more authentic as well as educational. Today the battlefield has managed to maintain an authentic 1863 feel, but back then, as evident in the many photos, it was a desolate, empty place of brown and green fields broken only by the occasional farmstead, their outbuildings and fields of crops. With the emergence and dedication of hundreds of monuments since 1900 (and many before), and the development of farmland, some change has occurred but for the most part, nothing too dramatic. The forest in the background today is much more organized. So, except for some obvious changes in trees which are always the default difference, there is nothing different in the monuments or background (excluding the cleaning of the monument).
The 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves (31st Infantry) Monument is located along Ayers Avenue at the top end of an S-shaped turn. The marker is on the left or east side of the road if traveling southwest along the road. To the northeast of this position is Wheatfield Road (T-intersection) and to the south, the Sickles Road intersection, the monument about half way between the two. There is also a large patch of woods which begins (or ends) at this monument location (northeastern part of the woods). This site is also close to the southeast corner of the Wheatfield, which border is defined on its west side by Ayers Road. The monument faces northwest and faces perpendicular to the road, which runs northeast. Parking is available at small, cutout shoulders along the road, some wide, some narrow. Be sure to stay off the grass or you will be tickete by park police. I visited this monument on Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:57 P.M. I was at an elevation of 530 feet, ASL. I used a Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos. The monument faces northeast, looking across the road. I faced about due south about 10 feet away when I snapped my duplicating pictures, putting the monument on an angle, revealing the front left corner. Although I am listing the original photo date as 1900, I believe that number is conservative. I think most of these pics were taken at the time of the dedication ceremony to be included in that year's commission report.
From a previous waymark about this monument:
The 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves was also known as The 31st Infantry. During the battle of Gettysburg, it served as a member of McCandless’ Brigade in Crawford’s Division of the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac. This unit had 273 men engaged at Gettysburg with 3 killed, 33 wounded and 1 man who went missing. The unit was commanded by lieutenant Colonel George A. Woodward (1835-1916). Woodward was an attorney in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was breveted Colonel, March 2, 1867 for the battle of Gettysburg. He participated in the campaigns of the Army of the Potomac. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Glendale, Virginia, June 30, 1862. He participated in the battle of Gettyburg as a Lieutenant Colonel commanding a regiment. He retired from active duty on March 2, 1879, and was advanced to the rank of Brigadier General on the retired list by the act of April 23, 1904 and was eventually buried in Arlington National Cemetery at the ripe old age of 81.
The Draw the Sword site helped out by the NPS narrative and the SIRIS site offers the following description: Granite monument with bronze State Seal affixed on front near base; and capped with finial of V Corps Maltese Cross and draped flag. Monument is a three foot square granite shaft set on a five foot square rough hewn base. Overall height is 9.3 foot. The shaft has an apex cap topped with a draped flag and the Fifth Corps Maltese Cross. Flanking markers are apex topped one foot square. The location of the monument marks the position held by the 2nd Pennsylvania reserve on July 2, 1863, after it counter attacked on advancing Confederate regiment (actually 100 feet rear of monument).
The monument was erected on September 1, 1890 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The monument is of granite with a bronze tablet. The granite monument's dimensions are approximately 9 ft. 3 in. x 5 ft. x 5 ft. I could not discover who the artists were who produced the monument. There are inscriptions on all four sides which read:
(Front):2d Pennsylvania Reserves
1st Brigade 3d Division 5th Corps
Mustered in May 27 1861
Mustered out June 16 1864
Recruited at Philadelphia
(Left):July 2d in the evening charged from
the hill in rear to this position and
held it until the afternoon of July 3d
when the brigade advanced through
the woods to the front and left
driving the enemy and capturing
(Back):Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Glendale
or New Market Cross Roads, Malvern Hill,
Groveton, 2nd Bull Run, South Mountain,
Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg,
Bristoe Station, Rappahannock Station,
Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania,
North Anna, Totopotomy, Bethesda Church
(Right):Present at Gettysburg
24 officers and 249 men
Killed and Died of wounds 9 men
Wounded 2 officers and 25 men
Captured or missing 1 man
Total enrollment 850Killed and Died of wounds 4 officers. 82 men
Died of disease etc. 2 officers 62 men
Wounded 21 officers 176 men
Captured or missing 5 officers 48 men
Totals 32 officers 368 men
Total Casualties 400
The 2nd Pennsylvania Reserves (31st Infantry) Monument is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. The monument is identified as structure number MN133-B.
From the Nomination Form:
Marks position of 2nd Pennsylavania Reserves on July 2, 1863 after counterattack on advancing Confederates. 1 of 110 mns in Park to PA commands at Gettyburg. Located on E side of Ayres Ave on E edge of Wheatfield.
Short Physical Description:
Mn & 2 flank markers. Rough hewn base, 5' sq. Granite shaft 3' sq. Apex-cap topped w/ draped flag & V Corps Maltese Cross. All 9'3" high. Flank markers, apex topped, 1'x1'x8".
Long Physical Description:
Monument that has two flanking markers. Monument is a three foot square granite shaft set on a five foot square rough hewn base. Overall height is 9.3 foot. The shaft has an apex cap topped with a draped flag and the Fifth Corps Maltese Cross. Flanking markers are apex topped one foot square. Located on the east side of Ayres Avenue on the east side of the Wheatfield.
1. NRHP Nomination Form
3. Stone Sentinels
4. Virtual Gettysburg
5. Draw the Sword
6. Historical Marker Database
7. Arlington Cemetery