One of the most easily recognized monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield isn’t technically a monument. The iconic memorial sprawling out across Oak Ridge is the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, dedicated seventy-five years after those three bloody days of July 1863. Both Union and Confederate veterans flocked to the site in 1938 to watch the unveiling, and it must have been quite a sight to behold. Most striking was that states from above and below the Mason-Dixon Line donated hard-earned funds to pay for a lovely monument symbolizing national peace.
During the battle of Gettysburg this hill was vacant, at least until Confederate artillerists arrived. A. P. Hill’s Artillery Reserve and various batteries under the command of Gen. Robert Rodes soon set up shop on this advantageous ground. There were supposedly six different batteries spread out across the slope. It’s a history buff’s dream vacation to mark the differences between Parrotts, Whitworths, and Napoleons, though unfortunately this spot can be crowded for much of the day (watch out for buses if you want the place to yourself!) The current, commemorative artillery batteries at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial are well-marked and give a good idea of who did what. Perhaps the most touching feature of the memorial is the “eternal flame” that can be seen from many vantage points across Oak Ridge and McPherson’s Ridge. It’s especially beautiful in the evening.
If you stand in the parking lot and look straight out from the memorial toward the fields, you’ll probably be looking toward the spot where Gen. Alfred Iverson’s North Carolinians were ambushed on the first day of fighting. A slight walk to the left will reveal the solitary cannon of Carter’s Battery and, further down the slope of Oak Ridge, the Moses McLean farm. Stay tuned for a post concerning the various artillery batteries at Oak Hill.
PVT. GEORGE H. ATKIN
Born 1841 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 22
(c) 2013 Skies of Blue and Gray