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tv   General Lees Headquarters at Gettysburg  CSPAN  March 11, 2017 10:00am-10:21am EST

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@cspan us on twitter history. >> for three days in july, 1863, the union and confederate armies faced off in ginsburg -- gettysburg, pennsylvania, one of the most decisive battles in the civil war. next, on american artifacts, we visit robert e. lee's gettysburg headquarters. the civil war trust, a nonprofit organization purchased the house and land in 2015. we talk with jim white heister and gary aleman to talk about the property's history. >> this house is significant to the battle of gettysburg, one of the most, if not the most battle in the civil war. it was the epicenter of the confederate effort. this is the headquarters. this is where robert e lee was.
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this is the building in which he made crucial decisions during the course of those three days of that battle that literally determines the outcome. this property, when we bought it, looks nothing like it does right now. a was a hotel complex with restaurant attached. 40 or 50 room -- 1950's style motel was a restaurant -- with a restaurant, saloon attached, surrounding this building that was robert e. lee's headquarters. it was hidden in plain sight. what we did to restore it was get rid of the 20th century. that was tear down, move out all of the degree that encompassed a hotel or motel. then we had to restore the topography. we had to tear out 15 different
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structures, including a cynical and a gift shop, those types of things -- including a hotel and gift shop. this area was layered with 20 of century commercial establishments. we restored the topography and now it looks the way that robert e lee would recognize it in the 19th century. it is essentially a land preservation organization with an emphasis on saving the battlefields from three different wars. the war of 1812, the revolutionary, and the civil war. where the battlefields the issues that created and defined the country were settled. we saved that land. in addition we have a strong education proponent. we used to have land as an educational platform, and outdoor classroom to teach americans about the history.
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the national parks service is the number one partner. we work closely with them to buy land that they either cannot buy for whatever reason, they cannot move fast enough, they don't have the money, we come in and buy the land. we restore the land. we turn the landover, wherever possible to the national park service to add to national park service parks that already exist. we enhance the product, if you will. >> gettysburg is not such a motown at the time of the -- small town of the time of the civil war. there are banks, houses, like this one on the countryside. you have world living -- were reliving -- rural living. this is one of the many houses where you will have one, two or more occupants tending a small garden. the battle would descend upon the town and forever change it.
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the really arrived, afternoon of july 1, 18 63, 1 of the bloodiest days of the civil war already and he comes upon a horrendous scene. the terrain is dotted with hospital operations. his side was winning. he would have seen a scene of devastation to not only humans, but also the terrain, structures, fences. degree everywhere. ris all over the place. evolutions into the -- abolition movement. he purchased this house for mary thompson. they had eight children. by the time of the battle she lived alone. is thought to have
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been here in the house as robert e. lee and the confederate army descended. there are not good accounts as to how she may have interacted or not interacted with generally and his staff and anyone else -- general lee and his staff. the house became a hospital after the battle, she was here and active, but we do not know more than that. by the time that robert e lee arrived his staff had already selected this general vicinity is the headquarters of his army, northern virginia. the headquarters was already selected. a headquarters is a very -- what aquestion headquarters is is a difficult question to answer. is it where the general conducts work? here is how it comes down -- we know that robert ely used this house. we know that he was a man -- robert e lee used this house. we know that he was a man that conducted tasks on horseback.
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we don't have a great detailed account about what he did wear, other than we know that he used the house. we know his tent with outside of the house. we know that he make critical decisions in the field. the battle last three days. the first 80 confederates when the first day the confederates win. there are 25 canon along seminary ridge. the union line in this particular area, west of the house was particularly strong. away cannons blazing trying to push in this direction. eventually the flanks are so crumbly, this is the last position to hold. this is the last union position. southerners drive the union army away. the union retreats what is now
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route 30. the southerners occupy the bridge. they lay out their cannons on the ridge. it is a very commanding ridge. it is a great view of the town. we know this because the battle of gettysburg is the greatest battle of the civil war. people tended to write a lot about it. people came here. there was a historian collecting stories. there were maps made. there is a map of burials made. that shows a union and confederate soldier on this property. that testifies to the severity of the fight and all of the accounts really bolster that. the postwar history of the house is interesting as well. here you have one of numerous houses on the battlefield. civil war battles are usually thought in people's backyards
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whether it be a rural setting or outside of a town. this was no exception. no one thought of preserving every bit of every battlefield, even the civil war trust does not feel that way. you cannot do it. this became one of numerous places right along a major route where people could stay and receive travel services. it eventually became a tourist area. they had cabins and eventually a full motel. battlefield guides a century ago and more stops taking people to lee's headquarters. as they talked about it, they would have to explain why they could not go inside. they did not want to exhibit -- ex post tourists. tourists.
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priority, was not a every time people considered it a priority, it had already become an expensive, booming motel and hotel. when the civil war trust acquired the headquarters and the complex, the former owners were generous enough to deem to us the numerous artifacts that they still haven't holdings from when the house served as his headquarters museum for about eight decades. it was a popular museum. right away we wanted to identify everything associated with the house and deeds those to the national park service will be the steward. we wish there was more, but we are happy to have a few things we have. we have the original deed. it says that thaddeus stevens purchased the house for mary thompson. i think that some of the, may be best artifacts would be a lock plate from a door that is known
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to be removed from mary thompson as taken across the road or out to a tent to serve as a table. almost certainly something that e would have-e le used to conduct the battle. there is a piece of the door, well-documented. it matches another piece of the door that supposedly came from the door as well. it is what they do in trying to .nsure that is correct the door itself became so famous that it was sort of her move from the headquarters and used as a map table so it became of great interest to people. people were interested in the midterms -- mementos, people would crave a piece of the door so it was at least in part cut up and sold to people.
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i am glad something like that happened, but if we cannot have the whole door i will take a small piece. a pair of shutters came out of the house as well. there are not shutters on the mary thompson house, but there are numerous buildings .ssociated they are compelling when you see this visual example of the battle that it -- affected people's houses. imagine being a civilian at gettysburg. chair, a mid-19th century chair thought to have been in the house at the time. apparently was not in the house during the fire. there is a table and a tablecloth thought to have been
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here when robert was here. there were another 100 artifacts . we opened up to the national park service to have and add to their collection, anything they wanted. most of itwe deeded to the national park but also places like fort and the cannery and cedar creek and other that could be connected to those places. purchaseswar trust and preserves the hallowed ground where citizen soldiers made this country what it is today. some of the major decisions have been decided on battlefields. they were ultimately decided through victory by citizen soldiers. the civil war trust protects that land, where the soldiers hospitals, the cemeteries, those quizzes are
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important, we save those places if there is also fighting at those places, hallowed ground where americans fought and bled. historians had already long known that we would be lucky to have the resources that we have. the famous photographer, matthew brady, arrived on the scene within two weeks of the battle and recorded six photos from this photo -- property. have a photo of matthew brady with mary thompson. he went to a home owned by a guy named dustman and took the most panoramic photo of the town, just as it appeared during the battle. this photo of three confederate prisoners standing dignified with some of the hills of gettysburg in the background.
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we have a great ability to get down to the details of which stones in the house were aware, and what features such as a barrel or doghouse were part of the complex. is not like another mid-19th century stone houses. this particular house was gutted by an interior fire about 120 years ago. it burned almost a shell at the time. itself, we don't have a good record of what it looked like because of the fire. there was a guest room upstairs. we knew that there were no dormers at the time of the civil war and the restoration plan focused on the exterior, how can we put the right fences in, but
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the arbor on the front of the .ouse when it came to the interior, it had been and it -- then a museum -- been a museum. we wanted to open the house into a standard four room house. there are four exterior doors. two fireplaces. we have good reason to think it is approximately in the original configuration. >> the reason it is important to save land like this is because it is american history. the place, these are the places where america was created and defined. the battlefields, whether you are talking about the declaration of independence, the constitution, the emancipation proclamation, documents that were huge in american history, yet useless unless they are
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ratified by winning wars. what these places do, what these pieces of ground do is, they teach american public about how to become better citizens because it teaches about history. these are where the great things happened. i personally believe that humans crave a sense of place. they want to be there. they want to be in authentic places where real things happened. real, important things happened on this ground. americans can come to these places and stand where great events happened. to be there. >> for more information about the gettysburg headquarters and the work of the civil war trust visit the website, civil >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, this
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evening at 6:00 eastern on the civil war, abraham lincoln authorities speculate on what might have been if he was not assassinated. >> we would have to assume he was going to follow a cautious plan. so he might not have been willing to have black codes implemented, for instance. he certainly would have been more considerate. >> at 10:00 on real america, the , usa and, "round-trip world trade." going to 25 different countries. sunday at 6:00 eastern on american artifacts, we too are a building served as the meeting place of the first continental congress. >> you all remember patrick henry for his give me liberty or death. but, even more significant was his remark made here in the
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earlier days when he looked around the room and he said, gentlemen, we are no longer from massachusetts. we are no longer from pennsylvania. we no longer are from virginia. we are all americans. 8:00 on the presidency, ronald reagan and the transformation of global politics. >> the reagan administration also attempted human right violations focusing attention of the 1981 polish decision to oppose marshall law in the response to the growing influence of solidarity. >> for complete american history tv schedule go to >> yes, they have nice lifestyles, they have tons of money. i think it helps to make it to
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the top, are not properly motivated by money, they want to have standing and status. they want to be respected. they want to have power. >> sunday night on cue and day, q and a.- >> many of the super hubs see what is wrong with the system, but i also present in the book, are they presenters of the system? is it their fault or the system? in the end i come to the conclusion is the interaction of both. >> sunday night on q and a. next on american history tv, international spy museum historian events houghton
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discusses attempts by the u.s. government to overthrow or assassinate fidel castro. he examines the bay of pigs invasion but also was a known , drugsnvolving poison coffee, and exploding cigars. this was cohosted by christmas movie and -- smithsonian associates and the spy museum. >> good morning. events: it is a great day -- morning, it is a great day. peter: i am the executive director, we are delighted to have you all here with us. let us think the -- thank the smithsonian volunteers. if you would be kind enough to turn off your mobile devices. as an agency officer, who went through the hearings


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