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Civil War Women’s Memorial

My high school classmate, Patricia Lowe Ritchie, alerted me to the Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial, a  likeness of Elizabeth Thorn, which was dedicated in 2002, (long after my last visit there). As you can see, the seven-foot statue depicts Thorn wearily resting her head on her left hand. Her right arm is around the handle of a spade: Her hand is resting on her pregnant belly. (For authenticity, the sculptor used a model who was six-months pregnant.) A pickax is at her feet. Here’s the story: During the three years her husband, the caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery,  served in the Union army, Elizabeth Thorn took over his duties, while also tending to her elderly parents and three small children. On July 1, 1863, she volunteered to ride with a Union general and show him the lay of the land. The general had wanted a man, but Thorn told him she “wasn’t afraid,” so he said “come on.” That evening she cooked a midnight meal for several generals who held a meeting in her house. Told to leave during the battle, she returned to find nineteen dead horses and hundreds of dead soldiers lying on the cemetery grounds.  In the heat of July, she and her elderly father buried 105 soldiers, while waiting for the National Cemetery to be completed. When during a recent lunch date, my friend Kate Kelly told me she was going to Gettysburg, I asked her to visit this statue and send me a photo, which she did. Thank you Patty & Kate.

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