Today, the Battle of Gettysburg Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the monument and the ceremony of 124 years ago.
Dedicated on June 2, 1892, the “High Water Mark” monument stands on Hancock Avenue at the Copse of Trees in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Excerpts from the Gettysburg Compiler newspaper of that period describing the monument and events:
In collecting the data, immediately after this battle, which has preserved to history one of the world’s greatest contests, Col. J. B. Bachelder was impressed with the idea that the terrific fighting at what is now known as the Copse of Trees, would mark the turning point of the war.
This was intensified by subsequent events, and, at the close of the war, by Col. Harrison, Gen. Pickett’s Adjutant General, who came here and spent several days giving the historian all the details of that now famous movement against this point.
Soon after the battle the owner of the ground commenced to cut away the trees, but was induced by Col. Bachelder to desist, being convinced of its importance in preserving the landmarks.
In time the trees and underbrush grew to such an extent as to destroy the original picture, and under
the supervision of the late Sergt. W. D. Holtzworth the trees were trimmed and brush cleared away.
When monuments began to be erected and general interest centered here, Col. Bachelder offered a resolution before the Battlefield Memorial Association Board of Directors to have it enclosed in an iron fence, as a protection from relic hunters.
This was subsequently done under direction of Supt. N. G. Wilson.
At the next meeting of the Board he offered a resolution that a tablet be erected to mark the spot and give the history of the movement.
This met with unanimous approval and the Colonel was appointed a committee of one to carry out the resolution.
The Legislatures of the fifteen Northern States, whose troops met and repulsed the charge, were appealed to for funds, and all responded, between $6,000 and $7,000 being contributed for that purpose.
An open bronze book surmounts the monument, which stands on the east side of the Copse of Trees.
This weighs 1,272 pounds and is supported by a pyramid of cannon balls.
The left page bears a legend describing the assault and who participated, while the right tells of the troops who met and repulsed it.
The whole rests on a plinth of Maine and Massachusetts granite, with a broad and massive water table of Gettysburg granite.
A walk of granilithic cement enclosed with dressed granite curbing surrounds the whole, and it is approached by hammered granite steps.
In the center of each space at the sides stands a mounted 12-pound Napoleon gun with pyramids of cannon balls.
Three bronze plates set in the finely cut granite tell the story.
The best materials and workmanship were employed, stability and permanence characterizing every part.
Oration of Ex-Governor Beaver.
The formal unveiling of the monument before us furnishes the occasion for this public gathering.
The monument itself has been erected by appropriations of money made by several of the States whose troops were engaged upon this field in the great battle, which was fought here in July, 1863.
So far as the significance of the monument itself is concerned, so far as it serves to perpetuate in an especial manner the significance of the history which was made here, it would have been entirely proper for all the States whose troops were engaged in the magnificent charge of the Army of Northern Virginia and its repulse by the Army of the Potomac to have joined in making such an appropriation.
The monument is historical.
It perpetuates the history of an event.
Around us, on every hand, are the monuments of military organizations.
The different States represented by troops in the Army of the Potomac have made generous provision for the erection of monuments to mark the spot occupied by their several State organizations during the memorable contest which occurred upon this field.
Individual effort, representing those military organizations has supplemented the State appropriations.
The result is the most remarkable collection of works of art grouped for such a purpose to be found anywhere in the world.
I am not in sympathy with the sentiment which would discourage such monuments.
They serve a varied purpose.
The military student will learn from them the tactics of the great Battle.
The survivor of the organization for which each stands will recount beneath its shadow the events o the day in which he took part.
The descendants of the men who served their Country well here will gather a fresh inspiration for the discharge of duty as they assemble about the memorial which marks the place where their fathers stood, heroic in maintaining the majesty of the law, and proving the perpetuity of the Government, and the citizens of our several States will rival each other in devotion to the memory of those who here proved themselves their worthy representatives.
Let these monuments stand.
Let them be preserved and perpetuated for all time to come.
They provoke no jealousies.
They harbor no resentments.
They are eloquent in their mute appeal to patriotism and to duty.
They have a mission and they meet its requirements well.
The monument which we dedicate today is different from them all.
It marks, as I have said, a new era in the erection of memorials upon this field.
It is significant and that significance should be emphasized in this presence.
The story of Gettysburg has been oft times told.
We have not yet reached the point where all personal feeling can be laid aside.
The motives which actuated the different organizations confronting each other, the question of responsibility for this and that movement resulting disastrously on both sides, the claims of the relative importance of the services rendered by men and organizations on the one side and on the other will naturally provoke controversy for many years to come.
The period, when all problems can be solved and all conflicting claims and statements crystallized in accepted history is not likely soon to come, but as we gather here today and look out upon the lovely valley across which Pickett and his gallant Virginians made their magnificent charge, and stand upon this spot where the equally gallant Pennsylvanians, and the men of other States, like a wall of adamant, received its shock and against which it broke and scatted and receded, we can all join in admiration of the courage and the enthusiasm which animated the men who made the charge and the fortitude and solidity of those who received its momentum.
This monument stands for both.
The Battle of Gettysburg Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of the “High Water Mark” monument circa 1903.