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The Gettysburg Civil War Women's Memorial

On Saturday, November 16, 2002, a 7-foot bronze sculpture of Elizabeth Thorn (1832-1907) was dedicated in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery, 50 feet southwest of the historic cemetery gatehouse. Titled "The Gettysburg Civil War Women's Memorial," the statue honors all the women who served in various capacities before, during, and following the Battle of Gettysburg.

Thorn was six months pregnant when she took on the backbreaking labor of burying the first 91 soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg in the Evergreen Cemetery. This being a far heavier task, especially for a pregnant woman, than something like gardening or office cleaning. The statue, which depicts her as very pregnant and very exhausted, marks sculptor Ron Tunison’s fourth on the Gettysburg Battlefield, which ties him for having the most monuments on the site.

Elizabeth Thorn and her husband Peter (1826-1907) and are buried in adjoining lots in the historic section of the Evergreen Cemetery. To find their tombstones, enter through the Gatehouse and proceed along the main roadway about 100 yards. They are on the left side near the edge of the road, beyond the grave of Virginia Wade.

The Thorns emigrated from Germany and were married on September 1, 1855. (Coincidentally the same day the cornerstone was laid for the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse.) For more information we recommend Brian Kennell's "Beyond the Gatehouse".

The caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery and organizer of the Gettysburg Civil War Women’s Memorial, Brian Kennell, said it was important to have women’s history experts speak at the dedication ceremony. "They have written about the topic and were interested long before the concept (of the monument) came along. (They offer) a more heartfelt and appreciative angle to this monument and to women’s history." he said. Slated to speak were three experts in women’s history: Eileen Conklin, Sally Thomas and Cindy Small. Juanita Leish also spoke. She is an expert on women’s apparel and helped Tunison with the details on Elizabeth Thorn’s clothing.

This statue represents just one of the many new ways that the contributions of women are being recognized in Gettysburg. The recent Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide test included an essay on women in the Civil War and this March 7-9, the Gettysburg National Military Park presents a Women’s History Symposium, "A House Divided: The Ordeal of Disunion". To register, contact Ranger Rebecca Lyons at 717-334-1124, Ext. 430 or Ranger Terry Latschar at 717-334-1124, Ext. 432.

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