Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2020

Department 1



John Bachelder was an important artist and historian to Gettysburg, shaping the early interpretation of the battle during the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association period (1863-1895). While he is mainly discussed as the first park historian, it is important to look at his career as an artist and how it influenced his career at Gettysburg. Looking at Bachelder’s entire career, one can see how Bachelder’s vision for the battlefield changed over time. Bachelder wanted to create a grand history painting of the battle, which ultimately became his Isometric Map of Gettysburg. He corresponded with veterans to get their accounts, leading Bachelder to learn more about the battlefield and to create his own interpretation of the battle. His early works, like the Isometric Map, the James Walker Repulse of Longstreet’s Assault, and guidebook (Gettysburg: What to See and How to See it) brought Gettysburg to the homes of Americans. This allowed Bachelder to become a more well-known name among veterans. Furthermore, these early works allowed Bachelder to begin his interpretation of Gettysburg. Ultimately, Bachelder saw Gettysburg as the most important battle of the Civil War, which culminated into the High-Water Mark of the Rebellion for the Confederate troops. This influences his later works, such as his history of the battle and his for the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association as Superintendent of Monuments and Tablets. These later works focus on making Gettysburg a memorial landscape, and a battlefield park which visitors can understand by just looking at the field. Bachelder’s work is vital to understand the early interpretation of Gettysburg.


Written for HIST 425: Seminar in the American Civil War

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.