The first quarter-dollar in 2011 and the sixth coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters® series is the Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter featuring Gettysburg National Military Park located in the state of Pennsylvania. It is the first quarter to honor a Civil War Military Park.
The Pennsylvania coin is scheduled to be released into circulation through Federal Reserve Banks on January 4, 2011, and made available in bags and rolls directly from the US Mint on January 27, 2011.
The final quarter design was selected by the U.S. Treasury Secretary after several candidate designs and recommendations were provided by the U.S. Mint Director. The United States Mint announced the winning design, shown right, on December 1, 2010.
The Gettysburg National Military Park quarter depicts the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument located on the battle line of the Union Army at Cemetery Ridge. It was designed by Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
As mentioned, part of the quarter design process requires that the United States Mint provide proposed or "candidate
designs" to the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). These two bodies, among other individuals, review 3-5 candidate designs per quarter, and offer their recommendations — not only about what is the best design for each location, but potential changes that should be made.
The four Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter candidate designs, shown below, were the ones reviewed by the CCAC and the CFA.
Image one is the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument with a cannon in front and a building among trees in back. It was this design that was selected for the Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter reverse.
Image two shows a cannon in front of The Eternal Light Peace Memorial and a Park Ranger speaking to visitors. Image three is The Soldiers’ National Monument. Image four depicts visitors reading the Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Speech Memorial. The CCAC recommended image one, and the CFA recommended image three, stating it was the simplest design making it the most legible on the coin.
The United States Mint also produces a silver five ounce version of this strike with the Gettysburg America the Beautiful Uncirculated Silver Coin.
Additional 2011 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:
- Glacier National Park Quarter
- Olympic National Park Quarter
- Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter
- Chickasaw National Recreation Area Quarter
Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania
In the fields surrounding Gettysburg, over a hundred thousand Confederate and Union soldiers fought the most famous and deadliest battle of the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg started on July 1, 1863. Major General George G. Meade’s Union forces outnumbered General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army, but that didn’t stop the Confederates from launching assault after assault.
On the third day of battle, a climatic Confederate assault famously known as Pickett’s Charge failed. Heavy fire from Union defenses proved too much, as large Confederate divisions reduced to fragments. Lee finally recognized defeat, and the next day began an orderly retreat to Virginia.
In all, over 51,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded, or missing. The Union’s victory marked a pivotal moment in the Civil War. The South’s morale never fully recovered, and the loss became the beginning of a gradual decline in the Confederate’s military power.
Caring for the wounded at Gettysburg was overwhelmed residents. The town of two thousand was left with 21,000 wounded, and many of them dying each day. In addition, thousands lay dead across miles of battlefield. It became apparent a well organized plan was needed for proper memorials. Temporary graves were used until a permanent place was built.
Officials rallied to create a national cemetery to honor Union soldiers. Within weeks, land was purchased at Cemetery Hill with contributions from the Union states that fought in the battle. The grounds were laid out in lots for each state.
On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication ceremony for the national cemetery, now named Soldiers’ National Cemetery. Within two-minutes, Lincoln not only honored Union soldiers who gave their life to the cause, but he gave meaning to the Civil War and inspired the living. His speech started with, “Four score and seven years ago …,” and it ended with,
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The Soldiers’ National Monument, a prominent monument erected in 1869 in the center of the cemetery marked the spot where the dedication and Lincoln spoke. Henceforth, more than a thousand bronze and granite statues, monuments, and markers have been constructed. Two other prominent monuments include The Pennsylvania Monument – the largest monument in the park, and The Eternal Light Peace Memorial on Oak Hill – dedicated on the 75th anniversary of the battle.
By February 11, 1895 legislation passed that established Gettysburg National Military Park. In that same year, to preserve the battlefield, the park grew to several hundred acres. After that, the park continued to grow, and the National Park Service currently maintains the 6,000 acre battlefield and cemetery so that people can view the hills, fields, and woods where soldiers fought. Hundreds of cannons have been refurbished and are on display throughout the park.
Today, almost 2 million people visit the park each year. Park entrance is free. The park grounds and roads open at 6 AM every day and close at 10 PM from April to October and close at 7 PM from November to March. Visiting hours for Soldiers National Cemetery is between dawn and sunset.
The Museum and Visitor Center is open most every day at 8 AM, except when it is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Closing times for the visitor center varies four times a year. Admission is charged for the museum inside the visitor center as well as for the film A New Birth of Freedom and the Gettysburg Cyclorama program.
Battlefield tours include walking tours, bus tours and vehicle tours. For the vehicle tours, Licensed Battlefield Guides can accompany tourists in their cars, or an audio CD that is timed to the marked plaques can be purchased and played in the car. Self-guided tours can be followed by using a park map. Trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding are designated throughout the park.