Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Man Who Made Gettysburg
John Badger Bachelder was born September 29th 1825 in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. He attended Captain Alden Partridge’s Military School in Pembroke, New Hampshire. After graduation he moved to Reading, Pennsylvania, where he took a job at the Pennsylvania Military Institute. Bachelder joined the Pennsylvania State Militia while at the school and was a Colonel by 1852. In 1853 Bachelder married Elizabeth Barber in New Hampshire where he began his career in art. He liked military topics for his art and was working a piece about Bunker Hill when the Civil War started. Bachelder accompanied the Union Army of the Potomac. He studied battlefields, interviewed participants of the battles. He seems to have been well liked, and welcomed by the leaders of the Union Army.
Bachelder’s life work came after the Battle of Gettysburg. Following the Battle he road the field on horseback, interviewed the wounded, plotted where the units where located and drew an isometric map of the battlefield. Bachelder spent the winter interviewing the Union commander who had been on the field in Gettysburg. As the years went by, Bachelder organized reunions, and he would accompany the veterans placing stakes at important points of the battle. He published a guidebook of the Battle in 1873. From 1883 through 1887 Bachelder was the Superintendent of Tablets and Legends, responsible for the placements of monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield. President Rutherford B Hayes signed a bill for $50,000 in 1880 for Bachelder to write a history of the Battle of Gettysburg, which he sent to Washington DC in October 1886.
Bachelder died December 22nd 1894 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts of pneumonia. He is buried in the Stevens Hill Road Cemetery, in Nottingham, New Hampshire.