About 30 people gathered at the North Washington Street wall of Schmucker Memorial
Hall Thursday night to hear a reading of 3,712 names of Confederate soldiers
who died on the Gettysburg battlefield in July 1863.
“I am more than anything else a Southern man,” exclaimed
H.K. Edgarton — “H.K.” to those who greeted him by name.
He said he was in Gettysburg as a “loyal Confederate” in
response to the hatred embodied in an art display opening at Gettysburg
College Friday evening.
“I’m standing not only for folks that looked like me, but
for my whole Southern family,” he said.
Edgarton said Sims had a right to create the work, in which a Confederate
battle flag is to be “lynched,” and other flags, representing
the Confederate States of America and other, more modern, countries, have
The exhibit, titled “The Recoloration Proclamation: The Gettysburg
Redress,” opens at 6 p.m. in Schmucker Memorial Hall, and is scheduled
to run until Sept. 26. The college has stood by the project as a freedom
of speech issue, and Edgarton acknowledged Sims had a right to create
But he said he wanted to speak to Sims. He called Gettysburg “a
place of healing,” and called Sims’ work “a movement
toward derailing that healing.” He compared the exhibit with publicity
efforts “of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.”
He repeatedly referred to the Stars and Bars flag as the Christian Cross
of St. Andrew, at one point turning toward the brick building and exclaiming,
“I am heritage, not hate.”
As the small crowd held lit candles, someone read the 91st Psalm, followed
by a rousing a capella rendition of Dixie in which most of the audience
Then Edgarton began reading the names. After each name, and the state
from which the soldier had come, a bell tolled.
After about 10 minutes, Edgarton surrendered his position to another
reader. The position-trading would go on until all the names had been
During the name recital, Brag Bowling, National Press Officer for the
Sons of Confederate Veterans, decried the exhibit. He said the flag represented
many southerners who, like his great-great grandfather, fought for the
Confederacy, but not to support slavery. He described his ancestor as
a farmer who had no slaves, but fought as an artillery man at Gettysburg,
with A.P. Hill’s corps.
He referred to a boycott called earlier this week in which the SCV called
on its 30,000 members to stay out of Gettysburg.
“What we look for is something (from the borough) condemning the
college for this,” Bowling said. “I think the SCV would probably
call it (the boycott) off.”
In spite of several reports of possible confrontation, and an obviously
visible police presence, the presentation Thursday night appeared headed
for a peaceful conclusion.
“I wasn’t expecting anything with these folks,” said
Gettysburg Police Chief Rolf Garcia.
He said the greater possibility for trouble would be Friday night, when
the exhibit opens.
A concurrent gathering of the SCV is slated to occur at the Peace Light
At least three other groups reportedly have obtained permits for public