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Vandals damage Civil War monuments in Gettysburg

A Civil War monument was pushed over at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa.
A Civil War monument was pushed over at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pa. (National Park Service at Gettysburg)

GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- Monuments honoring Civil War soldiers from Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania were damaged late Wednesday or early yesterday morning, Gettysburg National Military Park officials said.

The top stone and sculpture from the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Monument were toppled, and a sword was stolen from it.

The bronze sculpture of an artilleryman from the monument to Smith's Battery, also known as the 4th New York Battery, was dragged from its place and its head was removed and is missing. Also, the vandals pulled down a bronze sculpture from the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument.

''It's terribly sad, and the monuments were put there by the veterans and survivors of this battle. So what's happened is, it's their memory that is vandalized," said park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

Thieves have damaged park monuments three times in the past 18 months. They also stole a bronze sword from a Pennsylvania cavalry marker in January 2005 and a sword from the monument to Alexander Hays in September 2004. Those crimes have not been solved.

Bronze markers, including state seals, also are occasionally stolen from the park. Motorists have also taken a toll on the park's historical objects in recent years. Drivers crashed into the 4th Ohio Volunteer Infantry right flank marker in 2004, and destroyed a cast-iron cannon carriage and damaged the 74th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument in separate 2003 incidents.

The 6,000-acre park houses some 1,300 monuments to the July 1863 battle between the Union and Confederate armies.

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