Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
1936 Battle of Gettysburg Half Dollar
Well, here I am with another beautiful coin with a fascinating story behind it. It was July of 1863 that Union and Confederate armies in Pennsylvania fought the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the most important battles of the American Civil War.
The Battle of Gettysburg is an important battle because it was a turning point in the war. So the battle itself is worth remembering, but there's even more behind this coin than that.
You see, every 25 years after the battle, the federal government and the State of Pennsylvania held a "Blue and Gray Reunion" for the soldiers who survived the Battle of Gettysburg. At this event, veterans of both the Northern (Blue) and the Southern (Gray) armies met to talk about the things they did and saw in this famous battle and to celebrate the national unity they had come to share.
The Blue and Gray Reunion in July of 1938 was the 75th anniversary of the battle. It was also the last of these events, since most of the veterans still alive were more than 90 years old by then. The Gettysburg half dollar commemorates the reunion, with "Blue and Gray Reunion" written on the front of the coin. The coin shows the anniversary date of 1938, and also the date Congress approved the bill calling for the coin: 1936.
The front of this commemorative coin also shows two soldiers, one in the Union uniform and one in the Confederate uniform. Two different men posed for the portraits, but their faces look so similar that they could be brothers. Maybe that's how the artist, Frank Vittor, wanted them to look, since some brothers actually did fight on opposite sides in this war.
Be sure to visit Boston during this war in the 1863 era of Time Machine!