The Gettysburg Cyclorama
A pictorial essay by Michael Aubrecht
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As I previously stated in "Birth Of A Buff", my life was forever changed in 1978, following a family trip to the National Military Parks at Gettysburg. It feels like only yesterday and one of the most significant sights that I remember was our visit to the Gettysburg Cyclorama. The Cyclorama Center is a 360-degree circular oil-on-canvas painting that depicts the third day's battle known as "Pickett's Charge." It was created by French artist Paul Philippoteaux and originally debuted in 1884. One of the last surviving cycloramas in the United States, the curved-panel painting is a marvel of both art and science. Standing in the center, visitors are completely surrounded by a breath-taking, panoramic view that depicts, in meticulous detail, the triumphs and tragedies of July 3rd, 1863.

Due to years of aging, the painting is currently undergoing a complete restoration and will eventually be relocated to a new climate-controlled facility. As a result, it will be closed from November 2005 until sometime in 2007-2008. Therefore I have decided to post pictorials of the painting (10 panels, scanned from a folding postcard set that I purchased as a souvenir in 1978) in hopes that it will inspire others to visit the finished project upon its completion. For more information, visit Gettysburg Cyclorama.

PANEL 1: Federal infantry and artillery hurry toward the fighting at The Angle. Major General W.S. Hancock is shown with his staff at the left center and beyond, at the top of the picture, is Little Round Top.

PANEL 2: Pickett's Charge reached its climax when the Confederates, dressed in brown, followed their red battle flags into the Union line at the Copse of Trees. These trees seen in the upper left, mark the Union center, the objective of Pickett's Charge. Confederate General Armistead falls mortally wounded to the right of the flags.

PANEL 3: Pickett's Charge reaches its climax at The Angle. Union troops, in the foreground, meet the advancing Confederates and hurl them back. The Codori buildings may been seen at the top of the card.

PANEL 4: The Angle, in the foreground, and the field of Pickett's Charge. The Confederates, beyond the exploding ammunition chest and advancing across the fields, have come from Seminary Ridge marked by the trees and smoke in the background.

PANEL 5: Tradition holds that French artist, Paul Philippoteaux, identified himself with the Cyclorama by portraying himself as the Union officer standing beneath the tree to the right. He watches Pettigrew's Division advancing from Seminary Ridge.

PANEL 6: The stone wall north of The Angle and the Bryan barn. Wounded are being evacuated on mules.

PANEL 7: Arnold's Rhode Island Battery in action north of The Angle and Copse of Trees.

PANEL 8: Hospital. A surgeon amputates the leg of a wounded man in the shed on the right.

PANEL 9: A New York battery gallops towards the fighting near the Copse of Trees.

PANEL 10: Major General George Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, as shown with his staff on the right at the edge of the Wheatfield. Meade's Chief of Artillery, Brigadier General Henry J. Hunt, watches the fighting in The Angle from the gray horse in the foreground.

View entire Cyclorama




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