Winston Churchill Goes to Gettysburg, 1932

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

In addition to being a politician and government official, Winston Churchill was an avid writer.  He wrote for newspapers and magazines, as well as books of biography, history, travel, and autobiography and memoir.  Indeed, the payment he received for his various writings was his primary source of income.  His final major work of history was the four-volume A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958).  A portion of volume four of that opus was separately published as The American Civil War

In February 1932, during a visit to the United States, Churchill visited the battlefield at Gettysburg.  He had an abiding interest in American history.  During a 1929 trip to the United States, Churchill visited a number of the major battlefields near the cities of Fredericksburg and Richmond in Virginia and then wrote the article “Old Battlefields of Virginia” for the London Daily Telegraph.

Park superintendent E. E. Davis submitted the following report on Churchill’s visit to Gettysburg:

Superintendent Gettysburg National Military Park to Quartermaster, Third Corps Area, Memorandum, February 18, 1932, RG 92

Touring the Gettysburg battlefield is endlessly interesting.  I’ve been there when it was brutally hot, when it was bitterly cold, in torrential downpours, and on beautiful sunny days.  Perhaps nothing is as evocative, however, as visiting on a foggy day.  While it tends to be quieter in the fog, you can imagine the fog as smoke from the battle and perhaps get a sense of what the soldiers saw.

Gettysburg Photo.2
Looking south on West Confederate Avenue. Photograph (c) David A. Langbart
Gettysburg Photo.4
View of Little Round Top from Warfield Ridge. Photograph (c) David A. Langbart

For those of you planning a visit Gettysburg, a highly recommended guidebook is A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield Through its History, Places, and People by Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler.

Source: Superintendent Gettysburg National Military Park to Quartermaster, Third Corps Area, Memorandum, February 18, 1932, file 335.14 Gettysburg, General Correspondence Relating to Places/Geographic File, 1922-1935, Entry NM-81-1891, NAID 653884, RG 92: Records of the Quartermaster General.  Information on the Churchill article in the London Daily Telegraph courtesy of Robert K. Krick.