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Readshaws Raiders will pay to have vandalized memorials restored


Two years ago, state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, led the rededication ceremony for the restored monument to the 155th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry below the crest of Little Round Top at Gettysburg.

One of the most photographed monuments on the Gettysburg battlefield, the statue features a soldier in a Zouave-style uniform atop a pedestal loading a charge into his musket while defiantly facing the enemy.

For decades the end of the musket and the soldier's right hand had been missing, possibly as the result of a lightning strike in the early 1900s.

The disabled granite Zouave was one of the first monuments Readshaw had in mind when he organized the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project in 1997 to ensure the funding for restoration of the more than 140 Pennsylvania monuments and markers spread across the Adams County battlefield.

In June 2000, Readshaw and his supporters, dubbed “Readshaw's Raiders” by a Capitol reporter, presented a check for $7,100 to the Gettysburg National Military Park to pay for the restoration of the 155th's monument, including replacement of the hand and gun barrel. The funds had been donated to the monuments project by Harrisburg's Camp Curtin Historical Society.

In late March, a park visitor noticed that the end of the gun barrel was missing. Investigating park officials discovered the broken portion and small pieces of granite nearby. Evidence indicates that a stone was thrown at the monument, causing the break.

It is estimated that replacing the broken portion will cost $500.

Readshaw has told park officials that the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project will pay for the repair out of funds raised at the Civil War Preservation Ball held last month in the Capitol Rotunda by the Victorian Dance Ensemble. The repair is expected to be made in the late summer.

The proceeds from the annual ball are intended to go into perpetual care trust funds for each of the Pennsylvania monuments. Last year, even more of the proceeds were diverted to repair a toppled Pennsylvania statue and to seed funds for two other monuments more severely damaged in the same incident.

“I cannot fathom what, beyond mental illness, would prompt a person to damage these monuments,” said Readshaw. “At least in this case we can take some relief in that the damage was ‘only' around $500.”


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