Local residents and visitors often stop to admire the unique, fortress-like architecture of The Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace located at the corner of West High and Baltimore Streets. But, many don’t realize that they are also looking at a Civil War Memorial. The Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace, known to many as simply “Prince of Peace Church,” is the only church in Gettysburg constructed to memorialize the Civil War fallen. The church has more than 150 stones and plaques in honor of fallen Union and Confederate soldiers—140 of these tributes form the church’s bell tower foundation. The Prince of Peace’s cornerstone was laid on July 2, 1888, the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, but the construction wasn’t completed until 1900, and the process for bringing the Memorial’s vision to reality was anything but peaceful.
The fundraising goal to construct the church was $20,000. To accomplish this, Rev. A.E. Tortat created a unique fundraising appeal that solicited everyone—children and adults alike—across the nation. Rev. Tortat recruited his fellow clergymen and friends to help with the campaign, including Rev. Dr. Richard Newton who wrote a letter of support stating:
“Our friend, the Rev. A.E. Tortat, is trying to build a Church at Gettysburg, PA, as a thank-offering to God…and also as a suitable memorial of the 400,000 brave soldiers who so nobly laid down their lives during the war, in defense of their country. He wants the children of our State and country to help him in this work. To interest you in this undertaking; my young friends, Mr. Tortat tells a touching story of a drummer boy and his drum….”
The drummer boy was reportedly from Providence, R.I. and, exhausted from marching and sick with fever, asked Mrs.
Sue Boardman is a licensed battlefield guide, Cyclorama historian, author, and the leadership program manager for the Gettysburg Foundation. Elle Lamboy is the membership and communications manager for the Gettysburg Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization working with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage of Gettysburg and its national parks. The Gettysburg Foundation also owns and operates the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.