for immediate release
Luzerne 'Santa' ensures Ben Crippen
HARRISBURG, Dec. 8 - His pose is one of the defining symbols of Pennsylvanian resolve at Gettysburg.
The image of Color Sgt. Ben Crippen, brandishing the precious regimental flag and shaking his fist at advancing Confederates is frozen in granite on the monument to the 143rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry at Chambersburg Pike and Reynolds Avenue in the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Today, state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, announced that his Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project has received a donation that guarantees the monument will stand for many decades ahead.
At the start of the three-day battle, the 143rd traded attacks and counter-attacks with superior Confederate forces, slowly giving ground after suffering more than 50-percent casualties. As the regiment fell back, Crippen periodically turned and shook his fist at the Confederates. Among them was Lt. General A. P. Hill, who witnessed Crippen's bravery and expressed sorrow when he fell. Crippen's body was never recovered. It is believed to be among the unknowns buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
The 143rd was recruited in Luzerne and Susquehanna counties. This week a modern-day resident of Luzerne County paid homage to Crippen and his 474 comrades by ensuring that the monument will receive perpetual care. Readshaw said the Gettysburg Monuments Project on Wednesday received a check for $2,460 from Bill Ellis, a retired state employee, to complete funding for the $3,000 endowment trust for the monument to the 143rd Regiment. The trust will cover maintenance the monument may require in the future.
Readshaw's campaign, which has raised funds to ensure that all 146 Pennsylvania monuments and markers are restored, now is seeking funds for perpetual trusts to provide for their future preservation needs. The check follows an earlier donation of $540 from Ellis, who last year promised to provide the endowment money through a fund-raising effort or personal donations.
"Sending this check is the best way to finish the job of funding this monument," wrote Ellis in a note that accompanied the latest check. "It is not often one can spend $2,460 on something that will last 'forever.'" In addition, Ellis pledged next year he will cover whatever amount is needed to complete the endowment for a second monument to the 143rd on Hancock Avenue, where the survivors of the regiment helped repel Picket's charge on the third day of the battle.
"Mr. Ellis's check was a great surprise for us in the Christmas season," said Readshaw. "Thanks to his generosity, the tangible testament to the bravery of Sergeant Crippen and the 143rd Volunteer Pennsylvania Infantry will stand for many generations to come."
Readshaw and the Pennsylvania Gettysburg Monuments Project may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone, 717-783-0411.
Updated: December 11, 2000
Copyright: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
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