|Brevet Lt. Colonel John P. Nicholson|
As his service in the Civil War ended, Nicholson quickly developed notions (along with many others) for ways of remembering the events and sacrifice of so many young men just like him. He and his fellow surviving comrades helped to form the 28th Pennsylvania Veterans' Association. During this period he also became a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) and rose to be the recorder of the patriotic organization in the Pennsylvania Commandery. With his influence in this new position, he had new opportunities to extend his hand in commemorating what happened during the war. As MOLLUS and other veteran's organizations started gathering regularly, Nicholson was a strong advocate in getting veterans to talk about what had happened and recording their memories. He wanted the history of the war preserved, not forgotten.2
|Nicholson Monument at Gettysburg|
In 1893 the landmark "Pennsylvania at Gettysburg" was published through Nicholson's comprehensive work. It was also in 1893 that Nicholson was chosen as the Chairman of the Gettysburg National Park Commission. This was the beginning of a long tenure as the park's chairman to which end he oversaw how Gettysburg's history would be remembered long after he was gone. In 1895, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association turned over all the park's roads, lands and assets to the United States War Department and Gettysburg National Military Park was established by an act of Congress through the work of General Dan Sickles.4
|Letter from Nicholson to General Henry|
Bingham with his MOLLUS statrionary.
On March 8, 1922, John Page Nicholson passed away at the age of 79 years old. He had truly lived and all the while kept the sacrifices of his brothers in arms in the foremost of his mind. It is to Colonel Nicholson, as well as many other fervent folks, that we owe much gratitude for the Gettysburg National Military Park that exists as it does today. These men had a deep commitment to the idea that the world "can never forget what they did here," and they fulfilled that commitment to their utmost ability without wavering for a moment. In many ways, the history of Gettysburg after the guns fell silent is nearly as vibrant as those momentous three days in July of 1863. For John Page Nicholson, those three days in 1863 defined his life's work in preservation, always a faithful soldier throughout, and a shining example of how one person can help to change the world.6
Works Cited1. Historical Data Systems, Inc., . "John P. Nicholson." (2014): n.pag. American Civil War Research Database. Web. 9 Mar 2014. <http://www.civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&1092257>. Rose, Joel. "John Page Nicholson." Explore PA History. ExplorePAHistory.com. Web. 9 Mar 2014. <http://explorepahistory.com/story.php?storyId=1-9-9&audioId=1-5-34>.
2. Ibid. John Page Nicholson Monument, Gettysburg National Military Park on east side of North Hancock Avenue.
3. Nicholson, John P. Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. 2nd Ed. Harrisburg, PENNA.: WM. Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1904. Print.
4. John Page Nicholson Monument, Gettysburg National Military Park on east side of North Hancock Avenue. Platt, Barbara L. "This Is Holy Ground": A History of the Gettysburg Battlefield 1863-2009. Harrisburg, PA: Huggins Printing, 2001. 7. Print.
5. Ibid. Nicholson, John P.. "WAR DEPARTMENT, GETTYSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK COMMISSION, Gettysburg, PA., August 1, 1911.." Trans. Array Annual Reports of the Secretary of War National Archives and Records Administration. 1911. Print.
6. Dodge, Russ. "John Page Nicholson." (2007): n.pag.Findagrave.com. Web. 9 Mar 2014. <http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=nicholson&GSfn=john&GSmn=page&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=22829701&df=all&>.