24 February 2010 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 17 comments

Some time ago, a friend named Jim Lamason came up with what seemed to be an honorable idea. Jim wanted to honor the men who gave the last full measure of their devotion at Gettysburg by forming a new organization to be called the Gettysburg Historical Association. I helped Jim with formulating the concept for this thing and agreed to serve on the board of directors. So did J. D. Petruzzi. Jim recognized that he is not the right person to serve as the president of such an organization, but agreed to do so when the others insisted he do so.

An organizational meeting was held at the end of January, and a set of bylaws was agreed upon. Most of the board was identified, and an executive committee was formed. Last weekend, a group of five of the board members, operating in secret, without following the protocols set forth in the bylaws, made a power play designed to force Jim to step aside as president. They succeeded. Jim resigned as president, board member and even as a member of the organization he founded.

Those five board members, acting in secret and without consulting with the other board members, then began taking unilateral and illegal steps. First came an announcement that the bylaws were null and void. Never mind that these people had agreed to them, and that the bylaws cannot be changed without a majority vote of the board of directors. Then came a refusal to communicate with another board member. At that point, it became clear that they have an agenda of their own, and that they intend to freeze out anyone who won’t drink their Kool-Aid and go along with their agenda. By nature, I am not one to drink anyone’s Kool-Aid, and when I made it clear that I wasn’t going along with their agenda, the erstwhile leader of the junta launched a vicious personal attack on me, demonstrating his true colors and showing what these people are really all about.

When I demanded that these people conform their conduct to the bylaws that they drafted and enacted, the response was a combination of hubris and childish personal insults. Consequently, four of the five board members who are not members of their little clique, including J. D. and me, have resigned, and I tend to think that the fifth, an honorable soldier on active duty in service to his country, will probably also resign. They’re now free to pursue their personal agenda and to enjoy the fruits of their scheme, for what that’s worth.

In the meantime, though, they have sullied the name of Gettysburg, they have dishonored the very people they claim to want to honor, and they have done a vast amount of damage to the cause, all in the name of hubris. To any of you who read this blog, I implore you to do yourselves a major favor and avoid this organization at all costs.

UPDATE, 11:15 AM: The fifth board member who was not a member of the clique has now also resigned, meaning that the five members of the clique are now alone and free to run things as they see fit, whether it’s legal or not. I have no doubt that they will find folks willing to drink their Kool-Aid and who will ratify their actions, which is all the more reason to avoid this organization at ALL costs.

I take no pleasure in any of this. In fact, I find it terribly sad and quite depressing. However, I felt that it was absolutely critical to make sure that the truth is told.

UPDATE, 9:15 AM, FEBRUARY 25: Two of the five remaining board members have apparently also resigned, even though they were two of the five who were involved in these events. That means that the three remaining members are the hard-core power-grabbers who pulled this off. They’ve now been exposed to the world for what they are. I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about what kind of people they are.

Scridb filter


  1. George Franks
    Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 11:21 am

    Eric et al.,
    I had heard bits and pieces. Thank you for the full story and putting this in perspective. I agree with your views, comments and perspective. Thank you.
    George Franks

  2. Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I would like to let everyone know that even though I was on board very early in the process of putting the GHA together several people decided that I was “decisive” and it was suggested that I should “move on” to other endeavors.

    I personally think that Jim Lamason is an honorable man and was truly looking to do something important. However I believe several people have an “agenda” and were looking for a platform from which they could attack the current leaders of the Gettysburg Foundation and anyone else that does not agree with their “agenda.”

    I am more than willing to be part of a new group of people interested in helping Gettysburg. However I think that it is vital to try to work with the existing parties so that Gettysburg Battlefield reaps the benefits of everyone’s hard work.

    I personally think that the “Foundation” is a closed group who are not looking for any input from anyone other than their group. I hope I am wrong, but from what I have heard I think this is the case. Maybe they should open their doors to more people from other areas of the country who have an interest in what they are trying to accomplish, and possibly they should listen more to what people are saying instead of just pushing ahead with their own “agenda.”

    Lew Taylor

  3. Kimberly Largent-Christopher
    Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you, Eric.

    I pulled out of the steering committee early on because it just didn’t “feel” right. I didn’t know why it didn’t “feel” right, but I knew that I needed to pull out. Thank you for validating my intuition.

  4. Kristie Poehler
    Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 2:12 pm

    What is this agenda that is everyone is referring to? I think how the Foundation went about doing this is unacceptable, but what is this agenda they’re so hell-bent on pushing through?

  5. Kristie Poehler
    Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I meant the Historical Association, not the Foundation. My apologies.

  6. Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 2:44 pm

    The agenda is to make sure that the junta of five surrounds themselves with a bunch of Kool-Aid drinkers who will do precisely as they wish when they want it to happen. That’s the agenda.


  7. Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Kristie,

    I’m not sure exactly what the motives of this group were, except that it seems that they have a problem with the Gettysburg Foundation (which is not to say that a lot of people question what the Foundation does). I don’t know if they were snubbed at some time or other or what, but when I suggested that we invite a media person to the meeting in January a couple went a bit “bonkers” and said “No way.” I don’t know what they were concerned about. We were meeting to discuss the formation of the Association, discuss and hopefully ratify the by-laws, and elect officers and directors. I do not have any idea why we could not or should not have gotten some publicity. We were not doing anything wrong — we were just forming a new organization. Jim said that he was receiving “vicious” e-mails prior to the meeting — one now has to wonder where those were coming from. Also Jim’s private phone number was given to a member of the press — again, who did that? Maybe we should be looking at someone within the original steering committee instead of some outsider. Of course, since I had to miss the meeting (a work committment at the last minute) it was “suggested” that possibily Mr. Devisiveness (Me) was the leaker of the phone number and the voice behind the e-mails. I do not know for sure that it was actually stated in those terms, however the message I received back from the meeting was pretty clear.

  8. Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 4:05 pm

    DUH! I just re-read my posts and found that I used the term “decisive” instead of “devisive.” Sorry about that! Back to typing 101!!!

  9. Valerie Protopapas
    Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I have to agree with the gentleman above who wanted to know just what the “new” agenda was. Even the “old” agenda isn’t very clear other than, apparently, to “honor” the fallen (Union, of course) soldiers. Well, that seems relatively straight forward. I thought that they WERE being “honored”, actually, and that another association, organization, foundation or group would be an embarrassment of riches hardly needed to do what was already being done. Therefore, if anyone would care to answer, I would like to know the following:

    1. What was the ORIGINAL agenda other than just “honoring” folks – or if it was just “honoring” them, why and in what way would that agenda be accomplished that would make it any different from what already exists?

    2. What did the NEW agenda become? Did it include the OLD agenda? If it did and was not diametric to the old agenda, why the need for all the spilling of blood? What the hell could be so important in such an organization that would cause people with better things to do to put up such a battle? I can understand the founders; it was their idea and doubtless a lot of work went into it. But why the invaders? A Godzilla complex – or was that Sherman?

    3. Did the purveyors of the NEW agenda have any members left in this organization after they drove out all the people who supported the OLD agenda – and if they stood alone at the end, why didn’t they just form their OWN organization with their OWN agenda rather than play coup d’etat with this group? It seems a hellovalot of effort and energy to rain on someone else’s parade, frankly.

    Some folks have too much time on their hands.

  10. Wed 24th Feb 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Man, I am so glad I blew this off from the very beginning! I have deep respect for Jim, but with my ultra-crowded personal and professional schedule, I had no time for yet another project so I decided not to join GHA despite my personal support for Jimbo. I get enough controversy as a business executive; I can’t stand to see my hobbies become political.

  11. Paul A. LaCroix
    Thu 25th Feb 2010 at 10:58 pm

    You were smart pulling out like you did. I was thrilled at first to be a part of the GHA, was thrilled that Lew had recommended me for the Steering Committee and had actually gone to the meeting.I was impressed with Jim’s mission and his vision. When things came up about Lew I heard their side of the story and kind of went along with it but in my heart something didn’t feel right, didn’t add up, I was wishing Lew could was there so I could hear both sides. I remember at some point Jim bringing it up to allow Lew back in, I could very much understand his thinking because I was thinking along the same lines. Then the proverbial brown matter hitting the fan this past week openned my eyes and I could see what had been going on all along and knew what I had to do, resign. There really is two good things that came out of my association with that group and one was forming a friendship with upstanding people like Lew Taylor and Jim Lamason, the other was getting to know Eric Wittenberg and JD Petruzzi and become familiar with their work and dedication to the Civil War era, two very honorable men who’s company I wouldn’t mind being in.

  12. Thu 25th Feb 2010 at 11:47 pm


    You’re an honorable guy, and I greatly appreciate your stepping forward and protesting, because otherwise, the rest of us never would have known. You get all credit for that. Thank you.

    You’re welcome to hang out with us any time. I will be in Gettysburg for the weekend two weeks from tomorrow, if you’re going to be around.


  13. Paul A. LaCroix
    Fri 26th Feb 2010 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for the invite but, sadly, it’s a 6 hour drive for me to get to Gettysburg. Oh, how I wish!


  14. Sat 27th Feb 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Hi Eric,

    When will you be in Gettysburg? I will be there from Thursday afternoon March 11th until around noon on the 12th. Does that match up with you?


  15. Bob Urban
    Tue 02nd Mar 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I’m still not clear about this agenda? Can anyone elaborate


  16. Tue 02nd Mar 2010 at 1:55 pm

    The agenda was placing their own needs and egos ahead of the needs of the organization. In other words, it was all about their own power play.


  17. Bob Urban
    Fri 06th May 2011 at 2:35 pm

    What power play are you talking about Eric? There was no power play for anything. Mr. Lamason failed to perform the duties as he was assigned and refused to ask anyone for assitance. Which was forgiveable. We all make mistakes. What the real problem was his nonstop raunchy, sexual innuendos and lewd behavior from a married man, toward several married women trying to help organize the group. He was asked nicely to stop and didnt. So before you go placing the blame on others you should look to Mr. Lamason first. There was never an attempt by anyone to take over the GHA. Better get your facts straight sir.

    Bob Urban

Comments are closed.

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress