Gettysburg map creator's kin fight plans to scrap it

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Two days after the last shots of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War were fired here, a 16-year-old neighborhood boy named John H. Rosensteel walked onto the battlefield to help bury the dead.

There he found the body of a Confederate soldier, a boy about his own age, and picked up a rifle lying near him. The rifle was the first item in what would become the largest private collection of Gettysburg relics, as well as a family legacy.

Since that day in July 1863, Rosensteel's descendants have acquired and preserved tens of thousands of battle artifacts and shared them with the public. One family member built a museum along the Union battle line in 1921 to house them. Another created the building's famous electric map, which has educated generations of visitors about the Gettysburg battle by using colored lights to depict troop movements.

Now the museum - which the family sold to the National Park Service decades ago - is about to be razed. A new $103 million museum and visitor's center will open nearly a mile away on the edge of the Union battle lines next month. The old site will be restored to the way it looked in 1863 - a quiet spot amid rolling fields.

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