If you ever find yourself walking through The Soldiers National Cemetery here in Gettysburg and visit the Ohio section row C, grave number #4 you will find a marker that bears a last name that will be very familiar to most people. That name is “Nixon”— specifically George Nixon, who it just so happens was the Great Grandfather of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States.
On July 2nd, 1863, the 42-year-old George Nixon of Company B, 73rd Ohio Infantry, was skirmishing with Confederates on Smiths Ridge (which at the time was a field, and ironically now is the Gettysburg Hospital). George received a serious wound to his hip and would lie in the field for hours, crying out in pain until night set in. Eventually, a young drummer of the same regiment, Richard Enderlin, would risk everything to rescue George Nixon under enemy fire, an act of heroism that would earn him the Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, George did not survive the wound he suffered at Gettysburg and died at the Spangler Farm twelve days later on July 14th, 1863.
The longstanding connection between Gettysburg and the famous Nixon family doesn’t end with George’s passing, however. In 1954, then Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife Patricia (Pat) Nixon would often come to Gettysburg as part of their formal duties, on work trips to visit part-time resident President Dwight Eisenhower, who famously considered his own Gettysburg farmhouse to be the “Summer White House.” While in Gettysburg, the future President Nixon would always make a point of visiting his ancestor George Nixon’s grave to symbolically lay flowers there, to commemorate the memory of the Nixon who fought and fell on the hallowed battlefield of Gettysburg.
— Blog by Jordan Kroeze