PITTSBURGH — When the Hampton Battery was dedicated here in 1871 to a young Civil War soldier who lost his life protecting the Union at Chancellorsville, Virginia, the granite monument was a point of pride for residents of this neighborhood. They would stroll along the trails of the lush park filled with trees located across the street from their homes along Cedar Avenue to honor the local hero.
Today, the battery’s founder, Capt. Robert B. Hampton, who was remembered by the men who served under him as a born commander with “the chivalric nature of an honorable gentleman,” is now part of a different carnage in America as he stands watch over an open heroin market that has taken over the once-grand park.
Residents say the Civil War statue is literally surrounded by drug dealers, buyers and users around the clock. They are getting more aggressive with panhandling, trespassing and theft.
Just yards away, along the old Pennsylvania canal, a man walks down the street, carrying a brand-new patio chair stolen from the porch of a nearby home, toward the new and growing homeless camp. Last week, there were two tents or makeshift abodes. Now, there are over a dozen.