Continuing our U.S. History-themed journey northward, on Tuesday, August 29th, we spent the day exploring the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. We lived in Pennsylvania for seventeen years (1983-2000) and had visited the battleground on at least a couple of occasions. But, we had more time to explore and relax on this visit. The day was rainy and dreary — actually our first rainy day in a long time. The damp and cool air conditions which called for jeans and long-sleeve shirts. We are clearly in the North now.

We began the day by visiting the Gettysburg National Military Park and Museum. Unbelievably, our previous visits somehow excluded this central venue. We first watched a film on the battle, narrated by Morgan Freeman. This was followed by an excellent cyclorama presentation which further enhanced the details of the movie.

The Georgian and the Ohioan standing with our respective soldiers’ uniforms (Sorry for the blurry picture. Some bystander with a lack of photography skills was kind enough to take it for us.)

Detail of The Battle of Gettysburg, also known as the Gettysburg Cyclorama. It was painted by the French artist Paul Philippoteaux in 1883. The work depicts Pickett’s Charge, the climactic Confederate attack on the Union forces during the Battle of Gettysburg.

A second detail of the painting. Veterans of the Civil war were said to have wept upon seeing the cyclorama because it was so realistic.

Yet a third detail of the cyclorama painting.

Cindy and Honest Abe.

Then, in the rain, we started out on our four-hour tour of the battlefield. We used The Gettysburg Story Battlefield Auto Tour as we drove our pickup from important site to important site, stepping outside at most of them for photos and further exploration. The audio guide was excellent, making the fighting come alive with stories of the battles participants. The battle was fought on July 1-3, 1863 in and around the town of Gettysburg. General George G. Meade brought his 95,000 troops and 356 cannon of the Army of the Potomac against General Robert E. Lee’s 75,000 troops and 275 cannon of the Army of Northern Virginia. This battle, a major turning point of the war, was the bloodiest battle of the entire war. There were around 50,000 dead, wounded, or missing when the smoke had cleared.

Atop the observation tower overlooking part of the battlefield known as Oak Ridge

This is Sallie. commemorated on the back of the 11th Pennsylvania monument on Oak Ridge. She was the mascot of the mascot of the Pennsylvania volunteers who suffered heavy losses. They thought she was also killed in the battle, but once the battle was over, they found her tired and hungry, guarding the dead and wounded of her regiment. She later died and was buried at Hatcher’s Run in 1865.

The North Carolina Memorial on Seminary Ridge. Many of these monuments are beautiful works of art.

Standing in front of the Virginia Memorial on Seminary Ridge. Atop the memorial is Gen Lee, sitting on his faithful stated, Traveler.

Looking past the Virigina Memorial at Cemetery Ridge. The confederate armies were arrayed on Seminary Ridge (where this Virginia Momument sits) and make their fateful charge across the intervening land up to Cemetery Ridge, where Union troops awaited on July 3rd.

Cindy mans (womans?) the artillery on Seminary Ridge.

The beautiful Louisiana Memorial.

The Mississippi Memorial.

Fierce fighting raged along the fish-hook shaped lines of the Union army at such sites as Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, The Peach Orchard, Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines. The climax of the battle was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett’s Charge. After this valiant, but unsuccessful, charge by confederate troops, the outcome was determined. The Union had defeated Lee and his southern army.

Gazing up at Little Round Top from the Wheatfield

The Devil’s Den, appropriately named for the horrific fighting that took place among these boulders.

The bloody Wheatfield, a nickname earned due to numerous confusing attacks and counterattacks over two hours by eleven brigades resulting in heavy casualties. This patch of ground has a story similar to that of the cornfield at Antietam.

Father Corby Statue: Chaplain to the 88th New York Infantry of the famous Irish Brigade. It shows Father Corby as he blessed and gave final absolution to the men of the Irish Brigade who were about to attack into the Wheatfield. It is believed the statue stands on the very boulder that Father Corby used on that day. (There is a twin statue at Notre Dame which bears the moniker of Faircatch Corby.)

The Trsostle Barn, still bearing the evidence of a cannon shot through the gabled end.

The oldest general fighting at Gettysburg, “Pop” George Greene who successfully defended the Union’s right flank at Culp’s Hill.

The view of Seminary Ridge from Cemetery Ridge. You can see the Virginia Memorial in the distance. Imagine thousands of Confederate soldiers coming at you across these fields at Pickett’s charge.

Standing atop Little Round Top. The Confederate assaults on Little Round Top were some of the most famous of the three-day battle and the entire Civil War.

Standing on little round top next to the statue of the Union General Warren, who discovered Little Round Top was essentially unoccupied. Recognizing the importance of the position and on his own authority he found Vincent’s and Weed’s brigades and diverted them to what became the desperate but successful defense of Little Round Top.

The massive, and largest of the memorials at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Memorial.

On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and encourage northerners in the ongoing effort to save the Union and free the slaves.

The Gettysburg Address Memorial at the National Cemetery.

The Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

The graves of fallen Union soldiers.

Apparently, a mass grave of Ohioans at Gettysburg Cemetery.

This monument marks the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

2 thoughts on “Gettysburg

  1. Sorry – but I wept as I read this review of the most costly single battle in US history – one of us fighting ourselves. 170,000 soldiers and then 50,000 of them killed, wounded or missing ….. So sad …. No wonder Lincoln said, “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate-we can not consecrate-we can not hallow-this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *