Friday, May 3, 2013

Gettysburg

Thursday was a day I have been looking forward to with great anticipation for a few months.  A few years ago I watched the Ted Turner movie Gettysburg, and was fascinated by the character portrayals of General Longstreet, General Lee and especially Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Main Regiment.....ahhh....okay that was 1993.....20 years ago......oh come on, 20 years.....really?



We chose the Walmart in Hagerstown because of its proximity to Gettysburg, and that we could stay there two days with no hassle.  Thursday morning around 11 am we drove the 47 miles over to Gettysburg to spend the day touring this National Battlefield.  We had thought we would spend 3-4 hours there, but, in fact, were there over 6 hours.....we could have spent 2 days easily.  The park is 6,000 acres.  There is an enormous visitor's center with 2 theaters that show a Morgan Freeman narrated film about the 3 day battle, and a Cyclorama......a 360 degree oil panting of the battlefield.  The two pictures below are of a couple of the scenes from the Cylcorama.  This was painted in 1883 by Paul Philippoteaux of  France, and took 18 months to complete.  Some are not impressed by this Cyclorama, but both TLE and I were very impressed.  The movie was about 25 minutes long, and very well done.

 Both of these scenes are of Cemetery Hill....the Union position

After watching the movie and the Cyclorama presentation we headed down to the book store to purchase a 3 CD narrated tour of the battlefield done by Jake Boritt, and narrated by Stephen Lang, the actor who played the part of General Longstreet in the Gettysburg movie.

The documentation that comes with the 3 CD's indicates it will take around 2.5 to 3 hours to tour the battlefield.....we spent almost 5 hours and ran out of time.  You can hire a personal tour guide for about $25/hour, but you have to make a reservation 3 days in advance, plus they ride with you in "your car'.....well we have a 2 seater....hmmm....by the time we found out about this it was the day before, and too late for us to do that, so we did the next best thing and bought the CD set for $30.......I am one cheap dude, but believe me, I came away from the 5 hours we spent listening to those CD's as we drove along from station to station around the battlefield and had no questions left unanswered.

There were 53,000 casualties over that 3 day period from July 1st to July 3rd.  One of the most poignant parts of the movie, Gettysburg, was on the 2nd day of the battle when Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment was assigned to guard the extreme left flank on Little Round Top.  The picture below is the area on the left flank he and his 400 some men of the 20th Maine were assigned to defend, withstanding attack after attack for hours finally ending in a bayonet charge down the hill at the Confederates when they (20th Maine) ran out of ammunition...you can still see remains of the "breast works" they hastily built.  That bayonet charge routed the Rebs, and secured the left flank.  He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and also officiated at Lee's surrender in Appomattox.  His job before the Civil War....college professor teaching "Rhetoric".  




I feel honored to have been able to stand for a few minutes on that hollowed ground where Chamberlain's leadership saved the Union Army on Cemetery Hill from being flanked by the Confederates.  What many do not realize is that Brigadier General John Buford's decision use his 2,500 man Calvary unit to fight a delaying action against the Confederate troops approaching Gettysburg that enabled the Union troops to gain the high ground on Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top.  Had he not done what he did day 2, and 3 of this historic battle would have turned out much differently with Lee on the high ground.


Little Round Top viewed from the Confederate lines

 One of the 1400+ monuments spread over 6,000 acres.


The view above is looking toward the forest (over a mile away) where Pickett's Charge originate (click on the picture to see the forest).


Looking left and right from the Union position on Cemetery Hill 

 Equestrian statue of General George Meade who commanded the entire Union Army in this battle.

It was a sobering and emotional 5 hours, but 5 hours I would not trade for anything.  Around 6:30 we headed over to Appalachian Brewing Company for a couple of brews.  This is a very nice micro brewery, and we would recommend it very highly.....right on the Baltimore Turnpike.



We got "home" around 8 pm and settled in around 10 to watch the movie Gettysburg, which we have on CD.  The movie is around 234 minutes long....we finished watching it around 2 am......even today TLE and I are still talking about what we saw, and learned yesterday.  

Thanks for stopping by!

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