Friday, October 31, 2014


I have been very lazy. I was trying to not get more than a month behind in the blog, yet each day I let it slip farther past due. I've been home this week and will be next. I've learned that being unemployed and at home is not a good mix for me :). I don't do anything. Super slacker. And while I know I should do things, the next day is usually similar to the last. So while I told myself I'd be practically caught up at this point, I am more behind than ever. Clearly my next job will not be as a blogger as it always loses out when up against Netflix :). The one thing I have done --> I have managed to better solidify my itinerary in Europe that starts in less than two weeks. (YAY!) 

Back to late September...

I got to Gettysburg late in the day. The visitor center closed just as I arrived but luckily Google helped me find a map to follow and drive through the battlefield while I still had some sun. 

Gettysburg was a much, much larger battle than Antietam. While I followed the posted markers, it was hard to picture how things went down. I made it to Little Round Top, which was one of the areas I did remember from the movie Gettysburg. Then I took off to find the nearby KOA and get my tent setup. 
Wide open fields that are still farmed today

View from one of the Round Tops

In the morning, I headed to town for breakfast and then on to the visitor center. There are all sorts of tours available and if I had the time and maybe a couple more people to share the cost, I would have hired a guide to join me in the drive around the battlefield and provide live commentary. Instead, I watched the movie and cyclorama and attended the free ranger walk/talk that was an hour or more. Ranger programs are always the way to go I'd say. It was great, he walked us to the main battlefield along Cemetery Ridge. It was very interesting, though I'm not sure how much of the detail I retained. 

The ranger was helpful in describing the scene so you could picture it better. There are forested areas around Gettysburg, but imagine that all the underbrush has been cleared as most of the land was either farmed or used for livestock. There were thousands of men and all needed water and food. Gettysburg was a great location for this battle because it is an intersection of 10 roads in one spot, so easier to maneuver troops and supply lines. There was water, though by the time all the men converged, the running creeks wouldn't be able to sustain their needs, the needs of animals and remain sanitary after the bloody days of war. 

We walked by a widow's house which was taken over by Union leaders. Imagine your house becoming the target for the enemy, the artillery shells falling all around it, eating all your food, raiding the garden, demolishing your winter stores, slaughtering your farm animals. All the officer's horses also feeding and drinking at your house, not to mention pooping (and horses poop ain't small). Your picket fences are torn down to provide wood to the soldiers. Then, when the artillery shells do get close, you have dead horses all around. The ranger said there would have been 16 dead horses and men left all around this lady's house. Yet she stayed throughout and after the war to put it back together and live out her life. Imagine trying to take care of one dead horse, much less 16.  And I'm sure that wasn't first priority, so you can imagine what it was like after only a few days.
Widow's house

Standing on Cemetery Ridge with the town to our right, we looked left towards Little and Big Round Tops. See picture below. While the two hills don't look much different today, they attacked at Little Round Top because it had been logged back in the day and was clear whereas Big Round Top was still covered by forest. Along this ridge (you can't really tell but the land off-camera to the right was lower), was the union Army; from where I stood (even behind me) out to the end of those hills.
The Round Tops off in the distance beyond the domed memorial (Pennsylvania I think)

Gettysburg was the bloodiest overall battle, lasting three days. This battle was all uphill, the Confederates charging on Union soldiers. It is hard to imagine how you would have felt this seemed doable. Some of the uphill was gradual but still must have been daunting. Soldiers would on average travel 12 miles per day when on the move. If pushed, they could achieve 28 miles in 11 hours. 

The park ranger was excellent and the museum inside very interesting. The store of souvenirs is ridiculous. They must have anything you could think of! Here are some wikipedia facts that I didn't retain (from
When - July 1-3, 1863
Union Leader - Major General George Gordon Meade (Army of the Potomac ~93,000 men)
Confederate Leader - General Robert E Lee (Army of Northern Virginia ~70,000 men)
51,000 casualties (dead and wounded)

Examples of soldiers

General information on the battle
What makes an army

Me and Abe 

The National Park Service is working hard to restore the battlefield to a more original setting - planting trees in certain areas and even moving the visitor center so that it can't be seen from the battlefield.  However, in the orchard, they did use a variety of fruit (peaches I think) that do not require/attract bees in order to make it more pleasant and less risk of a bee sting to the public.

Definitely recommend Gettysburg!!

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