Thursday, July 02, 2015

At Gettysburg

I've mentioned before I wanted to come in person to Gettysburg National Park so I could bask in the history.  So this year I did.

Went to the park with my older brother - who lives in the area - and we spent most of the day there.  We did the film and Cyclorama (a wraparound massive painting depicting the final engagement of the three-day battle), walked about the Visitor Center - which had some special activities going on due to the anniversary of the battle - before driving out by car to the key points of the battlefield.  It is spread out at such distances that going by car is the quickest way to see it all (although biking it or riding Segways are options: hiking is for masochists).

What follows is a pictorial travelogue depicting the horrors of letting your older brother try to parallel park everywhere.  Oh, and the national park.

Arriving at the Visitor Center

Hanging Out With my Brother From Another Statue, the inventor of the chokeslam,
the Sage of Springfield, the Ayatollah of RockanRolla, Abraham Lincoln!

With my real-life brother Eric, checking out the historic firearms used in the war, outside the film
and Cyclorama studios.

Scenes from the Cyclorama

Signage from the Cyclorama

In the back porch of the Visitor Center, they are drilling the new recruits.

All along the Auto Tour - the road path circling across all the key parts of the battlefield -
there are memorials to every brigade, every division, every Corps, every state.

General Reynolds memorial

The Macpherson farm, along the first part of the tour, where the fighting began.

The memorial for the Eternal Light Peace... which was surrounded by cannons and
signs of battle.  Irony?  Sad?  Human, I suppose...

Some of the artillery positions along Seminary Ridge, where the Confederate Army
lined themselves during the Second and Third days of the battle.

The stone wall of Seminary Ridge.

North Carolina's memorial

Part of the North Carolina memorial overlooking the open field between the two armies.

I am pointing at the horizon.  Over there is the Union position.  Across this field Lee will order
two massive divisions to charge on the Third Day in an all-out attack.  Just look at how open that field is,
how far that is to march...

General Robert E Lee's memorial.

The Florida memorial

Florida Memorial

General Longstreet's memorial, which is kinda in a hidden spot and not as
popularly visited...

General - and President - Eisenhower's farm 

The Georgia Memorial

For mom: the Alabama Memorial
 And here is me at Little Round Top, at the far left flank of the Union line, where Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine held their position under furious attack.

The stone wall used by the 20th Maine to hold the line.

Along Little Round Top, overlooking Devil's Den, where some of the bloodiest fighting took place.

Re-enactors, I think, walking along the memorials atop Little Round Top.
The actual re-enacting is going to take place on Saturday (on the 4th),
which I figure will have a big turnout (weather permitting).
 And one of the last stops of the tour: the Union line of the Third Day.  The Angle.  Pickett's Charge.

General Lewis Armistead's memorial. Of Pickett's Charge, his brigade reached this far before being overwhelmed.
Known as the High Watermark of the Confederacy, this is the closest the Confederates would ever get
to a major victory that could have won foreign support and convinced the Union to end the fighting.

The Copse of Trees

The other side of the open field that Pickett's Charge went across.  It seems almost
maddening to send 12,500 troops across such open fields, up towards a heavily defended line,
towards an army waiting for you.  Did Lee think numbers alone would work?  Did Lee
believe the legends already building about his success, about the determination of his soldiers?
Either way, Pickett's Charge broke the Confederate Army.
Also, there's a video clip of being atop an observation tower overlooking the Peach Orchard (some cursing involved, so NSFW).

Sickles was really an idiot.  Buford would have done better.

So I've made my pilgrimage to the battlefield.  As it goes, my vacation is going well, hope to visit Fort McHenry and to stick around for the 4th of July celebration in DC.

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