Friday, May 1, 2009

A Somber Day

Having grown up in the West, and never traveling much in the eastern US, I have never visited many of the sites that are important in American history. One that I have very much wanted to see is Gettysburg. For our non-US readers, this was the site of one of the biggest battles in the American Civil War. It came at about the mid-point of that war, and is considered by many to be a turning point. Though not decisive, it was one of the first big victories for the Union forces.

Sunday evening after our service, we drove for a couple of hours toward Gettysburg, and then Monday morning we drove the rest of the way in. We took a 2-hour bus tour of the battlefields, then watched a movie at the visitor center, saw the cyclorama (a huge circular painting, for which you stand in the center, surrounded by the painting), and then spent time in the museum. In the late afternoon we drove back out to Cemetery Ridge, the site of the climactic action of the three-day battle, commonly known as "Picket's Charge." We stood in the area that was defended by the Union forces, then walked through the field where the Confederate forces mounted their ill-fated charge. It was with the poignant awareness that men on both sides of this fight could have been my ancestors that I walked this ground.

It not a fun day, but it was a good day. I gained a bit of understanding of the details of this famous battle, but mostly I experienced this place that holds such a central place in my country's history.

The photo was taken looking north across the west slope of Cemetery Ridge. Out of the photo just to my right is the famous "Copse of Trees" which was the point of the deepest Confederate incursion into the Union position. The photo looks across the site of "Picket's Charge."



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice. I always wanted to go there. I've been a wargamer since I was young, and I must have played SSI's "Gettysburg: The Turning Point" on my old IBM PC about 100 times or so. I even did a college paper on NJ militia units, and wrote about the experiences of the 13th New Jersey at Gettysburg (on the Union right flank).

    It must be interesting the walk the battlefield. Around here we were a Revolutionary War crossroads. I've been all over NJ, but we mostly had campsites and winter quarters and retreats around here. Not so many big battle locations...

    (deleted my first comment because I munged up the regiment number, doh!)

  3. Thanks for the note. I'd like to take my family (especially my history-teacher DIL) there and spend a week.