Monday March 29, 2010
The View from a Confederate Cannon looking across the Battlefield
Today we got up early (is that becoming a common thread in recent blogposts?) so we could have as much daylight as possible at Gettysburg. We drove through some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen. Farms and pastures, woods and hills--all so fresh, green and picturesque in every way. Even the cows had pleasant, happy faces. We started our day at the Gettysburg Museum which is a grand affair with more displays than you can possibly imagine and then the great 'Cyclorama' which even though Dani and Kelly described it to us couldn't be adequately imagined. After several hours spent in this vast collection, we started off on the Auto Tour.
T0day was Rob's very favorite day...one he's been looking forward to since he was a young boy. Years and years ago he read a story about the Twentieth Maine Regiment and how those brave men were commanded to swing the end of the line and hold Little Round Top. We tramped around in the hills looking for the monument to those brave men of the Twentieth Maine and it was a reverent feeling seeing that marker sitting quite a way back off the road and realizing the fight the ensued in those rocks and trees nearly a hundred and forty-seven years ago. These men had been told to hold the line at any cost and when they had used all their ammunition, they used their bayonets to continue to hold the hill.
The monument which memorializes the Twentieth Maine Regiment.
In all my years of US History lessons, I'm not sure if I was just dozing during the Civil War lessons or if the teachers didn't give adequate time and emphasis to the Battle of Gettysburg, but it was ever so much more than I ever knew. I had always imagined the field to be a few football fields in size. Oh, no! This place is a massive 23 miles wide and encompasses the town, farms, wheat fields, open land, mountains (Pennsylvania sized mountains), orchards, and woods. It is vast! Also, I'm not sure that it ever stuck in my brain that the battle lasted three days and involved nearly 200,000 men with upwards of 51,000 casualties!
The culmination of the Auto Tour (which took us several hours to drive and walk and look at) was the Gettysburg Cemetery and the location of President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. I had read those lines a few days before at the Lincoln Memorial. I read and heard them several times more in the museum, but actually standing in the place where those immortal words were given gave me chills. The rows and rows of tiny grave markers and that impressive monument to all who fought and died in that place is absolutely awe inspiring.
The Gettysburg National Cemetery Monument marks where President Lincoln spoke those inspiring words of the Gettysburg Address 0n November 19, 1863.
We left the cemetery as the sky was darkening and drove into the quaint town of Gettysburg. The streets are lined with Civil War era buildings and we saw people wearing hoop skirts and soldier uniforms. We ate at a little diner before heading back to Baltimore in the dark. It was an amazing day...the day I finally learned what I should have learned back in elementary school history lessons.