Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gettysburg National Battlefield: An American Killing Field

If you find yourself planning a visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I have a few observations/ recommendations:  1.) Spend a few hours in preparation, reading the history of the city and battlefield.  It will go a long way toward appreciating what you see.  2.)  Go early!  3.) Constantly remind yourself that close to 51,000 people lost their life here in 3 days, at the hand of their fellow countryman ...it's a sobering thought.  
The Angle: Imagine 15,000 Confederate soldiers marching across this field (see next several pictures) to attack Union forces on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.   As they moved across the open field they were mowed down by cannon and gun fire.  Most of them were killed or wounded and the attack was not enough to break the Union line.   
Many will know this battle at The Angle as Pickett's Charge, which would later become known as the "high water mark of the Confederacy." 
Looking west to Codori Farm.  (above and below)

Those Confederate forces that made it across this field (few of the 15,000) and over this wall were met with cannons (below) and hand to hand combat with Union forces. 

The stone wall at The Angle (looking south).  The Copse of Trees is just visible in the left of the frame. 
The Copse of Trees
To photograph Gettysburg is to photograph statues and monuments and plaques.  There are hundreds of each. 

At the Soldier's National Cemetery



President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address on this spot on November 19, 1863, to dedicate the cemetery.  It later became the most famous speech given by any American president.  The cemetery is in the background.   
I suspect many of those under the headstones in this cemetery died of woulds from cannon fire.  Unlike many national cemeteries, this one does not consist of neat rows of stones crosses, etc, but stones of all shapes and sizes and seemed to be no pattern to their placement.  

Downtown Gettysburg is one big monument to Abraham Lincoln.  Virtually every store and shop, it seems, is dedicated somehow to the battle or the war or the president.  Outside the Wills House, where Lincoln stayed the night before, and finished crafting the Gettysburg Address, is a strange looking statue of him with his hand on the elbow of a statue of a modern day tourist.  It looked tacky and bizarre in my opinion, but this is how the town makes money. 

The train station Lincoln arrived from Washington, D.C., the night before his famous address.  It is worth a look inside if you enjoy old train stations. 

An eternal flame commemorated by veterans of the battle years after the war ended.  It was dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It stands on a bluff overlooking the town and battlefields. 

2 comments:

  1. Great pics as always! We had fog all the way to NYC yesterday and it looks like you did too. I think it adds a somber quality to your shots, especially given the subject matter...

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    1. I was a little disappointed with the fog because the forecast called for clearing skies, but you gotta go with what gets thrown at you. Gettysburg is "history" travel. There was one point when I stood at The Angle that I was the only one there and I was trying to imagine what that day must have been like on a hot July afternoon when almost 15,000 people lost there lives at close quarters, not from a unmanned drone strike guided from someone thousands of miles away. The weather and my thoughts about this battle had a chilling effect.

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