June 13, 2008
July 1-3, 1865.
Single bloodiest battle of the American Civil War.
Considered by *some* historians to be the turning point in the war.
North led by the Army of the Potomac and George Meade.
South commanded by Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia.
Same two armies met in May 1863 at Chancellorsville.
After spending only an afternoon on the battlefield and in the museum, how does one sum up in a few paragraphs the magnitude of what happened over the course of three days of fighting at Gettysburg?
Perhaps this quote by Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine says what I cannot.
The Gettysburg National Military Park
covers nearly 6,000 acres and hosts a plethora of monuments and statues dedicated to both the Northern and Southern soldiers who fought there. I’m only including a few museum pictures, landscape scenes, statues, and monuments that were particularly moving to me. There are only two Confederate monuments inside the areas of battle held by the Union. One commemorates Lewis A. Armistead’s farthest advance on July 3.
These three pictures are Confederate General George S. Pickett, his rallying cry, and the battlefield where his entire division was killed. Pickett would never recover emotionally from the devastation to his division. The fourth picture is a portion of the rock wall such as Lewis Armistead would have climbed over as he led his men in the charge that would take his life.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the realization of his decision to stay and fight.
Lee relied on General James Longstreet (below) for advice, but Lee didn’t heed Longstreet’s warning to attack from the right of the battlefield and it proved to be a poor decision on Lee’s part.
Carrying the flag was an honorable and dangerous position, as this plaque explains.
This is information about the colored troops.
Little Round Top – Chamberlain was ordered to hold the hill to the last. If he failed, it was likely the Confederates would overtake the battlefield and the day. Probably the battle, and possibly the war, would be lost to the South. Chamberlain was the end of the line; the flank. He couldn’t withdraw or retreat. The 20th Maine fought until their ammunition (60 rounds per man) was exhausted. With nothing left to lose nor other alternative, Chamberlain had his men fit their weapons with bayonets and they made an unprecedented charge down the rocky slope into Confederate fire. The 20th Maine held Little Round Top against all odds.
To use a cliche, it was a dream come true to stand on the rocks at Little Round Top and gaze over the battlefield where the 20th Maine made what could easily have turned out to be a hopeless last stand. I regret not being able to spend more time there.
Devil’s Den is in the distance along the road at the bottom of the picture. It was the site of massive deaths. The next is a museum picture of Devil’s Den followed by a plaque with information.
North Carolina statue with monument.
Women and the war
This is Matilda “Tillie” Pierce (1848-1914). She left her home on Baltimore Street July 1,1863 to accompany her neighbors to the Jacob Weikert farm several miles south of town. She was unaware that the second day’s fighting would rage nearby at Little Round Top. Although only 15, she assisted with the wounded soldiers over the next several days including Brigadeer General Stephen Weed and Colonel William Colvill. In 1888, Tillie Pierce Alleman published one of the most comprehensive narratives of civilian experiences during the Battle of Gettysburg entitled At Gettysburg: Or What a Girl Saw and Heard at the Battle.
After the battle, the Army of the Potomac and the citizens of Gettysburg were left with appalling burdens. The battlefield was strewn with over 7,000 dead men and the houses, farms, churches, and public buildings were struggling to deal with 30,000 wounded men. The stench from the dead soldiers and from the thousands of animal carcasses was overwhelming. To the east of town, a massive tent city was erected to attempt medical care for the soldiers, which was named Camp Letterman after Jonathan Letterman, chief surgeon of the Army of the Potomac. Contracts were let with entrepreneurs to bury men and animals and the majority were buried near where they fell. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Battlefield)
This is a “pig low-cow high” fence. 🙂
This is Gabor Boritt, the author of The Gettysburg Gospel, one of the books I read in preparation of this trip to Philadelphia. He invited us to his home and talked for about 30 minutes about Abraham Lincoln writing the Gettysburg Address.
This is the house where Lincoln stayed overnight and wrote the Address. It’s currently undergoing renovations.
I’m including pictures of the site where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. It is altogether fitting and proper that I do this. The Gettysburg Address monument is in this cemetery.
This is the marker for the unknown dead.
This monument marks the general area where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. The smaller monument has the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting.
Delphine, Liz, and Debra
Visting Gettysburg was a satisfying ending to the Philadelphia excursion. I’ll use the pictures of Gettysburg in my class room in a power point with more elaboration than I’ve included in this blog. I like to have my students watch the movie Gettysburg and now I can give it a more personal touch.
I found this website when I was searching for a list of the monuments and statues at Gettysburg. Click here: Virtual Gettysburg: locate monuments.