Wednesday, August 24, 2016 – So what do you think it would be like to visit the Gettysburg Battlefield. We had no better idea than you probably have if you haven’t been here and last week we got to tour the battlefield!
I’m sure I learned all the correct information at some time during my education but it got lost among the information that accumulates from living over the decades!
First, I thought it was a football sized battlefield – oh far from it – it covers an area 3.33 by 5.33 miles. Wow!
Second, I thought it went on for a long time (kind of like modern day wars do) – no it went on for only three days – July 1 – 3, 1863.
Next, I had no idea that the casualty toll from the two armies was between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties. Union casualties were 23,055 (3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured or missing), while Confederate casualties are more difficult to estimate.
Lastly, there are obviously not soldiers still out there fighting so I had no clue about how they would depict everything. Along with the auto tour I’ll describe below, there are monuments from every state that fought with information about those who fought and died. There are monuments from every unit that fought. As of 2008, the National Park Service unit managed 1,320 monuments and markers, 410 cannons, 148 historic buildings. Each monument and marker tells the story of what happened there and when.
This is a map of the Battle of Gettysburg. The current city of Gettysburg is in the very middle.
It’s obvious that my history knowledge left me and I had to do some reading up on Gettysburg so that I could appreciate it while touring.
Here is a summary of Gettysburg I found on Wikipedia. I would normally delete the blue links to more information but I know there are History buffs who will want to read and know more than just these few paragraphs, so click away, but don’t forget to come back to the see the photos we took.
The Battle of Gettysburg (local i/ˈɡɛtᵻsbɜːrɡ/, with an /s/ sound) was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war’s turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Meade‘s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee’s attempt to invade the North.
After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of command just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south.
On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
On the third day of battle, fighting resumed on Culp’s Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett’s Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great loss to the Confederate army.
Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.
On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
There are several ways to tour the battlefield, we chose to drive ourselves. We purchased their book loaded with information and followed the three CD set telling about the battle at each stop along the tour. Each stop is clearly marked as you’ll see in our photos. While we considered ourselves doing the short version of the tour we were probably there 6 hours driving around, getting out and reading information, listening to the CD and snapping pictures. The book and CD cost $30. Our granddaughter Kallie loves History so we’ll send all that to her now!
This is the map we followed on our auto tour. The route is 26 miles long.
It is unusually hot in Pennsylvania right now but we stuck with it until the end! Roy is in no way a History enthusiast but he went along and made the day great for me!
The neat thing about the driving tour is that you do it at your own pace, see what you want and drive by the rest.
Okay, so here are photos we took throughout the Battlefield.
I know, lots of pictures. There were four times that many originally! We next visited Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey’s Pennsylvania. Definitely a place to take children for vacation. Their amusement park and water park are fabulous and the part we experienced at the main building was wonderful!!
Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!
Click on the links below to go there!
Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays published on Wednesdays
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