Tonight I drove to Erie so that I could listen to a presentation on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg. This is my favorite battle of the entire Civil War. If you really know me, then you would think that’s odd since General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had been dead for well over a month by the time of this battle. Most people say that it’s their favorite because it’s the only one that they know. I can’t explain why it’s my favorite, all that I can say is that there’s something that pulls me to it. When I am in Gettysburg it’s like I’m home. And yes, the picture above is a piece that I actually stitched. I have yet to frame it, but this was definitely a piece that I did for myself.
It has been quite a few years since I’ve been to Gettysburg National Military Park, but I am dying to go back. Since I was last there in December of 2007 they have built the new visitor’s center, restored the cyclorama, and have done a LOT of restoration work to the actual land in order to get it back to how it looked during the battle. This way when you’re standing on Little Round Top you will be able to see the same thing that the 20th Maine saw when they were fighting Hood’s group of Texans.
I took Jay with me tonight and I think that he had a good time. He could only stay for part of it because he had to go to work, but I was happy that the speaker told Jay the same thing that I had told him earlier. Jay had asked me what was so special about the third day of the battle and I told him that it was the turning point; that was where the Union won the battle. Up until that point the Confederates had the upper hand and were kicking butt. However, after a series of misunderstandings and poorly executed strategies, plus some really spectacular fighting on the Union side, there was a change in the outcome and the Union was FINALLY left holding the high ground and the victory. I definitely don’t know as much as the speaker did about the battle, but I had known enough that I think Jay actually took me seriously. lol
This is the Strong Vincent monument on Little Round Top. Little Round Top saw their fighting mainly on the second day of the battle. Vincent, a native of Erie, PA, helped to direct the units to LRT and helped to keep the Confederates from flanking the Union Army and completely destroying any chance of the Union winning the war. Vincent was mortally wounded and died a few days later.
The third day involved the infamous Pickett’s Charge. When Cemetery Ridge was mentioned I leaned over and told Jay that it’s my favorite place to watch the sun set on the entire battlefield.
That’s the stone wall where the 69th PA managed to hold off the onslaught of Confederates as they reached the wall and breached the Union line. What I wouldn’t give to be able to see the sight of those 15,000 men walking that mile of ground. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it!
If you’ve never been to Gettysburg then I highly suggest that you visit. It’s a gorgeous little town despite the devastation that took place 148 years ago. You don’t have to be a Civil War buff in order to enjoy the museum, either. Just be a fan of history. That’s it.
When reading about Gettysburg, or the Civil War in general, please keep in mind that things can be interpreted in different ways. Also, keep in mind that pieces of fiction are just that… fiction. They might come very close to the actual history, but it’s not always accurate. For instance, the movie “Gettysburg” does a good job of telling the story, but a lot is left out and some of it is embellished. They had to shorten it for content and also make it interesting enough without being boring. Some people would say that they didn’t accomplish this, but I love the movie. That is, if you can get past the HORRIBLE acting of Martin Sheen as Robert E. Lee. I should be grateful because if he hadn’t done it then the program might never have been made. They tried to get Robert Duvall to play Lee (he’s actually related to Lee through his mother), but at the last minute he had to drop out. The producers and director were scrambling when Sheen agreed to do it. A better portrayal of Lee is done in the movie “Gods and Generals” by Robert Duvall.
If you’re interested in reading about the Battle of Gettysburg you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a book. There have been over 35,000 books written on this battle alone! I always bring up that fact when people think that me having over 300 books on the Civil War is a bit extensive. Ha! However, my favorite book to read is “Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage” by Noah Andre Trudeau. Not only does he cover the military aspect, but you also get a glimpse into the civilian side of things. It’s not often that this is done. I highly recommend this book.
I don’t want to go on at length, but I have one more thing that I want to leave you with regarding this post. There are a series of paintings, and I’m not sure of the artist, but they show the veterans sitting at various places in Gettysburg. They are thinking about what happened there and what they saw. It’s rather haunting to look at these for very long, but they also give me goosebumps so I would like to share one with you. This one has Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (the Colonel of the 20th Maine) sitting on Little Round Top and remembering his part in that ferocious day.