York County, PA
It has continued to be a rainy, yet informative time for us since the last post.
This past Monday we spent the day with my brother, Jeff, and his grandson, Isaac, on a very informative tour of Gettysburg National Park. As a retired Army officer after over twenty years of service and residing nearby in Thurmont, MD, Jeff provided a tour of the park and battle history that cannot by matched by even the best "official guides" of the area. Over a five hour period he took us step by step, day by day through the four day bloody battle while providing little known facts about tactical maneuvers, how decisions were made by Generals from both sides, accounts provided by soldiers who fought there and how local residents were impacted. His information brought the battle's history to life in ways that were, at times, very haunting.
Here are a few of the interesting things we learned:
- The bottom picture shows Jeff, Isaac and myself by a statue dedicated to the memory of Old John. Old John, a retired veteran, was a resident of Gettysburg when the first Northern troops marched through town. Even though he was over seventy at the time he felt it a patriotic duty to defend his nation and, after grabbing his rifle and stovepipe hat, offered up his services. Numerous officers tried to discourage him, but Old John was adamant in his intent to fight. He ended up being wounded three times and became one of the lesser known heroes for the cause.
- The reason that Gettysburg was the site of a major battle arose from a simple necessity for Southern troops.... they thought there were shoes available in the area. For this reason, Southern leaders chose that destination in their march into Northern territories.
- Civil War monuments have significant messages in their designs. The top picture is a monument dedicated to Robert E. Lee. Note that all four legs of his horse, Traveller, are firmly planted on the ground. This is because he did not die in battle. Another monument in the park of another General shows a horse with two legs off of the ground; one unfortunately killed in combat. Markers indicating the headquarters of Generals are also numerous throughout the park marked by cannon barrels planted upright in concrete bases.
Thanks again to Jeff for a fascinating day. The park is definitely worth a visit for no other reason than a vivid reminder of one of the major, although darker, turning points in our nation's history.
Photos by Debbie
copyright 2009 Lane A Geyer