The Civil War that raged in and around Gettysburg for only three days, became a deciding factor in the outcome, even though it continued for another two years. The battles fought here were bloody and deadly, resulting in the battlefield being covered with the bodies of those who fell. Sadly, most were just left by the departing armies, leaving the hospitalization and cleanup to those that remained in the city. I didn't do so well in school when it came to history, nor could I write down everything i learned here, so if I make any mistakes here, please let me know so I can correct it!!
The most amazing thing we found was they offer Licensed Guides to drive you around the battlefield (in your car) and explain the entire three days of the war. Now THAT's the way to learn about history, which at $65.00 was WELL worth it. Joel started us off here, on Day 1, with the Confederates advancing on the Union Army West of Gettysburg. Over 6,000 acres have been purchased, including buildings and is being returned to what it was back then. Houses that were on the battlefield have been left. Restaurants have been torn down.
The Union Army set up their cannons, but were eventually defeated and retreated through Gettysburg, where many were captured. The remaining troops tried to rally on Cemetery and Culps Hills.
This bank barn is original and so will stay on the battlefield and kept intact. It is called a bank barn because it is built into the bank of the hill, allowing hay wagons to be driven straight into the back of the barn for storage, which could later be dropped down the other side for the cattle.
Here at Oak Ridge, the Confederates had a pretty good view of the town to the far left. It was here by the end of the first day that they crushed the Union soldiers and took the town of Gettysburg.
With the only communications being that of soldiers on horses, sometimes they didn't quite know who was where, or how close they actually were to the opposing force. The Confederates view of Little Round Top and Big Round Top (on the right) shows where the Union Army retreated to.
This is pretty much the same view in the cyclorama painting. It is amazingly lifelike, as they tell the story of the fighting.
There was fighting among the generals about who should do what and where. On Day 2, General Meade and the Union Army have the high ground on Cemetery Ridge while Sickles has 10,000 men on Little Round Top, which he moves Northwest to the Peach Orchard. Bad move, most are slaughtered as he has gone too far away from reinforcements.
Another picture from the cyclorama of the field above.
It's pretty hard to visit this site and imagine what happened here and how many lives were lost. There are statues like this one everywhere ... for every State that fought and every regiment, along with many individual monuments. In the end, both armies packed up and left the area. Every house and barn was made into a hospital and those people left in town were subject to the cleanup and smell for months. Joe said all of the Union soldiers were accounted for and eventually buried in the Soldiers National Cemetery here. Apparently some of the Confederate soldiers may still lie in the hills. Everywhere you go, you can see bullet holes in the houses, barns and trees. It's pretty sobering!!
Now that my foot was killing me, since I did walk a fair amount on the tour with Joel, including up to the top of Little Round Top, I got to feeling rather queasy, but that didn't keep me from dinner. We had delicious fried chicken and mashed potatoes, Barbara had spinach with sugar and vinegar and Tom had liver and onions with bacon. Barbara also had something called Dutch Salad, which we had never heard of before. Small pieces of lettuce with chopped egg on top, covered with a most delicious sweet dressing. It was so good, we both bought containers of the dressing for salad at home!! We also found Nick Russell's favorite hat shop and marked it for a visit today!!