Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Gettysburg is a relatively small town which is steeped in history and charm. On July 1, 2 and 3 in 1863 the citizens of Gettysburg watched as 163,000 soldiers waged battle in their town and on their farm fields. The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac under General George G. Meade met and the balance of the nation of America shifted several times. Before the battle ended, the 2,700 townspeople had to turn many of their homes, churches and buildings into makeshift hospitals to care for the 20,000 wounded.
The town centre, Lincoln's Square, has a traffic roundabout and this shows the Gettysburg Hotel and next photo view from the hotel.
President Lincoln arrived at this Gettysburg train station on November 18, 1863, for the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetary.
David Wills House was at the centre of an immense clean-up effort in July 1863 and served as a temporary hospital. Over 31,000 soldiers had died and were in hastily dug and inadequate graves or not buried at all. David Wills, a local attorney, was assigned task of purchasing land and creating a cemetary. He purchased 17 acres that became the Gettysburg National Cemetary and President Lincoln was to make a brief speech at the dedication ceremony. Lincoln stayed at David Wills' home the night before and placed the finishing touches on his immortal speech "The Gettysburg Address". His 2 minute speech gave meaning to the sacrifices of the men who had fought here and stated that the war would lead to a "new birth of freedom" for the nation.
Statue is called "Return Visit" and is next to the David Wills House.
The Hoke-Codori House built in 1790 is the oldest house in Gettysburg and is now an inn. We met the family who own and operate it and they let us wander through the main areas where they have retained the original style and character.
The cannon breech in the sidewalk has been named "Penelope" which is in front of what was a newpaper building. We could see a couple of buildings that showed bullet marks and one artillery projectile protruding from the second story wall.
This typical 19th century working class home was that of Jennie Wade, the only Gettysburg civilian killed during the 3 days of battle and she was shot by a snipper's bullet that came through the wall.
Over 165,000 soldiers met on these fields. We drove the battlefields and stopped along Cemetary Ridge to look over where Pickett's Charge began and where Lee sent 12,000 Confederate infantry to break the Federal lines and lost more than 5,000 men in one hour.
At the Visitor centre at the National Military Park we saw "A New Birth of Freedom" narrated by Morgan Freeman which explained what led up to the civil war. Then we viewed the enormous cyclorama (377 feet in circumference, 42 feet high) of the painting "The Battlefield of Gettysburg" done in 1913 and is an amazing show depicting the Battle of Pickett's Charge accompanied by a sound and light program detailing it.
We visited the museum which has thousands of artifacts on display. Use of metal detectors is outlawed in Gettysburg as there are still many artifacts in the land. Many were being sold in stores in the town, a blue union cap was listed for $3,400.

Visiting the Soldiers' National Cemetary brings reality to the huge losses of the battle. The headstones are placed in a semi-circle and many were unknown.
The Soldiers' National Monument is where Lincoln gave his "Gettysburg Address" to dedicate the cemetary Nov 19, 1863. This immortal speech gave meaning to their sacrifices and healing to the nation.
There are many monuments, fences, hills, rocks and cannon throughout the battlefieds. Difficult to imagine that these once tilled fields were where more men fell than in any other battle fought in North America.

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