Yesterday I went on a bus tour of the battlefields around Gettysburg in preparation for my job at the campground where I am working. Since we sell tour tickets in the campground office, we need to know what the tour entails in order to tell our guests.
Like most Americans, I had heard about the Battle of Gettysburg since I was in grade school, but until yesterday, I really had no idea how bloody it was. What started out as a half day fun trip for me ended with sobering thoughts of the thousands of young men who lost their lives there fighting for their beliefs. I found it hard to hold back tears at times.
The tour takes you on a drive through the areas closest to town where the battles occurred during the three day battle. There are many buildings still standing that were in existence at the time of the civil war. Each of these buildings has a six by nine inch bronze plaque designating it as a Civil War Building. I was surprised at how many there are. This is a bank barn and farm house to the west of town.The tour guide told us about the statues of men on horseback, monuments to the generals of the battle. If the horse has all four feet on the ground, that means the rider made it safely through the battle. If the horse has one foot raised, then that rider was wounded in battle. And, if the horse has both front feet off the ground, that means the rider was killed. What an interesting way to depict the outcome for an individual. The general depicted in this monument was a lucky man.
The Lutheran Seminary was established in 1827. It sits at a high point with a long view to the mountains west of town. During the first day of battle, the Union generals used the cupola of the middle building as their observation tower.
This is the view from the top of Little Round Top. The hill was the object of the battle on the second, and bloodiest day, of the Battle of Gettysburg. This view is looking west towards the Appalachian Mountains. The fields below were scattered with the bodies of more than 5400 men at the end of the day. The creek running through near the line of trees was known as Plum Run. After the battle, it was renamed Bloody Run, because so much blood was shed it caused the creek to run red. The Devil’s Den was the deadliest of the battlefields of Gettysburg.
The view from Little Round Top towards Devils Den to the east. The National Park Service is cutting down some of the trees in the battlefields of Gettysburg, and replanting others, in order to restore the area to the way it actually looked at the time of the battle. In this area, in the middle of the area in view, the trees are being cut because this was a wheat field at that time.
The Gettysburg Train Station, where Abraham Lincoln arrived in November, 1863 to give his famous speech. The building has been restored to look exactly the way it did then. Mr. Lincoln got off the train and walked down the street to a house in town where he spent the night before the ceremony dedicating a national cemetery. That dedication speech is the now famous Gettysburg Address. Note: most of these photos were taken out the window of the bus, so they may be blurred. KE