Saturday, April 16, 2011

Walking the fields of the Gettysburg battlefield, in late July 2010

I took a wonderful trip with 3 friends to the Gettysburg battle field in Pennsylvania. Now I confess as much as I have studied history,looked at history and experienced history I had never been to the battlefield before. It was an experience I am at best able to say as overwhelming. I knew the history, the persons involved, the stories, but I had never touched it. So after knowing about the battle field for well over 40 years I finally walked the walk.

It was great to take it with 3 people who knew history well and were well versed in it as I was. I was in very good company, Mike Roper, Tom Buckley, and Liz Moynihan. All of whom were well versed in history and politics. I had the great chance to chat for hours with Liz, who is the widow of the former Senator and learn so much on the car ride there. Her involvement with the political scene since the 1950's is fascinating. We talked about the various Presidents, her husbands thoughts on some of them and also the current crop of politicians. All of this was like sugar to a kid for me. Cause can listen to this for hours, and I did.
Mike Roper who is one of the greatest history teachers who has ever been, and Tom Buckley who is very well read and a charming person.

We all spent 3 days in Gettysburg and saw and learned a lot. We had one of the best tour guides at the park. There was so much to see. I collected some downed leaves to put in my scrapbook and Liz found me some White Oak, and taught me how to recognize it.

But what struck me most was the site of Picket's Charge. I need not tell the history behind it, you know already. But it was at this point I left my friends to take the car with the guide and I set out by myself.
I wanted to walk the walk that so many did that day on July 3, 1863. It was not a long walk, maybe 2 miles or so. I walked it from its starting point to where there was a fence.
This fence was there historically, and it was about 40 yards to where the Union position was. What was on the Union side were 25 cannon double charged with canisters of "Mini Balls" each canister held 25 balls. Each one of those balls weighed about 2 pounds
There were massive amounts of guns firing as well once the Rebel army reached the fence. I had in my possession one of the mini balls pulled from the earth ages ago when people could do that on that field. I carried it with me along with a bullet. One of those mini balls could level a whole group. Just imagine if you will....500 of them flying through the air!


The emotional feeling when one reaches that fence is so overpowering. It was here that literally thousands of men died. I felt the feelings and passions of that spot. Just stood there for a long while.

I know that in the battle there was a volley of those 25 cannon fired at the men at the fence just 40 yards away. After the cannon went off, there was nothing there but smoking shoes.

I finally connected with Gettysburg, and saw what I had known for so long, but never quite knew like I did that day.