|Indian Land, SC USA
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Up and atom
Once again, we got an early start, and by 7AM we were out the door, heading into Gettysburg, which is about 25 miles away. We started out our day following the 3 day auto-tour, which includes 3 CDs, and a booklet, which guides you around all of the important and relevant sites and locations throughout the battlefield.
We finished the entire 1st day’s program by 9:45, at which time we high-tailed it back to the first stop, where we waited 10 minutes for a ranger walk, entitled “The Faces of War”, which focuses on a particular company, and the battle from their perspective, on a specific date and time. In this case, we talked about a regiment from New York, who fought hard on XXX Ridge.
Most of the entire company was wiped out after only 25 minutes of fighting, but it’s a fascinating story which included a brief walk of about 1 mile to/from the ridge.
Auto tour – Days 2 & 3
We followed the walking tour with more time in the car, driving from one battle location to the next, trying to take it all in, and to understand what was happening.
Gettysburg was a very complex battle, which took place over the July 1 – July 3 calendar in 1863. Over these three days, approximately 150,000 troops engaged in the bloodiest battle ever seen in North America. The Union had about 75,000 troops and was commanded by George Meade, while the Confederates had about 65,000 solders, who were commanded by Robert E Lee.
The pictures below are representative of the types of things that you can expect to see at Gettysburg. First of all, you’ll see cannons. Oh, when I say you’ll see cannons, I mean that you’ll really see cannons, these babies are everywhere, and they were clearly an important aspect of all of the battles.
Three days converge into one
As you read the story of Gettysburg, or if you’re experiencing a full immersion kind of trip, you’ll quickly discover that the three days of the battle, while independent from one another, they converged to become 3 days of battle, where the beginning and end of each day is blurred by the fact that the soldiers, grey or blue, got almost no sleep, and were suffering from lack of food and water.
The level of stress that these soldiers, and frankly all soldiers experience is almost overwhelming for any individual, never-mind how it might have affected the 150,000 solders involved in this battle.
And so, modeling our own behavior on what these soldiers did, we managed to complete all of the walks, hikes, stops, drives, and also listened to several hours of audio files, in only one day, not three days, as was the form of the battle, and of the Audio tour.
Overall impression of Gettysburg
If you’ve been to Gettysburg, then you’ll no doubt agree that the US Gov, and the National Park Service has done a very good job of putting together information and stories, that aid in telling the overall story of the battle. They organized the information by day, by commander, and by which side is your favorite.
Clearly, the NPS is part of the US government, and not the Confederate states of America, so the NPS tells the story from the Point of View of the victors. That said, the NPS does a great job of telling the story, based on facts, and without bias. Although, as I mentioned, the NPS does not shy away from describing the Union victory of Gettysburg.
Looking at all that is the National Park called Gettysburg, I can easily say that each and every one of us should find the time to visit this amazing park. The vastness of the park is quite overwhelming, and completely unexpected.
Little Big Top
The Little Big Top is a mountain of sorts, which is at the southern end of the Union’s defensive position along Cemetery Ridge. Throughout the entirety of the Gettysburg field of battle, this is the high-ground, and it proved to be difficult to hold, but absolutely necessary.
The Little Big Top is one of the last locations on the Auto Tour, so by the time we arrived at LBT, we were pretty well versed with how the battle progressed over the three days. The final battle, called Picket’s Charge, took place in the space between Seminary Ridge, which was held by the Confederates, and Cemetery Ridge, which was held by the Union Army.
The hillside below LBT is quite rocky, and very dramatic. When you climb the hill, and look out across the battlefield towards Seminary Ridge, you’re struck by just how difficult it would be to attack and take this hill. I wanted to try to illustrate how dramatic it is, so I launched the drone, and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, I have not focused on flying the drone for several months, and I was a little rusty. That said, I’ve captured the video below, in order to show you the slope of the hill, directly in front of Cemetery Ridge.
Hmmm – It’s bike week
As fate would have it, it’s bike week in Gettysburg. This means that a whole bunch of motorcycles converge on Gettysburg, and virtually take over the town. Now, when I say motorcycles, what I really mean is that Harleys took over, not motorcycles in general.
Over the past two days, we probably saw close to 1000 motorcycles on the road, and all but about 6 were Harleys. The town has been converted into a sort of mini-Sturgis kind of rally.
The Harleys were all really loud, and not more that 50 of the 1000 riders were wearing any kind of safety gear, and those that did, were simply wearing helmets. That means, no M/C boots, no Ballistic or leather jacket, no pants, and no gloves. For me, this frightens the hell out of me. I can’t imaging riding without ATGATT (All the gear, all the time). But, I guess it’s up to each rider to make their own choices, but virtually all of the guys and gals that I ride with, always wear ATGATT. So, looking at these riders who had virtually no safety gear was kind of surreal.
What will tomorrow bring?
Tomorrow, we’ll head to Olean, NY, where we’ll hunker down for the night, and prepare for the frontal attack on Toronto, which will cause me to drop off the bike at the Westjet Freight terminal, at the Toronto airport.
Tomorrow’s journey is less than 300 miles, but we’ll stop at the memorial for Flight 93 along the say.