Robert E., & Ulysses: July
National Military Park, owned and maintained
by the National
Parks Service, is the most-visited battlefield
in the United States. Here, on July 1 - 3, 1863, was the largest battle
ever fought on the North American continent. It is considered the
turning point in the Civil War.
The Union Army, commanded by General George Meade, numbered 88,289
men who represented most of the Northern states. The largest group
were the soldiers that made up the regiments from Pennsylvania and
New York. During those three bloody days of battle, the Union Army
lost 3,155 men dead, 14,529 men wounded, and 5,365 men captured
or missing. This represented a total of 23,049 casualties.
Photo: Robert E., Abe, and
Ulysses on a cannon overlooking part of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.
Robert E.: The Confederate Army, under my
direct command, arrived at Gettysburg on June 30 with a total of
75,000 soldiers. In the aftermath of that horrendous battle, 3,903
men had died, 18,735 were wounded, and 5,425 were captured or missing
in action. The total of 28,063 causalities were particularly devastating
to the Confederate Army. In three days, I had lost over one-third
of my total strength.
Because so many men took part in this one engagement, the site of
the Gettysburg Battle was quickly seen as a place that should be
preserved for all time. In November, 1863, four months after the
battle, the ground where many of the soldiers of both sides were
buried was dedicated as the Soldiers' National Cemetery. The dedication
ceremonies took place on November 19, 1863. I
was asked to come to Gettysburg to make some appropriate remarks.
I was not the main speaker. That honor went to the Honorable Edward
Everett, a famous orator. Everett's speech lasted over two hours
as he reviewed the events of the battle in detail. I spoke afterward.
My speech took only a few minutes to say. Photos:
Abe sitting on the Gettysburg Address marker (left) and Abe and
Mary at the Lincoln Address Monument
Ulysses: No one remembered much of Everett's
talk, but Lincoln's words became immortal. Today, they are engraved
in stone at the entrance to the cemetery.
Abe: The Soldiers' National Cemetery was
incorporated by the State of Pennsylvania in March, 1864. It was
given to the United States government as a National Cemetery on
May 1, 1872.
Photo: The Lincoln Address Monument
Saving the Battlefield:
E.: Other people also realized the importance of saving the battlefield.
Immediately after the conflict, while the dead were being buried
and the wounded were taken to field hospitals, a Gettysburg attorney
named David McConaughy purchased tracts of land that made up East
Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, and Little Round Top -- the length of
the Union line known to historians as the Fishhook because of the
shape that the line of hills and ridges creates. Photo: Ulysses
and Robert E. on a cannon on the Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge.
The field behind them is the site of the famous Pickett's Charge.
The two low hills in the background are Little Round Top on the
left and Big Round Top on the right.
Ulysses: In September, 1863, McConaughy,
together with other prominent citizens of Gettysburg, formed the
Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.
Robert E.: Remember the War was still raging
in southern Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas at this time.
Pennsylvania took over the maintenance of the battlefield in 1864.
The Association continued to buy up more of the surrounding farmland
for preservation. In 1879, an organization of Union veterans called
the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) erected the first monument
on the battlefield. It was a memorial to Union General Strong Vincent
and was placed on the top of the rocky hill called Little Round
Top where the general had been killed on July 2, 1863. Photo:
Ulysses sitting on one of the many boulders of Devil's Den. Behind
him is the rock-strewn slope of Little Round Top where the Union
forces, particularly the 20th Maine Infantry, held back the Confederate
In 1880, the GAR took over control of the
Association. Many more memorials, all of them to the Northern units,
were built on the battlefield. By 1897, there were over 300 statues
and markers on the 600 acres of the battlefield.
Battlefield becomes a National Park:
The battleground had grown too large for the GAR to maintain so
it was deeded to the Federal War Department in the late 1890's.
The site became a major part of the fledgling National Park System
in 1933. Since then, more monuments have been added, including many
to the Confederate leaders and regiments who had fought there.
Photo: NPS Passport Cancellation Stamp.
75th, and 138th Anniversaries:
Robert E.: In July, 1888, the first organized veterans' reunion
met at Gettysburg to mark the 25th anniversary of the battle.
Soldiers of the Blue and Gray re-enacted Pickett's Charge on July
3, meeting each other at the stone wall as they had done a quarter
of a century earlier. This time the former foes shook hands across
the historic stone wall while thousands of spectators cheered.
When the date marking the 50th anniversary
of the battle grew closer, Pennsylvania decided to organize a huge
veterans' reunion for both North and South at Gettysburg, not only
for the soldiers who had actually fought there, but also for all
veterans of the Civil War. On July 1 - 4, 1913, an estimated 57,198
participants returned to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg. Once
again, the aging veterans shook hands across the low stone wall
that marked the highest Northern point that the Confederates ever
reached. The event proved to be a great healing force between the
two former enemies. Photo: Cannon amid
the many monuments on the battlefield.
Robert E.: In 1938, the State of Pennsylvania
once again hosted the last of the old soldiers for a 75th reunion
of the Battle of Gettysburg. 3,600 of the approximately 12,000 surviving
Civil War veterans accepted the invitation to return to Gettysburg.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt also attended the four day reunion
in July, and he dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial located
on Seminary Ridge where the first day's fighting took place on July
1, 1863. A few ancient soldiers tottered once again to the stone
wall for a final handshake. At the end of the successful reunion,
one newspaper reporter wrote, "Now they faded into history."
But their memory and the events of those three days in July, 1863,
have only grown stronger in recent times. The Gettysburg National
Battlefield Park now comprises more than 3,000 acres of preserved
land. Over 1,400 monuments dot the landscape. New ones are added
almost every year, despite the strict NPS limitations on statues.
Photo: Robert E. sitting on the shoe of the standard-bearer of the
11th Mississippi Infantry. This is the newest statue in the Battlefield
Robert E.: And every year on the weekend
closest to the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, thousands
of Civil War re-enactors descend upon the still-small town of Gettysburg
to re-enact the battle once more, though nowadays they must do their
fighting on private farm land, rather than on the park land so the
original battlefield will be protected.
Ulysses: This year marked the 138th
Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. From June 28
to July 8, re-enactments, seminars, special events, and concerts
celebrated the occasion. Thousands of visitors and re-enactors crowded
Robert E.: Including Mary, Marty, and us!
Book Signing at NPS Visitor's Center:
Abe: Mary was there to sign copies of her book, PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY. In fact, six of
the twenty-one men profiled in PAPA fought at Gettysburg. Many of
the twenty-one traveled to Gettysburg for the 50th reunion.
E.: Mary signed books at the National Park Visitor's Center on July
5. Then she took us across the street where we visited the site
of Abe's Gettysburg Address. Photo: Robert E., Abe, and Ulysses
on a cannon overlooking part of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.
Abe: The cemetery looked a great deal better
today than it did when I first gave that address in 1863.
Book Signing at Greystone:
Ulysses: Then Mary signed books at the special
Authors' Tent at Greystone's American History Bookstore. Lots more
people stopped by.
E.: Everyone loves the book's cover art. It is titled, "Heart of
a Southern Girl" and painted by noted Civil War illustrator Henry
E. Kidd. Photo: PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY's Cover
Abe: Then we had a quick and delicious dinner at the Farnsworth
House on Baltimore Street. This is one of Gettysburg's old inns
that was standing during the Battle. The earliest part of the building
dates to 1810. During the Battle, Confederate sharp shooters occupied
the upper floors of the Farnsworth House.
Ulysses: Naturally, this attracted a lot
of attention from the Union troops. Over 100 bullet holes can still
be seen -- and counted -- in the south wall of the Inn today. After
the battle, the house was used as the Union headquarters.
Robert E.: Today, the Farnsworth House hosts
people of more peaceful inclinations. Their lunch and dinners are
very tasty. They even serve some 1863 specialties like: Goober Pea
(Peanut) Soup, Salamgundi (a salad made of greens, veggies, and
turkey breast), and Shoofly Pie (a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch
Abe: Mighty fine eating. Mary and Marty liked
at the Campground:
Robert E.: Then we went to the Artillery Ridge Campground Pavilion
where Mary spoke to Civil War re-enactor groups and civilian campers
alike. She told them some stories from her book about the men who
had fought at Gettysburg exactly 138 years ago. As a huge full,
red-orange moon rose above the trees that had once sheltered Federal
hospital tents, Mary told the hushed crowd a ghost story titled,
"The Black Angel of Gettysburg."
Afterward, she gave out Abe,
IMA Hero Bears to all the children present because they had
all been very good during her talk. One adult woman pleaded for
an Abe because, she said, she too had been very good. Abe went home
with her along with one of Mary's books.
Abe: It gave me a warm feeling to be so appreciated.
surrounded by lots of kids waiting for their IMA Hero Bears
(Abe, Robert E., and Ulysses) after her talk at the Artillery Ridge
Campground Pavilion. The Confederate First National Flag and The
Confederate Bonnie Blue flag hang in the background. As you can
see, the kids are very excited.
E.: July 6 dawned as one of those picture-perfect days. So Mary
took the three of us on a quick tour of the battlefield. Along the
way, we met with both Union and Confederate Cavalry in the woods
near the Confederate lines. Photo: Statue of Robert E. Lee and
his horse, Traveller, atop the huge Virginia monument located on
Ulysses: No need to be alarmed. It was only
re-enactors, though I must confess the men and horses certainly
looked like they had stepped out of a time machine.
Photos: Life-sized statue
of Confederate General James Longstreet, Lee's right-hand man after
the death of Stonewall Jackson. Longstreet was the senior field
commander at Gettysburg. Left: Photo of Robert E. sitting on Longstreet's
right hand. Notice the Confederate battle flag that some admirer
has stuck in Longstreet's belt. There are also two "see-gars" (cigars)
on Longstreet's left arm. The general was famous for smoking cigars.
We don't know who left these tributes. There were many flags, flowers,
and other items in front of many memorials and monuments in the
park. This happens every July. Middle: Photo of Longstreet statue.
Right: Mary with Robert E. and General Longstreet.
Book Signing at Gettysburg Wax Museum:
Abe: After another quick meal, Mary signed more of her books at
the Gift Center located inside the Gettysburg Wax Museum. More people,
including a handsome Confederate Captain, a tall Union private,
and several ladies in hoop shirts stopped to chat and buy books.
NEXT STOP -- 8 Days
in Southern Virginia, Tennessee, & Kentucky!
Robert E.: At the end of the day, Marty drove us home to Burke,
Virginia, where we have been snoozing ever since. We are getting
ourselves ready for the next big trip. This Wednesday, July 11,
we begin an eight-day swing through Southern Virginia, Tennessee,
and Kentucky. We will send our joint reports in a week or so.
Sacagawea: I will accompany the boys for
there is some talk we might take a side trip to visit the Cherokee
Nation in the Smoky Mountains.
PAPA BOOK or GIFT SETS
AUTOGRAPHED BOOK PLATE by Prize-Winning Author Mary W.
Schaller with your order of PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY Book or Gift
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