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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gettysburg













Today was day three at Gettysburg. The first day we got set up, drove around the area and waited for Cindy to show up. She arrived early and we had a pleasant evening. Yesterday we did the visitor center, museum and Cyclorama...all of which were newly reopened last year. The museum is very well done, but the restored diorama is spectacular. Painted in the 1880's on a canvas that is 347 by 48 feet, it is a 360 degree view of the battlefield. It was restored over the past few years at a cost of several million dollars and installed in the new visitor center. It has been augmented with light, sound, and narrative. The realism is eerie. Then we took the self-guided auto tour of 23 miles around the park. Today we reinforced our impressions by taking a professionally guided bus tour of almost three hours. We stood on the top of Little Round Top (where Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine and others reshaped American history), and we stood at the point where Pickett's charge stalled out...the so-called high water mark of the Confederacy. We could look out over the mile plus of open fields that Longstreet/Pickett faced. Even the terrain has been preserved, so one can feel the terror they faced as they marched toward 150 field pieces with barrels depressed so as to be used as anti-personnel weapons. Over ten thousand died at Gettysburg and there were over 50,000 casualties (killed, wounded or missing). Lee's ambulance wagon train of retreating wounded was 17 miles long. Lincoln berated Meade for not pressing his advantage by allowing Lee to escape. After the tour, Cindy and I took a side trip to the cemetary at the top of Cemetary Hill where the 272 words of the Gettysburg Address were delivered. The last picture is of the Lincoln address memorial.
The pictures show the copse of woods that demarks the high-water mark. The battlefield shot was taken without flash during the diorama show. The railroad station is now known as the Lincoln Station because that is where he arrived to give perhaps the most momentous speech in American history. On a pound for pound basis it has no equals.
We'll be "home" Friday. It may be a while before I do a wrapup posting because of unpacking chores after five months.


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