Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Busy weekend - went to Gettysburg

Late this summer our family realized how CLOSE Gettysburg was to the DC area. We knew it was in Pennsylvania, of course, but didn't realize it was less than a 2 hour drive from where we live. Since my older son didn't have school and my husband didn't have work for Columbus Day, we went to check it out.

First, the Cyclorama is amazing. I had no idea that this was something made in the late 1800s and was meant to be displayed like this. I truly thought it was just a blown up picture from after Civil War, but no... it was painted to be shown like this - a panorama of the battlefield. Others were made around this time too. I guess when veterans of the battle saw it, they cried as it was so reminiscent of what they saw. Here's some info on the cyclorama: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Cyclorama

And here is a link to a documentary (first is 4:30, second is 5:20) to the Gettysburg cyclorama: http://www.newsweek.com/id/40211#?l=1481452776&t=1482369710 http://www.newsweek.com/id/40211#?l=1481452776&t=1485308535 Supposedly there are three parts, but I could only find two (and it seems I'm not the only one).

The other really neat thing was how they have tried to keep the landscape similar to how it was during the battle time - trees growing where trees were known to be, rock fences, where they were, even groves of trees, exactly where they were before.

There is one point where you see a painting made around the time of the battle and you are standing RIGHT THERE and you can see exactly how far the confederate troops are from the Union position. You can imagine them marching across the fields, and you can just imagine waiting, watching the mile long line getting close enough to have within range...

The one thing that struck me the most was - how do you feed and water nearly 80,000 moving troops? How do you get everyone ammunition? Working guns? Together in those three days there were 165,000 troops.... at the end of the battle 7,000-8,000 were killed, but total 53,000 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. Can you imagine this little town? Every farm field was a graveyard, every public building, church and some private homes were hospitals. It took until late 1864 (the battle was July 1-3 1963) to move all the patients and clear out the city of all the doctors, etc. It was Nov. 1964 that the National cemetery was dedicated (with the famous Gettysburg address given by Lincoln). That cemetery is just a PORTION of the dead, most are unmarked graves scattered over thousands of acres.

I can't say that the day was filled with tons of great walks and fun filled hoopla, but it was good and it really does give you the idea of what they faced and gives you an appreciation of several aspects of the war during that time.

Here's the National Park site to check out more: http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm

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