07 July 2013

Gettysburg: 150 Years Later

I never thought I would want to see a Civil War Reenactment until I saw photos on Instagram from my friend's visit to Gettysburg on July 4 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of that epic battle.  It looked incredible and I knew that I had to visit this weekend.  I convinced Phor who can barely walk with a twisted ankle and Jeff to travel very early on Saturday morning to an area north of the actual Gettysburg and see what it was all about.

There were 3 battles scheduled for Saturday with the first one at 11 am.  We set up our chairs and walked around the tents set up behind the viewing area.  The Union Soldiers were marching in file and presenting arms.  We walked by families who have been at the field for a week, living as a family would during the 1860s - clothes, food, shelter.  We met men who have been reenactors for over 30 years and this is what they love.  Their knowledge of the war and of the battles were awe inspiring.  We talked to some of the them for a very long time and they seemed to enjoy answering our questions.

It was also an incredibly hot day with temperatures over 90 degrees and most of them were wearing wool.  Their dedication and love for what they were doing is inspiring.

We walked back to our viewing area for the first battle which was Cavalry Battle: We Have No Time” Stuart Arrives on the Battlefield.  We were not in the best seats to watch this battle but we loved seeing what a calvary-led battle would look like.  It involves a great deal of command of the horse and training it to remain calm even with the sounds and chaos of the battle.

The second battle was a little more interesting for me as I was able to see more of what was happening.  It was “Hold the Line” – Gallant Rally at the Klingle Farm and the cannons were firing every 30 seconds. 

You can see the smoke from the cannons.

After the battle, we went to General's Row to speak to some of our favorite Generals.  

This is Sherman who was not at Gettysburg but is included as this portion of the program is about Living History.  I loved talking to these men because they are experts who really have put thought, effort and research into knowing who they are.  Sherman was fascinating as we spoke about his march through the South and how Hollywood got the facts very wrong starting with "Gone With the Wind."

This is General and Mrs. Robert E. Lee who was at Gettysburg.  He looked and acted exactly how I pictured Lee would.

We walked further through the tents to see medical instruments from 1860 and to buy the clothes from the time.  My favorite was this band who was singing "Oh, Susanna" when we walked up which reminded me of my Dad since he would sing it to me when I was young.  My Dad loved the Civil War and I think he would have really enjoyed this.  The experience made me very sentimental at odd times throughout the day.

We left the park very hot and sweaty but really happy that we had that experience.  We got lost on the way to DC and ran into Lincoln on the street.  

Phor noticed signs on the highway for fresh fruit which we all wanted because of dehydration.  We found the road side stand after a little while and were in fruit heaven.  I was able to buy apricots that actually taste like apricots and not bland, flavorless fruit.  And right next to was a BBQ joint that was the perfect ending to the day.  The sides weren't that great but the meat was delicious and that is all that matters.  

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