Last week a friend and I went to Gettysburg to tour the battlefield. It was bloody hot — around 92* F — and very humid. So it was very like the weather on the 3 days of battle. In fact, it was warmer than the day of Pickett’s Charge. I had the advantage of not wearing a wool uniform, not carrying gear and having air conditioning in then car.
I stood where Lee sat mounted on his horse, meeting the survivors.
I stood at the Copse of Trees,
The Angle, the approximate place where Armistead was fatally wounded,
The Highwater Mark. It was the first time I stood in these places as an adult. The impact hadn’t lessened at all.
I always had an emotional connection with Lewis Armistead. That connection only became stronger when Richard Jordan played him in the movie. That was Armistead’s last battlefield and Jordan’s last movie. I watched Gettysburg on video not long ago. The instant before Armistead dies, I paused the movie. For that instant I was able to save both Lewis and Richard.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. I restarted the DVD and both Lo and Richard died.
An interesting thing happened to me that day. My mind was mostly on the doings of North Carolinians during those three days of battle. Most of the other tourists/amateur historians I talked to that day were from North Carolina. I think that was one of the best parts of the day — meeting other amateur historians.
It was odd going to a place where I had been before and had created some spotty memories. There are places where the topography is exactly the same — The Peach Orchard, The Angle and the High Water Mark. There are places where the topography is entirely different — Devil’s Den. For some reason I think of Devil’s Den as above Little Round Top, almost part of Big Round Top. And it is so not there.
This photo was taken from Little Round Top, looking down into Devil’s Den. I love the sign! All over the Park, they are planting vegetation that was there at the time of the battle. There will be peach trees in the Peach Orchard, wheat in the Wheatfield, and native plants in the uncultivated areas. That’s a terrific idea!
I want to go back in cooler weather. Maybe I’ll take one of the tours on horseback.
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