Saturday, July 6, 2013

Out of the Fray

The 150-year celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg is in high gear this weekend, with many thousands of visitors enjoying the town, the park, and battle reenactments.  But as a year-round resident of Gettysburg, I've been lying low, staying close to home to avoid the intense downtown traffic.  Too, Gettysburg and its battlefields are mine all year long, so I can stand aside to allow room for those whose time here is brief. However, that also means I've no current image to share with you.  Happily, I found  an image  last evening, prompting today's posting, of a brief conversation I had (last year in April)  with a couple reenactors  at Little Round Top.   You'll find more details about this in my April 3, 2013 post, but let me add a small detail about that exchange here.

In April 2012, I was much less informed about the battle than I am today (though I remain far from knowledgeable), and the only topic I could raise for discussion was that of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamblerlain, whose courageous command and battle tactics kept the Union's left flank from collapsing under waves of Confederate troops.  I had learned about this from the movie Gettysburg (1993) and from reading the book on which it is based, The Killer Angels (by Michael Shaara). The reenactors, however, were quick to point out that Chamberlain was not the only hero of that battle and  informed me of the parts played by others, like Brigadier General Stephen Weed (see my April 10, 2013 post).  Now that I'm a bit more informed, perhaps I'll meet these gentleman sometime again to carry on the discussion.

Until next time . . .
Georgia Anne

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lieutenant General James Longstreet

You won't find many memorials on the Gettysburg Battlefield more engaging than this of Lieutenant General James Longstreet. Second-in-command to General Lee, Longstreet did not agree with Lee's idea to launch an assault on the center line of Union forces arrayed along Cemetery Ridge. He strongly advised against it, predicting massive casualties for the troops who must cross nearly an open mile of pasture to reach the enemy line.  However, Lee was convinced that the Union force would be weakest at the center and ordered Longstreet to launch the attack, which is  known as "Pickett's Charge," for one of the generals, under Longstreet, who led the infantry assault.

 On a sunny day with high light and dark shadow, you might imagine this horse and rider to be flesh and blood, so dynamic is their pose.  And I guarantee that your response to this pair will be visceral.

I hope you soon get to visit Gettysburg to experience the thrill of this and so many other remarkable memorials.

Till then . . .

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Little Round Top and Devil's Den

Little Round Top is a rocky hill south of Gettysburg where the Union (left flank) repelled a Confederate attack on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.  Those who have seen the 1993 movie Gettysburg will recall Jeff Daniels' convincing portrayal of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamblerlain, who courageously defended the flank, charging downhill with his men, bayonets raised because their ammunition was spent.  But one man and his company (the 20th Maine) did not themselves win the hill for the Union. Some, like Brigadier General Stephen Weed,  commanding the 91st Pennsylvania's brigade, were mortally wounded while defending it.   

No one knows whose bullet struck and mortally wounded Weed, but some speculate that it came from one of the Confederate sharpshooters hiding within rocks and crevices of Devil's Den.  (I took both images in February 2012.)  Stories abound about the fates of those men locked in battle--the Confederate sharpshooters below firing upon the Union officers and men above.  I found one such  at the Web site, Devil's Den: A History and A Guide, by Gary E. Adleman and Timothy H. Smith:

"In July 1865, the laying of the cornerstone for the Soldiers Monument in the National Cemetery attracted a large crowd of visitors to Gettysburg. A few of the reporters covering the event took this opportunity to visit the battlefield.  Lorenzo L. Crounse of the New York Times wrote:

In front of [Little Round Top] is the little valley, rendered moist by a stagnant brook: the "Devil's Den," a remarkable upheaval of enormous rocks, forming a cavern a hundred feet long, and large enough to admit a man; through this runs a trickling stream, and here our poor wounded men crawled during the battle for water and safety, only to meet their death by drowning when the rains of the night suddenly swelled this stream to a torrent from which there was no escape. A dozen bodies were afterward taken from a huge crevice, where they had been left by the receding waters.3"
For more such compelling reports, visit the History and Guide at

Until next time . . .

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Talking with the Generals

Today: April 3, 2013  One year ago, I posted this entry to another of my blogs (26 Years to Live).  I mention this because once again I find that the week has slipped by and I'm not prepared with a new post.  Thus please indulge me and accept this post, exactly one year old today.

One Year Ago:
Recently friends visited and I showed them parts of the Gettysburg battlefield. I'm sharing a photo (taken by my friend Ingrid) of re-enactors playing the roles of various generals at the battle of Little Round Top, where this photo was taken. I believe the gentlemen to the left was playing Brig. General Weed, who died defending Little Round Top.

(Writing today on April 3, 2013, I'd like to add a note to this information. General Weed was shot while defending Little Round Top but did not die until the next day.  Like other wounded soldiers, he was taken to Jacob Weikert's Farm, which had become a field hospital. Recently I've been commenting on the book Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg (by Tanya Anderson), so it bears mentioning that during her stay at this same farm, Tillie spoke with Weed before he died.)

Back to last year . . . .
To get "up to speed" on the Gettysburg battle, I first watched the movie Gettysburg (1993) directed by Ronald F. Maxell, which is based on the book by Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels. I'm currently reading the book and am enjoying it immensely, especially having been first introduced to the main "players" in this battle, our nation's most significant in casualties (51,000).

I am fortunate to have moved to Gettysburg, to be surrounded by the now serene fields where 150 years so many lost their lives. To learn what these men fought for, how they fought, and how they died is humbling. And I daily recognize that the land over which I gaze is sacred ground.

Till next time . . .

Georgia Anne Butler

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Historic Homes: Pierce and Weikert

Last week we looked briefly into the life and times of Matilda Pierce through my brief  review of Tanya Anderson's wonderful book--Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg.  So this week, let's continue our introduction with a few locations important to her story.  (By the way, Anderson provides many diverse and intriguing photos in her history.)

To start, let's look at Tillie's home, located on the corner of Baltimore and Breckenridge Streets. (I took this photo yesterday  after meeting my sister for lunch in Gettysburg). From these windows, Tillie first watched free blacks fleeing toward Culp's Hill to escape the  Confederate Army, advancing on Gettysburg. Next she witnessed a Confederate cavalry followed by hundreds infantrymen. As Anderson explains, "The foot soldiers--desperately in need of food, horses, and clothing--raided business, homes, churches, and farms for goods." And the Pierce family was no exception, as they, too, were soon to be raided.

If you read last week's review, you know that Tillie accompanies her neighbor (with young children) to flee to the countryside and farm of her parents, never imagining that the grisly and tragic war would follow them.  The Weikert barn and home would soon host hundreds of injured and dying soldiers, some whose names have been immortalized. And Tillie Pierce was there. 

Yesterday I also drove out the Taneytown Road to locate and photograph this historic location. Although privately owned, the farmstead proudly announces its historical significance as a Civil War Hospital. 

Finally, for more photos of the Weikert Farm and to learn more of its history, including information on Tillie's role, visit the Gettysburg Daily. Wherever I go, the Daily has been there first.

Until next week . . .  Here's hoping you soon "get with Gettysburg!"

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tillie Pierce: A Must Read Book

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg is a perfect book, balancing historical scope (the Battle of Gettysburg) with an intimate narrative of a fifteen-year-old girl caught within  the three-day maelstrom of war. Anderson allows us to experience the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes and words of  Matilda  "Tillie" Pierce, who accompanies her neighbor Hettie (whose husband is in the army) and children to escape the  imminent dangers posed by the Confederate and Union armies converging on the town. By foot they hurry from Baltimore Street to what they expect will be a safer locale, farther south of town, along the Taneytown Road, east of Little Round Top. They head to the residence of Hettie’s parents: the Weikert Farm. For those who know a little about the Gettysburg Battle, this farm was about to become a field hospital for over 700 soldiers, from both the North and South.

Anderson retells the story first written by Matilida Pierce Alleman herself  as a mature woman and published in 1889: At Gettysburg; or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle.  In retelling the story, Anderson provides what “Tillie” could not: the larger historical context within which to place the personal narrative.  And she does so deftly, not only through a concise yet interesting overview of the political and social struggles between North and South but also through photographs taken from that period and side bar information on cultural customs  (like hiding a child’s shoe in the walls of a house for good luck) and current history relevant to key locations during the battle.

What is most amazing, of course, is Tillie’s specific experiences, narrated mostly by Anderson and sprinkled with direct quotes from Alleman’s own narrative (a book I intend to read immediately).   A wonderful story teller, Anderson’s account will keep you glued to the pages of this incredible story.

I highly recommend this book and can’t imagine a school library without it.

Georgia Anne Butler

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New York State Monument

Last week when posting on the Soldiers' National Monument, I promised to return this week to the Gettysburg National Cemetery to look at another--the New York State Monument. 

Standing 93 feet high, this colossal monument is striking to behold.  Atop a towering granite column stands a female figure, representing the state of New York, about to place a wreath on a soldier's grave.  (I took this zoom image from directly beneath.)  In her left hand she holds a staff,  though I can't discover what balances on top the staff.  This monument is dedicated to all the sons of New York who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg, and the figure weeps for the fallen.

Of all the monuments I've seen to date, this is the most memorable. The bronze relief that circles the column depicts officers wounded or killed in battle, including Brigadier General S. H. Weed, who died defending Little Round Top, and Major General J. F. Reynolds (of Pennsylvania, one of three non-New York natives depicted in the relief), who died early on the first day of battle.

To see the monument in its entirety, I again send you to Stone Sentinels, my first stop when researching the story behind the monuments I photograph.

Come back next week for something different, when I'll review the book Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg by Tanya Anderson. 

Until then . . . Here's hoping you can soon Get with Gettysburg!

Georgia Anne

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Soldiers National Monument

On Monday I made a quick visit to the Gettysburg National Cemetery,  final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. And today I'd like to share my images of the Soldiers' National Monument, located on the site believed to be where President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.  

Since moving to Gettysburg in the fall of 2011, I've visited the National Cemetery a few times, discovering something new each time.  For instance, I've seen the Soldier's National Monument but until now (with a bit of research) didn't know particulars about the monument, that is, who sculpted it, who the figures represent . . . and more.  To obtain this information, I needed to visit  only one site--Gettysburg Daily (a blog currently on hiatus).  If you want the whole story, check out the link below.

If you've time only for a brief highlight, stay with me a moment more. 

Sculpted by Randolph Rogers (an American Neoclassical sculpture who lived mostly in Italy), the 60 foot-high monument is the lofty foothold of Liberty, who holds in her right hand the "victor's wreath of laurel." Far below her sit the embodiments of History, War, Peace, and Plenty. History, represented by the muse Clio (we met her earlier this year in my post February 12 post) writes of the heroic deeds reported to her by War, in the form of a solder.

While gracing the other side of the twenty-five foot square base are the figures of Plenty and Peace.

However, for me, the magnificence of this sculpture is humbled among the many marked and unmarked monuments to the fallen of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Check back next week for a look at another major monument in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Until next time . . .

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Getting to Know Gettysburg, One Trail at a Time

Note:  I'm reprinting a post I made last year (about this time) to one of my other blogs--26 Years to Live.  Lucky for me I had this post in reserve; you see, the week flew by too quickly, and I didn't get out and about to bring you a new post.  But next week, I promise to be current. Ha!

When moving to Gettysburg in October, I also moved to a national park, which during the tourism season poses certain challenges, from heavy traffic to overcrowded restaurants and more. But I suspect the advantages of living among preserved battlefields, their histories revealed in countless monuments, will far outnumber the disadvantages. The picturesque landscapes alone are worth whatever inconvenience a "tourist town" entails. Add to this an infrastructure (visitor centers, museums, tours, towers, trails, etc) specifically designed to educate and enhance the visitor's experience and you'll begin to understand my mounting enthusiasm for living in Gettysburg.

Just recently I took my dog Bridget (a black lab mix) for a walk along one of the many horse trails giving access to woodlands and battlefields and, in this instance, past grazing pastures of a large farm where a pair of braying donkeys chased two llamas far afield--not something you typically see or hear. Ha! Following the trail was an adventure, full of beauty and surprises. Who knows, maybe next time, I'll actually go by horse, though I don't think Bridget would appreciate that idea.

Till next time . . . you can walk the trail Bridget and I followed through a pictorial story on my FB page, Of the Wing:!/media/set/?set=a.10150526464742158.398281.96113967157&type=1

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Evergreen Cemetery

The Evergreen Cemetery (established in 1854) for the community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, derives its place in American history as the headquarters of General Oliver O. Howard of the Union Army (XI Corps).  Howard is credited with the foresight to occupy Culp's Hill, high ground east of the cemetery, where Union forces retreated before advancing Confederate troops (see my last post "123rd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment").

Above you see the Evergreen Cemetery Gatehouse, which looks much the same as in photographs taken only days after the Battle of Gettysburg. I took this image from a side road (parallel to Baltimore Street).  The other image (zoom) I captured from the observation tower atop Culp's Hill, looking due west.  You may also find it interesting to know that Evergreen Cemetery is the resting place of "Jennie" Wade (Mary Virginia Wade), the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg. Likewise, the cemetery holds the remains of John Burns, a 70-year-old "citizen soldier" of the battle.

So until next time . . . Here's hoping that you Get with Gettysburg!

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

123rd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Today we go atop Culp's Hill, location of significant battles during the evening and early morning hours of July 2 and 3rd. 

The end of the first day of battle saw General Lee's Confederate forces in control, chasing a retreating Northern army. Says William A. Frassanito in his book Gettysburg: A Journey in Time:

"Approximately twenty-five hundred Northern soldiers were captured during the chaotic Union retreat through the streets of Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 1" (98). Luckily, those not captured had some place to run--to Culp's Hill, southeast of Gettysburg, a "defensive position" selected and occupied earlier "under orders from General O. O. Howard" (98). 

Well fortified, though undermanned, the Union troops were well positioned for the Confederate assault to begin around 7:30 pm on July 2. One of the regiment's protecting that hill (ultimately the North held it) was the 123rd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment

Driving along a winding, scenic road, heading to the hill's crest and its observation tower, I passed this striking monument. I learned from the Web site Stone Sentinels that the woman represents the history muse Clio, writing of the heroic deeds of the 123rd. But there's much more to be learned from this site about the regiment and its battles.

While atop the observation tower, I took a photo (zoom shot) looking northwest over Gettysburg and beyond. At the time I didn't notice, but captured in this image is the Eternal Light Peace Memorial (which I posted about on January 29). See if you can locate it!

Until next time . . . Get with Gettysburg!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Place for Poets in Gettysburg

 Thus far I've been presenting monuments of the Gettysburg Battlefield, but periodically we'll venture in town to investigate what local businesses have to offer the visitor. This week, let's take a quick look at The Ragged Edge Coffee House.

Located at 110 Chambersburg Street, this coffee house is convenient to the town center and offers a variety of pastries and sweets to enjoy with your coffee. And a quick visit to its FB page says that in addition to lunch, the Ragged Edge is now serving breakfast.  Good to know.

I must admit, however, that I've yet to partake of the menu items, having recently been introduced to the establishment for an entirely different purpose:  a meeting place for poets and poetry reading.

I am not a poet but I attended to listen to a poet friend read from her developing collection.  In fact, anyone interested in listening to poetry,  reading their own poems, or reading the poems of others are welcome on the first Friday of each month. Just follow your nose up to the second floor. 

My first visit was earlier this month. The group was small but I was told that attendance varies month to month.  Things get started (general announcements and the like) at 6:00 p.m. and the program continues until 8:00.  Typically, after the readings, attendees are treated to musical entertainment from a local artist. And then the group adjourns to a neighboring tavern, Gary Owen Irish Pub (at 126 Chambersburg Street). And this is exactly what we did.  What a great time I had that evening!  Look for more on the Irish Pub in an upcoming post.

Till next time . . . Get with Gettysburg!

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eternal Light Peace Memorial

This week's featured memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield--the Eternal Light Peace Memorial--holds special interest to me for two reasons: 1) I live directly up the road from it, and 2) my current home has as its source one (perhaps two) of the 18 Peace Light Inn Cabins, which accommodated guests of the Peace Light Inn, built in 1941. The Inn and cabins were constructed for tourists visiting the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, dedicated in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The dedication of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial is itself a significant historical event, dedicated on July 3, 1938 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Over 250,000 people attended the ceremony (of which there is an actual video . . . search online).  For  more background on the monument and its dedication, see the link below, which will take you to the web site Stone Sentinels:

And if you're interested in learning more about the Inn,  which "was destroyed by a fire on March 16th, 1979," and the cabins, you'll find an immensely interesting link below to the Gettysburg Daily (a blog currently on hiatus)  This blog provides numerous photos, both historic and current, of the area where the Inn and cabins stood.

As I understand my own tie to these cabins, one (perhaps two) was relocated, sometime in the 1950's, to my current property.  The prior owners expanded and built over these structures to create the home I now enjoy.  But I'm not alone in living this history. Two of my adjacent neighbors' homes were also constructed over these cabins.  In fact, while you cannot see the "cabin" in my home or my immediate neighbor, the home two doors down maintains the form of the Peace Light cabins, where two cabins have been joined.  Quite an interesting architecture, to my mind!

Until next Tuesday . . .

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sachs Covered Bridge

In this week's tour of Gettysburg, let's visit Pennsylvania's "most historic covered bridge in the state"--Sachs Covered Bridge.*  Built in 1852, "using a lattice system of support trusses," the Sachs Bridge spans 100 feet over Marsh Creek, where Cumberland and Freedom Townships meet. 

I first learned of this bridge while visiting my sister's shop, The Crystal Wand, a favorite of folks who enjoy the metaphysical in life, including ghost hunters.  On this particular day, a group of ghost hunters were just back from Sachs Bridge, eager to report on their encounter.  As someone new to the history of the Battle of Gettysburg, I was interested in the landmark for historic reasons and made a mental note to seek it out.

However, my mental note taking did me little good because I completely forgot about the bridge until pleasure driving one day when I happened upon it by accident.  What a treat! A more picturesque scene I couldn't have imagined--a beautiful barn red bridge crossing a wide creek.  The pictures I share now are recent, taken just a few days ago and specifically for this posting.

Beyond its beauty (and now rarity), the Sachs Covered Bridge claims its place in history because both the Union and Confederate armies crossed the bridge. As described on an onsite a plaque:

"Part of the Army of Northern Virginia began its retreat to Virginia by crossing the bridge after the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863."

Likewise, from Wikipedia I learned this:

"On July 1, 1863, the bridge was crossed by the two brigades of the I Corps of the Union Army heading towards Gettysburg. The III Corps also crossed the bridge heading to the Black Horse Tavern."

Here's Bridget, my black lab mix and constant companion, enjoying the view.  Here's hoping you get to enjoy it for yourself one day soon.

Till next time . . .

Georgia Anne

*Quotes taken from onsite plaque.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

State of Louisiana Monument

Like the pages in a history book, the monuments of the Gettysburg Battlefield tell the story of the three-day battle that would shape the outcome of the Civil War.  Foremost, however, they commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of those engaged in that epic struggle, which would claim more casualties (approx 51,000) than any other in the Civil War.  But beyond what they tell us and what they stand for, as works of sculpture, these monuments are often beautiful and moving.

In my exploratory trips driving or walking through the battlefield, I've happened upon many striking sculptures, as this one, dedicated (June 11, 1971) to the men of Louisiana.

Learn more about this sculpture at the page link below:


The web site Stone Sentinels (Gettysburg) is a wonderful resource, providing a catalog of all the monuments, their photos, and stories. (For example, here is where I learned that the heraldic sculpture represents the Spirit of the Confederacy, and that he holds a flaming cannonball.)  But I  go to Stone Sentinels only  after discovering for myself these splendid sculptures on the battlefield--part of the delight of exploration.

Here's hoping you check back next Tuesday, for another discovery from Gettysburg or the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Copse of Trees

Before reading the The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and then watching the movie Gettsyburg (1993) based on this book (directed by Ronald F. Maxwell), I knew little about the Battle of Gettysburg.  In fact, I only began my "media" education after moving in 2011 to Gettysburg, for no self-respecting resident could remain ignorant of its history.  Now I am reading William A. Frassanito's Gettysburg: A Journey in Time, described on the back cover as "a unique example of photographic detective work in which the famous battle is re-created almost as if it were a contemporary news event." And I'll add--a must-read book for the enthusiast . . . but back to The Copse of Trees.

From these sources I learned of General Lee's catastrophic decision, one concisely stated by Frassanito in his Gettysburg: "Having been thwarted in his attacks against both Union flanks, Lee gambled on a massive frontal assault against the Union center along Cemetery Ridge on the afternoon of the third" (54).  Lee's ill-fated decision was opposed by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet (Lee's second-in-command), but his prediction of wholesale slaughter of the Confederate troops fell on deaf ears. You see, in their effort to "take" the Union enemy, these troops would have to cross a mile of open fields under cannon fire and then, when within range, rifle fire (muzzle loaders).  But general Lee was insistent--to break the Union force they need only attack its weakest point, the center of the line, a target made more visible in the otherwise open field by a copse of trees.

Again, as concisely stated by Frassanito, "This action, known as Pickett's charge, ended in a Confederate disaster" (54). 

Learning of the Copse of Trees, I had to locate it and did so when a couple of friends came to visit. (Part of being a Gettysburg resident is that you must acquire the skills of a battlefield tour guide.) Here, then, are photos (taken more recently) of these trees and a memorial, erected in 1892, by the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association to honor "The High Water Mark of the Rebellion." Read more about them both in the  links below.

Till next week . . .

Georgia Anne

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Getting with Gettysburg

In the fall of 2011, I moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and am now happy to call this beautiful town my home. Its surrounding battlefields create a tranquil mood, one far removed from the raging battle fought here the first three days of July 1863.

To walk the Gettysburg Battlefield, to read its monuments, to learn its history has become my quest.  How could it not? For here the landscape carries its past to the present. Here I can climb to Big Round Top, leap the deep crevices of Devil's Den, walk Confederate Avenue behind the cannon array once aimed upon the "Copse of Trees," the central location of the Union line.  (Photo of me at the Copse of Trees taken in spring of 2012.)

I am a new comer to this compelling history and as yet know little to share, but if you'd like to learn with me, check back weekly for my latest discovery. I'll not only post on Battlefield locations, monuments, and history but also on all things Gettysburg, including museums, historic houses, restaurants and taverns, walking and horse riding trails, ghost tours--anything that would interest the Gettysburg enthusiast.

Next time . . .  Learn  the significance of the  "Copse of Trees" in the Battle of Gettysburg.  More photos, too.

Georgia Anne