Gettysburg

Trip Start Jun 06, 2010
1
9
31
Trip End Jul 30, 2010


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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Saturday, June 12, 2010

Second day at Gettysburg and I still can't get enough.  I hung out with some "living historians" (re-enactors) who were part of an artillery battery.  Learned a lot about artillery, and I asked so many questions about their equipment that they tried to recruit me!

Then I went on a ranger-led talk about the second day of fighting in the Peach Orchard and the Wheat Field.  Troy Harman (the ranger) was chatting with some of his regulars when I walked up. He not only painted a vivid picture of the fighting, he also gave us background into the psychology of the commanders and why they made the choices they did.  He put a lot of things in context, even going so far as to compare the Reconstruction to a "troop surge" and the KKK as "insurgency".

There's some crossover between the licensed battlefield guides, the park service, the living historians, and the history academics who constantly write new books on details of the battle. The guide I had on my Segway tour in the afternoon was buzzing about the same new book the ranger had mentioned on Daniel Sickles -- a scrappy New Yorker who disobeyed orders to protect his supply line and seize an artillery position.

As a couple from Boston I met put it, there are a lot of Civil War battlefields you can visit, but Gettysburg Battlefield is the Civil War, it's where it lives today.  I would definitely come back here to do a whole lot more ranger walks, and of course to see the re-enactment of the battle itself (which happens outside the park).  In fact, they are now working on restoring the battlefield to exactly how it was over the next three years, in preparation for the 150th anniversary.  That is going to be intense.

And yes, riding a Segway is easy and fun.  Walking is for chumps.
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