Crossing The Battlefield

Back to Gettysburg

It occurs to me that I have been to Gettysburg National Military Park three times, and each time I have taken a different member of my household.  My first visit with Son #1, just a toddler, was appropriately on the post-battle commemoration date of July 4, but since I booked a hotel in Washington D.C. for the same evening, we did not get the full experience.  My second visit, with our exchange student, perhaps served as the most in-depth experience as part of my college curriculum (see An Education At Gettysburg from March 2013).  My third visit, just after the sesquicentennial (see Dodging A Bullet from November 2013), includes Son #2, and since he’s a history buff (apple, tree; tree, apple – clearly you’ve met), and given my previous experience, we jump in with both feet, or more appropriately, by foot.

The weather brings a better outing than the original combatants garnered with less infernal temperatures, and the afternoon rain shower, the only blip in the day’s forecast, timed nicely with our lunch plans.  We hike from the visitor center to Little Round Top, and explore the rocks at Devil’s Den, then eventually cross somewhere near the peach orchard.  We stop at the copse of trees, and we take pictures throughout our hoof.  Yes, we pick up a few ticks, but we make a stop at the hotel and relieve ourselves of the modern-day combatants, too.  We didn’t see everything, but our walk only marks the midway point of our outing.

A New Point Of View

Sprinkles continue to dot the afternoon, but the clouds create displays that make the moisture tolerable.  We sign up for the kind of tour that would have really sent the rebels yelling: a Segway tour along the western flank, where the Confederacy and General Pickett made their last stand on July 3, 1863.  For all my visits to Gettysburg, and partly due to the location of the Visitor’s Center, the tour includes my first visit to the South’s position on the battlefield, and for this reason, if no other, I am seeing the battle lines from an entirely new vantage point.  While it doesn’t change the outcome, that copse of trees looks a lot smaller from over here.

I’ve taken other Segway tours (see Segue from February 2019), and always the advantage has been covering a greater distance, in less time, with less exertion, but still being out in the elements and not buckled into a vehicle.  We pass the monuments to each southern state, taking extra time at the Florida state monument, given that’s his place of birth.  We again make our way back to Little Round Top, albeit by another mode of transportation.  The advantage here, which includes the benefits of the gyroscopic device, isn’t about seeing the scenes of combat from a different vehicle, but seeing the scenes of valiant effort and horrific consequences for so many soldiers through his eyes, for the first time, and reflecting on what I’ve learned since my last visit.  I’ll cross this battlefield again someday, because there’s a new person in my household, and he should see this, too.

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