Gettysburg 2012

This year, our annual fall trip was to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  One of our goals this time was to explore the surrounding area a bit more.  We took a couple of driving tours, following a couple of scenic routes shown on our map, and we also hiked through town a bit more.  Of course, we still explored the battlefield, and even took a day to hike from our campground, just behind Little Roundtop, all the way up to Oak Hill and the Eternal Peace Light Memorial and back.  Turned out to be a nine and a half mile hike, but it was well worth it.  Also, new in this album is my first attempt at panoramic photos.  Eventually, I will be looking into a way to take a panoramic photo, but for this album, I manually stitched a few photos together.  I hope you enjoy them.  

Scenic Country Tour

(Click on Images for Larger Picture)

The first day of our trip, we decided to take a driving tour of the surrounding area.  There is a lot of history around Gettysburg that unfortunately gets overlooked.  We saw signs describing troop movements, historical buildings, and monuments, as well as other historical facts about the area not necessarily connected to the battle.  I did capture a video of the driving tours and I plan to eventually post them on the website. 

The photos above are of some of the interesting buildings that we discovered along the tour.  Some are buildings of the era, and some are just interesting structures.  The barn in the last two pictures was interesting in how it is situated so close to the road.  Believe it or not, the posted speed limit was 45 mph. 

Sachs Bridge

We came across this bridge, located few miles southwest of southern most line of the Confederates on Seminary Ridge.  According to the informational marker, this bridge is the most historic covered bridge in Pennsylvania.  One reason is that it was crossed by both armies during the battle, and even witnessed the retreat of some of the southern forces after the battle.  The bridge was nearly lost during a flood in 1996 as it was washed one hundred yards down stream.  Since then, the bridge was raised above flood level, and it was closed vehicle traffic. 

Farm Houses and Farmsteads

There are many farmsteads scattered around the battlefield.  Some are still privately own, some are owned by the park and used for staff, and others are preserved in the original Civil War Era.

There are a few interesting features that need to be pointed out in the photos above.  We were walking by the red barn in the last two pictures of the first row when we noticed the sunlight streaming through the seams in the wood.  We thought it was kind of strange to see such gaps in the structure.

The white house and red barn in the series of three photos was located just below Oak Hill on the northern part of the battle field.  Much fighting took place around this farmstead, and the barn was even used by snipers.

The farm in the second to last row is the George Weikert house.  It is located nearly at the center of the southern battlefields; Big and Little Roundtop a mile or so to the south, and the High Water Mark about the same distance to the north. 

Walking Tour through Town

Gettysburg has some very interesting homes and buildings throughout town, but I have never really had a good chance to take some photos.  This year we decided to hike through town on our way out to the Eternal Peace Light Memorial on Oak Hill, and it gave me a great opportunity to capture a few photos of these homes.

I would like to point out that many of the homes and buildings in the pictures were not here at the time of the battle, but they are still interesting in their own right.  During the battle, Gettysburg was a much smaller community than it is today.  But as it expanded over time, it looks as if they wanted to maintain the same look as the era of the battle.  If you want to know if a home or building was present during the battle, those structures have a plaque on them indicating as such. 

Lutheran Seminary

The Lutheran Seminary witnessed many important and historic events during the Battle of Gettysburg.  It was just west of here where the first Confederate troops encountered Union troops on July 1st.  Union Major General John Buford decided to use the ground northwest of town in a holding effort, while the rest of the Union Army marched up from the south.  During the first day of battle, he used the cupola, on top of the building in the second row of photos, as a way to survey the battle unfolding on the fields west and north of town.  When the Union troops were routed back through town, Confederate troops used the cupola to observe the battle on the east and south sides of town.   

The seminary today has many more buildings and homes than during the time of the battle.  There are two buildings that sit to each side of the seminary building with the cupola and each has their own cupola.  One thing that can be confusing, when looking at this area from the west side of town, is which cupola was the one used during the battle.  At the time, the trees were much shorter, but over time, the trees have grown to obscure the original cupola, and the two others have been built since the battle.  The one that is most noticeable from the battle field is the one on top of the church which is north of the original building.  The original one can be seen from a distance, but just barely.     

General Lee's Headquarters

General Lee's headquarters during the second and third days of the battles still stands on the Chambersburg Pike, in the northwest portion of town.  It is hard to believe that at one time, this building was farm that was outside of town.  If you get a chance to visit Gettysburg, the museum at General Lee's headquarters does have some interesting pieces on display.  At one time, they had the saddle and riding gear that General Reynolds was using when he was killed by a sniper just a mile or so away from this spot.

The building on the left above is on the campus of the Lutheran Seminary.  Still used today by the Seminary, I believe it was here during the battle.  The building on the right above is the train station that was use during the time of the battle.  This is also the train station used by President Lincoln when he arrived to give the Gettysburg address.

Gettysburg Diorama

One of the places that we have heard of, but never visited, was the Gettysburg Diorama.  This year we decided to stop and take in one of the showings.  When you first go in, you are invited to take time, explore the diorama, and take photos if you wish.  Then, there is a half hour presentation that covers the Battle of Gettysburg using the diorama to illustrate the battle.   

The photos above are organized somewhat in chronological order of the battle.  The first few photos are from the vantage point of the Union soldiers arriving in town from the southeast.  The next several show the battlefields north  and west of town where fighting occurred the first day.  The last picture in the fourth row and the four pictures in the next row are of Culps Hill.  This battle started at the end of the first day and continued off and on for the next two days, ending just before Picket's Charge on the last day of battle.  From here, we move south, down along Seminary Ridge toward the Peach Orchard, Wheat Field, Devil's Den, and the Roundtops.  The last row of pictures is from Little Roundtop, and up to Cementary Ridge and the High Water Mark, the final defeat of the Confederate forces at Gettysburg.  

Scenic Country Tour

These are some more pictures from the scenic country tour.  In the second and third picture in the first row is where we first discovered how narrow the roads were and how close the buildings were to the road.  In these pictures, the county road actually runs right through someone's property.  The first and second pictures in the last row are of a valley just west of Gettysburg.  The last picture is of a small community that the route takes you through.  I would like to mention that when you go this far east, the country side is not like what we are used to at home.  There are many more people on the east coast, and you may think you are in a small community, when in reality, you are in the country. 

First Day of Battle

This is were we start the Battle Field photo tour.  The photos above are of the battlefields that are west and north of Gettysburg.  If you look closely in the first picture of the third row, you will see General Lee's headquarters.  The second and third pictures of the same row are of the Eternal Peace Light Memorial located on Oak Hill.  The photos were taken from the vicinity of the Railroad Cut. 

The third and fourth photos in the fourth row are taken from Oak Hill, looking back toward town.  The last photo is taken from the most extreme northern position on the first day of battle at a location known as Barlow's Knoll.  The troops positioned here were hit hard and this is were the Union route back through town began. 

Railroad Cut

The first two pictures of this series shows the location of the Railroad Cut, northwest of town.  It was here that both Union and Confederate soldiers attempted to use the unfinished Railroad Cut as cover at one time or another.  Many soldiers on both sides lost their lives in this location.

Seminary Ridge

We did not spend as much time along Seminary Ridge this trip, but we did take the auto tour down the Confederate lines.  The photos above are taken at the North Carolina Memorial and shows the Union position along Cemetery Ridge to the east.  The last picture of the first row above is from the southern most position looking northeast towards The Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and Little Roundtop. 

The Peach Orchard

The Peach Orchard is starting to look like an orchard again.  Several years ago they had some sort of disease strike the trees, and they had to remove them all, then treat the soil for year or so before they could replant.  It will be really nice to see the orchard reach full growth again. 

The Peach Orchard is where General Sickles of the Union Army moved his command, without orders, on the second day, because he thought it was a better position to defend.  Unfortunately, it was well over a mile forward of the position he was originally ordered to hold, and it created a salient in the Union line.  A salient is bad because it left you exposed to being attacked on two different sides, and that is exactly what happened.  The line held briefly, but eventually the Union troops were forced to withdrawal.  When this happened, it left no organize resistance between this point on the battlefield, and the southern end of the Union lines.  If it had not been for the 1st Minnesota and some follow-up troops, the Union could have been pushed off the field all together.

What is interesting about this action, is that even today, there is great controversy about General Sickles decision to move his command to this point.  Many say it left the Union lines vulnerable and wide open to Confederate attack.  While others study it and say it was actually more of a delaying action that whittled the Confederate forces down so they did not have as large a force to attack the Union's southern position when they reached Cemetery Ridge 

The Trostle Farm

The Trostle Farm saw some bitter fighting during the battle.  Many of those men who moved to the Peach Orchard ended up at this farm during the retreat.  It was said that all of the horses, used to move the artillery field pieces, had been killed, and in an attempt to keep the pieces from falling into enemy hands, the artillery crews moved the canons by themselves while under heavy fire. 

This is also the location where General Sickles was wounded.  A canon ball clipped him in the leg, nearly taking it off, but despite the wound, he would not allow his men to move him off of the field.  The last picture is of the monument which marks the spot where he was wounded. 

The Wheatfield

The first few photos do not look like a wheat field of any kind, but it is the area just south of the Wheatfield.  We hiked down from Devil's Den, and found a trial that lead through a wooded area just south of the Wheatfield.  It was an interesting hike which made us think what it might have been like during the battle to move through this area, with the sound of battle going on all around, and not being able to see anything, despite the fact that it was going on only a few hundred yards in either direction. 

In the first picture in the last row, you can see the edge of the Wheatfield just beyond the monument in the center of the picture. 

Devil's Den

Devil's Den is a place that we always hike when we travel to Gettysburg.  Driving through this area will help you see most of it, but hiking it gives you a feel for how large of an area this really is, how many soldiers fought here, and how foreboding the area is in terms of battle.  In one of the previous sets of photos, there is a picture from the Confederates viewpoint of this area.  From there, you cannot see any of this.  The Confederates had no idea what they were heading into until they were on top of it and too late to do anything about it.  Devil's Den and the base of the Roundtops were as far as the Confederates could make it.  By the time they made it through these areas, they were exhausted, low on ammunition and water, and most of all, their numbers had been decimated just trying to push through.   

Little Roundtop

Little Roundtop is one of the pinnacles of this battle.  When the day first started on July 2nd, this area was not occupied by either army.  Even though most of the Union forces were moving into the area just behind this hill, no one had thought about putting troops up here to protect the Union left.  It wasn't until Union General Warren arrived on the hill to observe Confederate movements, that a large number of Confederates were spotted in position and moving directly toward the hill.  The only troops nearby were a few signal corps soldiers.  General Warren started diverting troops, moving up the road from the south and heading towards Gettysburg, to Little Roundtop.  It could not have too soon, as Confederates had push Union forces back from the Peach Orchard, through the Wheatfield and Devils Den, and were moving on to Little Roundtop when the first Union reinforcements arrived.   

Lower Cemetery Ridge

This area of the battlefield, at the northern base of Little Roundtop,  can seem a bit confusing.  When I first came here, most of this area was heavily wooded.  Now that much of the battlefield has been restored to its original condition, you can get a better feel for the flow of battle through this area.  The troops in this area were mostly artillery support and hastily assembled troops used to reinforce the line.  About a quarter of a mile north of this position is where General Sickles and his troops were supposed to be, but he left it unoccupied when he ordered his troops to the Peach Orchard. 

High Water Mark/Picket's Charge

This area is known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy.  On the third and final day of battle, General Lee ordered a charge against this position with anywhere between 12,000 and 15,000 troops.  He believed this to be the weakest part of the Union lines since the Union forces had been divided to protect the right and left flanks.  What he did not realize is how easy it was to move troops back into the area at a moments notice.  Not too mention that his own troops would have to march exposed over a mile from their lines on Seminary Ridge, through the fields and over the fence railing, all the while suffering long range artillery attacks and eventually short range fire from rifles and canon.  While Confederate troops did manage to break through briefly at the Bloody Angle (the location shown in the picture in the fifth row second picture) there just was not enough of them to push through and hold the position.   

One other thing I would like to point out is in the fourth picture in the third row.  The monument in the distance identifies the point where General Hancock of the Union army was wounded during the battle.     

Monuments and Memorials

There are many monuments and memorials on the battlefield, each telling stories of the men who fought on this field.  This is just a small sample of what the battlefield has to offer.  A quick run down of the monuments in these pictures.  The one in the first two photos is of the Pennsylvania Memorial.  It is the largest on the battlefield and has the names of all those from Pennsylvania who served.  The third one is for the 20th Massachusetts Infantry.  The last one in the first row is the North Carolina and commemorates the thirty-two regiments in action from that state.  The first two pictures in the second row are of the monument where General Hancock was wounded on the third day of battle.  The next two in this row are for North Carolina and indicates the extent of their advancement during Picket's charge.  The first two pictures in the third row are of the location where General Reynolds was killed in the first day of battle.  I took the last two pictures because of the little flag at the base of the monument.  From time to time you will see this.  The little flag has the name of a soldier on it.  We found this to be a nice way to honor soldiers of this battle.