05 July 2009 by Published in: Battlefield stomping 14 comments

As some of you may remember from prior years, there is no place I want to be any less than I want to be than Gettysburg on the anniversary of the battle. The town is too small for the massive influx of touristas, it’s impossible to find a place to stay, it’s even harder to find a place to eat, and hardest of all is finding a place to park. The town simply cannot handle being overwhelmed by the folks who come for the combination of the anniversary of the battle and the annual reenactment. I’ve been there on the anniversary three or four times, and each time it happens, I swear it’s going to be the last time.

J. D., on the other hand, absolutely loves being there on the anniversary of the battle. This year, with his new book out, I can understand why he would want to be there. However, he loves being there every year. Where I hate the crowds, he seems to thrive on them. The same goes for our co-author, Mike Nugent. I just don’t get it, but to each his own, right?

It’s like the annual re-enactor’s parade on the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which is also known as Remembrance Day. I am not a re-enactor and never have been, which may be why I don’t have an appreciation of the event. I’ve never once been there on Remembrance Day, and I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in being there that day. None. However, J.D. usually goes, I have lots of other friends who do, too. The weather is usually miserable that time of year, and the idea of standing out in the rain watching re-enactors march by just doesn’t appeal to me at all. My friends, however, really enjoy it. While I may not understand it, I do respect it, and if they enjoy that, then I wholeheartedly support them.

Now that the anniversary of the battle is finally over, it’s time for life to get back to normal in Gettysburg. Normal means I will visit again. And hopefully, it will be soon. I’ve been there a couple of times this year, but each time it was a working trip where I had tours to lead. I can’t even remember the last time I just went to Gettysburg to go to Gettysburg and enjoy some time on the battlefield. That’s long overdue, and I miss that.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 3:23 am

    I go to Goofysburg in the fall. Much less hassle with turistas.

  2. Steve Basic
    Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 4:02 am

    Eric,

    Just back from the trek to Gettysburg this weekend, and while I understand your thoughts on the subject, I know you would have enjoyed being in the company of the many friends we share this weekend. Yeah, it is hectic and there is too much to do, but we had a blast.

    It was not as crowded as in past years, and driving the backroads avoided the traffic. I got to spend some time on the field this weekend, and enjoyed the time I spent walking around the Peach Orchard which I have not done in ages, and in company with someone who knows quite a bit about the 2nd NH Regiment at Gettysburg.

    I loved the book signing event at the history book store last night. They were stationed outside for the signing and folks we all knew stopped by during the 2 hours I was there. Got the chance to spend some time talking to Mike, Dr. Dave and Carol, among others who passed by while I was there. It was nice to see Phil Cole, and yep, we had an Ed Longacre sighting as well.

    As for Remembrance Day, all I can say is yeah, the weather usually stinks, but I know you would be impressed by the luminaires at the cemetery. I really wish you could see that as it is the highlight of the weekend. Walking the grounds that night has deeply touched me.

    My wish for you Eric is that when you next go to Gettysburg it is not for business but walking the field and rediscovering what you said was missing. Just wandering the field.

    Hope all is well and you had a fine time at the reunion. :)

    Steve

  3. Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 6:51 am

    This year we split the difference. I spent July 1 and 2 at Gettysburg before the crowds increased for the weekend, and signed a lot of books at various places and took in some battlewalks. I also took a morning just to play at the battlefield and Sachs Bridge with my 3-year-old grandson, which always invigorates me. Debi and I then drove to Ohio for her reunion for the 3rd and 4th, and we headed back to PA on the 5th.

  4. Ptrostle
    Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 8:34 am

    Eric,

    I hear you. but I do have to agree – seemed like less folks this year. Jake decided he wanted to go to Devil’s Den and LRT at noon on the second. We were able to park right below DD. I was stunned.

    Phil

  5. Randy
    Mon 06th Jul 2009 at 11:06 am

    Eric:
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been to Gettysburg every month of the year, including July, but I avoid the anniversary like the plague. No time of year is safe anymore however. On my last visit about three weeks ago it became obvious that the town has been taken over by motorcyclists, each of which appear to try to out-do the other with the loudness of their pipes. It’s gotten to the point that even if there isn’t a big crowd in town the bikes are there in force. Try enjoying a cold drink outside at O’Rourke’s without the sudden LOUD pipes of a dozen bikes. Can’t be done. Guess I’ll have to retreat underground to the Mine.

    Randy

  6. G.E. Colpitts
    Tue 07th Jul 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Hi, Eric,
    I;ve been to Gettysburg in the summer (crowded) and in early March (ideal). It:s cold then and there was a fresh fall of light snow, but it was incredibly evocative, especially at sunset on Little Round Top. Gettysburg seems haunted when the crowds are thin. I:ve never had the same experience at any other battlefield.

    GE

  7. Chris Evans
    Tue 07th Jul 2009 at 8:29 pm

    For the Western Theater battlefields when the crowds are thin I believe there are ghosts at Shiloh and Chickamauga. Those are two battlefields that are very moving to me. I have to get to Gettysburg eventually as I believe every American should. Thanks for the post on Gettysburg ,Eric. Could you tell us what your favorite part of the field is when the crowds are light and the fields are quiet?
    Thanks,
    Chris

  8. J. David Petruzzi
    Wed 08th Jul 2009 at 10:10 pm

    LOL, Eric, I hear ya – but as Steve said, it wasn’t so bad this year. We had a ton of book signings, and that was the main reason for going… but, I did get to spend a good deal of time on the field. And being in the company of great friends – Steve, Mike, Dave and Carol, Duane, Lori, Steve Stanley, John Archer, Jim Glessner and Raequel, Pam Sparks, Linda Sanson, etc – was a treat. Traffic wasn’t bad at all (and I know all the shortcuts and back roads anyway) and the restaurants and bars weren’t really crowded. It really was one of my most memorable trips. Plus, singing Happy Birthday to Steve Basic and eating MOST of his own cake will be a lifetime memory for me :)

    Steve’s also right about Remembrance Day. Walk in the National Cemetery at night during the luminary, and you’ll never forget it. Hundreds of people there, and not a sound except for folks reading the names on a little PA system of those interred there. Awesome. You gotta do it.

    J.D.

  9. Wed 08th Jul 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Chris,

    My favorite spot is East Cavalry Field. There’s almost never anyone else there, and I love to take in the terrain and ponder what happened there.

    Eric

  10. Thu 09th Jul 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I second the ECF. There are times this last year I was completely alone, save a few groundhogs or deer. Can’t say that about the other parts of the field.

  11. Steve Basic
    Thu 09th Jul 2009 at 9:41 pm

    :) The cake was great, and I even ate 2 pieces myself. :)

    I love the ECF as well, and as you both stated it is a great place to just stop and stare and take things in.

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve

  12. Mark Wade
    Fri 10th Jul 2009 at 10:09 am

    I don’t like the crowds myself. I went July 3rd to see JD and Allan and fought the traffic. Would like to visit ECF sometime with you to hear your spin on it! :)

  13. Mon 03rd Aug 2009 at 2:39 pm

    After many years, I will be returning to Gettysburg for the 2nd time just with my wife this September 11th – 13th to spend a couple of days relaxing, enjoying ourselves, and celebrating our Anniversary the 12th.

    That’s a strange oddity as my ancestor’s birthday was the 12th of September, and although my father mentioned to me once that my great-grandfather was at Gettysburg, there’s no way to prove it – unless I could find his name on a muster slip. I know that some member of the 3rd North Carolina Cavalry [41st NCT] were in Gettysburg, because Seven of them show up on the Regimental Roster of Moore’s List as having been captured around the region of Gettysburg. The Unit was assigned to Robertson’s North Carolina Brigade in that time frame, however the Regimental Records shows the 3rd North Carolina on duty at the South Anna River Bridge, July 4th 1864 helping with the defense of Richmond.

    Here’s a listing of the Seven Privates and the locations of capture vary, which leads me to believe they could have been elements of scouting forays – just a guess on my part. Any comments about this group or observations, much appreciated…

    JOHN BOSTIC – Company B – captured Gettysburg on South Mountain July, 4th 1863. Sent to prison Fort Delaware, died august 1st, 1863

    WILLIAM JONES – Company D, captured at Gettysburg, July 3rd, 1863, and admitted to Hammond General Hospital at Point Lookout, Maryland from Chester, Pa

    J.S. SHEPPARD – Company G, captured at Gettysburg, July 3rd, 1863, and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland – died September 11th, 1864, and buried in the Confederate Cemetery.

    J. FREEZE – Captured at Gettysburg, July 1st, 1863, and confined at Fort Delaware, where he died October, 21st, 1863.

    BENJAMIN F. COTTER – Captured at Gettysburg, July 4th, 1863, and Confined at the U.S. General Hospital at Chester, Pa – Until Transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland – October 2nd, 1863.

    W.S. STACK – Company K, Captured and Confined at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, July 2nd, 1863. Released after taking oath of Allegiance November 24th, 1863.

    I plan to take a large group of photos and will post a link later when I get back. I will be staying at the Wyndham. Any recommendations of a nice place to eat on Anniversary night?

    Bobby

  14. Wed 23rd Sep 2009 at 9:00 pm

    My trip to Gettysburg and Antietam was very enjoyable, and I just wish that I had way more time to spend walking some of the fields. Our hotel, the Wyndham was just around the corner from East Cavalry Field, and from looking at the field – you get a feeling for the size of territory needed for Cavalry to operate. We got there early in the morning and the sky was very overcast, with the trip down Confederate Cavalry Avenue very revealing of the swales and lay of the land, which play so importantly in the rides and engagement scenarios against other Cavalry. The monument to Michigan Cavalry and Custer was well worth a walk around to get a feel for what happened there as Hampton’s and Custer’s Cavalry Clashed as the Squadron’s Collided on each other.

    The day brightened up the next day as the sun came out, and I had the opportunity to circle back around Cemetery Ridge, past Farnsworth’s Charge, up to Little Round Top, and finishing up at the Stone Wall. Like some of the Battle Fields in Virginia that I visit fairly often, you can always find something new and different that you haven’t seen before. Perhaps it’s the condition of the field with wild flowers or new growth, the unusual sky framing the field of battle, or a piece of artillery cleaned and refurbished. Sometimes, it’s another visitor that you strike up a conversation with, or maybe you have read other accounts of the engagement, and your visions are different as you walk the field.

    I will be going back sometime in the Spring of the Year. You can’t see it all in 3 days or so.

    Bobby Edwards
    Moderator of the 3rd North Carolina Cavalry Site

    p.s. – some of the photos are on the site, along with hundreds from Petersburg and Richmond battlefields

    http://www.myfamily.com/group/nc3rdcavalry

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