Friday, April 25, 2008
The following may feel like a high school history lecture. Some of the information may be factual. At least I know its based on fact. You may find out later that some of what is written is, in fact, nonsense. I offer the disclaimer that if that is the case it is of ignorance rather than any deliberate attempt to deceive. What would be the point of that anyhow? Now, did your high school history teachers offer the same disaffirmation?
Union: armies of the northern (for the most part) states under President Abraham Lincoln.
Confederate: armies of the southern (for the most part) states under confederate president Jefferson Davis.
Gettysburg was not an important location necessarily. It just happened to have ten roads meeting in the town so it happened to be where the two armies met. This is the field the first Union cavalry defended to slow the approach of the Confederates from the NW. The small group of Union men needed to buy time for the rest of the army to arrive and set defenses on the high ground south of town. This vantage point is looking into town from the NW. The union soldiers retreated from here through Gettysburg on the first day of the battle. Many were captured because the Confederates were moving so fast and greatly outnumbered them. Sounds really bad for the Union but this group of men did exactly what they needed to do to allow the bulk of the army to establish the lines in the best positions.
These were Union guns on the first battlefield. Don't worry. We made sure the barrel wasn't hot before we put the baby on it.
This is part of the same artillery battery. These were only fifty yards from the woods in the next photos. The sounds of war can still be heard to those with sensitive ears.
The fence in the next two photos is the same. The open field is to the right of the fence and the woods to the left. The cannons in the previous photos were pointed in this direction. The barn in the right of the photo is just SW of the main road (kind of visible to the right of the barn) the Confederates used in their approach to the town (which is directly behind you). The first shots of Gettysburg were fired at the Union soldiers in the position I am standing in (where the cannons are). The Confederate soldiers emerged from the woods to the left of the fence. For the buffs out there this is McPherson's Ridge.
Heidi is standing in front of those same woods. She is standing next to where the highest ranking Union officer was killed, defending McPherson's Ridge.
Replica of the stone fences hastily built by the armies as defenses.
This is the area called Oak Hill/Ridge. Gettysburg is visible in the background (you are looking SE). The first Confederate soldiers to attack here were destroyed but the Union soldiers were eventually overwhelmed and retreated through town. This was during the afternoon of the first day of fighting.
This a view from Little Round Top. Fighting began here on the second day of the battle, July 2, 1863. This is the left end of the Union line. If Confederate forces are able to take this hill the entire Union line would be exposed to Confederate cannon because of the fishhook shape of their line south of Gettysburg. Fighting here was fierce. The woods to the left is where much of the fight took place as the Confederates pushed to flank the Union lines. Much of the fighting was hand-to-hand. Many of the soldiers on both sides were sharpshooters. On a side note, in order to be a sharpshooter a man had to hit his target (small one, too) five times at over 200 yards. Best not to be in the sites of one of these guys. Needless to say many died or were wounded here. The area to the right of the woods within the angle made by the roads is called the Slaughter Pen.
This is from the same hill looking down onto the Valley of Death. It is just to the right of the Slaughter Pen. From a military standpoint highground is good. Attacking highground...not so good.
This is a view of Little Round Top from the base. You are looking up at the hill from the area called the Valley of Death.
You are now looking at the area called the Slaughter Pen (no, not the Park Ranger shed). The area in front and left of the trees. A part of Little Round Top is visible in the left of the background.
This is at the top of Little Round Top. Google this name...key figure in the battle.
To this day Gettysburg is taking casualties. This one was a faceplant into the mud at Devil's Den.
Devil's Den is at the base of Little Round Top. You can see it from the top of LRT in the photos above (just above the Slaughter Pen and the Valley of Death). Confederates quickly overtook the Union defenses here. The Union army here was actually supposed to be positioned on Little Round Top.
A view of LRT from the rocks of Devil's Den. Confederate sharpshooters were very effective at keeping the Union heads low on LRT from these rocks.
The barn on Trostle Farm took a direct hit from a cannon (visible in the gable). This is the actual barn and cannon shot. It is still a private farm and not part of the park.
This is taken in the woods at the right end of the Union line at Culp's Hill. The fighting on this end took place in the woods. No wide open areas. The wall is part of the defenses set up by the Union soldiers who were outnumbered 6-to-1. The Union army here was led by a general from the corp of engineers. Had this not been so the number of defensive positions may have been fewer and poorly constructed. With the odds against the Union this was a crucial position to hold. The Confederates took portions of this ground on the second day of the battle but due to some miscommunication and a pre-emptive Union counter-attack the ground was held by the Union at the end of the battle on the third and last day of the battle (July 3, 1863).
Sorry if this has been long. You may not have been in the mood for a blog from the History channel. Some photos of the last "paddlefield" are below. You may have heard of Pickett's Charge. This is the field. 12,500 Confederate soldiers crossed this field under heavy Union fire. Both ends of the Union line had held their positions. The last day of the battle the Confederates attempted a final assault at the middle of the Union line.
You are looking at Gettysburg and what would have been the Union line along Cemetary Ridge (skyline) from the confederates position along Seminary Ridge. The landmark for the point of attack for the South was the clump (copse) of trees at the very right edge of the first photo below. That same clump is visible in the second photo. It is the first tall group of trees on the left of the tall skinny white monument visible in the center of the photo.
Some of cannon positions of the Confederate line along Seminary Ridge. The guns in this position fired on the Union center for two hours prior to the infantry advance of Pickett's charge. The smoke from these guns was so thick the artilleryman were not able to effectively adjust their aim due to poor visibility. The counterpart Union gun batteries withheld many of their rounds in order to be able to fire into the lines of the infantry that they figured would be coming soon. As you can imagine, this wasn't good for the soldiers advancing across the wide open field.
Now you are looking at Seminary Ridge, the Confederate position, from the Union position along Cemetary Ridge. The tree is the right background is part of that same copse of trees in the photos above, the landmark aimed for by the Confederate advance. A unit of the southern soldiers actually made it through the Union defenses at a point near here. Their general, however, was shot from his horse and the advance quelled.
Some brave Union artilleryman.
A view of the same copse of trees. Only a couple yards away is where the Confederate general fell. The point of the Confederates greatest advance in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Today this area is known as the High-Water Mark because the defeat of the Confederate Army here on the third and last day of the Battle of Gettysburg marked the point at which they became and remained on the defensive throughout the rest of the Civil War.
The final photo is the Lincoln Monument in the military section of the cemetery on Cemetery Hill. In this cemetery is where Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in Nov. 1863.
I realize I may have lost many of you at the second photo. My apologies. This was a very real experience for me. The feelings here at Gettysburg are palpable. One of the significant points I thought about during my time here is how the decisions of a few individuals can have such a substantial impact not only on a microscale but on an historical scale as well. We are, in part, a direct result of the events on these fields. Any different result would be difficult if not impossible to imagine due to the profundity of the outcome. Decisions such as which place to attack, defend, to retreat or advance sometimes made in split seconds.
Many times Heidi & I commented how the Union Army triumphed on the thinnest of margins and arguably should have been defeated in this battle. I realize that this is history: decisions by a few of which have resulted in life as it is today. Any different potential outcome the result of many options at the time of choice and therefore a different world today.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tonight, in my opinion, was by far one of the coolest games of the T-Ball season. Sure it was only the third game of the season but it was totally awesome. The dads on the team were making fun of me saying that it was the “coolest” weather wise, but I am referring to how much fun it was. All day the weather has been wacky around here; raining, snowy, sunny, then back to snowy. Weird! But an hour before the game it was sunny and so we got the gear together and went to the game. Oh my, by the time the game started there were all of four players for our team and that was totally great. The kids each got to bat twice in the inning and they absolutely loved the action that they got out on the field, chasing down the ball and having more involvement in the game. I also had a blast because it was so fun to cheer for them and realize how cool it was that there were 4 little guys out on the field all bundled up from the cold and they were loving it. It even started to snow for a few minutes, but even that made it for a totally awesome team game! The blue team rocked! I was so proud of them. And not to mention that Caleb's last time up to bat he totally whacked it, got some pretty good air on it and it flew quite a ways. Way to go, Caleb! Sorry, no pictures from tonight's game, we thought it might not be worth it because of the weather and all. Boy, were we wrong, I would have loved to have a picture of those 4 little men on the field, holding their own. :)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Thank you Jonathan! I love you!
Once inside the spiffy new visitor's center we bought a car cd audio tour so that we could take the tour from our own car on our own time. We also decided to take a look at the museum they had there too. It ended up taking us an hour to make it through the museum, but we saw some pretty cool stuff. Actual drums, guns, and uniforms worn by soldiers, as well as medical instruments, flags flown during battles etc. It was very informative and a great starter to this tour. The picture of the whole family is taken infront of the Gettysburg address written on the window. Jonathan and I were really excited this morning about getting to see this place (Gettysburg), but the reality of what happened here and what it meant as well as how tragic the deaths were was all summed up in this quote.
After the museum we had some lunch at the "refreshment saloon" aka extremely over priced lunchroom. We decided that our table was cursed. During the course of the meal Cooper knocked over his cup of water and ended up with a soaked lap. I mean soaked. After getting it all cleaned up we proceeded to eat and during the coarse of our meal two different people spilled drinks right next to our table. We kind of laughed that there was something wrong with the area we sat in and then...Jonathan knocked over a completely full glass of water on our table. Hah hahahahahah.
We only made it through half of the tour today due to some other 'incidents'(kids), but here are a few pictures of what we've seen. Through out the whole day we kept saying how much my dad would love this place. I think this kind of stuff is his cup of tea. Anyway, I don't remember exactly where the next three picture were, and it's too late and I'm too tired to find the booklet and figure it out right now, but Cooper is in one of the pictures if you look close. The boys loved being able to get out and run around in the grass. I do remember that the last picture was taken on a lookout on Little Round Top, an important part of the battle (if you care to look it up).
Monday, April 21, 2008
From where we're at in Connecticut we had a choice of three directions. South is not an option due to the high H2O concentration and certain family members inability to swim as yet. North? Well, winter blows. Why go toward the cold. Of course it might take a wee bit longer to reach The Cold due to climate change, and such. Providence, RI lies to the east...tempting, so so tempting...
West it is! So we look west on the map. Had a bit of a rough go trying to narrow down the continental US to a do-able 5-to-6 day family vacation. As fortune would have it we quickly decide to see a bit of US history whilst on the right coast. Gettysburg seems like a good spot. I mean, now it seems a good spot. Once upon a time I don't imagine it held many fond memories. But here is now...now is here...whatever. Following Gettysburg the plan is to see the nations Capitol in all its spring glory. Side Note: we'll be in Penn for the Keystone state's Presidential Primary. We'll keep our eyes peeled for the embittered religion and/or gun clingers. So far everyone has been very nice. We haven't been shot at or beat with bitter bible-wielding grannies. I think Douglas' red hair keeps them at bay. Or maybe the folks in SanFran were told a bit of a tall tale...we'll know better after we've been here longer.
Whilst perusing the 2001 Wal-Mart super-size road atlas Dad realized that Nazareth, PA was only a couple miles out of the way from New Haven, CT to Gettysburg, PA. Now you're talking! Now we realize that there may be a couple of you out there that may not grasp the significance of Nazareth, PA. However curiously close to Bethlehem, PA it may be...all the street signs and store signs are in English, not Hebrew or Arabic. Stay with us here. Okay, blank looks and shrugs. Google the name in the following photo:
Yes, young grasshopper. Now you see why Dad was so excited about this particular detour. For those of you wingless nymphs (google that, too) who still don't get it we'll all know by the comments you leave. Here's to you.
We went on the tour of the factory! Mom said Dad had a stupid grin on his face the entire time. We all agree a stupid grin is better than just a stupid face with no grin. Here's to you, Alabama. (Mom just reprimanded Dad for that last comment...sorry, Alabama.) More on the tour later. Let's wait to see who the agooglers are.
Another plus for the trip to Gettysburg is the route through southeast PA. It is easily one of the most scenic areas in the Country; rolling hills, tall trees, Amish farms. You know this is authentic when the shoulders have horse pucky up and down the road. Sometimes it is best to keep the windows in the car up and the air on re-circulate rather than "fresh". But at the risk of sounding irreverant and cynical we must take a step back and discuss the true nature of the area:
This is beautiful country! What a place! Mom and Dad love it. Jackson is in the back of the family van telling Cooper that Heavenly Father didn't make Cooper a Jackson so he (Cooper) can't be a Jack. And besides, Jackson explains to his brother how he (Cooper) doesn't look like Papa Jack (G'pa Regas) anyway. So not only is the countryside beautiful and the drive relaxing but the company is good as well!
Nobody tell the big-bad wolf but there's a "little" pig there ripe for the plucking sans huffing or puffing, etc.
These were a trip! Seeing this on television is cool. Seeing it as you drive down the country road is far better. Even better is seeing the pick-up truck version (the one with the kids on the buggy's flatbed) outside the Arby's in the Super Wal-Mart parking lot. That's a trip! Further down the road near Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse (no joke, google it), PA we even saw a buggy mechanic shop! Okay, maybe you don't think that's as cool as we did. But, hey! It makes sense right. Your buggy-brakes go out...gotta see Bob, the Buggy Mechanic. You know that horse is only going to take the rump thump so many times before before you're advertising his shoe size on your forehead. I wonder if buggy brakes squeek like car brakes? Hmmm.
The day ended with more of these wondrous scenes as we drove into Gettysburg with the nightfall. Beautiful! This has got to be one of God's top ten on his "Things created" list.
Look for more tomorrow. We'll have some tales of Gettysburg.
Today was a good day!
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
And finally Caleb is all signed up and ready to go for is first T-Ball game this Tuesday! Yeah! He is pretty excited. He is on the blue team, which I am very thankful. As we all know, Blue is his favorite color. So, when I was talking to him about his team I asked him what would happen if he was on the green team. He said that he would be very unhappy about it. Well, relief swept over me when I saw the uniforms (really just a t-shirt with a lunch meat logo on it and the Bee's) were blue. He is stoked and hopefully he will enjoy it just as he did soccer.
Peter is also very excited about sports and being a part of it all. Caleb gave me "Rudy" for my birthday and they have watched it a couple of times. Every time Peter sees a football he starts talking about Rudy. So, tonight we saw Peter dressed up like this, of his own accord. He did it all by himself and he was walking around the house chanting, "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy...." He is destined for greatness. :)
That is us. Like I said, Rob is swamped at work but we are so thankful that he has the work and is able to support the three crazies that stay at home. Me, Diedre, I am trying to gear up for being a mother of three and seeing what new adventures that brings. It will all work out in the end, right? :) I am just so thankful that for Caleb's birthday I have purchased a few Lego Star Wars things. The new guy (Nathan/Benjamin/Jacob/William) will also be giving the boys some Lego stuff at his birth. These two spend tons of time playing with the Lego stuff at Granny's house, and they do it all relatively peacefully. Hopefully that will be a sanity saver for me with three little tykes. :) Take care everyone and know that we love you and think of you often. -Diedre
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Look who loves his brother. Douglas loves to laugh at Jackson. Everything he does is funny. Too cute!