Saturday, November 16, 2013

He Came to Gettysburg

He came to Gettysburg on the train, arriving in the afternoon of November 18th.  Greeted by local attorney David Wills, he walked the one block uphill to Wills’ home on the southeast corner of The Diamond, as the town square was called.  Stuffed in his stove-pipe hat was the working copy of the speech he planned to give at the ceremony the next day. 

After dinner at the Wills House with some of Wills friends, he retired to his bedroom on the second floor.  Later in the evening a crowd gathered on the Diamond, and it began to sing, serenading him with popular patriotic songs.  He threw open the window and waved to the group.  They broke into cheers and calls for a speech.  He thanked them for their warmth and hospitality, said a few words, and bid them good night. 

The next day, the parade formed on the Diamond, and he joined other dignitaries, including, Wills, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, and the main speaker, famed orator Edward Everett. In the march to the new National Cemetery.  At the Cemetery, The Reverend Dr. Stockton delivered the opening prayer, followed by music performed by the United States Marine Corps Band. 

The principle speaker of the day, Edward Everett, then stood and spoke for two hours or so.   He spoke of the Battle, and war, other wars, as well as the one that brought its fight to Gettysburg.  Everett was followed by the Baltimore Glee Club, which sang an ode  written by Benjamin Brown French, the  Commissioner of Public Buildings in Washington, DC.   

The tall man in the stove pipe hat then rose and began to speak.  This is what he said…

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The ceremony continued after his two minute speech.  A dirge was sung, and the final benediction was presented by the Reverend Dr. H. L. Baugher.  


After the ceremony at the National Cemetery, he went to the Presbyterian Church, accompanying local resident John Burns to the ceremony there.  Burns was wounded on the first day of the Battle while fighting with a Pennsylvania Regiment.  He was the only civilian to have joined the Union ranks against the Confederates during the battle.   

He left by railroad shortly after that ceremony. 

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Post-150th Commemoration

From the Fields of Gettysburg, the excellent blog put out by the Interpretive Rangers at the Gettysburg National Military Park, has a post-Commemoration post up now.
Here is the Link:


Enjoy!


GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Battle Anniversary Advisory

Coming soon to Gettysburg is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle.  Indeed, some events are already underway.  We have one reference that folks can’t go wrong in exploring and connecting with during the actual anniversary dates:

 
Try to catch one of the Ranger Walks.   If you can’t and you are a Pennsylvania resident, you can catch the videos of their walks from this year and past years on PCN, the Pennsylvania Cable Network.

An advisory:
Over 200,000 visitors are expected for the Anniversary of the Battle.  And the following week is Bike Week, where the area is invaded by the world’s largest unorganized motorcycle gang, perhaps as many as 20,000 strong.

All roads are open and construction is at a minimum.   Some traffic pattersn may have changed since your last visit so be careful.  You will have plenty of time to watch for traffic signs at the rate the traffic is moving!  8-) 

If the 135th Anniversary is anything to use as a gauge,  there will be problems, but the local authorities will be better prepared for this year’s commemoration.  However, there is nothing that can be done to improve the traffic flow, or lack thereof on the roads, especially in the Park.   Be prepared for long waits in traffic, slow traffic, tough luck on parking, long lines at rest facilities, and at local eateries.  Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and a hat, and you are prepared with sunscreen and insect repellent.  Be aware that the Gettysburg Battlefield is also the home of a rich assortment of wildlife, and they will be very upset as so many humans invade their habitat.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your visit, and remember why you are there.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The return of the 121st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment


The 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment was raised in September of 1862, probably in response to the Confederate’s Maryland campaign.  Consisting mainly of Philadelphia men, it also included troops from Venango County.  At Gettysburg, the 121st was in Colonel Chapman Biddle’s 1st Brigade, in Brigadier General Thomas Rowley’s Third Division of the First Corps, Army of the Potomac.  On the march of July 1st, following Willoughby Run north to the Fairfield Road [then called Hagerstown Road] they entered the field turning east from the stream to take up position on Middle Ridge, just west of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, connecting their right with the left of the rest of the First Brigade.  The 121st was then the left flank of the First Corps. 

Several years ago while taking a walk on a nice summer afternoon, we witnessed the return of the 121st Pennsylvania as they were advancing west to crest Middle Ridge on their way into Herbst’s Woods, and their assault on Herr’s Ridge. 

You can clearly see their line of battle, with the skirmishers in front and the officers color guard in front of the regiment.  Note the right flank marker of the 121st in the foreground.


 Here is their skirmish line advancing up the west slope of Middle Ridge:



 Here the Skirmishers near the crest of Middle Ridge:



 The 121st Pennsylvania Regimental Line of Battle:



Who says there are no ghosts at Gettysburg!?

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Release of Director’s Cuts: Gettysburg and G&G Set



Just a note that we found the Limited Edition boxed set of 4 Blu-Ray Discs of Gettysburg and Gods & Generals at Walmart for $59.  The set includes two booklets, a commemorative coin, a map and of course, the two films. 

Gettysburg Director’s Cut contains 17 minutes of film footage not seen in the theaters.  It also contains some commentary by the Director and three “Vintage Featurettes.”

Gods and Generals Director’s Cut contains a whopping additional hour of ‘Never-Before-Seen Footage,’ plus a new introduction by Ted Turner and Director Ron Maxwell, 3 more “Vintage Featurettes,” new commentary and music by Bob Dylan. 

Warner Home Video, in honor of the sesquicentennial commemoration, has made a donation to the Living Legacy Tree Planting Program to honor those who died during the American Civil War.  The trees will be planted along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground route. 

Enjoy!

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gettysburg: The Last Invasion – A Review

Reprinted courtesy of Three Days at Gettysburg  blog, author W. G. Davis


Gettysburg College Professor Allen C. Guelzo has written a book about the Gettysburg Campaign called Gettysburg: The Last Invasion [Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2013.  ISBN 978-0307-59408-2], due for release on May 14th, 2013.  Professor Guelzo, the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, and Director of Civil War Era studies at Gettysburg College, is a Lincoln Prize winner, lecturer and published author of books and articles about American History, many about Abraham Lincoln.  The Last Invasion is the natural result of where he teaches and is certainly exceptionally well researched and well written.

Make no mistake, this book is not for the beginner, nor even the casual student of the Civil War.  Professor Guelzo is an erudite communicator both with his lectures and the written word.  The Last Invasion fulfills the expectation that it will meet his reputation for high vocabulary, exhaustive research, logic and common sense, and at times an acerbic wit.  This is a very learned book written by a very learned historian.

Many readers will compare this with Edwin Coddington’s The Gettysburg Campaign, long considered the authority on the entire Gettysburg Campaign.  It is a natural comparison, yet those who eventually will have read both books will see an enormous difference.  Although both books cover the same ground, Professor Guelzo finds much more ground from which to reap a far richer and more detailed description and interpretation of the campaign and the battle.

The Last Invasion starts at the top and works down to the richly and sometimes amusingly couched quoted tidbits from the actual soldiers who fought here.  But with him, context is everything.  In his acknowledgements, he clears the field of those with an antiwar agenda, including many of his peers, saying, “This book will not offer much comfort to those persuasions if only because we cannot talk about the American nineteenth century without talking about the Civil War and we cannot talk about the Civil War without acknowledging, even grudgingly, that the Civil War era’s singular event was a war, and that all other issues hung ineluctably on the results achieved by large numbers of organized citizens attempting to kill one another.” [p. xvi]

Along with context, he makes ample use of comparison, for example, pointing to the similarities and differences between the American and European histories, fighting styles, advances in weaponry and the resulting reshaping of tactics.  Adding to the commentary on the political landscape of the time, he depicts American liberalism as the response to the nagging stain of slavery on the American experiment.  Even the British of the ante bellum era mocked the U.S. for its hypocrisy of espousing freedom and slavery in the same breath.  While explaining that the war was about emancipation and the Battle of Gettysburg was singularly lacking in connection to that effort [no Blacks fought here, but as many as 30,000 slaves were here with the Army of Northern Virginia, and even Lincoln, in his grand address in November, 1863 made no reference to slavery at all, only to the war], he logically explains the argument that the war was necessary to emancipate the slaves:  there could be no emancipation if the slaves were in a foreign country called the Confederate States of America, therefore, reunification was necessary to accomplish emancipation.  [p. xviii]

He writes about American liberalism as the outcome of the liberal democracy created by the collection of liberal activists we now reverently call ‘The Founders.’  [Indeed, never before in the nation’s history had the government been led by a liberal president [Lincoln], and a liberal Congress – headlined by the rabidly abolitionist ‘Radical Republicans,’ who were farther to the left than was Abraham Lincoln.  By the end of 1864 the Republican Salmon P. Chase was the Chief Justice of the United States.]

In the opening chapter, he sets forth a description of the American soldier.  “For most in the Union Army,” he writes, “the war was a campaign to save liberal democracy from a conspiracy to replant European-style aristocracy in America.” [p. 14]

Drilling down toward the Battle, he creates another contextual layer in the history of the war up to the start of the Gettysburg Campaign.  In succinct details he shows the strategic goals of the Confederates.  He paints a picture of Robert E. Lee as perhaps the only one of Jefferson Davis’ commanders who could dissuade him from a plan, such as the plan to transfer some of James Longstreet’s Corps west to the defense of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Lee opposed that, and after a two day conference with Davis and CSA Secretary of War Seddon, Lee was finally unfettered enough to begin his campaign.  Thus he hoped to end the war by capturing Harrisburg, perhaps, but hopefully defeating the Army of the Potomac soundly enough to gain foreign recognition for the Confederacy, and to sway public opinion in the North to force Lincoln to accept a peace with an independent Confederacy.

Leading up to the campaign were the [mostly] foibles of the previous Union commanders, like George B. McClellan, who while being directly and indirectly disloyal and disobedient to Lincoln, was also attempting on his own to conduct peace negotiations with the Confederacy under the cover of prisoner exchange talks.  With a nod to Ambrose Burnside, saddled with some disloyal staff left over from McClellan, he spends a good deal of time discussing ‘Fighting’ Joe Hooker.

Avid students of the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg will need to read this book to see if Professor Guelzo does indeed answer the questions about the Battle that he outlines in the acknowledgements:
  • “Did J.E.B. Stuart lose the battle before it even started by galloping off on a senseless joyride with the Confederate Cavalry, and thus deprive the Confederates of intelligence- gathering capacity?
  • “Did Richard Ewell lose the battle because he lacked the energy and the ruthlessness to press his successes on July 1st to the point of driving the battered Union forces off Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill?
  • “Did Dan Sickles force George Meade to stay and fight at Gettysburg on July 2nd, as Sickles claimed after the war?
  • “Was James Longstreet criminally negligent by insolently refusing to mount the Confederate attacks on July 2nd and 3rd with the appropriate spirit Lee demanded?”
“These are only the most prominent  of the Gettysburg controversies, and I put forward the answers I do with the resigned confidence that neither reason nor reasonableness is guaranteed certainty of success over self-interest and braggadocio.” [p. xv]

Thus Professor Guelzo reminds us that we are left, in most cases, to the reminiscences and official reports of those involved to provide the whole picture of events.  Those reports and reminiscences very often are full of verbiage that either covers over a bad performance, or falsely raises the importance of a performance, or sometimes both.

More than one historian has fallen prey to those practices as the lessons of the Lost Cause Mythology have shown us.

Not since Jeffry Wert’s Gettysburg: The Third Day has there been a book so full of rich detail about the Battle of Gettysburg.  Frankly I was moved to tears at the anguish displayed in the most complete recounting [by Sir Arthur Fremantle, a British Military Observer with the Army of Northern Virginia] I've ever seen, of Lee's encounter, not just with George Pickett, but with many other officers and men returning in defeat from Pickett's grand assault; and then with a swelling of pride when reading that General David Birney ordered the band from the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry [Collis' Zouaves] to the front of the line of battle on July 4th.  “They played the usual ‘national airs, finishing up with the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. At that moment the rebels sent a shell over our lines.’  It was the last shot of the Battle of Gettysburg.”[pp. 427 ff, p. 434]

I have thoroughly enjoyed this journey through time to garner new insights into the Battle of Gettysburg.  Professor Guelzo has a unique style of prose that takes some getting used to, yet after one catches the flow of it, the going is easy.  At that point one finds himself stopping to go back and see if he read that part correctly, and say, “Is that the way it actually happened?  Well, of course it did, it makes all the sense on the world!”  And each of the many, many times that happens in this book, the reader is thus enriched.  It is a sensible book, and an honest look at mid-nineteenth century American politics, mores, society, government and of course, most of all, war.

I heartily, ineluctably, endorse Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, as a must-have in any serious Civil War library.  And kudos to Professor Guelzo for a job exceedingly well done.  There has long been a need to have a single volume, concise, yet insightful telling of the Gettysburg Campaign and Battle, and the Professor's book is that and more.

I would like to thank the Alfred A. Knopf Company for sending a review copy of the book and inviting this review.  It was very kind of them.  It has been a pleasure and an honor.

For those who are close by, or who know someone close by, Professor Guelzo will be signing copies of his book at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor’s Center on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 between the hours of noon and 3 PM.

W. G. Davis

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Perry intros bill to enable NPS to get Train Station


Representative Scott Perry [R-PA 4] has introduced legislation to expand the boundary of the National Military Park at Gettysburg to include the “Lincoln Train Station’, in the Borough of Gettysburg, and some property along Plum Run in Cumberland Township. 

The bill, HR 1513, was introduced April 11, 2013, with three co-sponsors, Representatives Lou Barletta [R-PA 11], Jim Gerlach [R-PA 6], and Tom Marino [R-PA 10].  The bill now heads to the House Natural Resources Committee. 

Although the text of the legislation is not available yet, it is expected that when this bill is enacted, it will permit the acquisition of the “Lincoln Train Station” by the National Park Service, to be added to the downtown Gettysburg NPS site of the David Wills House.  

Our understanding of the process is that this is the first stage in the process of acquisition.  It amounts to changing the outer boundary of the Battlefield by moving it to include the desired physical location.   Set by Congress, there are two boundaries: an inner that is the actual official limit of the current National Military Park, and  the outer boundary which extends out from the inner boundary to include ground that is deemed historic and could be acquired by the Park Service to be added to the National Military Park.

We will post the details of this bill when the text is returned from the Government Printing Office early next week, unless some kind soul from Congressman Perry’s office would send us a copy.  8-)

We have added a link to the Library of Congress website’s Thomas system to track the progress of this bill.   Check the top of the right hand column for that link.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Announcing new blog: Three Days at Gettysburg

[edited for reposting]

We are pleased to recommend a new blog by a person very close to us, W. G. Davis. A local who dabbles in Civil War research, Davis has put up Three Days at Gettysburg to publish posts about specific parts of the battle, the people involved and decisions made, as well as to address controversies, and hopefully generate some interesting comments and discussion.

There may even be some new ground broken on occasion.  

 Please pay a visit to Three Days at Gettysburg and get an early sample of what this new effort will be like.  Comments are invited, so feel free to comment.  And don't forget to subscribe to the blog to get notice of new material.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Response to Critique of Freeh Report


As expected, the response to the Sue Paterno-generated report which points out problems in the Freeh Report, we anticipated the response of the national media.  The usual scorn, and mind-twisting attempts by [mostly] sports journalists [and we use the term journalists loosely...perhaps head hunters is more appropriate] appeared on the Web, on TV and in print media yesterday in a blizzard of responses that proved that most of the responders had not even fully read the CRITIQUE OF THE FREEH REPORT: THE RUSH TO INJUSTICE REGARDING JOE PATERNO.

This is to be expected of the current members of the Fourth Estate [who should not be allowed anywhere near a camera, microphone, keyboard, or pen].  

Herman Melville wrote:
"There are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them.“
As a class of people, journalists have left behind ethics, and morals, and right and wrong, and write based on what passes for style and personality.  As a class, they abhor goodness in people, seeking out the opportunity to point out their faults, and failures, real and imagined.  They cannot abide by the concept that there are good people in this world, for they would not recognize one even if he walked on water, and shared a few fish and loaves of bread with a multitude. 

No, we are not comparing Joe Paterno to any religious figure, but as a man who lived his life by the most basic of principles, not only Christian, but principles that were, and should still be, universal, Joe did so without exception, regardless of the price to be paid, and unflinchingly.  The members of the Fourth Estate would have you believe that no such person exists.

Perhaps it is because of their own lack of such principles that they can no longer tolerate anyone who is better than they are.

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2013: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.