I’m about to lay some of my nerdy historical knowledge on you…sort of. So if this isn’t you thang, uh come back later when I talk about all the chocolate in the Hershey portion of our vacation.
I was a history major in college. I “blame” this love of history on my parents. But I’m pretty sure my love of Civil War history (and specifically Gettysburg) comes from my dad. One summer when I was maybe 12, we up and went off to Colonial Williamsburg and Gettysburg and I fell in love. Had I been a smart cookie I might have applied and gone to Gettysburg College and then if I was ever so lucky worked for the National Military Park. Then again I wouldn’t have met my husband and well that would have sucked.
Anyway, I didn’t do anything along the lines of going to school in Gettysburg, but I did promise myself I would go back. On Sunday I did! Mind you this was not the vacation my husband wanted, but being the awesome guy he is we went. Funny story as we entered Gettysburg (and not even the town) I SWEAR I smelled gun powder…like the kind fired from a musket. Weird right? It’s not like they pump that stuff in or anything right? (They don’t) Then I thought it was from the encampment weekend they had at the battlefield…but that was some 10 miles away…creepy.
The first night we checked into the hotel, got some grub, hit the market, and formed our plan of attack to see everything I wanted to see in Gettysburg. Labor Day we headed for the National Military Park in the hopes of getting a guide who would drive around in the car with us. It was a busy weekend so I thought for sure they’d tell us to come back on Tuesday or Wednesday. As luck would have it we scored a guide within 20 minutes! His name was Chris and he certainly knew a lot. He took us through all 3 days of the battle and of course we forgot to take pictures then…we were too wrapped up in the history and the heat!
Side note, I’m so glad I did this trip at 24 weeks pregnant even though I thought I was going to melt. Sure it would have been cooler if we did it in October, but being almost 7 months pregnant would have really sucked. Really. We then headed off to to a short movie on the Civil War and The Gettysburg Cyclorama. I saw the cyclorama when I was 12, but it was in a poorly lit room and needed A LOT of restoration. I mean the thing is over 130 years old, but it was just meh to me then. But now that it’s been restored it looks fantastic.
If you get the chance go see it. The cyclorama covers the last battle on day 3, Pickett’s Charge and it is mighty impressive now that it has been fully restored. We then headed into the museum to get some more knowledge laid on us about the battle of Gettysburg. Mind you none of this was there when I was 12. So it was an impressive museum complete with a lot of period pieces. My historical heart was all a flutter.
We headed back to the hotel after this (and a trip to the gift shop where I picked up a book on military strategy at Gettysburg) as I was BEAT. Day two was spent wandering the town for a bit and taking in a ghost tour in the evening. The ghost tour was good, but light on the creepy aspect of the town. Which was a little disappointing. Can’t win them all.
Our final day in Gettysburg we headed back to a few sites where I had meant to get photos on day one. The big one for me was the battle of Little Round Top. Quite possibly my favorite of all the different battles that took place over three days of fighting.
It was here on the afternoon of July 2, 1863 that the 20th Maine held their ground (and the Union Army’s position) in what I consider a super ballsy move. You see they were running low on ammo and the Confederate Army was approaching quickly. So what do they do? Well, if you’re Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain you naturally tell your troops to “affix bayonets!” Because of course that seems like the smart thing to do. Well, said ballsy move worked and the Union Army was able to hold their position.
So why is it my favorite part of the three days of fighting? I think it really has to do with the quick thinking of Chamberlain and how gutsy the call was to affix bayonets. You gotta figure the Confederates had ammo, but they sure as hell weren’t expecting that!
Anywho, here’s a few more photos from the trip for your enjoyment. (I’ll post more to the Facebook page).
Have you traveled to any of the National Military Parks or other Historical Parks in the US? Tell me about it in the comments!