Robert E., & Ulysses: Aug.
Return to Gettysburg:
Robert E.: Hello again! We have just returned to one
of our favorite historic places -- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Ulysses: It was much hotter this time than
it was in July
-- 96 degrees! In fact, the weather this time was very much like
Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, when General Pickett's unfortunate charge
Abe: Fortunately for Mary, we were able to
spend most of the day indoors where the modern miracle of air conditioning
kept us cool.
Robert E.: Just think if we had air conditioning
138 years ago!
Ulysses: It would have been called witchcraft,
not modern improvement.
Signing -- Gettyburg National Park Vistors' Center:
Robert E.: Once again, Mary was greeted by
the retail manager at the NPS Visitors' Center, Bernadette Atkins.
She had our table all set up in the lobby. In fact, this time around
there were even people waiting for us to show up! Very hospitable!
Ulysses: You didn't say that when the Federal
Army showed up at Gettysburg in 1863.
Robert E.: Tut, tut, Ulysses, that was a
horse of a very different color.
Mary talked with a lot of people who came to the Visitors' Center.
Most of them had never been to Gettysburg before. Photo:
In front of the Gettysburg Visitors' Center (from left to right):
John Gender with Ulysses, Cookie Gender with me, Mary, Jefferson
Kohler, and Agnes Kohler with Robert E. Agnes was Mary's roommate
in college. We are all smiling because we are going to dinner --
in air conditioning!
Robert E.: There were a large number of school
teachers. And a couple from Ireland.
Ulysses: And lots of children, many of whom
were wearing dark blue Union kepis, I noticed.
A heavy humid haze hung over the battlefield, giving it a ghostly
appearance. Six of the men who are profiled in Mary's book, PAPA
WAS A BOY IN GRAY, fought at Gettysburg
in 1863. One almost expected to see these Confederates to appear
out of the morning mist.
Story -- Austin Jones:
Robert E.: One of those
boys in the book was Austin Jones, a 6'4" Texan who was a corporal
in the 4th Texas Infantry. In July, 1863, he was twenty-four-years-old
and had been fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia for the past
two years. On July 2, he was one of the Confederate sharpshooters
who fired his rifle from behind the huge boulders in Devil's Den,
trying to capture "a little rocky hill" known as Little Roundtop.
At the end of that day, Austin had used up all his ammunition, and
Little Roundtop still remained in Federal hands.
Story -- Bill Durham:
Eighteen-year-old Bill Durham,
a private in the 59th Georgia Infantry, had never been in a real
battle before. On July 2, while Austin was fighting in Devil's Den,
Bill and his regiment advanced to the left of the Den where they
encountered the Union line inside the Wheatfield. The fighting was
fast and furious, but Bill survived the engagement without injury.
Story -- George Brooks:
Ulysses: Some of the boys in Mary's book were
not so fortunate on the following day, July 3, when the Confederates
formed their regiments behind Seminary Ridge in preparation for
their now-famous charge. One of the youngest men on the field that
day was Private George Brooks, a sixteen-year-old member of the
55th Virginia Infantry. They were positioned wide on the far left
of Lee's line. When the order came to charge, the 55th was stalled
because their commanding officer had suddenly disappeared.
Robert E.: Yes, in fact, he never showed
up until long after the fight was over. He was taken to task for
that, I assure you.
Ulysses: Meanwhile, George and his regiment
had a late start so they marched on the double-quick to try to catch
up with the rest of the line. But halfway across the field, they
were attacked on their flank by a brigade of Union troops. The 55th
dropped down into a depression in the ground and huddled there for
the next half hour, ducking as mini balls and bullets whizzed over
their heads. The firing was very close and murderous. Fortunately,
young George made it back safely to the Ridge.
Story -- Tim Pridgen:
Robert E.: Twenty-year-old
Tim Pridgen's regiment, the 18th North Carolina Infantry, was also
on the left wing of the charge. They were one of the first units
across that killing field. They struggled to capture the Union cannon
behind the low stone wall and were forced to withdraw under heavy
fire. Tim's regiment was one of the last units to return to Seminary
Ridge. Like George Brooks, Tim escaped injury.
Story -- John Carlisle:
Private John Carlisle, age eighteen, was not so lucky at Gettysburg.
His regiment, the 47th North Carolina Infantry, was closer to the
center of the attacking line. During the charge, John was wounded,
though he was able to limp back to the Southern lines and thus avoided
capture. It took him several months to recover from his injury.
Story -- William Cannon:
Robert E.: Meanwhile, Lt. William
Cannon of the 9th Alabama Infantry got completely lost. His regiment
was positioned on the far right wing of the charge. When the order
came to advance, the heavy, humid air was filled with shot and shell
from the Union defenders. The gun smoke did not blow away, but hung
in the air at ground level and thickened as the battle intensified.
By the time the twenty-three-year-old lieutenant led his company
up and over the ridge, the battlefield was completely hidden by
the gray gun smoke. Cannon and his company advanced forward, but
instead of heading in the right direction, they nearly walked into
an ambush of Union cavalry on their far right flank. The Alabamans
fought their way out of their mistake and retired back behind the
ridge. They didn't learn the horrible fate of Pickett's Charge until
Abe: These young men were among
the 15,000 Confederate soldiers who stepped out of the woods behind
Seminary Ridge and marched into history. Mary recounted some of
their stories to the folks at the Visitors' Center.
Ulysses: Then we ate a quick
lunch at the sign of the Golden Arches before we arrived at our
second event -- a book signing at Servant's Centennial General Store.
Signing -- Servant's Centennial General Store:
The Centennial General Store is located a block away
from the Visitors' Center. Unlike the souvenir shops in Gettysburg,
this store caters to the needs of Civil War re-enactors.
Mary with Robert E., Abe, and me in the art corner of Servant's
Centennial General Store. Behind us are pictures of General Stonewall
Jackson, C.S.A, flanked on both sides by Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
of the 20th Maine.
Robert E.: Re-enacting is a
growing hobby not only across the United States, but also in Europe.
At battle re-enactments, it is not unusual to hear someone speaking
Dutch or German while wearing the gray uniform of the South or the
blue of the North. Every weekend from early Spring into late Autumn,
there is a battle or living history presentation going on somewhere
in America. Men and women attire themselves in reproductions of
the clothes and uniforms of the 1860's -- many made of wool -- and
camp out in 1860's-style tents. They use only items known in the
1860's, like candles and lanterns instead of flashlights.
Ulysses: They cook over open
fires and eat foods familiar to the soldiers of the North and South.
I can tell you from personal experience it takes a very long time
to boil water for coffee over an open fire. Summer is the peak time
for thousands of re-enactors to come together to "battle" each other.
This past weekend, August 4-5,
over 8,000 re-enactors, including women and children, observed the
140th Anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas at Leesburg, Virginia.
Despite the heat, there were staged battles on both Saturday and
Sunday involving not only people portraying the infantry of both
sides, but also cavalry and artillery. Yes, some re-enactors arrived
at the encampments not only with their tents, uniforms, and old-fashioned
coffee boilers, but also with several live horses or a full-sized
Robert E.: Servant's Centennial
General Store sells just about everything the re-enactors need including
uniforms for both sides, black powder and rifles, tents, drums,
etc. About the only things you can't get at Servant's are the horses
Ulysses: But they will be glad
to tell you where you can order these larger items.
Times with Friends:
Abe: Mary's signing table was set up in the
store's art corner where Civil War art works are sold. Again, many
people stopped by, including some of Mary's friends from her college
days at the University of San Diego. After the book signing was
over, Mary, Marty, and Mary's classmates went to dinner. Robert
E., Ulysses, and I were also invited to join in the celebration.
In fact, we three went home with Cookie and John Gender, Agnes Kohler,
and her son, Jefferson.
Stop: Vacation in Upstate New York!
With an orange sun setting in the west over
Seminary Ridge, we left Gettysburg and returned south to Burke,
Virginia -- and home.
PAPA BOOK or GIFT SETS
AUTOGRAPHED BOOK PLATE by Prize-Winning Author Mary W.
Schaller with your order of PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY Book or Gift
Papa Was A Boy in Gray Reports:
Papa Book Tour Main Page
| Report #1
| Report #2
| Report #3
| Report #4
| Report #5
| Report #6
| Report #7
| Report #8
| Report #9
| Report #12