Report #9 from Abe, Robert E., & Ulysses: July 8, 2001

Battle of Gettysburg:
Abe: Gettysburg National Military Park, owned and maintained by the National Parks Service, is the most-visited battlefield in the United States. Here, on July 1 - 3, 1863, was the largest battle ever fought on the North American continent. It is considered the turning point in the Civil War.

Ulysses: The Union Army, commanded by General George Meade, numbered 88,289 men who represented most of the Northern states. The largest group were the soldiers that made up the regiments from Pennsylvania and New York. During those three bloody days of battle, the Union Army lost 3,155 men dead, 14,529 men wounded, and 5,365 men captured or missing. This represented a total of 23,049 casualties. Photo: Robert E., Abe, and Ulysses on a cannon overlooking part of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

Robert E.: The Confederate Army, under my direct command, arrived at Gettysburg on June 30 with a total of 75,000 soldiers. In the aftermath of that horrendous battle, 3,903 men had died, 18,735 were wounded, and 5,425 were captured or missing in action. The total of 28,063 causalities were particularly devastating to the Confederate Army. In three days, I had lost over one-third of my total strength.

Gettysburg Address:
Abe: Because so many men took part in this one engagement, the site of the Gettysburg Battle was quickly seen as a place that should be preserved for all time. In November, 1863, four months after the battle, the ground where many of the soldiers of both sides were buried was dedicated as the Soldiers' National Cemetery. The dedication ceremonies took place on November 19, 1863. I was asked to come to Gettysburg to make some appropriate remarks. I was not the main speaker. That honor went to the Honorable Edward Everett, a famous orator. Everett's speech lasted over two hours as he reviewed the events of the battle in detail. I spoke afterward. My speech took only a few minutes to say. Photos: Abe sitting on the Gettysburg Address marker (left) and Abe and Mary at the Lincoln Address Monument (right).

Ulysses: No one remembered much of Everett's talk, but Lincoln's words became immortal. Today, they are engraved in stone at the entrance to the cemetery.

Abe: The Soldiers' National Cemetery was incorporated by the State of Pennsylvania in March, 1864. It was given to the United States government as a National Cemetery on May 1, 1872.

Photo: The Lincoln Address Monument

Saving the Battlefield:
Robert E.: Other people also realized the importance of saving the battlefield. Immediately after the conflict, while the dead were being buried and the wounded were taken to field hospitals, a Gettysburg attorney named David McConaughy purchased tracts of land that made up East Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, and Little Round Top -- the length of the Union line known to historians as the Fishhook because of the shape that the line of hills and ridges creates. Photo: Ulysses and Robert E. on a cannon on the Confederate lines on Seminary Ridge. The field behind them is the site of the famous Pickett's Charge. The two low hills in the background are Little Round Top on the left and Big Round Top on the right.

Ulysses: In September, 1863, McConaughy, together with other prominent citizens of Gettysburg, formed the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.

Robert E.: Remember the War was still raging in southern Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas at this time.

Ulysses: Pennsylvania took over the maintenance of the battlefield in 1864. The Association continued to buy up more of the surrounding farmland for preservation. In 1879, an organization of Union veterans called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) erected the first monument on the battlefield. It was a memorial to Union General Strong Vincent and was placed on the top of the rocky hill called Little Round Top where the general had been killed on July 2, 1863. Photo: Ulysses sitting on one of the many boulders of Devil's Den. Behind him is the rock-strewn slope of Little Round Top where the Union forces, particularly the 20th Maine Infantry, held back the Confederate assault.

In 1880, the GAR took over control of the Association. Many more memorials, all of them to the Northern units, were built on the battlefield. By 1897, there were over 300 statues and markers on the 600 acres of the battlefield.

Gettysburg Battlefield becomes a National Park:
Abe: The battleground had grown too large for the GAR to maintain so it was deeded to the Federal War Department in the late 1890's. The site became a major part of the fledgling National Park System in 1933. Since then, more monuments have been added, including many to the Confederate leaders and regiments who had fought there. Photo: NPS Passport Cancellation Stamp.

25th, 50th, 75th, and 138th Anniversaries:
Robert E.: In July, 1888, the first organized veterans' reunion met at Gettysburg to mark the 25th anniversary of the battle. Soldiers of the Blue and Gray re-enacted Pickett's Charge on July 3, meeting each other at the stone wall as they had done a quarter of a century earlier. This time the former foes shook hands across the historic stone wall while thousands of spectators cheered.

Ulysses: When the date marking the 50th anniversary of the battle grew closer, Pennsylvania decided to organize a huge veterans' reunion for both North and South at Gettysburg, not only for the soldiers who had actually fought there, but also for all veterans of the Civil War. On July 1 - 4, 1913, an estimated 57,198 participants returned to the hallowed ground of Gettysburg. Once again, the aging veterans shook hands across the low stone wall that marked the highest Northern point that the Confederates ever reached. The event proved to be a great healing force between the two former enemies. Photo: Cannon amid the many monuments on the battlefield.

Robert E.: In 1938, the State of Pennsylvania once again hosted the last of the old soldiers for a 75th reunion of the Battle of Gettysburg. 3,600 of the approximately 12,000 surviving Civil War veterans accepted the invitation to return to Gettysburg. President Franklin D. Roosevelt also attended the four day reunion in July, and he dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial located on Seminary Ridge where the first day's fighting took place on July 1, 1863. A few ancient soldiers tottered once again to the stone wall for a final handshake. At the end of the successful reunion, one newspaper reporter wrote, "Now they faded into history."

Abe: But their memory and the events of those three days in July, 1863, have only grown stronger in recent times. The Gettysburg National Battlefield Park now comprises more than 3,000 acres of preserved land. Over 1,400 monuments dot the landscape. New ones are added almost every year, despite the strict NPS limitations on statues. Photo: Robert E. sitting on the shoe of the standard-bearer of the 11th Mississippi Infantry. This is the newest statue in the Battlefield Park.

Robert E.: And every year on the weekend closest to the anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, thousands of Civil War re-enactors descend upon the still-small town of Gettysburg to re-enact the battle once more, though nowadays they must do their fighting on private farm land, rather than on the park land so the original battlefield will be protected.

Ulysses: This year marked the 138th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. From June 28 to July 8, re-enactments, seminars, special events, and concerts celebrated the occasion. Thousands of visitors and re-enactors crowded into Gettysburg.

Robert E.: Including Mary, Marty, and us!

PAPA Book Signing at NPS Visitor's Center:
Abe: Mary was there to sign copies of her book,
PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY. In fact, six of the twenty-one men profiled in PAPA fought at Gettysburg. Many of the twenty-one traveled to Gettysburg for the 50th reunion.

Robert E.: Mary signed books at the National Park Visitor's Center on July 5. Then she took us across the street where we visited the site of Abe's Gettysburg Address. Photo: Robert E., Abe, and Ulysses on a cannon overlooking part of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

Abe: The cemetery looked a great deal better today than it did when I first gave that address in 1863.

PAPA Book Signing at Greystone:
Ulysses: Then Mary signed books at the special Authors' Tent at Greystone's American History Bookstore. Lots more people stopped by.

PAPA Cover Art:
Robert E.: Everyone loves the book's cover art. It is titled, "Heart of a Southern Girl" and painted by noted Civil War illustrator Henry E. Kidd. Photo: PAPA WAS A BOY IN GRAY's Cover Art.

Abe: Then we had a quick and delicious dinner at the Farnsworth House on Baltimore Street. This is one of Gettysburg's old inns that was standing during the Battle. The earliest part of the building dates to 1810. During the Battle, Confederate sharp shooters occupied the upper floors of the Farnsworth House.

Ulysses: Naturally, this attracted a lot of attention from the Union troops. Over 100 bullet holes can still be seen -- and counted -- in the south wall of the Inn today. After the battle, the house was used as the Union headquarters.

Robert E.: Today, the Farnsworth House hosts people of more peaceful inclinations. Their lunch and dinners are very tasty. They even serve some 1863 specialties like: Goober Pea (Peanut) Soup, Salamgundi (a salad made of greens, veggies, and turkey breast), and Shoofly Pie (a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch treat).

Abe: Mighty fine eating. Mary and Marty liked it too.

Nighttime Talk at the Campground:
Robert E.: Then we went to the Artillery Ridge Campground Pavilion where Mary spoke to Civil War re-enactor groups and civilian campers alike. She told them some stories from her book about the men who had fought at Gettysburg exactly 138 years ago. As a huge full, red-orange moon rose above the trees that had once sheltered Federal hospital tents, Mary told the hushed crowd a ghost story titled, "The Black Angel of Gettysburg."

Ulysses: Afterward, she gave out Abe, Robert E., and Ulysses IMA Hero™ Bears to all the children present because they had all been very good during her talk. One adult woman pleaded for an Abe because, she said, she too had been very good. Abe went home with her along with one of Mary's books.

Abe: It gave me a warm feeling to be so appreciated. Photo: Mary surrounded by lots of kids waiting for their IMA Hero™ Bears (Abe, Robert E., and Ulysses) after her talk at the Artillery Ridge Campground Pavilion. The Confederate First National Flag and The Confederate Bonnie Blue flag hang in the background. As you can see, the kids are very excited.

Quick Tour:
Robert E.: July 6 dawned as one of those picture-perfect days. So Mary took the three of us on a quick tour of the battlefield. Along the way, we met with both Union and Confederate Cavalry in the woods near the Confederate lines. Photo: Statue of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, atop the huge Virginia monument located on Seminary Ridge.

Ulysses: No need to be alarmed. It was only re-enactors, though I must confess the men and horses certainly looked like they had stepped out of a time machine.


Photos: Life-sized statue of Confederate General James Longstreet, Lee's right-hand man after the death of Stonewall Jackson. Longstreet was the senior field commander at Gettysburg. Left: Photo of Robert E. sitting on Longstreet's right hand. Notice the Confederate battle flag that some admirer has stuck in Longstreet's belt. There are also two "see-gars" (cigars) on Longstreet's left arm. The general was famous for smoking cigars. We don't know who left these tributes. There were many flags, flowers, and other items in front of many memorials and monuments in the park. This happens every July. Middle: Photo of Longstreet statue. Right: Mary with Robert E. and General Longstreet.

PAPA Book Signing at Gettysburg Wax Museum:
Abe: After another quick meal, Mary signed more of her books at the Gift Center located inside the Gettysburg Wax Museum. More people, including a handsome Confederate Captain, a tall Union private, and several ladies in hoop shirts stopped to chat and buy books.

NEXT STOP -- 8 Days in Southern Virginia, Tennessee, & Kentucky!
Robert E.: At the end of the day, Marty drove us home to Burke, Virginia, where we have been snoozing ever since. We are getting ourselves ready for the next big trip. This Wednesday, July 11, we begin an eight-day swing through Southern Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We will send our joint reports in a week or so.

Sacagawea: I will accompany the boys for there is some talk we might take a side trip to visit the Cherokee Nation in the Smoky Mountains.



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More 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 #10 | Report #11 | Report #12 | Report #13 | Report #14 | Report #15 | Report #16 | Report #17 | Report #18 | Report #19 | Report #20 | Report #21 | Report #22


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