Gettysburg — 100 Years Ago

It was 150 years ago this week when the Civ­il War bat­tle took place in Get­tys­burg. Our nation was divid­ed and broth­er fought broth­er to the death. This week reen­ac­tors are reliv­ing that bat­tle for tourists and his­to­ry buffs. But what hap­pened 100 years ago on that battlefield?

One hun­dred years ago, my local news­pa­per cov­ered the full four days of the 50th anniver­sary of the Bat­tle of Get­tys­burg. Thou­sands of Civ­il War vet­er­ans arrived in trains filled to capac­i­ty. With tem­per­a­tures over 100 degrees, 15,000 old and fee­ble vets sat in the stands on the first day of the semi-cen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tion. An esti­mat­ed 55,000 arrived all togeth­er. As the tent city and avail­able hous­ing filled to over­flow­ing, many had nowhere to go. They slept on the ground with only their cloth­ing to pro­tect them.

One of the sched­uled events was the charge of the sur­vivors of Pick­et­t’s divi­sion. The old men in grey, bear­ing their guns, charged up the hill where the ene­my, the remain­ing men of the Philadel­phia Brigade in blue, met them with weapons ready. Those in grey went over the wall, and they all shook hands.

One unad­ver­tised reunion took place when a fife and drum corps of men in blue tramped up and down the Con­fed­er­ate part of the tent city, stopped in front tents and played a fan­fare which brought out the men in grey. They all shook hands or threw their arms around the ‘ene­my’ shoulders.

On the last day Pres­i­dent Wil­son spoke briefly. At noon the Stars and Stripes that flew from every flag­pole were low­ered for ‘Five Min­utes for Mem­o­ries’ while the vet­er­ans in blue and gray stood, along with cur­rent reg­u­lars of the army, all with bend­ed heads and hats to their hearts.

Thus were the wounds of war offi­cial­ly put to rest. I’m sure that many had not wait­ed for fifty years to reach that peace and under­stand­ing. Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful if all nations and all fac­tions could reach the plateau observed by those men?


Gettysburg — 100 Years Ago — 3 Comments

  1. I have read Shel­by Foote’s account of the bat­tle and I have vis­it­ed Get­tys­burg. After know­ing the car­nage that took place it is won­der­ful to hear this sto­ry of accord from the sur­vivors. It gives hope for the future.

  2. We live about an hour away from Get­tys­burg and vis­it it now and then, but we’ll watch the cur­rent four-day pro­ceed­ings on our local TV. This morn­ing I saw pic­tures of a tent city. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Well said, Nor­ma. Brought tears to my eyes, as our coun­try is still divid­ed. I used to live in Franklin, TN, where 5 gen­er­als and 10,000 troops died/injured all in one day of the Civ­il War. A high price to pay for a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion. I pray we can focus on wise com­mon goals like our founders did.

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