Sunday, January 3, 2010
But history does "long remember."
So last week on the drive back from a Christmas stay with my Sis in Washington, DC we immediately got lost but my navigator wife said as long as we were heading north we would be fine. About an hour later on a road I thought to be fairly countryish I pull off at an exit announcing food and bathrooms, but when I get to the end of the ramp another sign says "3 miles."
About half way there I spot the first large granite memorial--the kind you see in many quaint New England town centers. Then another, and another. And suddenly a sign saying "Welcome to Gettysburg."
Like the epic battle itself, we stumbled upon it by accident. The historic national park, as "hallowed ground," is maintained much as it was on those fateful three days in July, 1863--including cannons and wooden barricades used to slow down an advancing army long enough for withering fire to decimate their ranks.
And decimation is perhaps too kind a word. The Battle of Gettysburg--considered the turning point of the Civil War--was the costliest engagement in a conflict that pitted American against American, brother against brother.
Arguably the greatest speech of all time.
The wrong end of a cannon
Rookie Commander of the Grand Army of the Potomac, General George Meade, is said to have bested the legendary Southern commander General Robert E. Lee (outnumbered as usual) in that confrontation, but Lee managed to escape back to Virginia. A main reason the dreadful conflict carried on for another two years.
And if General Lee had not been stopped at Gettysburg, he too could have ended up in New York City.