Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Civil War Road Trip, Day 1: Gettysburg

Day 1 started at the crack of dawn; we left the Worcester area at sunrise to make it to Gettysburg by 1pm, after hitting some traffic around Wilkes-Barre. We went straight to the beautiful new Visitor Center, which was packed – gorgeous Saturday afternoon, no surprise!

New visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park
Honestly? It left me a bit cold. We saw the Gettysburg video, which had extraordinary production values, and the new installation f the Cyclorama, which gave me vertigo but was extraordinary in its detail. Its interpretation didn't add much to the battle itself, however; a lot of flash without much substance.

The re-installed Cyclorama
We bypassed the new exhibits – which I'd like to see someday – in favor of an auto tour of the battlefield, which took us several hours as we worked from both the audio CD we'd purchased and my notes and the 12th Pennsylvania regimental history by Martin Hardin to place Richard Gustin during the battle. We ended up having to loop back around again and climb up Big Round Top – the 12th Pennsylvania monument is at the very top of Big Round Top, where the regiment moved after holding the line on Little Round Top during the day of July 2.
Monument to the 12th Pennsylvania Reserves, at the summit of Big Round Top. I believe this is the highest monument in the entire park.
The battlefield itself is enormous and extraordinary and I think, on this brief visit, a bit difficult to parse meaning out of. I grasped the basics of the battle fairly quickly, but perhaps because of the sheer scale of everything, and the level of detail in all the interpretation, it was tricky to get a good takeaway feel.
The view from Devil's Den up Little Round Top
After the battlefield tour, we ventured into downtown Gettysburg to get Matt his kepi (which he will be wearing for the rest of the trip...), and then to the campground, where they were celebrating Christmas in July and fed us free burgers and hot dogs. Outstanding.

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