Perhaps there is not a more hallowed and reverent tract of earth in all of our beloved country than the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Gettysburg is the most famous and important battle of the Civil War and was centered around the quaint market town of the same name. It began as a mere skirmish, but by its bloody end it involved  approximately 160,000 brave American soldiers.

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was made up of 70,100 men and 280 guns. It was commanded by the talented and much-respected General Robert E. Lee. The Federal Army of the Potomac consisted of 93,700 men and 372 guns commanded by the fearless Major General George G. Meade.

 General Robert E. Lee

 Major General George G. Meade

 

When we arrived at this national landscape on a cold January morning, the snowy landscape offered up a view that would have stood in stark contrast to what the soldiers experienced on the blistering hot morning of July 1st, 1863.  The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on three of the hottest days of  a Pennsylvania summer.   During Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd, 1863, temperatures soared to a hellish 90 degrees.  In the end,  51,000 men were reported killed, captured, or missing in one of the costliest battles of the Civil War.

 

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There are more than 1,400 monuments, markers and tablets to commemorate the men who fought here.

 

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More than one-third of all known photographs of dead soldiers on Civil War battlefields were tragically recorded on the fields of Gettysburg.

 

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John Burns Monument at Gettysburg.

 

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Big John stands guard with the fearless John Burns.

 

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This monument commemorates the actions of John Burns. he was a 70 year old Gettysburg citizen who picked up his old flint-lock musket and powder horn, walked out into the field, and joined in on the fight.

 

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A beautiful place of rest for those that gave all to preserve a nation.

 

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The McPherson barn (captured in background) is one of the only remaining structures to have survived the war.

 

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Cannons point out away from Gettysburg village.

 

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8th N.Y. 1st Brigade Cavalry Monument

 

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Historic Gettysburg village in background

 

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Rufus Dawes Plaque at Gettysburg “Trapped in the Cut”

 

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This railroad cut, barely visible and covered in snow, was the scene of a dramatic engagement on the first day of the battle.

 

On the morning of July 1, a Confederate attack crushed the Union line here, sending surviving Union soldiers retreating back toward the town (in background). But shortly thereafter,  Union reinforcements counterattacked, forcing a number of the Southerners to take cover in the railroad cut located just at the edge of snow (pictured here).
Despite deadly Confederate fire from the cut, Union infantry led by Lt. Col. Rufus R. Dawes and Col. Edward B. Fowler crossed the turnpike, climbed the fence and charged the cut. Although many were shot in the attempt, the charging Federals reached the edge of the cut and shouted, “Throw down your muskets!” Trapped between the steep slopes, approximately 230 Confederates surrendered.

 

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Jonah takes shelter in the shadows of a determined General Wadsworth.

 

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Noah stands at the monument of the 147th New York Infantry.

 

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The North Carolina State Monument where soldiers began their part of Picket’s Charge.

 

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56th Pennsylvania Infantry Monument

 

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Jonah peeks around a corner as Noah stands tall at the 8th New York Calvary monument.

 

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63 Medals of Honor were awarded to Union soldiers for their actions at Gettysburg.

 

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The vast battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

 

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A panoramic view of the countryside.

 

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The Battle of Gettysburg turned the tides of war in favor of Northern forces.  The Union victory stopped the Confederate invasion of the North and forced  General Lee to withdraw to his home-state of Virginia. On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate the site as a national cemetery. Lincoln’s delivered his famous Gettysburg Address there which came to be one of the most famous speeches of American history,

 

19th November 1863: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, making his famous 'Gettysburg Address' speech at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery during the American Civil War. Original Artwork: Painting by Fletcher C Ransom (Photo by Library Of Congress/Getty Images)
 Original Artwork: Painting by Fletcher C Ransom (Photo by Library Of Congress/Getty Images)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

– President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

 

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Jonah, Rebecca, and Noah pose for a quick snapshot atop the Gettysburg viewing platform.

 

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The charming 1863 Inn of Gettysburg offers visitors a historic stay on our nation’s most famous Civil War battlefield.

 

I salute all those that fought so courageously on this sacred piece of Pennsylvania farmland. Don’t forget the men who struggled here. Don’t forget the men who died in such a monumental battle, during a time that our nation was fractured.  See Gettysburg for yourself and experience a vital piece of American history.

 

Happy travels,

Big John

 


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