Just back from a weekend trip to Gettysburg with jenphalian, TNH, and PNH, and it was amazing and my head is still spinning.  I’ll probably do another post once I’ve processed some of it.

It started Friday night and the NHs, where we watched the movie “Gettysburg,” which remains a favorite of mine.  Saturday morning we headed for Pennsylvania.

We saw most of the battlefield.  We talked, we hung out, compared notes.  On Saturday, we did everything except the Day 2 Union Right; then went to our hotel and drank and talked and it was SO MUCH FUCKING FUN.  Yeah.  Like that.

Sunday was the last part, the museum, the gift shop, then dinner with Jen’s parents in York (much fun, good food) and now back in Jersey City and I believe I will drink now.

Seriously.  I don’t know how else to say it.  The experience of seeing the battlefield was mind-blowing; trying to imagine what it must have been like on Little Round Top, or the Peach Orchard, or Culp’s Hill.  And the four of us all sort of fed into each other.

I’ve always had a fascination for what is going on in someone’s head in a moment of danger, or crisis; that’s why I write what I do the way I do.  But there are things my imagination just won’t encompass.


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0 thoughts on “Gettysburg”

  1. That was pretty much the reaction I had when I was there with Will and Emma a few years ago.

    As much as I dislike the effects of the ‘me’ attitude that I have seen come to the fore since the early 80’s, I suspect that part of my problem is the idea of giving so much of my will and fate over to others for the common good. I would be thinking ‘this is really stupid’ as soon as I heard the orders.

    But then, I’ve certainly done some stupid things over the years.

    Enjoy your drink, drive carefully when you start home.

  2. Certainly a time when patriotism meant more than flag waving. A man’s action logically followed a man’s word and thoughts. But, as anyone who has been there knows, in the end, it isn’t for country but for those standing beside you. Yes, there is trust and beliefs (or mistrust and unrest), but it all fades in the required moment to those who have saved and protected you, and you them. The comrades in arms. This doesn’t explain all of it by any means. It doesn’t explain the cold look before the battle becomes hot. THAT is where the “this is really stupid” comes to the fore. This is why our forces are predominately young men. They know death happens and is quite real, but often they have little sense of personal mortality. Thus, the ‘stupidity’ becomes something to bitch about in camp but is too much of a luxury in battle.

    Having said that, I’ve wondered whether I would have stepped from the treeline and formed up to be a part of Pickett’s charge. Education and intelligence are heavy burdens at such times.

  3. I felt the imagination experience marred by the almost constant plaques and markers – it’s good to know in general where things happened, but everywhere one looked, among the grass on a field or in a stand of trees, there was a marker.

  4. That sounds wonderful. I had a similar reaction (mind blown in imagination) as I was walking through the Roman Forum in April. The weight of history and imagination really shape these sites.

  5. I am currently in the middle of reading Grant’s memoirs. Whilst doing so, I am frequently being reminded of sections of /Dragon/; most especially those discussions between Vlad and Sethra regarding tactics/strategy, and what makes a general “great”.

    While I do not think Lincoln really had much choice at the start of the war, McClellan was clearly a poor choice from the start. As much credit as he is given for training the army in 1862, this really could have been done by nearly any professional soldier of his day, given the resources at his disposal. As a soldier, he was timid, failed to capitalize of any of the countless opportunities he was given, and was perhaps personally responsible for extending the war by at least a year.

    That being said, it would have been hard to promote any of other generals then in service over him for political reasons. Hallack, Pope, Hooker, Meade; all had their own chances and were found wanting in other ways.

  6. Majikjon: I agree on all counts (and I LOVE Grant’s memoirs). In hindsight, I’d have put in Sedgwick or Hancock or Reynolds; but, as I say, that’s with hindsight. Lincoln did the best he could with what he had and what he knew.

  7. The most amazing thing I experienced at Gettyburg was The Angle and an Ohio marker on the town side of that field. The marker was there for an brigade that waded in to flank Pettigrew, Three-hundred men IIRC, none made it back. And on the Angle, I sat on the Union side contemplating the Confederate approach and thought, all in all, not a bad march. And then I walked over the wall and looked at it from the Confederate side and though, “Dear God, men charged THAT? Lee was insane.”

  8. When I was in the Army, deployed in Iraq. Since I was stuck behind the wall of the FOB (I would submit that most Americans have no idea how stir crazy you can get when an entire year of your life is restricted to no more, and often less, than a square mile of land), so those who were in support jobs and I would have to live vicariously through the stories of our combatant friends.

    One friend of mine had his head and shoulders popped out of a tank turret on overwatch when he got shot in the shoulder. He ducked down into the turret, cussed up a storm, got all pissed off, and proceded to unload on his assailant with his machine gun. He was still pissed off when he got back to the FOB.

    Another friend of mine was covering a guy that his team had stopped. He was aiming his pistol at the guy’s head. My friend noticed his hands move and reacted by shooting him in the head. It turned out that the guy had a cut off AK-47 strapped behind his back.

    Another similar situation, same friend. They stop a guy and have him get out of his car. As my friend approached him, the guy turned around and tried to run to his car, but my friend shot him before he could get there. The car happened to be full of explosives, and the was heading for the detonator.

    Same friend went shopping among the local merchants. One of them shows him a fancy looking green suit (I always pictured the one from “Good Morning Vietnam”), he is impressed with it, but tells the vendor that he will think about it and get back to him later.

    The next day, he goes on a mission to take out a known terrorist cell. He had convinced the arms room to let him sign for the sniper rifle (he was one of the best marksmen in the entire battalion after all), so he was positioned at the top of the turret. He had aimed at one of the terrorist’s head through the scope, and at that moment, the green suit came to mind. He said aloud, “I’ve got to get the suit”, and pulled the trigger. He watched the guy’s head rapidly expel its fluids.

    When we returned to the US, that friend, whom I have mentioned three times, had nightmares every night until, at least, I had left the Army three months later. The nightmares were about all the people that he had killed, killing him, in the same way that he had killed them.

  9. Glad you had a good time Sunday night. The Vintage One and I had a wonderful time and hope you all come back soon. Ribs, something to wash them down with and great conversation – what could be better?

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