View single post by PvtClewell
 Posted: Wed Aug 8th, 2007 02:17 am
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Joined: Wed Jun 13th, 2007
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 420

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Although it's been oppressively hot outside, this thread has gone in interesting directions even if we don't feel much like posting. Good job, everybody. You all made valid and eye-opening points. This is fun.

Let me make a semantic clarification. This thread started off about the significance of Gettysburg relative to other battles, and somehow (by me) got turned into Gettysburg being the decisive battle. I didn't mean for it to go there. Still, I think the battle was decisive enough and to me, certainly a turning point in the war, in nearly the same way Midway was a turning point in World War II. (I think Midway was also decisive, although there were still more than three years of war left to fight).

Having said that, I am somewhat amazed by how many of you tend to downplay Gettysburg's significance in the war. I'm an eastern theater guy, an old-school guy who grew up in the 1950s being taught that Gettysburg was certainly the turning point of the war. Over the years, I have not been persuaded otherwise.

I think the folks of the era knew it's significance, too. Let me give you this quote about the battle of Gettysburg:

"The interest in it will continue to increase, and in the lapse of years, when distance not only lends enchantment to the view, but its great historic event will be mellowed by the dim, uncertain light of the past, it will be visited by thousands. Some will come out of veneration for the dead who lie buried on its fields and upon its hills, others to view the spot where the Great Rebellion culminated, and dashed itself upon a rock; while others again will come from idle curiosity, to cut walking sticks on the battlefield, and to try to find mouldering bullets to carry away as mementoes of the three days in July."

That was written by Col. W.W.H. Davis of the Gettysburg Star and Sentinel on Aug. 13, 1869 and I pulled it from the book "Gettysburg: Memory, Market and an American Shrine" (2003) by Jim Weeks, a history professor at Penn State University. That quote, to me, speaks volumes about how many people of the day apparently looked at the battle.

The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was signed into law in 1864, way before Burns, Schaara or even Sickles (Sickles Act of 1895, which gave control of the battlefield as a national possession to the War Department). Local entrepreneurs were giving tours of Little Round Top by December of 1863, and it hasn't stopped since. I don't know of any other Civil War battlefield where interest in the battle and the field was so instantaneous and intense, regardless of its location to population centers.

Anyway, you can get arrested these days if you find a mouldering bullet on the field and decide to keep it.

Good to see you're back to your old self, Ole.

Last edited on Wed Aug 8th, 2007 03:23 am by PvtClewell

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