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 Posted: Sun Jul 1st, 2007 01:01 am
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PvtClewell
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Just got back from the Civil War Institute in Gettysburg. This year's theme was Fredericksburg, but more on that later.

For those who haven't been to Gettysburg in a while, consider making the trip if you can. The park is in the midst of a remarkable multi-year tree clearing project to restore the battlefield to the way the soldiers saw it in July 1863. Trees have been thinned or cleared from Oak Hill, from the base of Culp's Hill near Pardee Field, from Plum Run where Sickles advanced the Union Third Corp, on Seminary Ridge, from Devil's Den and from the Confederate right flank where Hood began his assault. Because the EPA says you have to replace trees when you cut them down, many orchards have been planted. The battlefield offers a new perspective not experienced, I'm sure, since the late 1870s.

The Peach Orchard, by contrast, has been knocked down because of parasites feeding on the trees. Right now, the field is sown in mustard plants, which kills the nemotods. New peach trees will be planted next year, if the soil is ready.

Overhead power lines have been put underground on Emmittsburg Road and Mummasburg Road the past few years, and now that project continues soon with the Taneytown Road.

New fences are going up everywhere. It's absolutely marvelous.

The new visitor's center is nearing completion and is expected to open next year, I think. It is unobtrusive, from what I can tell, and seems to blend into the Pennsylvania farm land.

I can't wait to get back next year.

Last edited on Sun Jul 1st, 2007 01:40 am by PvtClewell



 Posted: Mon Jul 2nd, 2007 07:18 pm
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PvtClewell
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OK, more on Fredericksburg.

Our day-long field trip was conducted by both Frank O'Reilly and Ed Bearss (who celebrated his 84th birthday the day of the trip). We covered the whole battlefield from Chatham Manor (Burnside's HQ) to Marye's Heights and the Sunken Road and on down to Hamilton's Crossing. We also saw the sites of two of the three pontoon crossings of the Rappahannock.

I'd been to Fredericksburg more than a few times, so the best part of the trip for me was to the Slaughter Pen Farm, where Meade began his assault on the Confederate right near Hamilton's Crossing. This is newly acquired property, about 200-plus acres, that has been purchased by the Civil War Preservation Trust for something like $12.5 million and represents the largest single purchase of land to be preserved in U.S. history, if I remember that stat correctly. The CWPT still needs to raise the money, which is mostly going to come from people like us. O'Reilly said this was a test case for the CW preservation community that seeks to prevent further encroachment by developers in future battles. I believe him.
Anyway, this was a perspective of the battlefield I'd never seen before and that made it exciting.

On Thursday, we had a half-day field trip with Bearss at Gettysburg where we marched over Hood's assault on the second day of the fight. Bearss showed us his best guess where Hood was wounded in the Bushman Orchard (near the Rose farm). Most of this area has recently been cleared of trees and looks fantastic, giving you some clear lines of sight to Little Round Top. Again, this is an area of the field not easily traveled by the general public, especially when you throw in snakes, ticks, poison ivy and other assorted obstacles.

In the afternoon, which was free time, my roomates and I hired out a battlefield guide and we spent three hours tracing Barksdale's Mississippians, which dovetailed nicely with the morning session on Hood. We saw where Barksdale was mortally wounded (ironically, not far from the marker where Sickles was wounded behind the Trostle barn. There is no wounding marker for Barksdale).

One of our best speakers for the week was Elizabeth Brown Pryor, a historian who was granted access to recently recovered papers and correspondence (in 2002) of Robert E. Lee, which she has turned into a book, 'Reading The Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters.' She is interviewed in the July 2-9 U.S. News and World Report.

The best souvenir I bought was a T-shirt from a beer distributor that said, "Gettysburg — A drinking town with a history problem.'



 Posted: Tue Jul 3rd, 2007 02:18 pm
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David White
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Good stuff PC, Frank is a very nice man.



 Posted: Wed Jul 4th, 2007 12:45 am
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PvtClewell
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There was one other thing I need to mention about our trip.

On the ride to Gettysburg from our home in North Carolina, we made the side trip to Bedford, Va., site of the National D-Day Memorial. I was totally emotionally unprepared for what I saw.

The monument is basically a plaza built on a hillside with a wonderful view of the Shenandoah mountains. The monument itself features a stylized landing craft on the beach. There are three bronze statues of soldiers in the water: one wading on shore holding his rifle overhead, another laying on the beach, and another with one soldier helping a wounded comrade on to the beach. The water features a piping system that shoots bursts of air to make it appear that bullets are hitting the water. I was totally unnerved and brought to tears by this.

Opposite this scene at the beach is a depiction of four rangers scaling Pointe du-Hoc, representing valor, sacrifice and courage.

There is a huge semicircular wall around this scene filled with plaques, each with about 20 names on it. These are the names of the men who died on D-Day.

Bedford has special significance. During the war, this town of only 3,200 people lost 19 men on Omaha Beach that day, an ungodly burden for a small community to bear.

Bedford is located about 40 miles east of Roanoke and you really have to be on a mission to get to this place, but I tell you, it's worth every minute and every mile of your time to get there.



 Posted: Thu Jul 5th, 2007 08:16 pm
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younglobo
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PvtClewell wrote: One of our best speakers for the week was Elizabeth Brown Pryor, a historian who was granted access to recently recovered papers and correspondence (in 2002) of Robert E. Lee, which she has turned into a book, 'Reading The Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters.' She is interviewed in the July 2-9 U.S. News and World Report.

'


I got this book from our local libary is pretty good so far course I have only read the Intro. and first chapter mostly letters by his parents and early life.

will put a post in the book review area when done, is a thick one might take me awhile with 3 kids, a wife  and a job.

 



 Posted: Thu Jul 5th, 2007 08:38 pm
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PvtClewell
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Younglobo,

I'm about like you — I bought the book while in Gettysburg and have just read the preface so far.

One of the things Ms. Pryor told us was that each chapter of her book stands on its own, so you don't have to read each chapter in sequence for it to make any sense. Tempting. But I'll probably read it all, eventually. Might take me a while, too.

But I like what I've read so far.



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