Thursday, October 9, 2008
8 Oct – Gettysburg
One of the goals of this trip was to visit Gettysburg. Gettysburg was a battle in July 1863 and had it not been won by the Union Army it would have allowed the Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee to march down on Washington. The loss was a major blow to the Confederates coming as it did the day before the surrender of Vicksburg on 4 July 1863. The park is a huge 6,000 acre affair with the town of Gettysburg slap in the middle – in fact the Union army on day one of the conflict withdrew through the town streets. By day three it was all over. Pickett's Charge with 12,000 Confederate infantry failed to dislodge the Union forces from Cemetery Ridge and in one hour Lee lost 5,000 men. This was the bloodiest battle of the whole war with 51,000 dead, wounded or missing and the towns folk of Gettysburg were left largely to clean up. By November most Union dead had been reinterned in a dedicated cemetery at which Lincoln was invited to say a few works – the Gettysburg address was all of 272 words and took about two minutes to deliver. The Americans consider it a landmark speech.
This is all in Pennsylvania of course and just up the road from Gettysburg is York, the place where Harley Davidson build some of their motorcycles.