Gettysburg Day 2 started the same way Gettysburg Day 1, Antietam, and all others before it started: the Lincoln Diner. After filling up with our usual orders, and walking out with our usual stomachaches, we hopped on the bus with Licensed Battlefield Guide Gary Kross as our Day 2 expert. Walt ferried us down East Confederate Avenue (A hidden gem in my opinion) to the lower summit of Culp's Hill. Gary showed us the remains of the breastworks that were built along the hill and then explained to us the plight of the 137th
New York, which was hit on three sides while defending its exposed position on the night of July 2nd
. We drove up to the observation tower on the Hill's summit, where we had the chance to climb it and take in the view. Unfortunately at that point, with the wind and rain as it was, the observation tower felt more like a ship's crow's nest in a hurricane. As we climbed down, the clouds began to break and the sun peaked out. The weather was spiteful to say the least.
The group next trouped down to Little Round Top, where we were oriented on the desperate fight for the hill. We trouped back into town for lunch and after some amazing chocolate chip cookies, we headed back out to Little Round Top to finish the story. We went to the saddle of the hill to talk about the fight between the 15th
Alabama and 20th
Maine. The amazing hand drawn map by Colonel Oates that Gary handed out to us really showed us the true struggle that took place on the flank, not the over-glorified Michael Shaara version we all know so well. The group moved to the Devil's Den, where my camera somehow disappeared. Alas, another casualty of war. After a reluctant leap by Anna, she and Joe touched Plum Run keeping their pact yet again.
We were shown the spot where Smith's Battery was actually stationed during the battle, in an area where they had found scores of friction primers after the area had been defoliated last year. Gary took us through the Wheatfield and talked about the brutal fighting there for the stony hill that controlled the area.
We rode through The Loop and out to the Peach Orchard. We covered the collapse of the III Corps and the peril that the Union Army was put through that day. We concluded our tour with the repulse of Anderson's Division and the charge of Willard's Brigade. We had to wrap up early because Gary had to speed off to New Jersey and some members of the group had parents on the way for the weekend. All in all, it was another worth-while tour that did not last long enough. Next week: Gettysburg: The Town and Day 3.