It is finally here. Our sequence on the three day battle at Gettysburg began this morning as we boarded the bus and immediately started our tour of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. Our guide for this leg of the battle was Charlie Fennell, a Licensed Battlefield Guide. Seeing how we have all lived on the battlefield for the past month or so, we all had some kind of familiarity with the area (at least with the Walmart and Giant!). However, today, I began to see the rolling ridges the way General Buford may have seen them, as good ground for battle.
I knew we were off to a good start when we headed to the place of the first shot on the Chambersburg Pike (I always appreciate starting at the very beginning). Though much of the battlefield has been preserved over the decades, I'm pretty sure Buford's men did not have to dart and dodge trucks and cars as they converged around the pike. We then ventured to McPherson's Ridge, where we talked about the arrival (and death) of General John Reynolds. Being from the great state of Pennsylvania myself, I have always felt that the tragic death of Reynolds (who is also from PA) was a great loss to the Union army. Moving on, we revisited the Railroad Cut, and soon lunch was the next stop, where we all took a much needed break from the sudden cold and wind.
The rest of the afternoon was spent discussing the battle at Oak Ridge where we visited Sallie the dog at the 11th
PA monument (she was a mascot for the regiment, and a favorite monument to visit). The afternoon flew by, and finally we found ourselves on Coster Street facing a beautiful mural on the side of a building. The mural depicts Coster's brigade defending against a Confederate advance through town. We couldn't help ourselves (again) and had to take a picture depicting the battle. At least this time we didn't pretend we were dead! Our tour officially ended after Coster Street, but the Gettysburg Semester was just getting warmed up; the evening ended after a delicious dinner at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Guelzo (and the cutest Civil War Corgi, Kepi!) Next week, the Gettysburg story continues, with Day 2.