2013 banner

Gettysburg College historians interpret July 1-3, 1863; watch the videos

Gettysburg College is honored to join the country in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg – July 1 to 3.

Each day, a 90-second video will be featured highlighting some of what might have been experienced in Gettysburg, 1863.

July 3, 1863 by Allen Guelzo

Allen Guelzo, the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies, discusses the high-water mark of the Civil War - Pickett's Charge, July 3, 1863.

"For the people of Gettysburg, most of them cowering in their cellars, what they heard of Pickett's Charge was first the great bombardment of July 3," Guelzo said.

"Some of them more than hearing it could feel it. The simple reverberations up through the floors of their cellars -- it was that violent," he said. "And there were a few who managed to find high points of vantage who could actually see the great charge occur."

"For those who could see that it was a sight they would never forget for the rest of their lives."

In addition to teaching, Guelzo is a best-selling author, including his latest book released in May 2013, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which was on the New York Times best-selling book list four weeks straight.

July 2, 1863 by Peter Carmichael

Peter Carmichael, director of the Civil War Institute and Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies, describes the sights of July 2, 1863.

“The armies are staring at each other across vast farm fields, mostly wheat, and every farm has an orchard. It is a picturesque setting. It is a setting untouched by war because most of the fighting had occurred North and West of town,” Carmichael said.

“Soldiers on both sides struggled with that setting because it reminded them in a very powerful, poignant way for the deep love and attachment they had for home, and family, and for community,” Carmichael said. “And at the same time they recognized that it was because of those attachments that they were about to enter the killing phase.”

July 1, 1863 by John Rudy

John Rudy ’07, adjunct professor of Civil War Era Studies, describes what it felt like to be at College Edifice (now Pennsylvania Hall) on the Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College campus on July 1, 1863. The building formed the academic and residential center – housing students, classrooms, offices, and by all accounts the largest building in town.

“Here on campus, July 1, the sound-scape is really what is tough to envision,” Rudy said.

Rudy shares a story about students Henry Watkins, Class of 1864, and Michael Colver, Class of 1863 from journal entries documenting the battle that he has researched.

Rudy summarizes. “This is a battle. A battle in earnest that is going to sweep across this town for the next two and half days.”

For a month after the battle, Pennsylvania Hall served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Surgeries took place on the portico of the building and in surrounding fields, and the dead and dying lay scattered outside.

Learn more about the history of the College and the battle by downloading Rudy's Civil War walking tour.

Check back tomorrow for Prof. Allen Guelzo's thoughts on July 3, 1863.

About the College and the Battle of Gettysburg

These videos are part of Gettysburg College’s American Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. The College will sponsor events and programs throughout the anniversary that runs from 2011-2015 with special focus on 2013, which marks the 150th anniversary of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Battle of Gettysburg, and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. For more information, visit www.gettysburg.edu/cw2013 and www.gettysburgcivilwar150.com.

Gettysburg College (then known as Pennsylvania College) played a vital role in the Civil War, with more than 200 alumni serving the Union or Confederacy, and the College’s Pennsylvania Hall functioning as an observation post and hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. On Nov. 19, 1863, College students and faculty processed to hear Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address at the Gettysburg National Cemetery.Earlier in the year, an 1851 graduate of the College, prominent attorney David Wills, had invited Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” at the cemetery’s dedication. Lincoln stayed with the Wills family on the square the night before delivering his famous speech.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Wed, 3 Jul 2013

Next on your reading list

In his words: Ben Pontz ’20 and the “essence of experiential learning”

The antidote for ignorance: A liberal arts education?

Discovering her resilience: World traveler to future Marine

Share this story: