Battlefield Tours

June 15, 2019 [Saturday]

(1) The Brickyard Fight, the Coster Avenue Mural, and the Humiston Family Story, Mark Dunkelman

This bus tour will follow the route of Col. Charles R. Coster’s Union brigade on July 1, 1863, from Cemetery Hill to the site of John Kuhn’s brickyard in what was then the northeastern outskirts of Gettysburg. It was in this brickyard that three of Coster’s regiments made a forlorn stand against an overwhelming Confederate force that drove them with great loss back from whence they came. This stop will include a discussion of the Brickyard Fight at Coster Avenue, as well as the story of the development and evolution of Mark Dunkelman’s 70-foot mural that depicts the action at the place where it occurred. From there the tour will proceed to the Humiston Memorial on North Stratton Street to talk about the story of Sgt. Amos Humiston and his “Children of the Battle Field.” The tour will conclude on East Cemetery Hill with the story of the National Homestead orphanage, the ultimately tragic coda to the Humiston story. There will be very little walking on this tour—just to and from the bus at the various sites.

(2) Chaos in the Wheatfield, Tim Orr (Old Dominion University)

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, Brigadier General James Barnes’s 1st Division, 5th Corps, lost 26% of its number as it retreated pell-mell across the George Rose Wheatfield. Join Dr. Timothy J. Orr as he discusses the division’s chaotic experience, profiling the dramatic tales of combat and the political fallout that followed this disaster. Come find out how one of the Army of the Potomac’s best units experienced a day gone horribly wrong. This tour will involve medium-level difficulty. It will proceed mostly on foot, but it will not cover great distances. The hike will proceed along roads and trails, but occasionally it will also cross rocky terrain and tall grass. The tour will mainly keep to shaded areas, but please keep in mind, a few areas of the Rose Wheatfield will lack shade. Prepare for sunny weather accordingly.

(3) The Attack and Defense of Little Round Top: A Military Staff Ride, Col. Doug Douds

Battlefield staff rides are a method of educating leaders. What participants on staff rides must achieve is what German military theorist Karl von Clausewitz defined as critical analysis: determine the facts, establish cause and effect, and analyze the results. In more simple terms, they must figure out the what, the so what, and the now what. What happened, what did it mean then, and what does it mean today? This is a three hour staff ride that uses the fighting in and around Little Round Top. It involves less than one mile of walking. We will make approximately five stops. Along the way, we will talk about the issues of inner rings, culture, the human element, the power of narrative, bias, and more. While this day will include history and leadership, our success will be determined as much by me as by your interaction, engagement, and sharing.

(4) The Shriver House Under Siege: Confederate Sharpshooters on South Baltimore Hill, Nancie Gudmestad and the Shriver House Staff

In 1996, Nancie Gudmestad and her husband, Del, purchased a house in the historic district of Gettysburg where they planned to tell the civilian side of the Battle of Gettysburg. They painstakingly restored the house, which had been abandoned for almost 30 years, to its 1860s appearance as a heritage museum. The original plan called for telling the stories of many of the town’s civilians, but after considerable research, the extraordinary story of the Shriver family, who lived in the house in 1863, began to reveal itself.

This tour will begin with a one-hour on-campus talk and Q&A with Nancie Gudmestad before heading to the Shriver House for the tour itself. In her talk, Gudmestad will discuss the restoration of the house which began on January 2, 1996. The work was a grubby, backbreaking, eight-to-ten-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week undertaking, but it was definitely a labor of love. That winter brought record breaking low temperatures, more than a hundred inches of snow and two major floods that made national news. But the rewards far outweighed the obstacles, because each day brought about new discoveries. In addition to learning more and more about the Shriver family, countless treasures were found within the house - inside walls, underneath fireplace hearths, and under floorboards. Among the artifacts discovered were six Civil War cartridges, a number of percussion caps, Civil War medical supplies, and much, much more. The restoration earned the Shriver House Museum the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission's Historic Preservation Award and has been used a filming site for numerous television productions. The house tour will discuss the Civil War experience of the Shriver Family and will enable participants to witness, first-hand, the fascinating discoveries uncovered by the Gudmestads as well as learn about what the Shrivers’ experiences before, during, and after the Battle of Gettysburg can tell us about the civilians’ ordeal of civil war on their doorstep.

(5) Honor, Cowardice, and Lore on Oak Ridge: Iverson's July 1 Assault, Ashley Whitehead Luskey (Gettysburg College)

Early in the afternoon of July 1, General Robert Rodes’s division arrived on the battlefield to continue the successive waves of Confederate assaults against the Union line stretching along Seminary Ridge and the northwestern fringes of Gettysburg. One of the units spearheading this assault was the North Carolina brigade of General Alfred Iverson. Already suffering from a strained relationship with their commander, Iverson’s North Carolinians advanced into the fields of Oak Ridge, leaderless, unsupported, and bearing no knowledge of the reinforced line of Federals crouching behind the stonewall to their left-front. Iverson would watch his line of nearly 1,400 men melt away under a withering fire to fewer than 500 survivors within a span of minutes. The surviving Tar Heels immediately maligned their commander with charges of incompetence and cowardice. Worse yet, they also accused Iverson of being drunk during the assault and blamed him wholeheartedly for the disastrous slaughter along Oak Ridge. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, Iverson was transferred to a new department in the deep South for the rest of the war, his surviving Tar Heels refusing to serve any longer under his command. Word of the slaughter on Oak Ridge quickly spread, with even local Gettysburgians viewing what they called “Iverson’s Pits” as a particularly haunting section of the battlefield. In fact, it was mere months before John Forney, the owner of the farmland over which the Tar Heels had attacked, began circulating stories of unusual sightings on his battle-blighted property and of potential encounters with the unsettled spirits from Iverson’s folly. On this tour, we will discuss the botched assault of Iverson’s brigade, but will also spend significant time exploring the larger significance and enduring legacy of this attack. Specifically, we will discuss Iverson’s assault through the lens of contested notions of southern honor and masculinity, the politics of brigade leadership, and how popular culture and local influences have shaped the complex memory of this one facet of the Battle of Gettysburg.

This tour will include less than 1 mile of walking over mixed terrain as well as several stops of prolonged standing to facilitate group discussion. Participants may wish to bring a lightweight lawn chair with them.

(6) Youth Tour & Group Discussion: Soldiers’ Letters and the Battlefield, Peter Carmichael (Gettysburg College)

This special evening tour of the Gettysburg battlefield for youth attendees under the age of 18 and their families will focus on the letters of soldiers who fought here and discuss how they expressed their varied experiences of battle through writing. The tour will make several stops along the battlefield and will feature several group discussions of soldiers’ letters. This special tour will offer our youngest attendees a forum to learn, ask questions, and talk about the battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War with Peter Carmichael and other young people in a smaller and more intimate forum, as well as to explore first-hand the actual battlefield sites discussed in the soldiers’ writings.

*For children and teens under 18 years of age and their families

June 17, 2019 [Monday]

(1) Gettysburg Introductory Tour, Joe Mieczkowski (Licensed Battlefield Guide)

This tour will review the basics of battle of Gettysburg with a fun, enjoyable and informative approach. This is not a military staff ride, but a journey more suitable to a family vacation. We will be discussing the three day battle and the battlefield, as well as the monuments and farms. We will also visit locations in the town of Gettysburg and at the Soldiers National Cemetery. There will be short walks on mostly paved park paths, sidewalks and roads. The group will make use of the official NPS auto tour route with additional stops at locations not ordinarily covered, especially in the borough.

There will be some standing, so attendees may wish to bring something to sit on. Total walking distance for the day estimated at about ½ mile. Be prepared to laugh and to cry.

(2) Staff Ride: Gettysburg, Carol Reardon (Independent Historian)

This staff ride will provide an overview of the battle of Gettysburg using a traditional military-focused approach to understanding the battlefield. There will be no long walks on this tour. The group will make about 10-12 stops at familiar battlefield locations, each of will require only short walks. However, the group will be standing for perhaps 20-30 minutes at each stop, so attendees may wish to bring a camp stool with them. In short, this will be more of an intellectual workout than a physical one.

(3) Stonewall Jackson at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Greg Mertz (Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park)

The final two battles fought by Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson illustrate a great deal about the degree to which Jackson may have changed as a commander. The general whose plans had been very stringent and whose dealings with subordinates had been rigid, demonstrated characteristics of flexibility on his final two fields of battle.

Jackson learned of the birth of his daughter during the march to Fredericksburg, and one cannot help but ponder whether the joy of that event impacted him. Though Union attacks exploited a gap in a portion of Jackson’s line commanded by A.P. Hill – with whom Jackson feuded with more than any other man on the face of the earth. Hill positioned his men on the Fredericksburg Battlefield after just learning of the death of his own daughter. Was Jackson’s lack of criticism of Hill’s position because “Old Jack” recognized the terrain challenges of the sector assigned to Hill, or did the new father show some empathy for the father who had just lost a child. The tour of Jackson’s portion of the December 13, 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg position will entail a ¼ mile easy walk.

Jackson’s wife and daughter arranged to visit the general during the spring of 1863, but their stay was cut short by the Union army demonstrations and maneuvers initiating the Chancellorsville Campaign. Lee and Jackson worked closely together in determining the Confederate course of action, with each officer endorsing the proposed strategy of the other in the formative stages of the campaign. After making contact with the enemy, Lee and Jackson agreed upon attacking the exposed Union right flank, but Jackson proposed making the assault with more troops that Lee had apparently contemplated. Lee adopted the audacious plan of Jackson and one of the most impressive flank attacks of the war drove in two miles of Union soldiers in three hours. Planning to press the advantage that he had gained, Jackson prepared for night attack, but was accidentally wounded by his own men which scouting during a lull in the action. Jackson subsequently died from complications of pneumonia and the impact of his death has been contemplated by students of the war ever since. A steep ¼ mile walk along a paved path will take participants to the earthworks where Lee had ordered Jackson to prepare to repulse an anticipated Union attack on the first day of the battle. A level ¼ mile walk will cover the area of Jackson’s wounding and another ¼ mile stroll will take participants to the cemetery where Jackson’s amputated arm was buried.

Overall this tour will include about a mile of walking, of which 1/8 mile will be up a steep hill.

(4) Mosby's Confederacy, Part II, Dennis Frye (Independent Historian)

“Mosby!” No single word shot more fear into the hearts of Yankee soldiers. On this tour, historian and battlefield guide Dennis Frye will take participants deep into Mosby’s Confederacy to experience the thrills and chills of guerilla warfare in the Shenandoah Valley. Tracing fighting both romantic and brutal, as well as fast and furious, this tour will follow the actions of “The Greenback Raid,” “The Berryville Wagon Train Raid,” “The Fight with Blazer's Scouts,” the “Disaster at Loudoun Heights,” and other famed Mosby sites in the Valley’s land of beauty . . . and war.

This tour will include total walking distance of approximately 1 mile, including several bus stops that will each feature short walks.

(5) Voices of Antietam, Peter Carmichael (Gettysburg College), Jim Broomall (Shepherd University), and Keith Bohannon (West Georgia University)

This brand new tour will explore the many different voices of those who participated in the September, 1862 battle of Antietam. While not delving into the tactical weeds of the battle itself, the tour will instead focus on the multiple, and at times conflicting, experiences of the battle’s participants, and will discuss how these diverse participants sought to make sense of and represent their experiences to others through their writings. The day’s program will include a special archaeology-focused tour of the Piper Farm with retired Regional Archaeologist for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, Stephen Potter. Potter will discuss how battlefield archaeology at Antietam has provided both a new understanding of critical elements of the battle, as well as a window into the more personal, human stories of the men who fought at Antietam. The tour will conclude with a special visit to the Pry House Field Hospital Museum, site of the famed Civil War hospital that treated countless casualties of the battle and bore witness to a visit from President Abraham Lincoln two weeks after the fighting. John Lustrea, Education Specialist at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, will talk to the group about Civil War medicine and the care of the wounded after the single bloodiest day in American history.

The tour will make several stops along familiar portions of the battlefield, most of which will require very little walking. However, there will also be two longer walks over uneven and rugged terrain.

June 18, 2019 [Tuesday]

Tours: Gettysburg

(1) The 16th Maine and the Battle for Oak Ridge, John Hoptak (Gettysburg National Military Park)

Late on the afternoon of July 1, 1863, as Confederate forces under A.P. Hill and Richard Ewell descended like an avalanche upon the wavering Union lines north and west of Gettysburg, Colonel Charles Tilden and his 275 soldiers in the 16th Maine Infantry were asked to make a forlorn stand on Oak Ridge and to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Divisional commander John Robinson ordered Tilden to hold the position “at any cost” in order to buy some time to allow the rest of his command to escape from the closing Confederate vise. The stand of the 16th Maine remains one of the Battle of Gettysburg’s most remarkable stories—a story of heroism and of sacrifice—but it is a story that oftentimes gets overlooked. Join Park Ranger John Hoptak as he relates the dramatic stand of the 16th Maine at Gettysburg, assume the identity of one the regiment's soldiers, walk in their footsteps, and discover their fate while they battled overwhelming odds on the afternoon of July 1, 1863.

This tour will include approximately 1.25 miles of walking over mostly paved surfaces.

(2) Why We Fought: How Union Veterans Remembered Gettysburg, Chris Gwinn (Gettysburg National Military Park)

Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the Gettysburg battlefield quickly transformed into a Union Memorial Park, where the memory of the United States soldiers who fought and died there and the victory of the Army of the Potomac was to be enshrined forever. The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association began the process of acquiring and preserving battlefield land, and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery was established as a final resting place for those Union soldiers slain in the battle. Beginning in the 1870’s and continuing for the next three decades, Union veterans returned to the battlefield to erect memorials, participate in reunions, and shape the development of what is today Gettysburg National Military Park. This tour will examine the many ways in which Union veterans remembered the Battle of Gettysburg and how conflicting and competing visions of how “The High Water Mark of the Confederacy” was to be commemorated can still be seen on the landscape today.

This tour will include roughly 1 mile of walking over mixed terrain.

(3) Treasures of the National Civil War Museum: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Wayne Motts (National Civil War Museum)

This tour will take place entirely indoors and will require very minimal walking. The group will be standing for up to 1 hour.

Breakout Tours in the Footsteps of Soldiers and Civilians

(One hour classroom discussion of primary source documents followed by a focused battlefield tour)

(4) Crisis on the Union Right: The 137th New York and the Fight for Culp's Hill, Jen Murray (Oklahoma State University)

Much of the attention of the July 2nd fighting focuses on the Federal left flank and the action at Little Round Top and Devil’s Den. As a result, the critical fighting on the Union right flank, at Culp’s Hill, has largely been overlooked and overshadowed. This program explores the fighting on July 2nd and July 3rd along Culp’s Hill, one of the most important actions of the battle and the site of the most sustained fighting at Gettysburg. We will follow in the footsteps of Colonel David Ireland’s 137th New York and learn how his regiment held the Union right flank “at all hazards.”

This tour will require roughly one half-mile of walking. The terrain will be relatively easy, excepting the first half of the tour that moves from the Culp’s Hill tower down the eastern slope of the hill to the 60th NY Monument. The group will then follow General Greene’s line and conclude the tour near the parking lot of Spangler’s Spring.