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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Birthdays and Battles

~Saturday, October 30, 2021~


Having you on my birthday was the best present ever. And I’m so thrilled that we’ll forever get to exchange Happy Birthdays on the same day. You are my sunshine!! It was also a treat getting Happy Birthday greetings throughout the day from friends and family.

Today was a packed day with our Gettysburg Battlefield tour. So we stopped at a Starbucks to pick up a few breakfast sandwiches and drinks for the road. I even got a free birthday drink to boot! Sure wish we had more than 1 day to tour the 6,000 acre, 24-mile tour. There are many ways to see it…..Segway, bicycle, horseback, carriage, bus or car. We like to have control over our stops, so we selected by car with our detailed app as our “tourguide”.

The battlefield tour traces the three-day battle chronologically. Total casualties (killed, wounded, captured and missing) was 23,000 for the Union army and 28,000 for the Confederate army. More men fell during the Battle of Gettysburg than in any other battle on American soil before or since. Seeing these peaceful, rolling hills today

makes it difficult to imagine the horrific battle that took place here, yet offers you a place to silently pay tribute to the sacrifice. It is the most tangible connection to those three days in July, parts of which look much like they did in 1863.

The fences, hills, rocks, cannon and even the monuments provide an opportunity to reflect and try to grasp what happened here. At most of the numbered stops, exhibits and tablets describe significant action during the three days of battle. The 2-day crescendo led to the “Pickett’s Charge” climax on day 3, as some 12,000 Confederates advanced across open fields toward the Federal (Union) center in an attack that failed the Confederates and cost General Robert E. Lee over 5,000 soldiers in one hour.

The battle done, the Union, victorious. But, the Civil War was far from over. It would continue for 2 more years. However, in the end, it was because of the win at Gettysburg for the Union army, that it made enough of an impact to turn the tide, leading to the final victory of the Civil War.

But what about the aftermath at Gettysburg? Most of the dead lay in hastily dug and inadequate graves. Some had not been laid to rest at all. As the armies marched away, many of the wounded or dying crowded nearly every building. Distressed and frustrated, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin commissioned local attorney David Wills to buy land for a proper burial ground for the Union dead. Within 4 months of the battle, reinterment began on 17 acres that became Soldiers’ National Cemetery as it was originally called. Reinterment continued an additional 2 years, burying another 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the battle. The remains of 3,320 Confederate soldiers were removed from the battlefield to cemeteries in the South.

As we neared the end of our tour, the sun was leaving us, yet still we managed to fit in that cemetery, known today as the Gettysburg National Cemetery. I was able to take photos of a few of the headstones in low light

as well as the monument dedicated to President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, where just 16 days after the battle, he addressed 15,000 people, just 300 yards from where we were standing today. This oration is considered to be one of the greatest political speeches of all time explaining the critical challenges of America and the tribute to the men who fought those challenges. With so much to absorb today, by the end of our tour, we were emotionally drained. It is just so incredibly sad; brothers fighting brothers, Americans fighting Americans, one side fighting for the Union free-labor cause, the other for the Confederate slavery cause, with so much bloodshed. As horrific as this war was, we are grateful to have been here to gain a better understanding of why, how and what took place.

With it being late in the day, and the fact we had Sadie, we decided to nix our dinner out to celebrate my birthday and head back to the campground. Our arrival was anything but boring. The Halloween festivities were in full swing! DJ’s, dancing, cornhole, haunted house, you name it, they had it. The kids looked like they were having such a great time. I felt sorry for Jeff going to so much trouble to make such a delicious meal after a long and draining day. Tonight’s birthday dinner….a Sage, Mushroom, Sausage Tagliatelle pasta dish along with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. I may as well have been at a restaurant… was THAT good! Thank you honey! 😋

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