Friday, July 4, 2008

Long Remember

Wind-raked snow blankets grave markers in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. When Robert E. Lee's Confederate army began its retreat 145 years ago today - and the Union army soon followed - not all the soldiers left Gettysburg. Among the dead of both sides, 3512 Union soldiers were eventually buried in the newly created Soldiers National Cemetery. President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address Nov. 19, 1863 at the cemetery's dedication, with the reburials of the soldiers from hasty graves on the battlefield not yet complete. (Click image for larger view).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Fence on the Emmitsburg Road

A simple, stout wood fence along the Emmitsburg Road marks a transition point faced by Confederates in the ill-fated Pickett's Charge. Once pushing past the road, there was nothing between the onrushing rebels and the waiting Yankees at the low crest save for open terrain and deadly close-range fire. 145 years ago today thousands of Confederates crossed this point in the Charge. The lucky ones would pass over or around the fence again in retreat to safety on Seminary Ridge (at rear). The Rebel invasion of Pennsylvania was over. Escaping back South with his remaining army intact was now the goal of Lee's plans. There would be no further large scale invasions of the North, and the long path to Appomattox continued. (Click image for larger view).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Second Day

The 15th New York artillery monument stands on the Wheatfield Road at the Peach Orchard, where 145 years ago today a line of 40 cannon was hard pressed, then overrun, by Confederates in the second day of fighting at Gettysburg. Here, at a salient that was created when Union General Dan Sickles over-extended his line, the Union line crumbled as Lt. General James Longstreet's forces pushed their relentless attacks. This battery, its ammunition exhausted, escaped the field with 3 cannoneers killed and 13 wounded. (Click on image for larger view).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

First Brigade, First Division, First Corps, First Day of Fighting

The 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry monument in McPherson's Woods marks part of the line where the Iron Brigade fought 145 years ago today as the battle turned from limited engagement to major conflict. With both armies stretched out over the Pennsylvania and Maryland countryside, the battle began as a meeting encounter that grew as men were rushed to the field and funneled into the fighting. By the end of the day both armies were nearly completely concentrated in or near Gettysburg. It was now virtually inevitable that a decisive battle would be concluded on this ground were neither side intended to push for a fight just days before. (Click image for larger view).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Meade rises to the occasion

Thick, low fog at dawn fills the low ground at the base of Cemetery Ridge, where the Codori barn (rebuilt since the war) sits in front of the Union line and the monument to Major General George Meade. The new commanding general - only days before the battle began he rose from corps to army control - deftly countered Lee's moves at Gettysburg. His handling of the pursuit of Lee's retreat, however, has been unfairly criticized since President Lincoln lamented, upon learning of the rebel army's escape across the Potomac 11 days later: "We had only to stretch forth our hands and they were ours." (Click image for larger view).