The stone sentinels. The bronze sentinels.
On the battlefield, there are statues. Monuments. Monument after monument. In a way, you can consider Gettysburg as a huge outdoor art gallery. It's overwhelming, and, if you don't know the history behind them, even a bit puzzling.
Battalion monuments. Individual monuments. State monuments. Union monuments. Confederate monuments. Monuments and markers where people fought, and people died. Monuments in meadows and hills. I wish I had my pictures in electronic form from that trip, but I don't.
According to battlefield historians, people actually ask how those monuments were protected during the battle and how all the bullet holes were repaired afterwards. (They also ask questions such as "how did they direct traffic during the battles?" and "why were all the battles fought in national parks?")
I don't think I would last long as a public historian, not that I am even a historian.
But I digress - just a little. I had promised to blog about Confederate heroes at Gettysburg today.
Day three of the Battle of Gettysburg dawns. Actually, the fighting started at 4am, before dawn.
Both sides basically occupied the same ground as they had at the end of the second day's fighting. In the morning, the Confederates would try (and fail) to take Culp's Hill. The rebels then made a deadly gamble.
First, there would be a massive bombardment of the Union center under General Longstreet, lasting nearly two hours. Then, 12,000 Confederate troops were ordered to attack the heart of the Union lines.
Divisions headed by Major General Isaac R. Trimble, Major General George Pickett and the other headed by Brigadier General General James Johnston Pettigrew, participated.
The "charge" (which it wasn't for those soldiers; it was a walk across a mile of hell and over a stone fence, as bullets mowed them down) is, today, commonly called "Pickett's Charge" after General George Pickett. I am not a military historian, and I am not going to debate the details of who ordered it, who didn't want to do it, and so forth. One thing, though, is certain. People have been trying to blame one participant or the other for the defeat for the past 150 years.
Today, you can find "the high water mark of the Confederacy" on the Gettysburg battlefield. This is as far as the Confederates got in their invasion of the North, during Pickett's Charge. They would never get that far again.
Except for one small instance, the Confederates were not able to break through the Federal lines. Pickett lost over half of his division. He lost every one of his 15 regimental commanders.
So, could you say, that those 12,000 Confederates were heroes? Perhaps. They were certainly brave, as they continued to charge while their fellow soldiers died all around them. I do not agree with their cause but I can't argue against their bravery.
If we look for a one true hero of Gettysburg, we will probably never find that person.
So, the battle finally ended, but at what a cost - 51,000 dead, injured, captured. There were some skirmishes on July 4, but the battle is considered to have ended on July 3.
Are you related to anyone who fought in the Civil War, and may have been at Gettysburg?