Gettysburg: 150th anniversary, June 2013.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for bearing with me on the brief hiatus of posts….

Relaxing in camp on a hot day.

     I’d mentioned in a few previous posts that exactly a year ago at the end of June of 2013 I went to Gettysburg. This was the first Civil War-era overnight camping event that I attended. I had a great time! It was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

     I did get a chance to tour the battle fields, too. I was particularly struck by the scale of the battle, once I started picturing it, and by the sheer hopelessness of trying to assault Little Round Top. That hill is a natural fortress – and trying to march in Napoleonic lines of up the side of it was madness. Guerrilla warfare, maybe – but not battle lines.

Part of Devil’s Den, at the foot of Little Round Top.

     The landscapes were actually quite beautiful, in a strikingly rocky sort of a way. The battlefields came to life because a more seasoned reenactor, who was more familiar with how the battle lines had been drawn up, talked me through an understanding as we walked and drove through the main areas of the battlefields and the town.

Fencing along the battlefields, which are preserved by the park service.

The north side of town, where the first day’s engagement happened.
The smaller, round spire, is, I believe the Lutheran Seminary on Seminary Ridge.
If any readers can tell me what the tall spire is, leave the info in the comments!

The monument to the 29th OVI.
Culp’s Hill, 1st day’s engagement.

From Little Round Top (Union Line)
looking down toward Devil’s Den
(rock formation just left of center past the road).
Confederate line approached from the trees on the right,
had one unit come along the road,
and one unit try to flank along the left.

Within Devil’s Den.
I believe this may be one of the spots where Matthew Brady posed
the bodies of dead soldiers for some of his famous pictures.

Looking up Little Round Top. It’s steeper than it looks.

The artillery line behind Devil’s Den.
At one point, this line was seized and turned around toward the other side.

Little Round Top from farther away, across fields.
Maybe The Wheat Fields from the 3rd day’s engagement?

Downtown Gettysburg.

     Of course, much of the weekend was spent at the reenactment itself. There are two different organizations that were doing reenactments in Gettysburg last year: The GAC (Gettysburg Anniversary Committee), which is local and does it every year, as I understand, and the BGA (Blue-Gray Alliance), which tends to sponsor larger special events. The two reenactments were on bracketing weekends to the actual anniversary dates, and because of the person who invited me to stay with her, and when she planned on being there, I ended up going to the BGA weekend immediately preceding the actual anniversary dates of the battle that took place on July 1-3, 1863.

        When it is hot, really hot, the temptation is to stay in camp and not do anything. Even when the mock battles are exciting, if it is 90+ in the shade, and it’s over a mile hike to watch the battle, you may as well sit still and drink iced tea. So I did a fair amount of “sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.”

Our area of camp, with the threatening (and sometimes ominously swirling) weather…
Bad weather is a lot more nerve-wracking when you are only protected by canvas
and when you know that there are 10,000 reenactors and only 2 barns… a mile away…
…. we were fine.

Another view of camp, with a sibley sticking up.

Camp when it is populated!

    It wasn’t only roughing it, though! There were some wonderful events aimed mostly at the female population, and there was gentility and beauty and beautiful fashion workmanship:

Part of the fashion show.
They made all the dresses from a painting of the empress Eugenie
(frame seen far left), and posed like the picture.

There were also re-created fashion plates from La Mode Illustrée.
Seamstress Kay Gnagey seen far right.

The dance! It was beyond overcrowded.

     If that was for the girls, and I’ve shown you camp as well, what about the boys? Yes, they had battle scenarios re-creating different aspects of the 3 day combat, including the basic flow of the 3 main battles. Others can (and probably have) spoken as to how it was done, how well it was done, etc. I can only provide the point of view of a spectator: many of the battles were far from the spectator lines and difficult to see, but interesting when we could see them.


     Note: A pet peeve: it is CAVALRY from the French Cheval for “horse”… Not Calvary (a Biblical thing), nor Calgary. …. that’s Canada.

“Day 1”: the taking of Gettysburg and battle through the town.

End of “Day 3” after the confederate defeat at the stone wall.

     All in all, I had a brilliant time. It was the kick-off of me actually camping at events, because I loved it so much. Of course, combining camping in canvas with the ability to look stunning for a dance takes some skill!!! Trust me, I’m up to it.

Loading up the cannon to take them home

On the way home, driving back through Gettysburg and the battlefields

Photo Credit: Szabo

Please let me know if you want to see more of some specific aspect, because this was only the highlights!

I will post again soon to catch you up on some of the other events I’ve been to in the meantime. As I go to more, though, there are fewer pictures! I’m often busy, or a camera just doesn’t fit….

But of course I’ll fill you in on my wardrobe updates as I finish those as well.

Most sincerely yours,
~ Sarah

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