The battlefield of Gettysburg is a sobering place.
Monuments to different army and cavalry divisions from the various states are spread over the area according to where they fought and many of them died. It is these monuments that show just how widespread and varied the fighting was.
The term “battlefield” tends to make one think of a single grassy field.
These men fought in an orchard, in the woods, up and down hills, from town buildings, behind man made barricades and breastworks, from behind rocks and ridges and in gullies as well as on the open fields near the town of Gettysburg. There are still holes from bullets and cannonballs – and in some cases, the bullets still remain embedded – in buildings that remain standing today both in the town and nearer to the battlefields.
I can’t imagine the fear that would strike the hearts of even the bravest soldiers with the noises, sights, and smells of battle. The senses would all be overwhelmed. One Confederate soldier recorded the observation that the eeriest sound was that of the Union soldiers chopping down trees overnight so they could better attack and fight the southern armies the next day.
It was mind blowing to think that I was walking where those soldiers had walked… where they had fought and died… and later, where President Lincoln had stood to deliver his famous Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln was right about the soldiers in the Battle of Gettysburg being immortalised for what they had accomplished there, but he was wrong about nobody remembering his words spoken in their honour.
They say the battlefield and some of the buildings in town are haunted.
Our guide for the day, a wonderful and knowledgeable friend of mine, told us of figures showing up in photographs where nobody was evident when the photos were taken, and of others who didn’t show up in pictures when photos were taken of re enactments. A shadowy figure is often seen near Sachs Bridge, a covered bridge that stands right by the scene where the fighting first broke out.
If any place on earth might be haunted, Gettysburg would certainly be a prime candidate.