Sunday, July 31, 2016

On To Gettysburg

One of the highlights of my visit to Pennsylvania was visiting Gettysburg.  I mostly didn't find it as emotional as, say, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  And then I went to the cemetery, and that was pretty emotional.  So many young men, so very many young men.

We spent two days there; the first we took one of the tours, watched the movie, went through the museum, and drove around a bit.  The second we went back on the auto tour, went to the cemetery, and went through the house in town where Lincoln stayed and learned about that.

Before the second day, my Mom had texted me that my Great Grandmother Blanche's uncle had been at Gettysburg, and killed in action shortly after.  So we asked the ranger how we'd find out where he'd fought and stuff.

(My great, great uncle is the second Samuel Wilmot on the list, who was in the 46th Pennsylvania Infantry.)

The ranger was fantastic, and looked him up (I knew he'd been in a Pennsylvania regiment and his name), and she was able to tell me that he'd enlisted in July, 1563, AFTER Gettysburg, and been killed in Georgia on 20 July 1864 (she told me where he's buried), I guess part of Sherman's army. 

You know you've heard that wealthy people could pay someone else to fight in their place during the Civil War?  Well, my great grandmother's uncle was one of the people who went to fight in someone else's place.  He died at 18, I think, and so I'm guessing my Great Grandmother never knew him.  (I was lucky enough to know three of my great grandmothers and one great grandfather, and I remember my Grandma Blanche well.)

But the regiment he joined had fought at Gettysburg; she was able to show me on a map where their monument is, and showed me a picture so we could find it.  And we went to look.  They were on Culp's Hill.  Here's their monument.

These pictures look down at the ground from which the Confederate forces would be coming.
These mark the flanks of each regiment.

This is looking up at their position.

The unknowns.  Imagine losing a loved one who's body was so badly damaged that he couldn't even be identified.  (The unknowns who could be identified as to state are buried in their states' area, so these poor men were in much worse condition.)


  1. I liked this post and also your thoughts about ancestors. Getting to know 3 out of 4 great-grandmothers is rare!

  2. I grew up going to Civil War battlefields whenever out-of-town relatives visited (it's just one of the things that one does in my home state), and I always thought they were super boring. And then, in my early 30s, I read Michael Shaara's Killer Angels, and for the first time ever started understanding (in a limited way) how armies move around on a battlefield. So then when I visited Gettysburg, it was a different experience than I'd ever had before at a battlefield; I could *see* how the armies moved over and around the hills and the landscape.

    1. Oh, I bet that would make the whole thing WAY more interesting!