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7/9/96 - T+8
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6/28/96 - T-2
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7/9/96 - T+8 - Picket's Charge

Today's update will basically be a guided tour of Gettysburg PA and it's main feature, the Battleground. My primary focus for the day was the area of the third day's battle, Picket's Charge. No student of military operations cannot look at Picket's Charge and not get lump in their throat and have a sense of respect for those brave young men.

The day started of with a guided tour of the High Water Mark given by Ranger Tom Holbrook. I met Tom yesterday at the Easter Cavalry Fields. He's a true student of history and loves his job of showing all of us this bit of American history.

For those of you who are not aware, Picket's Charge was the grand frontal assault lead by General George Picket on July 3, 1963. This battle was the deciding moment of the battle at Gettysburg. 12,000 Confederate infantry men lined up in rank and file and charged over 1 mile of open and broken ground into 8,000 dug in Union troops with heavy artillery support. Over half of the 12,000 men that left the safety of Seminary Ridge were killed outright, another 2,500 were wounded. By all, this is considered the last great frontal charge made by American troops.

This first image is of the monument to Cowan's 1st New York Battery, 6th Corps, who were stationed on top of Cemetery Ridge. This is the unit that received that now infamous order of "Double canister at 10 paces." This effectively turned the 200 yards in front of the guns into a human meat grinder.

This picture was taken while standing on one of the gun caissons belonging to Cushings Battery which was captured for a short time by Confederate troops at the apex of the attack. This point has become known as the "High Water Mark" of the confederacy. In the picture you can see the low stone wall in the background which takes a 90 degree turn and forms what survivors of the battle refer to as "The Angle". The Angle is where Confederate troops breached the Union line and the fighting was hand to hand until the Confederates were finally repelled. This ground could be describe as nothing other than a killing field. It's 130 years later and you can still feel the bad karma in this area!

Along the right side of this picture you can see part of the stone wall after the angle. The 26th Regiment from North Carolina charged up this channel into a weathering field of cannon and musket fire. Of the whole regiment, only 3 men reached the Union lines alive. The entrenched Union troops had so much respect for these 3 men that they ceased fire and an officer stepped on top of the wall and extended his hand to them and invited the to "Come on over to God's side." In the middle of the picture you can see a small marker placed by the people of North Carolina to honor the bravery of these men. On that marker is inscribed "The men of the 26th Regiment would dress on their colors in spite of the world." This if anything sums up the dedication and honor of the south!

Our next stop is the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. This cemetery is the final resting place of 3,500 of the approximately 12,000 fallen Union solders killed at Gettysburg in the three bloody days of fighting. This is the local where President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. The graves are in a semicircle around the monument that you see in the middle. I took this picture while standing in the Pennsylvania section. All of the men buried here are placed in sections for each state of the Union army. The Confederate dead are not buried here, they were moved from the Gettysburg area to the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond VA after the war. Because this is a national cemetery, there are also soldiers here from other wars, including many Medal of Honor winners.

On to cheerier subject, another point of interest in Gettysburg is the FCC division that handles licensing for ham radio operators.

After my tours of Gettysburg, it was back to the road. I headed south and dropped below the Mason Dixon Line. For those of you who don't know, the Mason Dixon Line is basically the horizontal line formed by the lower boundary of Pennsylvania. the Mason Dixon line dates back to the 18th century and was used in forming the boundary of today's Pennsylvania.

I continued south through Maryland and West Virginia, and on into Virginia. I'm officially in the south now. I'm bedded down in a small town called Luray VA. I had not planned on this section of trip, but there are some can't miss sites recommended by my friend Paul Fetcher. You'll be hearing more about them tomorrow.

Sleep tight and take care!



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