Friday, August 24, 2007

A Simple mistake...

...with a very happy ending.

Let me explain. I went on a driving tour with some author-friends of mine who are doing a book on the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia. They needed some photos, and to retrace their route to see that all was in order. It was an awesome day!

We left Gettysburg shortly after 9am, and finished in Williamsport Maryland around 2pm. Today's focus was on the retreat of the Confederate wagon train of wounded. I went to several places I've never been to, and saw many interesting sights along the way. We also met some extremely awesome people.

A strange incident occurred along the route. We first went to the Snyder farm for a picture (1st image above). The people there were very friendly and related some information about their place. Next stop was a bit up the road at the Hege farm (2nd and 3rd above). We talked with the good folk there, who are decendants of the original owners. They related some very interesting local lore about deeds of mischief along the route. We also were given a period poem, written about incidents that occurred there.

As we were leaving, some fool, who will remain nameless, (me) shut his seatbelt latch in the sliding door of the van. It wasn't all the way closed, and it wouldn't open. We pulled over in front of a driveway for some outside assistance. As we did so, one of the guys from the Hege farm came down and introduced us to his aunt, Joyce. Joyce invited us into her home, and showed us some things that were never seen before, including an unpublished letter about the affair of the retreat. The luck of the "Polish!" once again. It was an awesome moment, and all were extremely pleased.

I even was given permission to screw up again should the opportunity present itself.

By the way, if you are interested in the battle, but have never driven the retreat, it is highly encouraged. We also made stops in South Mountain, Middletown, and Frederick. It was an excellent day, and I look forward to doing it again!

It is easy to forget... you drive the auto tour, spend time with your guide, ride the bus, or however you tour the Gettysburg battlefield, of just what exactly happened here. I'll admit it! I'm victim of the same. It's a beautiful patch of ground in rural south-central Pennsylvania. It's full of farmlands, livestock, and apple orchards. You can see the 5-rail fences, the bank barns and the stome walls typical of 19th Century America. You can watch a sunset from Oak Hill, Little Round Top, or Cemetary ridge that tops any beach sunset that ever occurred. It's a truly wonderful place.

But, in doing all the above-mentioned, plus whatever else you do while in Gettysburg, take time to remember what Gettysburg actually is. A great place to visit? Yep! An awesome place to tour and explore? Of course! A place to spend money? Exactly!

But...what draws us here in the first place?...The battlefield. Three days of living hell for those involved, and several months more for those in the vicinity who were affected by it all. Supreme sacrifice. Deeds of heroism beyond belief. The struggle to preserve a way of life. And...after all was said and done...Hell on Earth. Thousands of wounded and dying crying for mercy. Tens of thousands of amputated limbs. Thousands of dead animals, and the residue of three days of the most awesome bloodletting known to mankind.

Gettysburg personfied the state of the world at the time, and all off the associated morals and values. Two armies with different ideas of government collided almost by accident, and undertook some of the fiercest fighting in history. The struggle in many ways determined the fate of this great experiment in democracy. Would the Federal government survive to fight another day? Would it eventually win the war? Yes on both counts.

Yet, Gettysburg has also come to personify all that is bad with society. Greed. Corruption. Total diregard for past events. Lack of morals. Lack of virtues. Lack of values. Do what you can to make a buck!? I see it on Steinwehr Avenue every day of every week. This is wrong!

Tourists are not creatures ripe for the picking. Remember the fight, remember the struggle, and remember the battlefield for what it is. A field of honor. Not a money tree. Stop raping the tourists. Stop trivializing the struggle, and stop making a mockery of the sacrifices made by the many for the cause of freedom! They truly deserve more, and we owe it to them to see that they get more. Without them, where would we be?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If you are going to e-mail me...

...about things I post on this blog, at least have the balls to sign your name to the e-mails! I get them all the time, mostly people telling me I'm 'too harsh!', too opinionated, etc., etc. If you send me an e-mail that is politely written from your regular e-mail address, I'll read it, consider what you're saying, and maybe even reply. If you're not decent enough to sign your name, I have no use for them. Straight to the 'deleted Items' folder. I got an e-mail signed 'Anonymous poster'. The address was " What do you think I did with it? Didn't even open it!

Ok, so I started this blog as a way to let friends and family back home know how things were going, and what I experience on a day-to-day basis here in my new version of 'the Burg!' (note that there is no H!) It turns out that I tend to be opionated and I tend to editorialize...Here's a what? It's my blog! You don't like it, don't read it! You think I'm wrong! good for you, as it is a free country, and you can think that way. You want to go on a ghost tour, good for you as well! Just don't ask me to come along!

Opinions are good. Disagreement is good. I've received an e-mail from a person in the United kingdom, who's currently touring the States. He says the blog helped him plan his trip. A lot of folks don't realize how awesome in scope this campaign was, how much the NPS doesn't own, and how much can still be lost!

I welcome all comments, e-mails and opinions, and I never have said I'm right all the time or I know everything. These past 5 months have made me realize how much I didn't know, but 'm learning! If you want me to read what you have to say, have the guts to let me at least know who you are. Don't be a coward! If guys like the one in the above picture were cowards, where would we be? He fought for his beliefs. Fight for yours!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Take a walk on the battlefield after dark...


You'll get out of town, away from the hype, and away from the ghost tours. It sounds like a good idea, right? Not always.

I've been spending a lot of time on the field after dark. It's easier to do, now that it is getting dark sooner. I've taken some awesome pictures, and I've just enjoyed the peacefulness.

You can do that on the weekdays, when there aren't so many people in town. The weekends, however, are a completely different story! The 'ghost hunters' are out in full force. They're everywhere! They go to Spangler's Spring to see the woman in white. They go to the Triangular Field and hope their camera malfunctions, just so they have a story to tell. They go to the top of the Devil's Den,and some even trace the outline of the name "P. Noel" in the rock, hoping that, according to the legends, the ghost will show up (She's supposedly a woman who was be-headed, and she tries to eat your question...if she has no head of her own, how can she eat yours?).

I went out to the Devil's Den area on Fri. night at around 9pm. I took my camera along (always do!) not to photograph ghosts or orbs, but just to take different photos. Some of the monuments look awesome in the dark! What do you think I saw and heard?

People in the woods by the Valley of Death 'ghost hunting!' "Hey, I think I see something! Bring the camera!"..."is that a ghost?" Flashes were going off everywhere. Four different people walked by me and asked, "Have you seen any ghosts yet?" Another family asked me where I was from. When I told them, I got, "Oh, so you live here? I guess you see ghosts all the time. Where's the best place to go to see a ghost? When's the best time?" They always act quite disappointed when I tell them I've never seen one before. "You must not go out much after dark. If I lived here, I'd go out every night. I'd see lots of ghosts!" Then, they walked on.

I don't know about you, but I see something wrong with this. Once again, going back to the ghost tours, bike week, the casino, and now the ghost hunters, ..."What has Gettysburg become?" ... "Why do people come here?" ...It should be because of the battle, the men themselves who fought and died, and so forth...the impact on the town, the farmers, and the good citizens...the overall impact the battle had on the outcome of the war, etc.

Some artists, art classes and art majors come to study the achitecture of the monuments, a story all its own. This is good. Some come just because the town, with the fences, stone walls, and bank barns, is a small slice of 19th century America. No problem there, either.

The problem is when you trivialize the sacrifices made here. If you believe in ghosts, and believe the battlefield is haunted, that's your choice. Just remember that the ghost you are hoping to see is most likely a soldier of the battle who died an agonizing death at a young age for a cause he committed to. He wants merely to rest in peace, to end his troubled existence of walking the field, and to find the promised land. Not to be photographed, talked about, and made fun of. How many ghost hunters have ever thought about that?

Friday, August 17, 2007

So, I met another beautiful woman on Thurs....

If you've ever looked at one of 'those' magazines, or watched a 'bad movie' in your life, you may recognize her. Supposedly, she been retired since 99', but who knows for sure? She's been with 'Jenna', and had a very active sex life! And, she's undoubtedly made a lot of money doing it (and them).

And, surprisingly enough, she likes US history, the Civil War in general, and the battle of Gettysburg in particular. "I've always wanted to come here and see it. It's awesome! the way, you're the only person I've seen all day who knows who I am! Good for you!"

Chatted with her for close to a half hour on Little Round Top, and watched a 'spectacular sunset'. Unfortunately, she didn't want to have her picture taken, so I have no 'photographic evidence!' You'll just have to take my word. (Those of you who know me know that I do not lie!...Those of you who don't will have to 'trust me!')

Just one of those things, I guess! More and more, they happen to me, and more and more, I shake my head in disbelief and say, "Wow!" (If you don't know who the 'she' in question is, e-mail me and I will tell you. Her initials are N.T., and she is in a very exclusive line of work. Welcome to my life, Pt. {whatever the count is up to now!}...Only I could have such luck!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

In the chaos that is Gettysburg during the Summer...

...I managed to spend two of the most relaxing hours today that I have ever spent anywhere. I took the kayak out. Went off of Pumping Station Rd., and put in Marsh Creek, near the Sach's Mill covered bridge. I knew I wouldn't be able to paddle too far upstream, because like every other body of water in the area, including the major rivers, Marsh Creek is at an extremely low water level.

I paddled for about 15 minutes, and got maybe a mile or so upstream before it got too shallow. Then, I turned around and drifted with the very slow current. I was amazed at how quiet it was. The only noises I heard were birds and other wildlife. Only about 2 cars passed by the whole time along the road that runs by Marsh Creek. The banks of the creek on both sides; the trees; the setting sun. It was heavenly! I floated back down for over half an hour. Then, I turned around and paddled back upstream again.

This time, I went exploring. There were several areas where there were small islands in the creek, and I managed to paddle around the backside of them. I saw a Great Blue Heron, one of the country's most endangered bird species, a red fox, a beaver, and a few muskrats, as well as numerous species of birds (I'd love to have the time and the patience to study birds so that I could know which types I was seeing.).

I got back to the shallows this time in about a half hour, and turned around and floated back downstream again. This time I stretched it out to about 45 minutes. Again, it was unbelievably peaceful. I highly recommend a few hours or even a day spent like this to anyone. You'll not regret it!

My only regret was that I didn't take my camera along. I will next time, though. We're actually supposed to get a good bit of rain in the next week, so maybe the water levels will go up, and I can go further upstream next time. I'd like to be able to make it at least to Rte. 30 some time.

How much to preserve?

That's a good question. From the perspective of the history buff, we should save it all. From the perspective of a realist, that will never/can never happen. There are various Civil War battlefields throughout the country, and thousands of others throughout the world. If we preserved them all, there would be nowhere for folks to live. Some, such as Antietam/Sharpsburg, are very well preserved, and a few trees aside, look almost like they did at the time of the fighting. Others are either threatened by development or already gone.

"Fight the developers!...Throw yourselves in front of the bulldozers!...We can stop them!" Great in theory, but developers tend to be well financed. The only way to fight big money is with bigger money! Buy the property before they can. Then, pay to keep it. Signing petitions or writing letters to the editor can get the word out, but it basically comes down to good ole $! How much are you willing to spend to keep it? (By the way, I've noticed that those who tend to speak out the most tend to contribute the least!)

This post, by the way, was inspired by some earlier internet chat about bike week, the casino, and Giant. With a campaign so awesome in scope as was Gettysburg, there is no way to save it all. Key areas of the battle itself, and many other places of significance are preserved. Yet, things of importance are still being lost. There is no threat to the entire battlefield, as Manassass once faced, or as Chancellorsville is facing, so things being lost in the Gettysburg area usually get little publicity. Most people think that the battlefield itself is only what the NPS, and a few nearby farm-owners have already saved. ( I said something to someone here once about parts of the battlefield that are still being lost, and she told me, "I think if it was that important, the government would buy it. They would never let something important be lost!...How do you even respond to something like that?)

One of the more sad losses is Camp Letterman. The average Gettysburg tourist doesn't even know what or where it was. The average Gettysburg resident is even more clueless, and that is sad!

Camp Letterman was once the largest consolidated field hospital in the entire US, treating over 22,000 Gettysburg casualties. It was vast in scope, and truly was a marvel of organization. Plain and simply put, "It worked!" Round up all the wounded from the surrounding field hospitals, centrally locate them near the railroad depot, treat their wounds and send them home.

There are various pictures of the vastness of Camp Letterman on the internet. Yet, the entire area was lost to development. Today, Camp Letterman is totally developed. Sheetz, Giant, Burger King, a strip mall, and a housing development are on the grounds of the former revolution in medical organization. The only traces of its existence in the area are in the two above pictures.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is, in all the celebration about the demise of the tower, the burial of the power lines, the replacing of fences, and the clearing of trees, remember that though the fight is won here, smaller battles are being lost. Stay vigilant, and don't be afraid to speak out!

Anyone who doubts this needs merely to take a ride on the Hunterstown road, and see the disastrous monstrosity that sprung out of nowhere on the field there!

Monday, August 13, 2007

A most interesting day on Sunday...

...A typical Sunday at work. I fought another battle in Gettysburg, and finally prevailed at around 5:55pm. It was the battle of the sales goal. I fight it everyday, and we go about 50-50, so yesterday was a good day.

I took a walk to the food court shortly after 1pm. Got back, and I'm sitting in the office eating lunch. I look out onto the sales floor, and think, "Hey! That guy looks a lot like Eric Wittenberg!" A good thing for him, because it was Eric and Susan, passing through on their way back to Columbus. Eric, it was good seeing you, though it was only briefly. Glad things are going well, and I'll see in again in just under two weeks! Sorry I missed you both as you left. I was up front, and saw "The Vidette", but I had to go get something for a customer. When I came back, it was gone.

About a half hour after that, it got crazy in the ole Nautica store. I found a bat hanging under an empty shelf near the storefront. Got the big dustpan and broom. Swept it into the dustpan and closed the lid. The bat didn't like this very much, as it started flapping around in the dustpan. Took it about 50 ft. outside the store in the parking lot, and let it go...

...What do you think happened?...(Who here doesn't see this one coming?)...

...Straight out of the dustpan, and directly back into my store! A woman outside looks at me and says, "Wow! That didn't quite work the way you wanted it to, did it?"...Thank you, Captain Obvious! "No, it didn't!"

After about 15 minutes of constant flight, and a lot of fear and a few comments from customers, because of course, everyone is now a bat-removal expert, it lands and hangs in the rafters near the storefront. I got another mall employee to help me, and we netted it in a beach towel. He took way out back of the mall, and let it go. It flew into the woods, so the story had a happy ending!

Had a small dinner with Dr. Dave, who looks good after all the miles he rode on his bike, and Carol at Friday's. Always a pleasure, and we should do it more often!

Then it was on the square. I went to Mama V's, and met my good friends Frank and Regina for a few drinks! To top it off, Nicky, the bartender there was watching "the family Guy." On this particular episode, Brian and Stewie were on the Gettysburg battlefield. Funny stuff! It was a classic! At around 11 o'clock, Gettysburg even got some much-needed rainfall.

Tonight, I work in the Mine again, so most likely, there will be a story to post at a later date. Tomorrow, weather permitting, it'll be some kayaking on the lake at Codorus State Park, in Hanover. The fun never stops!

What kind of town has Gettysburg become?

Ok, so this post is a bit late, but here we go...

Bike Week in Gettysburg. What the heck is that about? Now, before I go too far along, let me make the point that I'm not 'anti-motorcycle', I don't hate 'bikers', etc., etc. I just think that there is a time and a place for everything, and Gettysburg is not the place. Bike week in Gettysburg was five days of pure hell. Let me tell you why...

...It wasn't so much because of the traffic jams from the bikers themselves. It's a tourist town. We've come to expect traffic, and I have gotten pretty good at getting around it. (Closing Steinwehr Ave., Baltimore St., and the Square for the Parade of Chrome is an entirely different story!).

What joys did Bike Week bring to Gettysburg? Thousands of people going out and drinking all day and night, then getting on their bikes and driving. (I also saw a lot of weed being smoked right out in the open. Always a nice touch!) It's all fun and games til someone gets killed!

Wet tee shirt contests, and lots of flashing of breasts. That's what I'd take my kid to a historic battlefield to see. Thought this was a family town? My mistake!

Flagrant violations of almost every traffic law in existence. You can play as much as you want. Just follow the rules! They're in place for a reason.

Extreme and flagrant public profanity. Ok, so a lot of us do swear, but I overheard a lot of cursing when women and very young children were very nearby. Have some respect!

As to the Parade of Chrome itself, I walked up and down part of Steinwehr before it started. What did I see? Open public drinking up and down both sides of the streets. Lots of low-rise jeans with crack and/or 'whale-tale' (the tops of the thongs) sticking out, flashing, and very few bras being worn. The attitude and the atmosphere was definitely not good. Had I been in town with my family, I would have been shocked and outraged. I would have left vowing never to return again. I came to see history, not drunkeness and debauchery! I said something to someone about it, and one of the bikers overheard my comments. He later came into the Mine, and told me to keep my mouth shut and that I should 'learn how to behave'. Here's a thought! Don't come into my backyard and tell me how to behave! That was the attitude of most of the bikers. They'd come into a bar or restaurant and take over, acting like it was their place.

OK, so everyone had fun, and no one got seriously hurt. What's wrong with having a little fun, you may ask? answer...nothing, as long it is appropriate for the setting. Bike Week was not.

Tens of thousands of men fought and died for the cause they believed in on the streets and fields of this whole area. They, and what they did here, are the real reason people should come to Gettysburg. To learn what they did and respect their sacrifice. Not to smoke pot, flash boobs and do burnouts in the streets.

Gettysburg should be a place where you can bring the wife and kids, or whoever, and walk the streets, eat in the restaurants and stomp the fields without having to worry about the kids seeing nudity, drug use, and every other type of thing I saw, and where you should be able to walk the streets without fear of being hit by a drunken biker.

Wake up, folks, because I think once again, our priorities are out of whack here!

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Hi, would you like to join us on a ghost walk tonight?"

Another one of those, "If I only had a dollar for every time someone asked me that!"

They're everywhere. And idiots pay good money to walk along with them, some believeing every word spoken like it was the Gospel itself. There are haunted bus rides, ghost walking tours, haunted carriage rides, etc. Some of them even let you take along their 'spectro-analysis' equipment, so that you can experience the presence of the spirits as you pass. I personally have experienced several types of spirits as I've passed through Gettysburg. Mine have been the kind that come from a bottle, not the types that roam the streets. Though, those in search of the type that roam the streets can cause one to consider heavy drinking.

They wouldn't be so awful bad except for a few things. First, and foremost, they get in their little (sometimes large) groups and act like they own the town. As the tour leader is babbling about ghosts, with the entire audience hanging on his or her every word, they don't realize that they are hogging the whole sidewalk. I challenge you to walk past one of the groups on the weekend without having to walk into the street to get around them!

Secondly, as the group crosses the streets, they have no problem taking their good old time, blocking traffic in each direction as they go. News Flash: Gettysburg has enough traffic! We don't need to back it up even more by having to wait for these fools. You want to cross the street? Fine. Wait your turn like everyone else, and when your turn comes, do it quickly!

Third, they have no respect for private property! If you live in one of the so-called 'haunted' buildings along the tour route, don't expect to be able to plant flowers and so forth in front of your house. They'll inevitably get stepped on! Do expect kids to be climbing on your porch railings, and also, don't plan on leaving your windows open and getting a peaceful, refreshing blast of fresh air. These idiots have no problem standing right outside your window, babbling their BS!

There's a younger girl who sells tickets for one of these fiascos personified. She hangs out in the area of the Regimental Quartermaster on Steinwehr. 14 out of 18 days, I've walked past her, and 14 times she asked me if I'd like to come along. Finally, after a string of 5 in a row, she now only just says "Hi!", but doesn't waste either of our times asking me to come along. Guess she finally got the picture!

Now, I know we've all told ghost stories, and I know for families with kids, this is a great way to keep them entertained. I don't wish to see the ghost tours banned entirely. I do wish to see some regulations, so that every "Joe-Bozo and his brother" doesn't come along and set up shop to get their piece of the pie.

And, speaking of pictures, look at those I posted. Is this really what we want the town of Gettysburg to come to or be remembered as? Are we honoring the sacrifice of those who fought so bravely and gave so much by putting blow-up ghosts and skeleton statues along the streets of the town where it happened? I think we owe them all more than a bit more, and I think the proprietors of such establishments should hang their heads in same, after they've finished counting their money, of course!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Her name was 'Miracle',...

...and out of my life, she walked forever!...That's a good "hook, line and sinker!", let me tell you the story.

I'm tending bar in the Mine. No big deal, 'cause it's too hot to drink anyway...

..and in she walks. "Hi, my name is Miracle (It's true, I carded her!), and I'd like a Corona!"...No problem here, as we have those.

Did I mention that she's beautiful? She has a husband (who here didn't see that coming?), and she came on to me all night. "I'm not happily married. My husband wants to 'swing'!"...remember, this is my life we're talking about here. "I don't want to." she says. "I may leave him."

Two phone calls to the bar from the husband, and 14 (yep, 14!) missed calls to her cell later, I'm still the guy she's coming on to. I have a 'happily-together' couple and a gay guy from Germany, in the bar with me, so where the hell do you think she'll head? Look at the time of this post. I do have to work at 9am tomorrow.

The husband finds us, outside the Mine, talking. He has the three kids (did I mention them?) in the van with him, and he's headed back to Lancaster. "Miracle, are you coming with me? I have your kids!"

He left. And, thinking clearly, I left as well. There were no Miracles in my life on this night! I have no idea what became of her. I don't know if I'll ever see her again! If I do, well, okey-dokey. If not, well, "Bye!" Everyone needs a miracle in their life! This one just wasn't meant to be! Story of my life! Why should things change now?!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

4 Down, and a lifetime to go!

Well, four months in Gettysburg have come and gone, and all is still well. I love it here! What more can I say? I used to think I knew a lot about this place and what happened here 144 years ago. Now, I truly realize how much more that I did not know. So, I make it a point to learn something new visit a place off the beaten find a monument I've never walk a trail I've never walked before...etc. And it's fun. With the help of some friends, and sometimes by pure, dumb luck, I've found several.

I've learned a lot, and in the process, I've made many new friends, and have had lots of fun. I've had several good friends come and stay with me over the course of a few weekends. We did some battlefield stompin' and some drinkin', and had the most awesome of times. I truly was sorry to see them all go, and I do look forward to their return. The only thing more special about the Gettysburg battlefield itself is sharing it with friends.

So, the invitation is open. Anyone who wants to come and visit is more than welcome to do so any time they want. Trust me, there's more to this place than monuments and markers. If you come, you can find something fun to do, and can in no way leave without having a good time. I guarantee it!

Sunday, August 5, 2007


...It rained today. Not nearly enough to end the drought, but maybe enough to help save the corn and the apples. It almost hurts seeing thousands of acres of dried and brown corn...the amount of time and money spent planting it, and the loss of potential income from seeing the endeavor fail. I'm not a farmer, nor do I ever wish to be, but I have sympathy for those who do.

Thought Friday might be the day. Fairfield got over two inches of rain in less than an hour. McSherrystown had quarter-sized hail. Gettysburg got nothing but an awesome lightning show in the distance, which I watched from the VA monument and quite often said, "Wow! Awesome!"

Too late to bring the grass back here. It's not just dead. A lot of it is gone. At least now, instead of dust, we'll have dried mud! Oh, well! Whatever happens is beyond my control!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Workin' in the Old Mine!

Goin' down, down down! Workin in the Old Mine. Whew, about to break down!

I never in a million years thought it would happen. Guess it gives new meaning to the phrase "going full-circle!" I started as a customer, and now I'm a bartender there. Is that a good thing?

I worked this past Weds., only a half shift, because of the real job, but I worked nonetheless. A few bumps in the road aside, it was a good night! I had Bill Fraz, a father and son from Pittsburgh, a couple from Great Britain, and a few Ohioans. Not overly busy, and everyone drank only beer! Didn't get a chance to screw up any mixed drinks! I must save myself to pour another time, and there will be another time!

It was a learning experience. Everything in my life seems to be these days, and I had fun. I inherited my mom's gift of gab and my dad's gift of BS, so one might think tending bar is a perfect job for me!

All kidding aside, it was a good night, and I enjoyed it. Definitely not something I'd want to do for a living, but something not bad every once in awhile!

As one can see from the pictures, the good ole Reliance Mine is starting to show its age. Definitely, it's in need of a facelift! Still an awesome place to hang out, though!

Friday, August 3, 2007

There's more to the campaign than Gettysburg!

More ranting, but I'll keep it short! The Gettysburg campaign encompassed more than Gettysburg itself. A vast area was affected by the movement and fighting of both armies. No one said, "Let's go fight a 3 day battle in south-central PA, and then we'll call it quits and go home!"

JEB Stuart captured wagons in Rockville, MD: he also fought in Westminster, MD; Hanover, PA; York, PA; Carlisle, PA (where he shelled the town and burned the barracks); and Hunterstown, PA; among many other places where smaller engagements occurred.

The Confederate army passed through Chambersburg, Gettysburg, York, Carlisle, Biglerville, Cashtown, and every other small town along the way, 're-supplying themselves' (looting?) as they passed. Very little was spared, and most residents lost something. Some lost everything! Livestock, food, grain, etc.

Union cavalry passed through Littlestown and Two Taverns, both south of Gettysburg. The Union army passed through Taneytown and Emmittsburg, MD. It's a safe bet to also say 'some looting' occurred. (Hey, they needed animals fer cryin aht lahd!).

And on the retreat, well, everywhere from Gettysburg to Williamsport, MD was affected. Cashtown, Fairfield, Carroll Valley. The list goes on! The campaign started on June 9th in Brandy Station. The campaign ended on July 14th, when the ANV crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, MD. If you receive the above-pictured phone book, your area was affected by the campaign!

More can be said, but I promised to keep this one short! People who tell me, "Well, I live in Littlestown (or insert name of town here), so I don't know much about Gettysburg because nothing happened here!" have no idea of what actually did happen, oftentimes in their own backyard! The sad part is that they are everywhere!

"Too bad you don't live on the field!"

If I only had a buck for every time I heard that remark from someone who's never been here or who just doesn't get it. As far as the National Park Service owned battlefield, they're right. But there's more to Gettysburg than what the NPS owns.

In the second picture, there's a summit of a hill in the distance. That is Culp's Hill. It is about a mile away. The Culp Farm is actually only about 3 blocks away. About 3 blocks to the northwest is the Coster Ave. mural, showing the fight in and eventual retreat from the brickyard. Make a straight line from the brickyard to Culp's Hill, where many of the brickyard fighters ran when their lines broke, and guess where it passes? Right down 4th St.!

Was the fighting here brutal, worthy of note, or critical to the outcome of the campaign? Doubtful. Were shots fired in anger, and were people wounded or lives lost? Yep!

Guess what? From the afternoon of July 1st, 1863 until the retreat began on the 4th, Confederates controlled the town. Union troops were on the ridges south and east of the town. Shots were exchanged between the two sides throughout the entire 4 days. If you live in the 17325 zip code, you live "on the field!"

The other question I usually get is, "How often do you get to go on the field?" Another guess what? There is no way to exist without coming in contact with the field! Whether it's driving over Benner's Hill, visible as the distant treeline in the left of the first photo, passing the Lady farm on Hanover St. en route to Rte. 15, going to Sheetz for gas (Sheetz is on Camp Letterman Drive. Camp Letterman was the massive consolidated hospital after the battle.), passing Ewell's headquarters on 6th and Hanover Sts., seeing the roundtops from the mall parking lot, or just going anywhere in the area, you are where it happened. Take a shortcut on a side road, and I guarantee you pass a field hospital site, a monument or a wayside marker! At the very least, you'll pass an unmarked area where troops camped.

The battle was massive in scope, moreso than even I imagined before coming here. Almost every day I see something different or learn something new! If you live anywhere in the Gettysburg area, you live on the field. If you walk or drive anywhere in the Gettysburg area, you are walking or driving on the field! That's just the way it is!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

More 'orb-like' objects.

I don't know what they are, but I've taken about 50 night-time pictures on the field, and they are in over 30 of them. They are something, and it's not rain. They vary from picture to picture of the same area, so it's not dust on the lens. What exactly are they?