Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gettysburg to Antietam

Hey Campers:

June 30. Well, after a full day in D.C. it is time to move on. Since we had to pass the Manasseh Battlefield on our way to Gettysburg, we decided to stop one more time to enjoy. Since it was not raining we really got to see more of the battlefield.

Call me crazy, but why is this man collecting funds on the freeway?? Just because the freeway has a light don’t mean you have to panhandle. I have no idea as to what he collecting for. He must make pretty good to do this on the freeway! Your life is worth what???
We drove on to Gettysburg. OMG it was a zoo. Traffic was at a standstill. We turned the Hilton 4 around and headed back to Maryland to the Catoctin National Park. Talk about small worlds. The camp hosts are from Bakersfield, CA. So…o. of course we got a good RV site. Hey you youngins it is a pleasure to get to 62. We were able to stay for $10 a night with our National Park Senior Pass. Yahooo. It pays to get old. The RV sites in town were $60 to $125 a night.

July 1. Day 1 of the warDid you know the battle of Gettysburg (GB) is 150 years old? Gettysburg was full of Civil War enthusiast. The battle lasted 3 days July1-3. GB reenacted each portion of the battle every day. They had authors who had written books on GB autographing copies.  We started our day with a movie about GB voiced by Morgan Freeman. From there we went to Cyclorama. It is a giant mural in the round depicting the battle at GB. This mural was taken all over the world so more people could see how the battle was fought.


They had a family tent for activities for kids. Kids even got to dress up in period clothes. They had classes on the Care of the Wounded, Life of the Soldier, etc. Did you know if you were shot you could lay on the battlefield for 24 hours or more before you got to a medic?? More men died from dysentery than was shot? Why you ask? Because of the water drinking. Most troops drank water from ponds that they just scrapped green moss off. Hello, you guys this was not like drinking water from your well at home. Only took a short while to get sick. Hmmmm. I see my buddy getting sick, walk away from the pond. Unfortunately, most people did not put the water and sickness together.

Infections were rampant because doctors and medics did not understand how infections worked. They worked on soldiers without cleaning their tools or their surgical aprons or even the table where they worked. The surgical tools were from the mechanical shops. Most of the doctors were not real. They were mostly barbers and drunkards with a little medical knowledge. Ya maybe can give a good hair cut but leave the real doctoring to the real doctors.

Did you know that the Confederate soldier had so many different color uniforms that it was hard to define which unit they were from. This was because each state issued their own uniform. Or the dye used faded because of the rains.

Each soldier was issued half a side of a tent. Two soldiers had to put their tents together to make a tent. Soldiers said the tent was big enough for a dog. That is why little tents are called “pup tents”.

The Union soldier got 3 days worth of food to take along the trail. Confederate soldier got a piece of jerky and a Hard tack. Hard tack is made with water and flour. It looks like a teething biscuit. Excuse me, how is a grown made to survive on this for 3 days?

The visitor center has a wonder new museum. It has unbelievable amount items of Civil War items. It takes you from the beginning of the war until the end. It is understandable why Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army. He did not want to fight against his own people. Did you know that Mary Todd Lincoln had a brother Maj George Todd who was a doctor for the Confederates? I wonder if this was one of the reasons she had a breakdown. Many others had their father and husbands’ on different sides of the war. There was a wall that shows the pictures of soldiers.

It was good to see that museum included a man of color serving in the war. The picture is Sgt. Christian Fleetwood.

In and out of the visitors center there were people dressed and performing as if it was still 1863. In the evening, we were treated with a local choir singing war songs of the day and reenactment of letters about the war.

July 2. Day 2 of the war. We took a guided bus tour that took us all over the town and battlefield. We learned the history of why fight at Gettysburg. Did you know that R.E. Lee only wanted to fight in the north for 2 reasons? 1 - To give the farmers a break in the south to grow food for themselves and the army. 2 - He wanted to win a battle in the north to force the Union to negotiate peace.  Boy was this a miscalculation.

Did you ever wonder where the idea of having an eternal flame for John F. Kennedy’s grave came from? (Trust me, I never thought about it.) Well it came from Gettysburg. The Kennedy’s had visited Gettysburg the year before his death. Jacqueline remembered the statue of the eternal flame and thought this would be a great idea for people to remember her husband by.

After the bus tour we decided to tour the grounds on our bikes. What a grand idea. (The parking and driving was crazy. Once we got that parking spot no way were we going to give it up.) Taking a tour
was great but with the bikes we stopped any where we wanted to.

We got a chance to speak with several reenactment groups. This gave us a bird’s eye view of how the troops lived in the camps. How surgery was performed. How Christian groups were teaching about hygiene and cleaning techniques and how the “hospital” worked. One of the doctors at the hospital reminded me of Ally Emerson. He even talked like Ally. That was scary. I tell you some of these guys are really in to the characters of their reenactments.


Talk about weird. The statue shown is dedicated by New York 42nd Brigade. It is dedicated to the Indians in the unit. It did not have an Indian anywhere in the unit. It was manned by Irishmen. Tammany had this erected. Well. If you know your history, Tammany was one of the most crooked governments that ever ran New York. Go figure why the statue!

Hey Campers. Remember the guy from last week that I met in the cemetery dressed like a Confederate soldier that almost had me seeing ghost? Well we saw him today. Now I know you are asking how we knew it was him. Don’t forget he had a very distinctive bike. Ya can’t miss that one.

July 3. Day 3 of the war. The reenactment troop told us to come early to get a good spot on the top of the Pennsylvania Monument for the battlefield cannon demonstration. We parked and got on our bikes again. They were right we had a great view. Only thing wrong was it started to rain and got windy. Bummer. We stuck it out for the first demo and went down. My Honey did everything he could to block the rain and wind from getting to me. I hear brownie points.!!!

Once the climate changed we got on our bikes again. We decided we needed to go to the Confederate side to see what was going on since we had spent time with the Union yesterday. Hey, we are an equal opportunity family. I am always curious on how and why things happen so I asked this lady why she was here. She responded that she really enjoys the reenactments and she met her husband through this.

The Confederate side seem to be a little poorer that the Union side. They did not have as many things going on. We did meet a man who made a lot of the uniforms. (The tall one on the right). He gave me a good history lesson on what the clothing was like at that time. Of course, Lo was interested in how the cannons worked. You really need to hold your ears when the cannons go off. They can make your ears ring.

We got a chance to speak with Tom Spruill. He was representing the African Americans who fought for the South. This was very interesting. He was suggesting that we need to read the book, Black Southerns in Gray.  Of course we knew about the black soldiers who fought for the Union. He is also working on getting a statue for the black soldiers who fought at GB. He wanted it to be known that the south was not the only prejudice place in America. The north, east and west did not want black as workers either. Anyone with southern parents know about this. We were brought up with this knowledge. That is why we had to work harder. Some chose easier, lazy paths. OK. Let me get off my soap box.

At the end of the day, there was the Pickett’s charged. This is where the Confederate sent Pickett’s unit to charge the Union. If there was any hope for Lee, he lost it with the bad communication with General Longstreet and General Pickett. Longstreet unit failed to cover the battle ground because Lee’s instructions were vague. Pickett’s unit marched in a tight line and got mowed down. Read (ok, I really meant Google) this account on what happened. So GB had a reenactment. They used the public to do the charge. There were thousands on both sides. The group charged through the meadow to reenact. We thought “Ticks or not to Ticks”. We decided we would wait this one out and take our bikes on the path.

Ok. The boy scouts were there participating. Where are the Pathfinders??

I got a chance to speak with the police team on horseback. Again, I wanted to find out why they were there. (Boy. I am beginning to feel like my sister Nita B.) This is a special unit within the state of Pennsylvania. You have to have working knowledge of horses. This is a very elite group from all over the state. They do special events, parade and crowd control, etc. This is not their full time job. The lady I spoke with works as a homicide detective in Philly. Talk about keeping it real.

Here are some of the locals and reenactment people.


What a great way to end the day.

July 4.We went to the sweetest place in the World. Hershey PA. We took the tour of where and how chocolate came from and how it is made. The ride is cute. You get in little chocolate cars. We had to take the tour twice because we had a 10 year old screaming meany in our ear and could not enjoy the ride the first time. 3 cows tell the story. We then proceeded to the chocolate town. Trust me Disney or Great America have no threat here.


Decided our time would best be spent at the museum. For all you history buffs, this is the place to go. It tells how Milton Hershey started out and how many times he failed until he got it right. Did you know he uses bath tubs on wheel to move raw materials? This company uses all of the byproduct materials that come from processing the Cacao nut. They use the coco shell as mulch around the plant. They use coco butter to roll into the chocolate bars to make them creamy and to make lotion. Hershey was philanthropist. He not only built his factory, he built a community. His friend Harry Reese started the peanut butter cup. Hershey sold him chocolate because he did not have the resources to get chocolate like Hershey. Years late Reese was bought by the Hershey Company. Upon his death Hershey donated almost all of his money to an orphanage that he and his wife started.

(He was strong believer in education even though he only had a 4th grade education. He also had several churches built. This one sits in front of the museum.

Here is a question for you. Why did Hershey have his factory built in what was formerly know a Dairy, PA?

We took a chocolate lab class to make our own chocolate bars. OK. You know you are loved when your Honey takes this class with you. Even though Lo likes (I mean LOVE) sweets, chocolate has never been is favorite. Thanks Honey!

July 5.Back on the Civil War Trail. We went to Harpers Ferry. This was made famous by John Brown. What was interesting is the fact that more was going on here than John Brown’s issues. George Washington had made Harper’s Ferry a major depot for the making guns and weapons storage. It is located only 60 miles from D.C. John Brown only came to this area so he could steal guns so slaves could be armed. Whether you agree with Brown or not he had some good points. But he also had some bad points. His original concepts was to help stop slavery. But some of the ways of handling this issue were very much like a terrorist. There was no negotiating with him. Remember this is October 1859. Guess who President Buchanan sent to seize, kill or capture Brown. Robert E. Lee and his aide J.E.B Stuart. We all know what happened to Brown. And the plot thickens.

Unfortunately for Harper’s Ferry, its boarders were caught between the North and the south. West VA did not secede from the Union. It is located on one side of the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains. Thomas Jefferson called it “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature”. Many famous men came to Harper’ Ferry. Jefferson, Washington, Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark), Stonewall Jackson, George Custer, Philip Sheridan, Abe Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and W.E.B Dubois. The Union was defeated here in 1862. As Jackson was leaving the town he dismantled the weapons factory after he took all the weapons he could carry. The Union rebuilds the town back up to be a major supply base.


African Americans have been a part of Harpers Ferry since before the American Revolution. In 1864 Julia Mann established a freedman’s school. Her group acquired several vacant armories building on camp hill and started Storers College. It was opened to all races and genders.


Even though the school was progressive for the time, it still had to deal with race issues. The great debate was even among blacks. What is more important work or education? Equality or separate but equal. Where do you stand?

We had one more stop to make. Antietam. This was really a non victory for both sides. It is called “the bloodiest one day battle of the Civil War.” Lee’s war plans had been found and the Union was advancing. Luckily for Lee midday General A.P. Hill came with his troops to help. 100,000 soldiers in battle, 23,000 killed, wounded or missing. The Union Army held the field.

The fight was being fought in farmer’s pastures and corn fields. Many structures did not survive.

Some good did come from the war. Clara Barton was here to help. She brought several wagons of medical supplies. They called her the Angel of the Battlefield. She later started the American Red Cross.
It is interesting that these same Generals are seen at most battle fields. As the war progress many would lose their lives. War gains what??

One of the most interesting pictures of the war is this one. The man ran for president and was defeated by Lincoln.

Awoke to a beautiful Sabbath day. On our way to Gettysburg every day we saw this church. We decided to go there since it was only 8 miles from where we are staying. This is a church of 60 people. The pastor looked like he was a teenager. Boy does he have a testimony. He was a troubled teenager and got with the wrong crowd. He was sent to an Adventist home for troubled kids. He was dealing dope etc. When he was almost sent to jail it finally hit home about changing is life for God. He is only 31 years old and working on this Phd in theology. He comes from a good family. Dad is a pediatric surgeon, mom is a physician assistant. He has a lot to offer this church. We also met the James family from India. It was good to spend the afternoon with them and their 5 kids. Serena what is the name of the program for Family with kids??? I told them about it and how to use some of the techniques.

June 6.
Well campers, you are now caught up with our week. We are on to New York for the week.
See ya soon.

Lorenzo & Bren

P.S. Sorry the pictures are not always lined up. They had a mind of their own!

1 comment:

  1. Wow - those costumes. Once again, in that HEAT, I don't know how people could stand to dress like that.

    And I know Lo does NOT love the chocolate - and so Hershey was a big sacrifice. I'll bet it smelled good.