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| Posted By: on: 10/24/2000 11:32:10 EDT
Subject: Bill's Muster Report - Part 1
Friday morning I hit the road about 7:00 am – about 30 minutes later than I had wanted, but still OK. After dealing with NY commuter traffic, for an hour or so I reached the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and was now out of the worst traffic. After a relatively easy 5 hour drive I was on Route 15 driving through the center of Gettysburg first uphill into town then downhill on the way out. Turning onto the Emmitsburg Road (after looking at maps of the Town for so long I felt as if I knew exactly where I was going) I quickly found the Best Inn - my temporary home for the next two nights. As I checked in, another fellow with a slight accent was inquiring if his room was ready (it wasn’t), mine was so I registered, pulled around back to the room and unloaded most of my excessive baggage from the car.
Checking my watch I saw that it was past 12:00 noon, time to go meet the rest of the group over at Pickett’s Buffet just a few doors down the road. Arriving there I found the parking field full and the place seemingly crawling with folks in British Army attire, kilts, tartans, the whole bit. While waiting on line I looked around to see if I could spot JD’s face (I knew I’d recognize the Col. From his photos), but at first I didn’t see him. After a minute or two I heard a conversation behind me and the Military History OnLine muster mentioned. I turned around and there was the guy from the motel who turned out to be Tom P from Texas. After some introductions I found I was in the company of Tom plus Chris Army. We looked around some more and found JD and more of the group. after introductions all around we all settled down to eat. At first we were a bunch of strangers, but as JD got us fitted out with nametags the process of attaching names we already knew to new faces turned us all into old friends. As we finished eating the British left and we were almost the only customers left in the place for a while.
After lunch it was time to “mount up” (a phrase we heard many times in the next two days) and head for the Lutheran Seminary and meet up with Jim Slade for his tour of the Town. For the next 3 hours or so Jim lead us around town and pointed out historic sights, famous homes, battle damage and generally described how the citizens were affected by the battle. One interesting tid-bit was the fact that as the Confederate invasion came north, many or most of the Gettysburg merchants had leased box cars standing by on the railroad siding in town. When the Confederates started to draw near, they loaded up all their goods, merchandise, cash, etc (maybe even those shoes Heth claims he was looking for) and shipped them out of harms way, so that when Early arrived and presented his demands they were able to tell him it was impossible for the Town to comply. Jim’s tour presented a side of the battle we often tend to overlook, we’re usually so concerned with which regiment, division, brigade or what ever was here, which was there and so on.
After Jim’s tour it was back to the cars at the Seminary and we had some free time until dinner. I took a trip over to the Visitor Center area and the Angle, got some photos then went inside and picked up a copy of William Frassanito’s “Gettysburg A Journey in Time. After that a quick trip up to Little Round Top just missing the sunset but still in time for a photo of Gen. Warren silhouetted against the sky for Jim TNO. From LRT it was back to the room the rest the already tired feet and freshen up for dinner.
Saturday began about 5:15 am - I woke up before my alarm, tried to go back to sleep for a while, couldn’t, so I got up. Tom P. and Chris Army had said they were going to meet on LRT at 6:00 AM. I hadn’t committed myself, but since I was up I decided to get dressed and head that way. By the time I was headed down the Emmitsburg Road it was 7:00 am the sky was beginning to lighten and a ground fog covered the fields. I saw some photo-ops as I drove so I gave up on LRT and decided to see what I could capture with the camera. After getting some fog photos I decided to go take a look at the Devil’s Den Sharpshooter’s“ nest. (JD had me scheduled to lead a discussion on this on Sunday and until now and I’d never even seen the place before) while I was there taking pictures Chris and Tom arrived, then a re-enactor from a group camped near the PA. Monument arrived with his wife. We got some photos of him in the “nest” and next to one of the cannons, then the three of us went off to Friendly’s for breakfast.
Following breakfast Chris and I left our cars at our motels and rode with Tom out to Herr’s Ridge where we met the rest of the group for Dave Moore’s Longstreet Counter-march tour. Dave gave us quite a tour taking us (mostly by car but with some driving) over the route of the counter-march, showing us where Longstreet’s column would have been seen by the signalmen on LRT, discussing where they probably went, where they could have gone etc. I doubt if the average person could even get a tour like this. Dave made a great guide and we all learned a lot from his tour. Dave’s pretty lucky too, his new house is actually located off Herr’s Ridge Road.
Dave’s tour was followed by a picnic lunch provided by dave’s wife at the picnic area near the “Eisenhower Tower” on Confederate Ave. Great food! Thanks Dave.
Next at about 1:00 we met John Rincon for his tour of the Sickles Salient. This was a lot of walking , a couple of miles I’d guess, from Hancock Ave next to the G. Weikert farmhouse, across some fields which looked deceptively smooth but really aren’t, past the Trostle house, across more fields up to the Peach Orchard, then back again. Along the way John showed us where Sickles original line was and where he moved it to. John makes an excellent guide, listening to him you know that he just knows what he’s talking about, right down to where the tree-lines were in 1863 compared to where they are now. I think most of us learned more about Sickles move than we could gain from several books.
End of part 1