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Posted By: on: 10/26/2000 08:26:08 EDT
Subject: Bill's Muster Report - Part 2

Message Detail:
First, a correction to my Part 1 Report – In describing Dave Moore’s tour I said it was “mostly by car but with some driving” what I meant was “mostly by car but with some walking”

By the time we finished with John Rincon’s tour of the Sickles salient it was getting on to 4:00 pm. So we all headed back to the cars ( a walk of nearly a mile from the peach Orchard to the George Weikert Farm on Hancock Ave.)

Our next tour was Eric Wittenberg’s tour of the South Cavalry field. We met Eric at the Old Ranger station on Emmitsburg Road (south of Confederate Ave.) Our first stop was the South Cavalry Field where Eric had a surprise for us….his friend Charlie Tarbox was there on his horse and in his cavalry garb. Charlie gave us and excellent demonstration of the various weapons used by the Cavalrymen, the tactics used, etc. Charlie quickly dispelled the many myths we’ve learned from the movies about the Cavalry. We all got to hold and examine a Sharps single shot breech-loading carbine like the ones that Bufords men had on Day 1. Next we saw where the Union missed the chance to use their Cavalry to attack the Confederate rear lines immediately following the repulse of Pickett’s Charge. A drive around onto South Confederate Ave. took us to the base of Bushman’s Hill which we proceeded to climb. Here Eric described how Farnworth’s ill fated charge was initiated and examined the ground over which the charge took place. If you’ve read of this charge be advised, this maneuver took place down a wooded hill at least as steep as the lower slopes of LRT filled with large boulders and large trees – not even a good place for an infantry charge much less horses. From Bushman’s Hill it was on to a walk through the woods to the Slyder Farm house (Lee’s HQ in the movie) for a continued discussion of Farnsworth’s charge. Then back up the hill to the monument for the 1st Vermont Cavalry where the charge finally came to an end. So concluded our third tour of the day.

By now the sun was below the horizon, and the Visitor’s Center was closed so a group of tired and footsore musterees headed back to our respective motel rooms to refresh and relax before dinner. After a hot shower to relax tired muscles and a change of clothes, it was off to dinner at the Holiday Inn.

I arrived at the Holiday Inn just in time to see my fellow Long Islander, Billy Joel , sing the National Anthem for the first game of the world series, then I found the rest of the group and enjoyed another congenial dinner. The group was somewhat smaller this time, some folks had already headed for home or were leaving early Sunday. JD, Dave, and Art Stewart presented Brian Williams a replica of the Irish Brigade monument on behalf of the group as our thanks to him for the message board.

After dessert I left early with Chris Army, Tom P and Guy Greeneltch for a night tour of part of the field. We drove over to the home of Guy’s friend Kevin who then took us on a tour of a few areas we hadn’t seen. We had hoped to go up to Culp’s Hill, but the Park Service seemed to be out in force with their searchlights looking for someone so we only went as far as east Cemetery Hill. About 11:00 pm I pleaded exhaustion and left the group to go and get some sleep.

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny (again). I started the day with another visit to the sharpshooter’s home site, took some pictures, walked down to the downhill site and too more. It was really spooky to be able to pick the exact spot where a body had been lying 137 years ago.

Next it was off to LRT again for some photos of the Den from up there and a visit to the 20th Maine position. Walking off into the woods to the left of the 20th’s position I eventually found the Co. B marker by the stone wall off in the woods – wow, those guys were so far off I wonder if they had any idea what was going on! As I returned to the 20th’s marker, I ran into Tom P. also out getting photos.

By now it was close to 10:30 – time to get back to the room and check out, then over to the National Cemetery for Katherine’s tour. Our group was noticeably smaller as we gathered at 11:30 for Katherine’s tour of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. From Katherine we learned the history of the cemetery, how it came to be, the design, how the burials were performed and much more.

After lunch at Friendly’s there was time for a quick final visit to the Visitor’s center bookstore, then back to Devil’s Den for my Sharpshooter discussion. By now there were only about 7 of us left, and the most vocal members of the group were absent (Dave Moore made some excuse about having to move or something like that, JD had to get Matt home) but we had a good discussion anyway. Naturally we didn’t resolve anything, but we discussed photography in 1863, the photos, and the different theories - their flaws and their strong points. We looked at both the uphill and downhill sites, and were able to find the camera positions for the six photos. Needless to say nothing was resolved.

By now it was 4:00 pm, with a 5 hour drive ahead of me I said my goodbyes and headed home. My 5 hour drive became a 6 hour drive due to traffic on the NJ Tpke and on Staten Island so I arrived home AT 10:00 Pm.

So that’s it. Of course there’s a lot I didn’t mention, such as Pam Sparks carrying her infant son (sorry Pam I never heard his name) on her back all through John & Eric’s tours and never complaining; or how all of our youngest Musterees - Ashley, Matt, JP, and of course Pam’s son – all kept up with the adults and never once complained. I didn’t mention how the reenactors in the group (JD included ) kept insisting that their wool uniforms were NOT hot - even though the rest of us were sweating in short sleeve cotton shirts.

That’s it for now, I know there’s a lot I’ve left out, but there’s sooo much to remember!

Bill N-T

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