Boy Scout Troop 439 went to the Gettysburg National Military Park on 23-24 February 2002. We hiked ~9 miles around the battlefield, including a run (the final kilometer) over the ground where Pickett's Charge took place 139 years ago. It was much easier in the cool of winter, without anybody shooting at us.
Then we camped overnight. The temperature fell into the teens (Fahrenheit), and as usual my toes froze --- which happens no matter how many socks I wear and no matter how many sleeping bags I nest myself inside of. (Perhaps I need a hot-water bottle or a sack full of iron-oxidizer hand-warmers for my feet?) I couldn't sleep much, but I stayed semi-sane by listening to a radio between midnight and dawn ... flipping among urban rap/club music, pseudo-talk-shows that huckstered medical quack remedies, a public radio station that played and discussed Indian (Hindu) tunes, a gospel preacher, a "golden-oldies" classic-rock program, and miscellaneous country-western twanging. The hours crept by.
On Sunday, after everybody else packed up and headed for home, my son Robin and I went back into town from the camp site. We drove through some parts of the battlefield which we hadn't hiked over, and then walked into the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The poetry posted along the paths was, alas, doggerellish. But that was all forgotten when we got to the spot where Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, during the dedication ceremonies for the graveyard on 19 November 1863.
Gettysburg is quite an experience. It's sobering to remember all the "... brave men, living and dead, who struggled here ..." so that a nation "... dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal ..." might "... have a new birth of freedom --- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Not a cliché among those words, when one stands where Lincoln stood to say them. But thankfully, Honest Abe was wrong (or disingenuous?!) when he said, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here ...".
Later that afternoon we went to Gettysburg College, a lovely little liberal-arts school on the north side of town. We walked around campus, saw the girls with their cigarettes and the frat boys with their lacrosse sticks, toured the little art gallery, and then listened to a concert that featured music from three centuries ago by J. S. Bach, J. K. F. Fischer, and G. Muffat. A friend (NF) played viola in the ensemble. Her car broke down on the way there, so I drove down to get her and her husband; Robin and I gave them a ride home afterwards.
For those quants in the audience, some GPS readings taken during the expedition (in minutes and seconds from a base of 39 degrees North and 77 degrees West, errors plus or minus a second or two of arc):
|49'05"||13'57"||Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center|
|48'55"||14'04"||Cyclorama Center exhibit area|
|48'25"||14'05"||Pennsylvania Memorial on Cemetary Ridge|
|47'46"||14'35"||The Wheatfield (>4000 dead and wounded)|
|47'29"||14'14"||Little Round Top|
|47'23"||15'10"||Farmhouse along horse trail near Warfield Ridge|
|47'59"||15'22"||Observation tower south of Pitzer Woods|
|48'51"||15'00"||Virginia Memorial, at beginning of Pickett's Charge|
|48'49"||14'11"||"The Angle" aka the "High Water Mark" of the Confederacy|
|49'12'||13'53"||Memorial Cemetery, site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address|
|48'02"||23'29"||Camp Eder ballfield, where BSA Troop 439 set up tents|