Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Hike

Today Ranger Brian and I met at Gettysburg to participate in one of the Battle Anniversary Ranger hikes.  Before I get to that, let me tell you what we were expecting to find, but didn't, in G'burg today.

As this is the 145th anniversary we both expected the whole place to be absolutely awash in reenactors of every stripe, shape, and sympathy.  So imagine our surprise to find plenty of visitors but costumed reenactors were incredibly scarce, we saw but half a dozen.  Found out later that the big sham battle doesn't begin until this weekend, so I guess most of them are still in transit much like this Confederate mounted ensemble I saw trailering through town:

I'm sure that this weekend will bring an absolute spectacular for the zillions of folks who love reenactments and reenacting.  Today, yesterday, and tomorrow, however, it was the Rangers who are in the spotlight.

The hike we went on this morning was entitled:

“The enemy was...attacking our whole front at different points.”
 In the Footsteps of Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock, with Ranger Eric Campbell.

This is Park Ranger Eric Campbell. Its always instructive to check out another Ranger's presentation and this one was no exception. Brian and I were in for a treat.

We arrived early for the three hour exploration of Hancock's crucial role on the second day of the battle. We were both pleased and surprised to find that we'd be in a very small group.

Not so fast, pal.

The group began to grow...

and grow...

and grow, until before you know it, Ranger Eric was leading an entire regiment (a regiment that couldn't march) of visitors!

As it turns out, that's fellow ACW blogger Scott Mingus in the blue Tee shirt! ( We must have walked right past each other several times in this huge crowd without one spotting the other.

And despite the challenge of a crowd of that size, through it all, Eric had everyone's undivided attention. Without amplification of any sort he maintained a well-modulated "command voice" throughout the three hour program that could be heard clearly to the farthest reaches of the crowd.

He'd really done his homework and obviously had an affinity for the subject an a passion for his craft. At the end he received enthusiastic applause from that very large and appreciative audience.

As Brian and I walked into town to grab some lunch we did a professional deconstruction of the whole presentation, and both agreed that we'd just seen an outstanding Ranger in action.

It is always gratifying to see Rangers doing something so well that they enjoy so much.


Ranger Brian headed back to Frederick and I went back into town to make a few purchases.

A quick stop at one of the thousands of trinket shops brought me back down to earth with a reminder that Gettysburg has something for everyone; Great Ranger programs for the Civil War enthusiast...

firearms for the little girl soldier wannabes...

and a dental plan for regions closer to my neck of the woods.

Try to get to Gettysburg this week.

Ranger Mannie


Harry said...


Eric is one of the finest tour conductors in the service. He never disappoints - he knows his stuff and respects the audience without resorting to the wink & nod "dumbdown". He's a good egg.

rick c. said...

Nice report.

I make it a duty to visit Gettysburg yearly, [this year it will be around the Fall-In miniatures gaming convention at the Ike in early November], but I love the quiet and pastoral setting of Antietam the best.
Used to stay at the Red Byrd Motel and eat "red byrd cake" at the restaurant there. Now THAT was roughing it! But it was a lot closer than Hagerstown. I understand it is still the only hotel property on what might be considered battlefield terrain...the AoP having field hospitals in the area.

No snow in Michigan tonight, but plenty of rain; though it was 44 degrees out last night.

you look so much like my brother-in-law, also a teacher and a bigger Gettysburg buff than me, it is scary!

best regards from Flint, Michigan

Anonymous said...

Hi Mannie

It was good to talk to you and Brian under the shade tree at the start of Eric’s program yesterday, and various other times as well. I’m glad that Gettysburg left a positive impression on two Rangers from Antietam and hope you can make it back soon. Please continue with the excellent interpretation at Antietam as well.

Now I’m off to Gettysburg for some more punishment!


Glenn A. Haman

mannie said...

Harry, I picked up on that, he was quick to defend Sickles' choice of ground but not his disobedience of Meade's orders.

Nick, Red Byrd motel is no more but the diner is going strong.

Hope all is well in Genessee County.

Glenn, It was good to see you as well and on such a perfect day.


Anonymous said...

Eric is great, I have been on a few tours with him in Gettysburg.

He spoke at or Round Table a few years ago. Needless to say, he didn't need a microphone.