Saturday, July 06, 2013
Gettysburg 150 July 1
July 1 was the first day of real photo assignments for me, and there was a full slate of places I had to be and events I had to cover. Monday morning found me and my partner Shannon at the Eternal Peace Monument, McPherson's Ridge, and the Confederate encampment along Seminary Ridge.
This fearsome foursome (who are actually quite jolly) return to where they were much younger reenactors fifty years earlier during the Civil War Centennial. That's pretty cool. They were seventeen, I was eleven.
My friend and colleague Shannon was a role model of customer service, she really bent over backwards to assist visitors who needed information. Like me she's not a Gettysburg Ranger but she always helped visitors find the information that they needed.
The phrase I used most over the four-day event was "Well I'm not from around here, but let's see what we can figure out". People had a million site-specific questions and I wasn't always able to answer them but I could find a Gettyburg Ranger or volunteer that could.
Shannon works at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove Plantation National Historical Park which you can visit here
This reenactor general even had his own reenactor staff officer.
The first event Shannon and I were assigned to cover was my very good friend John Hoptak's McPherson's Ridge hike for which he had maybe three hundred people. (any old golf fans out there remember "Arnie's army?)
John did a fantastic job, he's an Aantietam ranger who is working this season at Gettysburg. He knows everything about the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg battlefield. The "go-to" guy so to speak.
He held his audience in rapt attention.
We also saw, off in the distance, the Iron Brigade hike. It had over a thousand participants. Unfortunately it wasn't our assignment and we had to rush back to the office to upload photos.
Our second assignment of the day was at the Confederate camp on Seminary Ridge. We were greeted by three very young soldier wanna-bees. This is exactly what I was doing when I was nine.
The reenactors did tactical demonstrations of infantry and artillery.
Here they are demonstrating the role of skirmishers
While the main body followed on. Here they are demonstrating volley fire when they all fire at once.
Then they reloaded to demonstrate...
firing by file.
This young Confederate was quite "in the moment" and wasn't able to spare a smile, though he did cut a convincing figure.
There were many jollly exchanges between visitors and the living history people. Generally they are very eager to share information, and opinions, with visitors. The parks benefit greatly from the efforts of these costumed interpreters who volunteer their time so selflessly.
The Confederate encampment hosted several artillery demonstrations throughout the day which are always well received and very dramatic.
Following the artillery demonstration this young visitor examines a limber. I wonder when Sinatra needs his hat back?
As always, the reenactors were more than willing to share information with visitors.
This lad is doing a quick tick check; always a good idea at Gettysburg.
A very convincing Confederate.
The Confederate encampment looked very authentic
Our third assignment of the day was coverage of the three-part program "Yankees, Rebels, and Civilians" This was one of my favorite events of the entire week. The program exploredevents of the first day's fighting including the collapse of the Union lines and the chaotic retreat through the streets of Gettysburg. The program started at Gettysburg College in front of the beautiful Pennsylvania Hall - known at the time of the battle as the "edifice"
Gettysburg College alum Chris Gwinn kicked off the program. With accounts of Gettysburg College students who witnessed, and participated in, the battle
It was during this program on this small but beautiful campus is when I started to relax from the harried schedule and just let myself enjoy the 150th like everyone else. This is also when the sun came out.
The second part of the program was at Christ Lutheran Church
That's John Hoptak again at the front of the sanctuary addressing a very large and
John did a great job of telling the story of how the church was used as a field hospital during the most chaotic hours of fighting.
The third and final segment of the program took place at the old Gettysburg train station which has been beautifully restored
Ranger Caitlin Kostic conclded the three-part program with more stories of the civilians caught between the lines of battle on the July 1st fighting at Gettysburg.
Not only was this a really fantastic program but it also afforded visitors with an opportunity to explore an interesting and picturesque portion of Gettysburg. It was also an opportunity for me...
to try out my new camera.
From north of Sharpsburg,