This is a must-see town, heaping with history, i.e. the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought here, in which 22,000 soldiers died. A battle where Major General George G. Meade won over Robert E. Lee and his troops at the same time when U. S. Grant won his decisive battle at Vicksburg. The Civil War was won as a result of these two events.

The soldiers had muskets and artillery cannons. The soldiers, fathers and sons, carried their own supplies long distances in extreme heat and all kinds of weather. One case I read, the army hiked 120 miles in six days, then jumped right into battle. At the time, society knew nothing about germs and if a soldier received a grazing surface wound, he might heal. Anyone with a piercing wound into muscle, could likely die. Gangerine was rampant.

The battle lines amounted to soldiers lining up shoulder to shoulder in straight lines 100 to 150 feet away from the enemy and shooting musket shells right at them. The shells/bullets looked like our root beer barrel candy. Those bullets were large and damaging. The cannon shells were like our cans for vegetables in size but were full of golf ball size ammo filled with bearings, etc. to inflict greater damage when they hit the target, usually only one hundred to one hundred and fifty yards away. How do I know all this? I went to the Gettysburg reenactment this year for a few days. It was like the real thing. I watched battles on hills, hay fields, flumes, etc. Occasionally, you could see the cannon shells flying through the air.

One battle, the Battle of Oak Harbor, saw seven thousand men get killed in twenty minutes. The whole war seemed insane. Most of us think the war was all about slavery. The resolution of the slavery problem has become the most lauded political legacy of the Union victory. A central issue was not just slavery; it was the size and role of federal power versus states.

Some soldiers did not understand the whole purpose of the war. This came out in their speeches when monuments were being dedicated and after the war when reunions were held. Their speeches seemed to redicate some of their thinking.

One must go to Gettysburg to experience what really took place. The people of Gettysburg are good at this. Their rangers and guides are trained and tested for the job, licensed and certified. The lodging and restaurants are excellent since the local folks take tourism seriously. They take pride in serving you.

What made my trip extra special; my nephew was a reenactor. He had his own musket, uniform, pins and the whole thing.

It was interesting to see the various regiments from Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc., come together and where they fought. You learn about Joshua Chamberlain’s role in saving Little Round Top. The whole event brings the war closer to home and has more meaning. It is truly an enjoyable learning experience. Try it.

Alan Cohick

Cogan Station