Jon and I are now riding our bikes along Seminary Ridge, which was the main rebel line on the second and third days of the battle. Across the way, just about a mile, is Cemetery Ridge which was the main Union position during the remainder of the battle. Off to our southeast we see Little Round Top and Big Round Top, the two hills that marked the southern end of the Union line. In all, the Union line stretched about a mile from south to north before curving back east around Cemetery Hill to Culps Hill. The forward slope of Cemetery Ridge is dotted with monuments that mark the Union line.
It was from where we are standing now that Pickett’s Charge began on the third day. Upon reflection, it’s easy to see why General Longstreet, one of Lee’s corps commanders, objected to Pickett’s Charge. It would be difficult for modern troops to cross this open field without artillery and armor support, particularly against a well-entrenched and comparably armed opponent. Longstreet knew at the time, not in hindsight, that Pickett’s Charge would fail and, of course, it did.
Today, what’s more interesting is the battlefield itself. It looks exactly the way it did 150 years ago. We can almost envision the rebel troops forming up around us in the woods that line Seminary Ridge. Gettysburg is one of the best marked and most well-preserved battlefields in the world. But, after all, that is as it should be. There aren’t many places in the world where one can stand and say, “The history of our country and, perhaps, the world, changed on this very spot. On this very ground upon which I stand history was made.” You can do that at Gettysburg.
That’s -30- for this week, from Gettysburg.