THE 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg will be observed July 1-3, and a restored 1883 cyclorama depicting Pickett’s Charge from a point behind the Union lines will help to give viewers a sense of those bloody days.
Death came to many during those three days. Estimates vary, but one source lists the casualties as 51,000 including 23,000 Union troops and 28,000 from the Confederacy.
Horses – reportedly more than 3,000 – also were killed during the fighting, adding to the stench of death that reportedly affected the small Pennsylvania town and surrounding area until the first frost.
The three days of fighting have been called the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. However, the bloodiest single-day battle was the Battle of Antietam, sometimes called the Battle of Sharpsburg, in 1862.
Undoubtedly, not included in the death count is the demise of a 20-year-old girl, Jennie Wade. The house in which she was killed actually was her sister’s home, and Jennie was among the family members who were there to care for her and her newborn child.
Jennie became a casualty July 3 when she was kneading bread for the Union troops.
Near the center of Gettysburg stands the David Wills House where President Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before he gave his famous address for the Soldiers National Cemetery dedication.
Many places in that area are reminders of the famous battle. Devils Den with its large boulders is an unforgettable sight and can be seen from nearby Little Round Top where a statue of Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren stands, binoculars in hand, as if he’s planning the next move.
Warren’s statue is among the more than 1,400 monuments, markers and tablets at Gettysburg.
A building in the nearby college became a hospital for soldiers from both the North and the South.
IT will be 150 years ago in November that Lincoln gave his famous speech, but those words still should be followed today – “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”