On Wednesday we got up and had another camp breakfast of eggs and bacon. Taking time to cook breakfast and do the dishes after did mean that we didn’t hit the road until after 9. So we didn’t much escape the heat.
We picked up at Little Round Top and did the second half of the battlefield tour with a picnic lunch halfway through. It was another scorching day. Sort of appropriate as we were able to imagine clearly the conditions the men fought under on the first three days of July 1863. So very hot. I pity those soldiers in their wool uniforms, fighting, bleeding and dying in the heat. We were lucky to be able to view most of the sites from the air conditioned car, at least, but it meant that we didn’t spend as much time as we could have looking around at the various monuments. (There are hundreds of granite monuments in the park, it’s really amazing.)
One of our favorite monuments was a statue of Father William Corby, Holy Cross father and chaplain to the Irish Brigade of New York.
Our favorite stop of the day was probably the enormous Pennsylvania Memorial, which had a stair in one of the columns that you could climb to an overlook that gave a great view of the surrounding landscape.
Once we’d finished the tour it was late. And we were facing another thunderstorm. We didn’t even try to cook out. We just went to another restaurant. We had a very early dinner and then afterwards we stopped by the small museum at the railway station, which had been used as a military hospital at after the battle (many buildings around town were, so many wounded men to be cared for.) This was also the station at which Lincoln would have arrived to give his famous address at the dedication of the soldier’s cemetery.
The lady at the train station museum upon hearing we were from Massachusetts had asked if we’d seen the unusual puddingstone monument erected on Cemetery Ridge in honor of Paul Revere’s grandson and other Mass infantry who had died. I recalled having seen a monument from the car window which caught my eye because it was a large unfinished boulder, very lumpish. I was sure that it must be the very one.
So, our interest having been piqued and it still being pretty early, and the storm having cooled things down, we went back to see a few stops on the battlefield tour. We got out of the car and looked closely at a bunch of the monuments, most of which had quite detailed descriptions on their inscriptions and which interpreted the site quite well. We found the puddingstone, which is an unusual local geological formation which we’ve already become familiar with at home.
This was probably the location where we spent the most time looking at which companies were where and imagining the movement of the forces and the progress of the battle. It’s amazing how much difference it made to be there when it wasn’t hot. I saw a lot of older people doing the tour at that time and it seemed like it would be perfect to do most of the tour in the cool of the evening— if only we didn’t have kids who needed to get into bed.
When we went back to camp, the kids ran around and played a bit, and then we turned in for the night.