The first battle walk of the July 2 commemoration was with Ranger John Heiser, talking about Cemetery Hill. We talked about the importance of the position and what happened there during the battle, including the attack the evening of July 2 conducted by the Louisiana Tigers and Avery’s Alabama Brigade. John did a terrific job. He pointed out how Cemetery Hill dominates the town of Gettysburg and the surrounding area. He told us about the role the position played in Union and confederate strategic thinking during all three days of the battle.
Ranger Chris Gwinn led a Real-time program on the skirmish in Pitzer’s Woods between the 1st US Sharpshooters and the 3rd Maine skirmished with Alabama troops of Cadmus Wilcox’s brigade on July 2, prior to Longstreet’s attack. Chris did an outstanding job illuminating this action for us. Not many students of the battle discuss this minor action, but it was important because it confirmed that confederate troops were in front of Daniel Sickles’ position.
The second battle walk was led by Ranger Karlton Smith, talking about Lieutenant General James Longstreet and his role in the battle. Unfortunately, due to thunderstorms in the area and visible lightning, we had to cut the walk short due to safety concerns. Karlton is very knowledgeable about Longstreet’s role. This could have been a really good battle walk had it not had to be cut short. Fortunately, the storms didn’t stay in the area too long and we were able to get the third battle walk in.
Licensed Battlefield Guide John Archer led the third battle walk of the day. This one was on Culp’s Hill, talking about the 137th New York’s role in the defense of Culp’s Hill. Joshua Chamberlain and the Twentieth Maine’s stand on Little Round Top is known by so many people, yet the 137th New York held out on Culp’s Hill against far greater odds for a much longer time, and had a bayonet charge of their own, yet comparatively few people have heard of their feat at Gettysburg. We talked about the defense of Culp’s Hill and the role played by the 137th New York. This was another good job.
Once that was complete I had enough time to make it over to Cemetery Hill and catch Ranger Chuck Teague’s Real-time program presentation on the night fighting at East Cemetery Hill. The real-time programs are meant to discuss a small aspect of the battle near the time of day it actually occurred during the battle. Chuck again talked about the importance of Cemetery Hill and discussed the attack of Hays’ Brigade of Louisianans and Avery’s Brigade of Alabamians.
Once again, the Park Service provided us outstanding education programs led by knowledgeable folks who did a great job explaining what happened.