Gettysburg’s 151st Anniversary, July 3, 2014

Harmon Day 3

July 3, of course, was the final day of the anniversary commemoration.  We started off the day with Ranger Troy Harman giving a really excellent tour on the extreme left of the Union line.  Troy is really in his element on the battlefield.  We talked about how the Union soldiers built up stone walls that hadn’t existed before the battle during the evening and night of July 2, then we walked to areas most visitors don’t ever see, which is par for the course for Troy’s walks.  With Troy, you’re going to go a long way and you’re going to see things that are well off the beaten path.  We walked from the 20th Maine monument on Little Round Top out to Wright Avenue, then crossed Taneytown Road to Howe Avenue.  Troy discussed why Howe Avenue is called Howe Avenue when Wright’s division was posted there while troops under Howe were posted on what is now Wright Avenue.  The answer is that the original plan called for Howe Avenue to be continued around to Neill Avenue, Neill’s troops being part of Howe’s division.  The Park Service, however, ran out of money to continue the road.  From there we hiked along Taneytown Road to the site of today’s Round Top Camp Ground near the I-15 interchange.  At that point, Union cavalry set up because it was thought that some confederates would try to flank the Union line there, and in fact there is evidence that there were some confederates out that way the morning of July 3.  This was a great walk and very enjoyable.

I didn’t participate in any of the three Pickett’s Charge walks that afternoon, but here is Ranger Bill Hewitt with the 26th North Carolina on July 3:

Later that day, Ranger Chris Gwinn and Dan Welch of the Gettysburg Foundation led a walk showing the Journey of the Wounded from Cemetery Ridge to the George Spangler Farm, which you can see here:

During the day I took advantage of a very rare opportunity and looked inside the Brian Farmhouse.

Brian House-1 Brian House-2 Brian House-3 Brian House-4 Brian House-5 Brian House-6 Brian House-7 Brian House-8 Brian House-9

Abraham Brian was an African-American who owned that farm and lived there with his family.  Mag Palm, another member of Gettysburg’s African-American community, lived in another house owned by Abraham Brian.  The Park Service provided some brochures about Mag Palm in the house.  However, there’s a problem.  The brochures identify Mag Palm as being a conductor on the Underground Railroad.  My friend and blogging colleague John Rudy [see his blog here] tells me that isn’t true, and in fact was the invention of novelist Elsie Singmaster.  She put that in some of her stories, and apparently it was picked up by others and believed as if it were true.  Shades of Michael Shaara’s Killer Angels!

That one error aside, the Park Service really did a wonderful job with the battle’s 151st Anniversary commemoration.  There were a number of activities I didn’t attend, such as several real-time programs and a Campfire program at Pitzer’s Woods each evening.  Judging by what I saw from the programs I did attend, these all must have been well done also.


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