Gettysburg is a beautiful town. But the voices of the dead are everywhere. The Rebel yell. Charging horses. Exploding cannons. Musket fire. So fervent were the beliefs of the opposing sides that upon meeting here they slaughtered each other. In spite of the passage of time, death stays near the battlefield at Gettysburg, now littered with monuments and markers. As the passion that brought the armies here fades into memory, monuments to the North and the South stand side by side.
It's not easy, even with a well-informed guide, to follow the location of the armies and the progression of battles over the three days of intense fighting in July 1863. General Lee realized the battle was lost after the devastating loss of men in Pickett's charge.
If you think you'll take a walking tour of the Gettysburg Battlefield, think again. We were in a car for over two hours and covered about 24 miles.
Today Gettysburg appears to be a thriving town. Historic homes and storefronts are well preserved. Pedestrians weave around one another on crowded sidewalks. At dinnertime, there was an hour wait at some restaurants. Students beginning at Gettysburg College were in town with their parents.
John Brown is a fascinating historical character. I'm not sure anybody has figured out whether he was a crooked opportunist or a hero. However, as we discover the flaws in our heroes, I'm coming to believe a person can be both crooked and heroic at the same time.
The historic town of Harpers Ferry is located on a bluff overlooking the Shenandoah River. It's essentially a steep street lined with historic buildings in need of preservation.
We stayed at the Babcock Bed and Breakfast, which I discovered is named after Havilah Babcock, a former English professor at the Univ. of South Carolina. In fact I took his last class of "I Want a Word" before he retired. I still have a copy of the book we used in class.
Appomattox Court House is actually the name of the town. And General Lee surrendered to General Grant not in the courthouse but in the nearby farm house of Wilmer McLean. The building on tour is a reconstruction.
My husband Doug gave me this trip and tour as a Christmas present. It was a "wow" of a present.