Roughly 15,000 people were there for the 150th of Pickett’s Charge. After walking these fields numerous times, I can confidently say you just cannot get to a spot where you can see all the highs and lows of the hills between Cemetery and Seminary ridges. Here is what I saw.
By 12:00 PM on July 3, I found myself near the location of the Peter Rogers House on Emmitsburg Road with Craig Swain, which is coincidently his favorite spot in Gettysburg. He spent a good deal of time explaining how that location was pivotal and on the minds of various generals every single day of the battle.
Here was our vantage point and eventual marching path.
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At 1:00 PM, we commemorated the beginning of the great cannonade of the battle, and the war. Being an artillery guy, Craig wanted to stand where Colonel E. Porter Alexander stood to give the command of his 150 guns to commence firing on Cemetery Ridge.
We swapped stories and smoked cigars to pass the time before the recreation of Pickett’s Charge set for 3:00 PM.
Over the next few hours, we could see groups forming on Seminary Ridge where the Park Service broke visitors into 13 different brigades. Here, the topography came into play, as we could only see what would equate to the right-flank of the Confederate line. The left-flank remained hidden from our view.
We could also see a massive group of people forming at the Angle on Cemetery Ridge.
In addition, batteries on both sides exchanged fire.
By 3:00 PM, we could hear the whooping and hollering of people trying to recreate the Rebel Yell.
Below, you can see three of the groups, one to the left, one at the fence, and the third on the hill in the distance.
As we watched people stream across the fields, we moved in closer until we were overtaken ourselves at Emmitsburg Road. From there, we marched all the way to Cemetery Ridge.
There, rangers tried to provide interpretation, but the crowds were just too massive.
Then someone started playing Taps on the north end of the ridge. Then another. The crowd hushed. About a dozen played Taps one after the other from the Angle down to the PA monument. It was the most moving moment of the day.
Afterward, we trekked to McDonald’s, drank water, and attempted to understand what we just experienced. It was thoroughly satisfying.