Thursday, November 18, 2010

Some Little Town in Pennsylvania Called Gettysburg

I've had Rhett Butler's voice in my head all day, saying that. "Some little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg."

I have to say, it's a dream come true for me to be here. Some kids grow up wanting to go to Disney World. I grew up wanting to go to Gettysburg. :)

I'm not totally sure why I have always had such a fascination with the Civil War. I think it's a mixture of things. The human interest stories have always captivated me. The women who turned into nurses. The men who turned into heroes. The brothers who fought against each other. So many incredible stories of tragedy and triumph. And yes...someday, I hope to write a novel against the backdrop of the war. I've already done hour upon hour of research--just for fun.

My Gettysburg experience started out early this morning. I was so excited just walking into the huge visitor center--and even more so when I saw author Jeff Shaara signing copies of his books. I had him sign a book for me and told him about my ranger years at Shiloh. Come to find out, he's setting an upcoming novel there. Very cool.

After the movie and cyclorama (which were both totally worth the money), I spent a lot of time in the museum. Fantastic--but probably overkill for those who aren't really interested in the Civil War. I could've spent at least another hour in there, at least. After attending a ranger program in the National Cemetery, I set out on the 24 mile driving tour...

And I can't help but compare the experience to Shiloh. The battlefields themselves have a few similarities. But the outside stuff--way different. There is a lot more commercialization at Gettysburg. So many shops and hotels and things. In my opinion, all that outside stuff detracts a bit from the battlefield. Even the visitor center made me feel that way--it was so showy, so obviously high-tech and expensive...

But the battlefield itself was amazing. I would love to come back sometime and actually walk more on the actual field.The driving tour is nice and you get to see the high points, but just as with Shiloh--to really experience it, you need to be out on it, walking the same land that the soldiers did.

I left the field at dark, cold and exhausted. But happy. I'd seen a place that I've wanted to see for as long as I can remember. And tomorrow...on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address...I'll be in the National Cemetery for a special program to remember.

And tomorrow night...I'm staying on a dairy farm in Lancaster County. Am a little afraid it will be like Schrute Farms...complete with Dwight and Mose!


Kaye Dacus said...

I'm so glad you finally got to see Gettysburg! When I lived in Northern Virginia, G'burg was one of my favorite historic sites to visit, and I've seen it during all seasons. But my favorite, by far, was a springtime visit on which I got to see the battlefield from horseback. It was only a two-hour tour, so we didn't get to see much, but what a way to experience the vast scope of the size of the engagement.

Can't wait for your Gettysburg-set novel. I'll be the first to pre-order it!

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

I've only been to Gettysburg once but I absolutely loved it so I know where you're coming from. I love Civil War history and the battlefield really took my breath away and the town itself is amazing too. I REALLY need to get back there soon!

Have fun in Lancaster, I was in Ohio Amish country this past weekend and had a blast. I hope you survive the dairy farm. :-P

XOXO~ Renee

Becky Welch said...

Ok I am so jealous!!!! I have not been there since the 8th grade and am sad to say did not take advantage of it then!! My LB is just like you - she LOVES the Civil War so I am sure a trip like this is in our future!!! Enjoy Lancaster and can't wait to read the future books these trips have inspired!

Hope you do not meet the Schrutes!

Annalisa Daughety said...

Thanks, Kaye! I loved it. And I thought while I was there that I'd like to go back sometime and do a horseback tour. I'd love to set a novel there someday...we'll see! Glad to hear that you're recovering well from your accident!

Renee, it was so fun! I'm glad you enjoyed Ohio Amish Country! Lancaster was a little different--lots more tourists there than when I was in Charm and Sugarcreek last year. But it was still a great experience.

Thanks, Becky! Now you'll have to plan a trip there to take LB! Or for a place a little closer...Atlanta also has some really neat Civil War sights you can take her to...and catch a Braves game while you're there! (two of my favorite things to do in the summer in Atlanta!) And thankfully, I did not meet the Schrutes...haha!


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