Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bring good shoe leather and curiosity to inaugural spring walks at Gettysburg

(National Park Service)

Visitors to Gettysburg battlefield next month can enjoy springtime blossoms while they take part in an inaugural special weekend of walks and talks focusing on the two armies that clashed there in July 1863.

Gettysburg National Military Park on Wednesday released details of the Spring Battlefield Foray scheduled for April 23-24. The program, entitled “Armies at War,” looks at the tactics, tools and organizations utilized at the crucial battle.

All programs are open to the public and no registration is necessary. The current schedule, with details provided by the park:

Saturday, April 23

Hikes -- some on rough terrain -- explore key episodes and phases of the battle from the perspective of the different branches of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.

8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: “It was nothing more than a stand-up fight” -- infantry vs. infantry on July 1.  From the firefight in Reynolds Woods to the savage combat at the Railroad Cut, the foot soldier dominated the fighting on July 1, 1863, west of Gettysburg. Advantages and disadvantages of terrain, arms of the combatants, and the ability of unit commanders to make quick decisions made the difference in victory or defeat on the field that day. Join park historian John Heiser on a 2 ½ hour, in-depth hike examining the tools and tactics of the Union and Confederate regiments involved in the opening clash at Gettysburg. Meet at Reynolds Woods, Auto Tour Stop 1. Park along Reynolds Avenue.


11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.: "A Spirited Duel" -- The Artillery on July 2.
  Confederate artillerymen E. P. Alexander wrote of the fighting on July 2, “I don’t think there was ever in our war a hotter, harder, sharper artillery afternoon than this.” From Warfield Ridge to the Trostle Farm, follow park ranger Matt Atkinson as he explores the various Union and Confederate batteries that dueled for supremacy on the bloodiest day of the battle of Gettysburg. Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.
3 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: “Clash of Cavalry” -- The Battle at East Cavalry Field. After two days of stubborn fighting, the Battle of Gettysburg began anew during the early morning hours of July 3, 1863. Though the fighting at Culp’s Hill and Pickett’s Charge is more famous, the pitched cavalry battle fought three miles east of town represents a compelling chapter in the Gettysburg story. Join park ranger Tom Holbrook and explore the fields, farms, and crossroads where cavalrymen once crossed sabers. Meet at the parking lot on Confederate Cavalry Avenue. Park along Confederate Cavalry Avenue.

Sunday, April 24

“Hiking the Union Fishhook,” a special program from 8:55 a.m. to 4:55 p.m.  In better understanding the numerous battles within the Battle of Gettysburg, it becomes clear that the various fights were interconnected. Walking from place to place is the best way to grasp this. Led by licensed battlefield guides Tim Smith and Garry Adelman, this rigorous hike will cover the Union fishhook as it was generally positioned on July 2 and 3.  Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield and Cemetery Ridge are the goal by lunchtime with Cemetery Hill, Culp’s Hill, Spangler’s Spring  and more rounding out the day.

Cemetery Ridge (NPS)

This hike not only entails 8 miles of walking up, down, around and along hills and ridges, but requires a relatively fast pace. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and a packed lunch are highly recommendedThe hike will begin and end at the flagpole at the Gettysburg National Military Park museum and visitor center. All participants should park in parking Lot 3 of the visitor center.

Katie Lawhon, management assistant at the park, told the Picket that the event, co-sponsored by the Gettysburg Foundation, was the “result of several months of discussions about how to better serve the public, give greater access to the battlefield and reach more people with regards to our programming. The Foray gives us a high level of interaction with participants, more opportunities for the public to be physically on the battlefield, and the ability to have a wide range of excellent presenters.”

The park stresses parts of the programs will cover less-explored areas of the site in southern Pennsylvania.

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