Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gettysburg 2

Your correspondents are far from being Civil War buffs, so pretty much any information we attempt to provide here should be taken with some grains of salt. The only other Civil War battlefield we have visited is Manassas, or Bull Run, which is nice and all, but is mostly just an open field with a few old cannons. We knew that being relatively close, Gettysburg was something we ought to do, but we didn't know what to expect. We were quite surprised.

First of all, the visitors' center features a very good museum with a history of the entire war and a crazy "cyclorama" which is apparently a word for a room with a giant 360-degree painting wrapped all around.

Second, and more surprising, were the monuments. There are over a thousand monuments ranging from modest stone markers to huge equestrian sculptures. From the best information we can gather, as Gettysburg was contemporaneously recognized and preserved as a historic location, many of the survivors of the battle decided to put up monuments there. This must have somehow fed on itself because there are monuments to every unit that fought in the battle, tributes to many prominent individuals, and memorials from each state involved. It creates a landscape unlike any other I have seen. It is sort of like a sprawling, low-density cemetery, creeping across miles of land, working around hills, forests, human development, and any other obstacle it may find.

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