Montgomery residents locate soldiers who fought at Gettysburg
GETTYSBURG Saturday, September 24 was a pleasant day for a trip to the Gettysburg National Battlefield sponsored by the Montgomery Area Historical Society (MAHS).
On this warm and peaceful day, it was difficult for the local attendees to imagine the chaos which occurred there more than a century and a half ago.
The only Civil War battle taking place north of the Mason-Dixon line was fought during the first three days in July 1863. Temperature-wise then, it was a hot day when happenstance brought together armies with the North and South.
Picture Rocks native David Richards, a battlefield guide of 31 years, explained, “Ten roads and highways come together at Gettysburg. The first shots by General Lee’s confederate soldiers began a foot race for nearby Union regiments to get here. They really pounded dirt.”
A place to care for the wounded was housed within the three buildings at Pennsylvania College. Founded in 1832, at the time of the war, 22 students plus factuality were there. The educational facility is now the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary.
Those familiar with events during that infamous battle will recall Big and Little Round Tops, the Peach Orchard, and the railroad where cuts in the landscape waited for track to be laid.
On the crest of a hill, Cemetery Ridge overlooks the Jennie Wade house. The clock tower, visible to all, rose above the town where retreating Union soldiers fled for cover. The noise of 650 cannons with a two-mile range, were heard in Philadelphia.
Of the Emmons Road, the guide said, “It lay so full of the dead, heaps of bodies hindered one from walking on the ground. The wounded, who went unattended for three or more days, were in so much pain some took their own lives.”
The tour of Monument Row revealed more than 1300 works of art in bronze and granite. “This is the most war-monumented piece of real estate in the world,” Richards said.
Leading the 36 visitors around the Pennsylvania Monument, the guide pointed out regiments local to the visitors. Many viewed familiar names, some being kinsmen.
Nancy Fowler Roberts of Montgomery, located the name of Thomas C. Fowler. Her daughter, wife of Larry Gardner, noted the name of Thomas B. Low. The latter soldier survived Gettysburg only to die later in the war. Low, interred in Lime Ridge Methodist Cemetery between Berwick and Bloomsburg, descends from eastern Lycoming County Low/Lowe families, the same as Mr. Gardner.
Note is always given to Colonel Bruce Ricketts of Sullivan County. Names associated with that area were Crawl, Hunsinger, Kisner, Molynoux, Pennington, Simmons and Stevenson.
On another list, MAHS president David Morehart’s attention was drawn to a soldier of the same name. Bill Poust of Hughesville, descendant of David C. Phillips interred in Old Lairdsville Cemetery, could not locate his ancestor’s name and its absence will be looked into.
During the entirety of the Civil War, Pennsylvania had 337,836 enlistments and was second in number only to New York which had 448,850. This tally comes from information at the Visitor’s Center in Gettysburg.
Twelve states had residents with divided sympathies thus soldiers joined the North or the South. Those states were Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
For tourists who haven’t visited the battleground in the past decade, a new Visitors Center was built in 2008. The following year, a statue of Abraham Lincoln was donated by Robert H. Smith. A sculpture of Lincoln seated on a bench, has become a favorite photo op site.
In conclusion, Richards proposed a thought provoking observation when he said, “What happened here impacts us to this day. Had we been a splintered nation, who would have stopped Hitler?”