Saturday, April 08, 2017

Field Trip to Gettysburg

Friday we took a Rivendell field trip to Gettysburg.  We have had this planned for months, and we thought we would be plenty safe as far as weather goes, but boy, were we wrong!  Friday was probably the coldest, rawest day we could have picked in weeks!  I had been praying fervently that the Lord would keep the rain away, and really He did, except for a random bit of sprinkles, so that was a real praise.  I should also have been praying about the wind, lol.  It was a frigid blast from the north, for sure!  We were woefully unprepared for the biting wind.  Thankfully at the last minute I had grabbed Verity's parka, but everyone else just had hoodies.  Anna took my USAFA hat that Luke gave me for Christmas, but that was mainly for decoration, I think.  She ended up very glad to have it!  I had gloves, but no one else did.  Next time, we'll be prepared . . .

Our tour guide was Kevin, a man who used to go to our church, before he and his family went with our church plant that started closer to their house last fall.  His wife, Megan, taught our older boys AP world history several years ago, and did a fantastic job.  He graduated from Gettysburg College and worked as a park ranger at Gettysburg for several years.  He met Megan there, while she was working at Dwight Eisenhower's farm, another historical site close to Gettysburg.  He really loves Gettysburg and has a ton of knowledge, so we really enjoyed having him as our guide!  I had never been to Gettysburg before, and I definitely didn't really have a clear picture in my mind of what had even happened there.  Thanks to Kevin, I can no longer say that anymore!  He walked us through the 3 days of the battle in an orderly, organized fashion, with lots of interesting anecdotes to make it memorable.

   We started out at Cemetery Hill, and he gave us some background information.  He really focused the whole tour on decisions, some split second, that influenced the battle.  One of those decisions was General Buford's decision that he wanted to end up holding Cemetery Hill, so he sent his troops out west of Gettysburg to meet/slow down the Confederate soldiers who were coming east from there, while he waited for reinforcements.  One interesting thing to me was that the town of Gettysburg only had about 2500 people at that time, so when Gen. Buford came with his 3,000 soldiers, they thought they were saved!  Not hardly, since there were 10,000 Confederates west of the town, plus more to the north!
 We all huddled together, trying to stay warm.  I found this Dora blanket in the van, so Verity had that too.  She was definitely the warmest!
 At our next stop was out west, by the McPherson Barn, where the Union soldiers were trying to slow down the advance of the Confederates.  Here the kids are all lined up, tallest to shortest, except for Mr. C, doing some marching and seeing how you form up into a battle line from a column.  Not as easy as you might think!
 Up by the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, where the flame flickered (and we all wished we could warm ourselves by . . .), Kevin brought out a map of the whole area so we could really orient ourselves.  This memorial is on Oak Ridge.  The girls hung in there for awhile, but eventually they one by one made their way over to the McC's van to wait.  Poor Elena had not been feeling 100%, and the brutal wind was not helping her ear feel better!
 We drove past the Lutheran Seminary on Seminary Ridge, which is where Kevin and Megan got married, and on to the Virginia memorial.
 Then it was time for lunch at Tommy's Pizza!  Originally we had all just assumed we would bring picnic lunches, but Friday was definitely NOT a day for picnics, lol.  The hot pizza was a welcome relief!
 After lunch we went to the Peach Orchard, and then to Little Round Top.  I thought that was the most interesting part of all, because so many things were going on there.  Also, one of the commanding men who died there, Lt. Hazlett, was an ancestor of someone who used to go to our church!  Wow!  It was SO cold there though.  I thought we were going to be blown right off the side of the mountain!  There was a really neat monument there that looked like a little castle.  It had a small spiral staircase you could climb up to the battlements, and the boys (all ages) thought that was the best!
 While we talked about the brave 20th Maine Regiment holding the end of the Union line there, and their leader Col. Chamberlain, Micah and Drew ran around shooting everything in sight with sticks.  Boys and sticks . . .  
 Then it was on to the Pennsylvania Memorial, which is a grand structure.  It also had a (long) spiral staircase up to the roof, to the delight of all the kids.
 It was REALLY windy up there!  Here is a group picture of the 4 moms, trying not to get blown away!
 Our second to the last stop was the stone wall where Pickett's charge was repulsed.  There were lots of cannons there, and Kevin gave us a quick lesson on how to fire a cannon.  I was surprised to find out that most of the cannons are original ones!  This one was made in 1861.  Although it got a little bit brighter and sunnier at this stop, the wind was still just as biting!  The girls, except for Anna, had stayed in the van for most of the last few stops, except for the PA memorial (because who can resist going all the way up to the top?!).  Micah and Drew loved all the cannons, and they ran around quite happily!
 Our last stop was the cemetery in town.  This year for memory work, we are memorizing the Gettysburg Address.  It was neat to be standing where Abraham Lincoln was talking about when he said, "We have come to dedicate a portion of this field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live."  Also, since it was in town, it was a little more sheltered and protected, so the wind wasn't quite as brutal.
 After a final bathroom stop, we all headed home!  It felt good to be in our nice, warm van.  Everyone had snacked heavily on goldfish, hi-chews, and gummi dinosaurs the whole day, so that kept people quiet (but trashed the van, lol).  As you can see, Verity was *much* happier in her carseat, surrounded by her adoring fans, than out in the cold fields!
Micah and Drew crashed.  All that running around!  Verity eventually fell asleep too, so that made the return trip pretty quiet.

We got back about 5:00--just in time to eat dinner and head off to Bible study, where we had signed up to bring dessert and for Bob to lead!  I was worried about falling asleep on the couch, now that I was warm and cozy, out of the wind, but I managed to stay awake.  Anna picked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that she made, which was very well-received by the adults, and Micah picked brownies with mint frosting (also made by Anna), which were very well-received by the younger set.  This was to celebrate their birthdays!  It was a very good, although tiring, day.  We all slept well last night!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Boys and guns" - I wonder if some complained when the boys sticks were just swords? Love, Bob