Saturday, August 25, 2018

Part I - East Cavalry Battlefield as a Model for Keller's Bridge

Last week I made a trip east to attend the Civil War Round Table Congress, held in Harrisburg at the National Museum of the Civil War.  As Harrisburg is an easy drive from Gettysburg, I decided to head out a couple of days before the congress commenced to enjoy some walking at Gettysburg.  I have traveled to Gettysburg several times in the past, and have covered a decent amount of the battlefield, but I haven't had the chance to do a lot of walking.  On this trip I wanted to walk the XI Corps positions on the first day of the battle, along with some of the areas in the southern portion of the battlefield, visit Neill or "Lost" Avenue, and walk the East Cavalry Battlefield area of the park.  I also was able to visit some other Civil War battle sites on the drive to Gettysburg.

One of the most stylish monuments, yet few get to see it
On Thursday I met a couple of my Civil War buddies from the Chickamauga Study Group, and it was a good thing I was able to connect with them as otherwise I would have not been able to visit Lost Avenue "legally."  My two friends have a connection with a gentleman who owns the property right next to Lost Avenue, so after a quick phone call to confirm, we headed to his farm and was able to walk a short distance to visit this little known and very little visited portion of the park.  After this great little sojourn, we headed to Oak Hill and walked to McLean Farm, then cut across the fields along a fence row that dropped us off on Howard Avenue.  From there we walked to Barlow's Knoll, then back along Howard Avenue to complete the XI Corps line.  Walking across the fields near the McLean farm really brought the terrain into perspective, and it helped determined just what the troops could and could not view.  

After a nice lunch at Gettysburg Eddies, we headed to the tower area along Confederate Avenue.  From here we covered Slyder Lane and Farm, walked in the area of Farnsworth's Charge, moved towards the base of Big Round Top, hit the logging road east of Little Round Top, and mosied back towards the the tower area along Wheatfield Road.  Then two of us headed to Hanover to see the sites for that battle and enjoy some delish beers at Aldus!

Along Confederate Cavalry Avenue
Friday morning was overcast, threatening rain, as I parked my car at the north end of East Cavalry Battlefield.  It had been some years since my last visit to this area, and I wanted to walk the ground so as to obtain a better feel for the terrain.  I had recently re-read Eric Wittenberg's book Protecting the Flank at Gettysburg: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, so from the battle perspective I had a fairly good feel for ebb and flow of the action, but was looking to see how the various dips and rises in the ground influenced the fighting.  I covered all of the tour road on foot, including a side trip to one of the least visited of all the Gettysburg tablets, covering a little over five miles.  Along the way, my mind wandered and I often wondered about how this portion of the battlefield is interpreted, with War Department tablets, monuments, and wayside interpretive signs, and thought that the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation could do something on a smaller scale at Keller's Bridge.  Watch for a future post on some ideas on how we could interpret the area.

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