Saturday, August 13, 2016

PENNSYLVANIA; Final Edition--

Known as the Sauches Covered Bridge at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, both the Union and Confederate Armies used this bridge to enter the battlefield area.  Four days later the remnants of General Robert E Lee's Confederate, Army of Northern Virginia, retreated over this same bridge after the Union victory.

I stood in the mddle of this truss structure and tried to imagine the muted thunder of colonial armies rumbling their way across this bridge to a monumental battle that would take place just a few miles away; a battle over the period of three days that was to change the course of history for our newly developing country.

Today, the bridge is limited to the solitude of pedesterian traffic in this bucolic Pennsylvania, farmland setting.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

*            *            *

Col. Patrick H. O'Rorke (left) was graduated first in his class at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY in June 1861.  He is featured on the New York monument honoring their 140th Infranty, erected at Gettysburg in 1889.  His fellow commanders described his heroic action on Little Round Top as among the most instrumental of the entire Civil War.

He was killed there on the second day of battle, July 2, 1863.  A bridge in his hometown of Rochester, NY was named in his honor in 2004.

To this day, visitors to the battlefield rub the nose of his bronze casting for good luck, polishing it to a bright lustre.

*           *            *

Later in our battfield visit we came upon another monument where visitors have accorded similar treatment; this time to twin parts of a lady's anatomy.

I didn't know whether to laugh or frown at this mild indignity.

Still later we were visiting the battfield cemetery and began to notice coins, mostly pennies, lying atop the small grave stones.  Park officials appreciate the respectful intent of those responsible but have discovered the alloy of the coins when exposed to rain leaves nearly permanent stains on the grave markers.

Sue, Becky and I collected 814 pennies and a handful of other coins which Becky turned over to the cemetery treasury in her role as a volunteer park ranger.

*            *            *

One memory I have carried with me since a childhood visit to Gettysburg is that of a musket ball that passed randomly through an entrance door at the home of Jenny Wade, killing her and making her the only civilian casualty of the battle.

The ball actually also passed through an interior door and struck her while she was kneading dough in the kitchen.  She was 20 years old at the time.

As is often the case with such experiences, my memory is of a much larger hole that easily accommodated my curious finger nearly 70 years ago, and the door was a natural, aging wood color, not the bright red of present day.

Friday, August 12, 2016

was delivered at this very location on November 19, 1863

during the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war.

Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties, killed or wounded, in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.

Sue and my cousin, Becky (above) a volunteer ranger with the National Park Service at Gettysburg, explore the Devil's Den, near both Big and Little Round Top, all prominent battle sites and popular with tourists to this day.

The Virginia Memorial (right) was the first Southern monument which was placed at Gettysburg in 1917 at a cost of $50,000.

The monument stands 41 feet high and is topped by Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his horse Traveller.  Virginia contributed over 19,000 men to the Confederate Army, the largest contingent of the Southern states.

The soldiers below Lee were representative of the wide variety of professions and ages of the state's soldiers.

Becky and Sue examine a canon at the Peace Light Memorial which was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, the 75th anniversary of the war's end.

The tower commemorating General James Longstreet's service in the Confederate Army towers 650 feet above the battlefield.  Longstreet first served as a major in the Union Army from 1842 to 1861 then joined the Confederates and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General from 1861 to 1865.

The Battle of Gettysburg, also known as the Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a cirular painting depicting Pickett's Charge in the climatic Confederate attack on the Union army, July 3, 1863.  It is displayed in the battlefield's Museum and Visitor's Center and is extremely popular with tourists.

Sallie, the mascot of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, is memorialized on the base of the regimental monument.  She was given to the regiment as a puppy and took part in all their battles, taking position at the end of the firing line and barking furiously at the enemy.

She was separated from the regiment during a retreat through the town.  After the battle the men returned to the scene of the first day's fighting and found Sallie, weak but alive and maintaining a vigil over the dead and dying.  She was killed at the Battle of Hatcher's Run in February 1865 and, in spite of heavy enemy fire, several men stopped to bury her.

When the monument was designed the regiment's survivors unanimously decided to include a tribute to their smallest comrade. (

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The President--

The Address--

Gettysburg Battlefield
November 19, 1863

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal..."

*                *                *

The bust of President Lincoln was photographed during our recent visit to a memorial on the Gettysburg battlefield near where he delivered his historic address.  The glassed display of the address text Sue is enjoying (above) is in the museum at the visitor's center.  The quoted text is a live link to the full address.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


A bruising thunderstorm drifted over Mansfield's South Park pavilion where the ensemble, Paradigm,  was just beginning to perform a concert that recent evening.

When a gully washing rain began hammering the venue, the musicians scrambled to reverse their orientation and invited the outdoor audience members to join them under the somewhat dubious protection of the newly constructed pavilion's roof.

Turns out the musicians and audience squeezed nicely under the modest sized roof area but the torrential downpour easily penetrated openings all around the walls and began to flood the "stage".

You can see water just beginning to creep under the drummer's cymbals (above) while a few stalwart audience members choose to ride out the onslaught outside; their umbrellas visible behind keyboard artist and ensemble leader Steve Brown's head.

It wasn't long until the rising tide covered the performance area drenching the wild array of power cords feeding the show.

Nervous band members expressed hope the ground fault equipped electrical service would actually work while an audience member borrowed a broom from a nearby food vendor and tried to sweep the water away.

Imagine trying to use a tea spoon to bail a hull-punctured charter boat.

Finally, while Brown was discussing the pathetic failure of the little pavilion's poorly constructed floor to simply utilize gravity to drain the encroaching water away, the GFI circuit protection did it's job and shut off the power flow.

Grateful band members found the failed connection, reassembled the power cords somewhat away from the menacing water and reset the GFI protection thus honoring the mantra of the business that the show must go on.

The performance was part of a popular, summer concert series offered by various ensembles of Local 159 of the American Federation of Musicians and this evening's group featured two guitars, a trombone, Brown's keyboard and a drummer.