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.
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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.
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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.
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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.