Landmark that witnessed Civil War

Landmark that witnessed Civil War

reliving history

Landmark that witnessed Civil War

Few wars in the annals of American history are as devastating and emotional as the Civil War.

Sir Winston Churchill called it the ‘Last war fought by gentlemen’. It is marked by bloodiest battles fought on American soil where many of the land’s soldiers lost their lives. The Civil War began in April 1861 with the Confederate attack on Charleston Harbor and ended in May 1865 with the surrender of Gen Kirby’s Confederate forces.

Harrisburg, capital of Pennsylvania, is where you start the tour of Gettysburg. The most violent and controversial three-day battle fought here between the Confederates, led by General Robert E Lee, and the Union troops, commanded by General George Meade, was a major turning point of the war.

The Auto Tape Tour, a 90-minute cassette guide, brings to life the first, the second and the third day of the war as you drive through the town. The tape dramatises with music and voice a complete picture of what happened, where it happened and why it happened.

The tour begins at the statue of John Burns and takes one to the Eternal Peace Light, a memorial that is a tribute to  memories of brave soldiers taken away by the war. The 12-mile tour, the approximate driving time of which is two hours, takes a visitor to various monuments, memorials and important sites where wars played out, allowing for stops with commentary — at the Seminary Ridge and Cup’s Hill, where Lee drove back General Meade’s union army.

We share the high hopes of proud southern soldiers as they rushed to the Valley of Death with flags flying and lights flashing, in Pickett’s charge, and the deep despair of its costly failure.

On the tour is a visit to the memorial erected to the faithful dog Sally Ann, which belonged to a soldier and served as a mascot to the seventh Pennsylvania regiment. It is said that it had refused to leave the war-field as it had stood guard over the wounded soldiers without food and water till the battle had ended.

The Little Round Top is where Warren, a topographical expert and mathematician fighting in the Union Army, spotted the Confederate soldiers with his binoculars. But General Lee was a gentleman to the core, whose expertise in warfare was matched only by the nobility of his soul. He was ever ready to admit his mistakes.

A testament to his great quality is the statement, “He was right, I was wrong”. He had successfully stemmed the advances of the Union forces until his campaign at Gettysburg failed, which became the turning point in the Civil War. He won the respect and admiration of the Union, too, as one of the ablest men of the time.

The best way to get the most out of the Gettysburg tour is to take the Auto Tape Tour and have someone drive you around. Gettysburg is an hour’s drive from Harrisburg.

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