Thursday, October 29, 2015

What Can I Say About Gettysburg After Learning My 3XGreat-Grandfather Fought and Was Wounded There During Pickett's Charge?

When Bud and I did our first big trip 'East' in 2008, we planned on visiting several Civil War battlefields and even though we got as far north as Antietam I didn't care about going another 47 miles to Gettysburg. I wasn't interested. Everyone goes to Gettysburg.
Then when we began planning our trip to the Northeast I wanted to see if I could find any information about my great-great-great grandfather, John P. Hull, who I knew from his tombstone in Corning had come from Vermont.
At least I knew he had served in a Regiment of Vermont Volunteers. It hadn't even occurred to me that he might have been in the Civil War but when I googled his name I found a website with a slightly different middle name but which matched all the other details I had. And on that website I learned he had been at Gettysburg, PA July 2 & 3, 1863 and was wounded in the fighting during Pickett's Charge.
I did find the name of the town he lived in or near in Vermont (Cambridge) but that no longer mattered; I wouldn't go there, I would go to Gettysburg National Military Park.
We arrived at the Museum and Visitor Center around nine Tuesday morning. I thought they might not even be open yet but the main parking lot was almost full. It must be crazy around there during the summer months and on weekends.
I was asking Abe his opinion of the current presidential candidates vying for his party's nomination. He didn't have much to say about Trump. Well, to be honest, he didn't have much to say, period.
After touring the museum and book store (which, heads up, is where I purchased my gift for next year's Christmas game [I can name at least three who would love it]), we decided to do the self-guided auto tour. I took 80+ pictures mostly of monuments and vistas from both sides.
The Virginia Memorial depicting General Robert E. Lee mounted on 'Traveller'. This statue is on Warfield Ridge overlooking
this field across which 12,000 Southern soldiers attacked in what is known as "Pickett's Charge".
View of "Devil's Den" and the "Slaughter Pen" from Little Round Top on the Union side.
It was while on Little Round Top we happened upon living historian Mike Reetz in his role as Brigadier General Horace Porter, aide-de-camp to General U.S. Grant. Not only did he pose with me for a photo, he directed us to the Vermont Memorials by pointing out this large monument far in the distance:
and saying the Vermont monuments were nearby. The Pennsylvania Monument is the largest of the state memorials. It stands along Cemetery Ridge, the Union battle line on July 2, 1863.
I spotted this spire and said, "That's got to be the one. It's made from (Vermont) marble." Sure enough it was the 14th Vermont Volunteers monument. I was so excited to have found it. I had Bud take a number of photos of me. Then we got back in the car and I thought, "I'd better make sure I had the right regiment number." I had written it down before leaving home. Wrong monument. We needed to find the 13th Regiment.
 Which wasn't hard, it was just down the line. And behind it and the fence was this smaller stone:
showing the 13th VT positions under Colonel Francis V. Randall. The story about Lieutenant Stephen F. Brown shown atop the state monument is here:
on one of the four bronze markers telling the story of Vermont's Green Mountain Boys during the Battle of Gettysburg.
The 13th Vermont Regiment was a nine-month volunteer unit. Their enlistment was almost over when they were ordered to Gettysburg. Most of its time was spent in the defense of Washington, D.C. in and around that city.
Ten days after they fought to repulse Pickett's Charge which was the turning point at Gettysburg, they were back in Brattleboro, VT. They were mustered out July 21. I do not know how badly my 3x's great-grandfather was injured or if he suffered any lasting effects from his wound. The average age of the Unionists at Gettysburg was 23. Grandfather Hull was 43. His daughter, my great-great grandmother, Agnes, was 12 when he went to war. Her little sister, Alice, was two.
Visiting Gettysburg is one of the best experiences I've had. If you ever get the chance, GO.

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