No place that I have ever been have I felt them more strongly than at the civil war battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Whether I am standing by Willoughby Creek, the Railroad Cut, The Peach Orchard, The Wheatfield, Devil's Den, Culp's Hill, or standing on Big or Little Round Top, they are there, and have been there since that monumental battle on July 1 -3, 1863. I feel them most in the places they died en masse such as the fields of Pickett's Charge, and the High Water Mark. But I sense them everywhere on these sacred grounds.
Why are they still there ? I am sure that spiritualists will tell you it has to do with lives ended before their time, or spirits trapped on Earth . I think it has more to do with the duty, honor and friendship they had for each other and the respect they had for their foes. Remember back then there was still a sense of chivalry, and descency, and respect, even in a time of brutal conflict. I do not believe that they are trapped at all in these fields and hills of Southern Pennsylvania, they are there because it is where they belong. It was their destiny to fight and die in that place, on those dates, and in this series of battles. These men remain here because their fellow soldiers were their brothers in arms, and their adopted family away from home. Their presense adds to the sacredness of these hallowed grounds.
These battle sites are for them their courtyard of Valhalla where they re-live the hardships, horrors, and glory of what they experienced all those years ago. Do they still fight the battles daily ? I don't know. What I sense is a great peacefulness in these now sacred sites. A sense of glory and pride that they have established from their many brave and heroic deeds. It permeates this place like fog in the morning air. And if you have any feelings as a human being, you cannot help but get caught up in it as well !
As a student of history I have visited many battlefields; Antietam, Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Petersburg, The Wilderness, Bunker Hill ( Breeds Hill ), Princeton, Trenton, Monmouth, Yorktown, etc..., but no where else have I felt the souls of those who died as strongly as I do at Gettysburg. When I stand before the monument that marks where John F. Reynolds was killed at the beginning of the 3 day battle while directing his troops into position, I can almost hear the confederate gun fire the shot that knocked him from his horse killing him. If you open up your mind and your heart in this place you can almost see the entire battle take place before you. It is an incredible feeling !
I went to this special place for about ten years in a row, but realized recently that I have not been there since 2005 ! Has it really been six years ?! That is why this March I am going back to this magical place called Gettysburg. I want to experience that feeling again. I want to walk , once more, in the footsteps of our greatest heroes and see through their eyes what they saw on those historic days in 1863. Going back will be like visiting old friends. I am so looking foward to it !
" In a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. "
Excerpt from The Gettysburg Address - Abraham Lincoln.
For further reading on this pivotal moment in U.S. history I recommend the following books:
Gettysburg - The First Day, by Harry W. Pfanz
Gettysburg - The Second Day, by Harry W. Pfanz
Gettysburg - Day Three, by Jeffry D. Wert
Pickett's Charge - The Last Attack At Gettysburg, by Earl J. Hess
Retreat from Gettysburg, by Kent Masterson Brown
Read these books, go there, and experience glory !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !