And so we begin our visit to the battlefield.

I will add some images as we proceed.

Wonderful with leaves changing.

To the sons of Virginia.


Chamberlain… A professor of rhetoric…

The center

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Brian Kopp says:

    If you have time, the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg is definitely worth a visit.

  2. mcitl says:

    Onward and upward, Fr Z and Fr P.

    Grazie tante per l’opportunita a mangiare con voi ieri sera.

    Spero che ci vedremo a presto!

    Fr C

  3. Rob in Maine says:

    Huzzah! Huzzah!

    Josh Chamberlain and the 20th Maine!


  4. Lucy says:

    Oh, Father, you’re making me homesick now. I’m from a little town near Gettysburg, called Shippensburg. It’s a lovely historic town. There was a skirmish fought on our main street in which I witnessed the reenactment of this summer. Enjoy your visit.

  5. Padre Steve says:

    Note to self: schedule a trip to Gettysburg ASAP!

  6. Jon says:

    The High Tide at Gettysburg

    ~Will Henry Thompson
    (Thompson took part in Pickett’s Charge, July 3,1863)

    A CLOUD possessed the hollow field,
    The gathering battle’s smoky shield.
    Athwart the gloom the lightning flashed,
    And through the cloud some horsemen dashed,
    And from the heights the thunder pealed.

    Then at the brief command of Lee
    Moved out that matchless infantry,
    With Pickett leading grandly down,
    To rush against the roaring crown
    Of those dread heights of destiny.

    Far heard above the angry guns
    A cry across the tumult runs,—
    The voice that rang through Shiloh’s woods
    And Chickamauga’s solitudes,
    The fierce South cheering on her sons!

    Ah, how the withering tempest blew
    Against the front of Pettigrew!
    A Khamsin wind that scorched and singed
    Like that infernal flame that fringed
    The British squares at Waterloo!

    A thousand fell where Kemper led;
    A thousand died where Garnett bled:
    In blinding flame and strangling smoke
    The remnant through the batteries broke
    And crossed the works with Armistead.

    “Once more in Glory’s van with me!”
    Virginia cried to Tennessee;
    “We two together, come what may,
    Shall stand upon these works to-day!”
    (The reddest day in history.)

    Brave Tennessee! In reckless way
    Virginia heard her comrade say:
    “Close round this rent and riddled rag!”
    What time she set her battle-flag
    Amid the guns of Doubleday.

    But who shall break the guards that wait
    Before the awful face of Fate?
    The tattered standards of the South
    Were shriveled at the cannon’s mouth,
    And all her hopes were desolate.

    In vain the Tennesseean set
    His breast against the bayonet!
    In vain Virginia charged and raged,
    A tigress in her wrath uncaged,
    Till all the hill was red and wet!

    Above the bayonets, mixed and crossed,
    Men saw a gray, gigantic ghost
    Receding through the battle-could,
    And heard across the tempest loud
    The death-cry of a nation lost!

    The brave went down! Without disgrace
    They leaped to Ruin’s red embrace.
    They only heard Fame’s thunders wake,
    And saw the dazzling sun-burst break
    In smiles on Glory’s bloody face!

    They fell, who lifted up a hand
    And bade the sun in heaven to stand!
    They smote and fell, who set the bars
    Against the progress of the stars,
    And stayed the march of Motherland!

    They stood, who saw the future come
    On through the fight’s delirium!
    They smote and stood, who held the hope
    Of nations on that slippery slope
    Amid the cheers of Christendom.

    God lives! He forged the iron will
    That clutched and held that trembling hill.
    God lives and reigns! He built and lent
    The heights for Freedom’s battlement
    Where floats her flag in triumph still!

    Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns!
    Love rules. Her gentler purpose runs.
    A mighty mother turns in tears
    The pages of her battle years,
    Lamenting all her fallen sons!

  7. Paul M says:

    very jealous, Father, as I have not yet had the pleasure to visit Gettysburg.

  8. Maureen says:

    Quite a twist at the end. That’s a remarkable poem. And poet, for that matter. It’s a hard thing to be glad you lost….

  9. “A voice is heard in Rama, of lamentation and bitter mourning; it is Rachel weeping for her children, and she will not be comforted, because none is left.”

  10. Joe says:

    Pictures unfortunately do not do it justice. To get the meaning of Gettysburg one must stand in it’s meadows and fields and feel the spirit of those who fought there. Awesome,……….like Arlington.

  11. Woody Jones says:

    From a letter of Lord Acton to General Lee, 4 November 1866:

    “Without presuming to decide the purely legal question, on which it seems evident to me from Madison’s and Hamilton’s papers that the Fathers of the Constitution were not agreed, I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo. ”

    To my knowledge, Bl. Pius IX never addressed a letter to Lincoln, but he did do so to President Davis, and after the doleful imprisonment of the latter, even sent to him a crown of thorns, woven by the Pontiff’s own venerable hands, together with the message: “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

  12. Mike B. says:

    Father Z.,

    Indeed, that’s one beautiful place. I was a Civil War reenactor for over 20 years, and Gettysburg was my favorite Civl War site. As a professor of literature and rhetoric, I am delighted to see you mention Professor Chamberlain of 20th Maine fame. Whenever I vist Gettysburg I make it a point to pay tribute to the professor from Bowdoin. “Fix bayonets, charge!” One day I hope to have the honor of attending one of his “celestial” lectures (but not quite yet).

    Thanks for the beautiful photos, Father.



  13. Howard says:

    This was an indispensable war for democracy. As long as democracy exists, the two sides will be in conflict: the central government vs. local autonomy. Whenever one wins absolutely, democracy is done for. Only lately has it become “acceptable” only to have favored the Union side, with the Confederate side being reduced to mere caricature.

    Perhaps the end of democracy is the inevitable consequence of a frontier nation losing its frontier; the West may not have meant all to Americans that it did to Tolkien, but it did mean a fresh start. Now there is no more West, or at least no more fresh start.

    At least I have one advantage as part of my Southern heritage: I do not believe that, in this world, the good guys always win. And I am willing to admit loss, which the U.S. is still unable to bring itself to do with Vietnam. (“See, they sell us cheap textiles now, a very Capitalist thing to do, so we *must* have won!”) The delusion that the U.S. morally infallible and therefore unconquerable is very, very, very dangerous. And very widespread.

    I will always believe that the South was punished for its sins by losing the War — and the North was punished by winning. Now we’ve got Federal Union running out our noses. Serves us all right!

  14. Jackie says:

    Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is a MUST read.

  15. Hettie B. says:

    Thanks for the lovely photos, Father!

    Former battlefields always have a strange, beautiful peace about them. It breaks my heart to think of the horrors they’ve seen and borne. And yet somehow they heal, nature takes over, monuments bear witness. It’s always a haunting and yet pleasing experience to visit such places.

  16. Tony Kaiser says:

    I second Jackie’s comments about “Killer Angels.” I also recommend another book about the ending of the Civil War called “April 1865: The Month That Saved America,” by Jay Winik. It was recommended to me by a history teacher who was working in the simulations cell at Fort Leavenworth at the Brigade Command and Battle Staff Training program.

  17. Erin says:

    I grew up and currently live nearby Gettysburg in York, PA. I always took the battlefield for granted, but now I know as an adult how sacred it truly is. We used to play at Devils Den as kids.
    On a side note: In nearby Harrisburg (PA) – Our Diocese Bishop Kevin Rhodes tragically lost his cousin in a car crash a few days ago. The Bishop came to my parish tonight for the closing services to our parish’s Forty Hours devotion and explained that his cousin, a Pennsylvania state senator, was devout Catholic who attended Mass every morning and extremely pro-life. The Bishop said we need more Catholic politicians like his cousin. How true.

    Also, a young man from my parish is studying at Mount St. Mary’s. We are extremely proud of him! And lastly, the Bishop announced that our diocese will be ordaining 4 new priests next spring. YAY!!!

    Hope you enjoy your stay in PA Father Z!
    Love your blog, Erin

  18. Kay says:

    I love how you caught the rays of light in that picture that is fifth from the bottom. Great photos.

  19. Paul S. says:

    I had the privilege to visit Gettysburg (for the 3rd time) with my Scout Troop last summer. We checked out the new visitors center which had just been built and toured all over the place. I’m glad you got the chance to see the battlefields. Its an important piece of American history.

  20. Br. Andrew, OP says:

    Glad to see the Minnesota monument. Those boys saved the day in that last battle if I remember my history correctly. They plugged the line on the last change and most were killed. Tough guys from Minnesota. ;-)

  21. Richard A says:

    I thought Chamberlain was a professor of ‘Natural and Revealed Religion’ at Bowdoin College. Or was that a mid-19th century version of ‘Rhetoric’?

    Is the corruption of the federal order too high a price to pay for bringing an end to slavery? Maybe we can get some of it back with a lot of diligent effort!

    “High Tide at Gettysburg” is the best survey of the battle I’ve seen, and it is obviously the basis for Michael Shaara’s book.

    Huzzah from Michigan!

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