Troop 868 in Action
CAMP OCKANICKON
(Summer Camp -- June 16~July 1, 2012)

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From Seminary Ridge, we drove to the visitor's center where we viewed a film about the battle then proceeded to the famous cyclorama show.  After viewing the inside exhibits of uniforms, weapons, and other military gear, we headed outdoors to tour several important parts of the battlefield.  The Gettysburg National Military Park is huge and walking all of it would easily require several days, especially if one stopped to look at and read the inscriptions on all the monuments.  Unfortunately, we only had time to hit the major highlights, such as the open field were General Pickett led Confederate troops on his famous "Last Charge," the "high water mark" where a small Confederate force was briefly able to penetrate the Union line, several of the larger monuments, and Little Round Top (the elevated position from which Union artillery cut Pickett's men to shreds as they crossed the open field).

The National Park Service has designed a great driving tour that includes the entire battlefield.  Tour maps are free at the Visitors Center and an audio narration to accompany the tour is also available for a nominal charge.  We drove through the Peach Orchard and past a brick barn that had holes in opposite walls where a cannonball had passed completely through the building!  The battlefield stretches for several miles and monuments are everywhere.

Scouts take note of not only the number of monuments, but also their size.   Clearly visible in this photo are ASM Jeff Hagerman, ASM Martin Moore, John, and Dylan surveying the battlefield.
Scoutmaster Meek gives some instructions to the group inside the Visitors Center. Scouts check out one of the displays while waiting to go into the theatre to view the movie.
Brixton, Tristan, and another scout check out a map of the battle. The battlefield was farmland and stone fences lined the various fields.  Farmers had picked the rocks from the fields while plowing and piled them along the sides of the fields.  They provided shooting positions and cover for soldiers from both sides.
Cody, Noah, Kraig, Brixton, and Tristan found another cannon to inspect. Perched atop the cannon, Tristan, Brixton, and John probably don't realize at this point that the decisive part of the battle took place to the right of where they are looking.
The group approaches the Virginia Monument topped by a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. L to R, front row:  Nicholas, Tristan, Toby, Andrew, Noah, Alex, Andrew, Dylan, Spencer, Kraig, ASM Adam Kmiec, and Cody.  L to R, second row:  Tyler, Drew, Thomas, Gavin, Preston, John, Brixton, and Noah.  In the back atop the cannon are Chase and Shawn.
No visit to any civil war site is complete without a history lesson from Scoutmaster Meek.  Here he's pointing out the Union line just on the other side of this field which looks pretty much today exactly as it did on the day when General Pickett volunteered to lead his men across it.  From this vantage point, it looks like a nice flat field that should be easy to cross and mount an assault on the enemy.  So off we went ... just like hundreds of Confederate soldiers.
As we got out into the middle of the field, we realized it wasn't flat, but characterized a series of trenches that required us to walk up and over a whole serious of short hills that slowed us down and made us targets for Union Infantry.  And about half-way across, Scoutmaster Meek stopped the group and pointed to a small hill off to the right that we couldn't see (because of the trees) from where we started our charge.  It turned out the Union had artillery (cannons) up on top of that hill (Little Round Top) and they opened fire on the Confederates from the side.  The cannonballs cut through the Rebel lines often taking out 50 to 100 soldiers with one shot.  Pickett's troops were cut to shreds --- literally.  Cannonballs could tear off arms, legs, heads, or cut a man in half.  General Lee and General Pickett had no idea that the Union had artillery on top of that hill because, up until this point in the battle, they had nothing to shoot at so they had remained silent.  That artillery turned out to be the ultimate "secret weapon" that won the Battle at Gettysburg for the Union by inflicting so many casualities on the Confederates that Lee was forced to retreat.  Once scouts reached the union lines on the far side of the field, they sat down to rest on the rocks where Yankee infantry had taken position and fired at the Rebels who survived the cannon fire and charged the Union line, totally exposed out in the open field.

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