Gettysburg

The most famous and arguably most important battle of the American Civil War, took place over three hot summer days in July 1863 around the small market town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What began as a skirmish between General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (the South) and the Union Army of the Potomac (the North), evolved into a three day battle involving around 160,000 Americans. It also produced one of the best known speeches in American history – The Gettysburg Address – given by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, four and a half months after the guns were silenced.

(Along with the battle of Waterloo, Gettysburg is one of the most documented battles in history and I’m not going to attempt to add to that!! You can click here to read more about the battle and the key players involved.)

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After our immersion in the fun and frivolous world of chocolate, it was somewhat sobering to travel a mere forty miles and be immersed in the world of battle and bloodshed. Despite not being American or having any sort of link to the Civil War, both Richard and I found it to be a very moving and haunting place, and once again we were kicking ourselves that we never got to Ypres in Belgium, where so many Kiwi soldiers lost their lives during the first world war.

At the Gettysburg museum we watched a short film narrated by Morgan Freeman – yours truly in tears before it was even half way through – and then experienced the Gettysburg Cyclorama. Cycloramas are panoramic scenes painted onto the inside of a cylindrical platform. They are designed to make the viewer feel as if they are in the middle of a famous place or scene and the first cyclorama was opened in Edinburgh in 1787. The Gettysburg Cyclorama was painted by a French artist, Paul Phillipoteaux, and depicts Pickett’s Charge which was the climax of the battle of Gettysburg.

Philippoteaux at work on the Gettysburg cyclorama.
Philippoteaux at work on the Gettysburg cyclorama.
Scenes form the cyclorama.
Scenes from the cyclorama.

We were all keen to explore the battlefields but they are spread out over a huge area. So we hired a guide who drove us around for two hours and brought to life key moments and people involved in the battle. With a degree in Civil War History he was the perfect teacher and kept us all engrossed as we visited key sites – Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, the Peach Orchard, Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill.

Out and about with Kyle our wonderful guide. Even Olive had questions for him!
Out and about with Kyle our wonderful guide. Even Olive had questions for him!
Exploring Cemetery Hill and the National Soldier's Cemetery.
Exploring Cemetery Hill and the National Soldier’s Cemetery.
So many interesting things to experience in Gettysburg.
So many interesting things to experience in Gettysburg.

President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg in November 1863 for the dedication of the new soldier’s cemetery. There were numerous speeches given on that day, the 19th of November, but it was Lincoln’s that became synonymous with the great battle. At around 270 words it was on the short side for a Lincoln speech but is now widely regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever made.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Abe shows up in many places around Gettysburg.
Abe shows up in many places around Gettysburg.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stop in Gettysburg and plan to go back in July when my parents come to visit and we’ll be making sure to book Kyle again so we can learn even more about this very important place.

I’m writing this after eating a delicious Mother’s Day lunch cooked for me by my wonderful husband. Wishing all those mothers out there a wonderful day…very excited and happy at the prospect of seeing my Mother in a couple of months 🙂

Take care everyone xxx

 

 

The Handley March

John Handley was born in County Wexford in Ireland in 1835. He emigrated with his family to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1850. Handley worked as a carpenter, before studying law and working in Washington DC for President James Buchanan. He settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania where he practiced law, eventually becoming a judge.

Judge John Handley
Judge John Handley

Handley showed great concern for those less fortunate than himself and was known for his charitable actions and the many donations he made, which helped students in many schools and universities complete their educations. During the Civil War, Handley sympathised with the South and was a great admirer of Stonewall Jackson, one of the best known confederate commanders. Jackson was based in Winchester for several months during the course of the war and I’m assuming this is the reason why Handley made many trips to Winchester and grew to love the town and the friends that he made here.

On his death in 1895, Handley bequeathed $250,000 dollars to the city of Winchester. The money was invested and when the estate grew to the value of $500,000 dollars it was to be used to build a library for the people of Winchester.

Handley Library, built in 1913.
Handley Library, built in 1913.

Handley stipulated that the remainder of the estate be used to build schools for the education of the poor. In 1922 construction began on John Handley High School, using funds from Handley’s estate.

John Handley High School
John Handley High School

Handley’s love of Winchester was so great that he purchased a burial plot in Winchester’s Mount Hebron Cemetery. He wanted his final resting place to be as close as possible to the many soldiers who lost their lives in and around this area during the Civil War.

Every year, in honour of Handley’s bequest to Winchester and his particular interest in the education of the city’s children, a parade is held from the centre of old town Winchester to Handley’s grave in Mount Hebron Cemetery. Children from the six schools that make up the Winchester Public School district, are selected to take part in the march. Dressed in their very best clothes, carrying flowers to lay at the memorial, the children parade solemnly through the town to Handley’s grave, where they listen to various school officials pay tribute to the man who helped make their education possible.

This year a little Kiwi joined the parade…

Edie all ready to join the Handley March. Olive somewhat miffed that she wasn't chosen!
Edie all ready to join the Handley March. Olive somewhat miffed that she wasn’t chosen!
One of Edie's great friends was on the march too...made it even more exciting.
One of Edie’s great friends was on the march too…made it even more exciting.
Due to my new role as a working person, Richard joined the parade and acted as official papparazo...
Edie loved having her Dad walk alongside her and take plenty of pics for Mum!
I think Judge Handley would have smiled as he watched this lot marching...
I think Judge Handley would have smiled as he watched this lot marching…
Edie's floral tribute.
Edie’s floral tribute.
Mount Hebron Cemetery.
Mount Hebron Cemetery.
Final resting place of Winchester's number one fan :)
Final resting place of Winchester’s number one fan 🙂
Our very solemn and respectful Edie!
Our very solemn and respectful Edie!

If you were hoping to read all about our trip to Puerto Rico…apologies…am still sifting through photos but promise to share something soon. It’s Apple Blossom this weekend and the town is already abuzz. We have decided to take advantage of the long weekend and head away. We are going to Pennsylvania to visit two very iconic but very different American attractions – Hershey World and Gettysburg. That might need two separate blog posts!!

Take care everyone. Hope you are all well xxx

 

 

 

 

Harpers Ferry

About a forty-five minute drive from Winchester in West Virginia, you will find the historic town of Harpers Ferry. This gorgeous little town – population 286 – is found at the meeting place of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, and it’s also where the states of West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia meet.

High Street, Harpers Ferry
High Street, Harpers Ferry

Richard’s colleague from New Zealand is staying with us while she does some work at Taura North America, so we decided to show her one of the numerous interesting places to be found in this part of the US. It was a great day to go as Harpers Ferry was all decked out for Christmas and there were Civil War displays, craft activities for children and even a visit from Mr and Mrs Claus.

The girls tried out some gingerbread from a little bakery.
The girls tried out some gingerbread from a little bakery.
And bought some candy from a shop specialising in all the famous "old school"
And bought some candy from a shop specialising in all the famous “old school” American sweets.

We wandered the streets enjoying all the historic architecture and took in the awesome views down by the river.

The Potomac river.
The Potomac river.

Throughout the town we saw people attired in dress appropriate to the Civil War era. Harpers Ferry played a vital part in the origins of the Civil War. It was home to one of only two United States armories, the other was located in Massachusetts. These two facilities  produced most of the small arms for the US Army. In October 1859, the abolitionist John Brown led a group of 21 men in a raid on the arsenal at Harpers Ferry and it was this raid that was a catalyst for the Civil War. Harpers Ferry went on to change hands eight times between 1861 and 1865 and after the war arms production ceased.

Civil War soldiers outside the building which became known as John Brown's Fort.
Civil War soldiers outside the building which became known as John Brown’s Fort.
Civil War era fashionista with Kiwi fashionista.
Civil War era fashionista with Kiwi fashionista.

St Peter’s Catholic Church is another site of historic importance in Harpers Ferry. The church was built in 1833 in a Gothic style which it was able to keep throughout the Civil War – it was the only church in Harpers Ferry to avoid destruction. Inside the church we listened to a beautiful choir rehearsing for a Christmas concert later in the day.

Carols ringing out inside St Peter's.
Carols ringing out inside St Peter’s.

We could have spent much more time exploring this very significant part of our new neighbourhood, but we had to get the girls back to Winchester for a birthday party. They did have time, however, to stop and have a chat with these two…

Tourists from the North Pole.
Tourists from the North Pole.

We ended our weekend at the Wayside Theatre in nearby Stephens City to watch a production of Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story. Our neighbours’ parents were hosting a special showing of the play for their co workers and friends, and they very kindly invited us  along. Our host was a member of the US Navy and visited New Zealand in 1964 aboard the USS Bainbridge. He was thrilled to learn that a very young Richard Croad, accompanied by his father and older brothers, drove from Palmerston North to Wellington for a chance to look at and step on board the vessel. After a long wait in the queue, five year old Richard was denied his chance to go on the big boat because he was too little, and stood crying on the wharf whilst his brothers got to step aboard 😦

Talk about a small world!

We have a busy week ahead as all the Christmas festivities kick into high gear. Richard’s Christmas work do, a visit to Santa’s workshop, our neighbourhood carolling party…moving to a smaller town has certainly not dimmed the lights on our social calendar!

Take care everyone and if you are keen to see some more of Harpers Ferry, click on the link to my Flickr photos.