Gettysburg

January 28, 2012

Gettysburg.  The very name sends all manner of emotion through my heart and out the other side.

I began studying this famous American Civil War Battle (July 1,2,3, 1863) some twenty years ago and then in 2001 I simply bought a plane ticket and up and went there to see the place for myself.  My sister and brother-in-law met me in Syracuse, New York, and drove me down to Southern Pennsylvania to spend five days absorbing the importance of those hallowed forests and fields.

I’m no fan of war, believe me.  But having been born an American yet having now lived more than half my life as a Canadian, I study the differences between the two countries.  Both British Colonies, the one revolted over taxes and the other still has The British Monarch as its Head of State.  One couldn’t find the means to end slavery peacefully, while the other saw it dissolved once and for all under Britain’s 1834 Slavery Abolition Act.

Having studied in detail The Battle of Gettysburg, and while there in June of 2001, I brought along my paints and did on-the-spot watercolour sketches of the most poignantly-historic locations among those now-peaceful fields.

 

 

'The Copse Of Trees -- Gettysburg'

 

 

On July 3rd, 1863, on a stiflingly-hot afternoon, after two entire hours of constant cannon bombardment of the Yankee position on Cemetery Ridge, General Robert E. Lee ordered a massive charge across a mile-wide expanse of field.  This was the concluding, and most desperate action of the horrific three days as tens of thousands Southern troops marched shoulder-to-shoulder into the deadly cannonading of Northern forces.

They were instructed to aim for an inconspicuous, yet noticeable ‘copse of trees’, dead centre in the Union Line.  Only one hundred or so made that destination, the more than 20,000 others suffering an indescribable onslaught of cannon and massed rifle fire.

After painting this little painting, I solemnly walked the distance to those trees.  It was a sobering, awful, respectfully-difficult-yet-important mile-long journey through the wind-blown grasses of a place now very hushed and calm.  I’ve never been quite the same before, or since.

What an enormous difference between two neighbouring countries, all due to differing attitudes to being deemed ‘Colonists’.

 

 

 

 

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25 Responses to “Gettysburg”

  1. Thank you–Gettysburg was fought over the issue of slavery and was the place Lincoln came to when they were consecrating the cemetery. I do enjoy studying history like you. Thank you, Jen!

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  2. Love your work and its historical subject. I am a historical buff and read about the history of Gettysburg. People would do anything to get their freedom and fight against colonialism.

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  3. My god, Kim, as a Virginian you know as few others know. What more need be said? What a sad day for Virginia that one was. It is transmitted through the generations and even yet heavily weighs when thought of.

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  4. As always, the art is beautiful and your words haunt me.

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  5. I appreciate having you tell me you like it, Tracie. Your photos are breathtaking. The dragonflies are incredibly detailed and delicate.

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  6. This is simply beautiful.

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  7. Yes, yes. I share your reverence and respect. Little Round Top is a shrine and yet the desperation over trying to seize what amounts to a rather homely rock-strewn hill–the hundreds of dead and permanently maimed–made me stand there caught between awe and disbelief. Such hills wouldn’t be looked at twice in everyday existence. My eyes tear up just thinking about it–and it was nearly 150 years ago.

    Thank you for sharing your own thoughts. Antietam was another of those horribly significant locations, and I appreciate your dedication in going there as well.

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  8. kerryl29 said

    Poignant work and words. I visited the Gettysburg battlefield (and Antietam) about 15 years ago. I vividly recall walking up Little Round Top, the Peach Orchard and the Bloody Angle, among other spots. It can be a haunting place.

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  9. It is really my pleasure to read comments like yours to goad me on!

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  10. Very powerful. Thank you for posting this work.

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  11. thank you ‘kofegeek’–I like your drawing of the child very much, and your post about the official train cat!

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  12. kofegeek said

    wonderful technique..you are dealing very good with water colour

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  13. Thank you. I feel privileged to have been able to physically attend the funeral of one of the few remaining veterans of The Civil War. Of course, I was very young–and he died at age 105, and had joined up in its final year when he was only 15 years old. The significance of being there was lost on me until much later, when I realised how rare this was.

    I’m very glad you are a student of history in this way, too. Thank you, BoJo for sharing your thoughts and appreciations.

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  14. BoJo Photo said

    Beautiful painting and very nice thoughts on a terrible battle. I love studying the time period between the Revolutionary War and WWII. The walk you took would be a neat way to put into perspective just what these men delved into that very day as incomprehensible as it was that day. It is sad that more people don’t take the time to consider the great cost so many paid to fashion our freedom.

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  15. Oh my–is that right? I have no idea why this location of all on the planet seems to haunt me in this way. I swear, I would leave all behind and move there if could–as though I’d lived there before. I felt oddly driven to be there and wanted to stay, though none of my family, all the way back to antiquity ever served in uniform. I have books and books . . . it’s very peculiar.

    Thank you for sharing this with me, ‘Fergiemoto’.

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  16. Fergiemoto said

    Great watercolor! I went there twice when I use to live just a few hours away. Hard to believe it was the site of such a battle.

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  17. Thank you for being so effusive! I am equally enjoying your postings and your writing. Your photos of everything pink is a great prelude to Valentine’s Day. Thank you very much for making me feel happy today.

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  18. Selma said

    It must have been very moving to be there. Such a significant place in US history. Your watercolour is amazing. You are extremely talented. What a privilege to see your work!

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  19. Thank you ‘magsx2’, you are spot on there. It is now as it was then–farmland and pasture and a quiet town in the middle of it. But now there are monuments absolutely everywhere.

    Thank you for your acknowledgement of its solemn significance, and appreciation of the painting.

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  20. You’re always so very gracious–thank you!

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  21. magsx2 said

    Hi,
    What a very sad history this place has, you would never dream about what actually took place there all those years ago.

    Your painting shows a place that is just so peaceful, a place where family’s could go and enjoy the fields, having a picnic under the lovely trees, with the kids running around enjoying the day. That is what comes to mind when I saw your painting.
    Lovely work.

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  22. Victor Ho said

    A good watercolour made better by the story behind it.

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  23. We went when I was seven and I thought it was just a giant golf course. I couldn’t grasp the significance. Then in 1954 my mother took me to the Viewing and the Funeral of one of the last remaining Civil War Vets (Union). It made a great impression on me.

    Thank you for your comments and affirmations.

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  24. therustychaincyclist said

    Very moving, thanks for sharing.

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  25. sandy said

    I haven’t been to the battlefield, but have traveled through the area.

    The colors are just as I remembered.

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