Touring Gettysburg

Gettysburg Travel Blog

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Sometimes when you travel you just know when the Universe is on your side...our B&B owners recommended, instead of the normal bus tour through Gettysburg, we check in at the Forest Service office and ask for a personal tour and they would drive us in our own car. Best advice I've received in a long time.

Since I was on crutches/wheelchair, getting around is really a struggle at best, but when getting on and off of a bus with tons of folks pushing and shoving, it just isn't a good idea. The odds are, I was going to fall. So, we checked in at the main office and they had someone available in a hour. We putzed around the gift shop and looked through the museum. There are so many photos donated by family of the men who faught in the Civil War.

Our wonderful guide, Bill Troxell
It was so heart wrenching to see these faces as so many were just boys.

When it was time our tour guide showed up and we got back in our car and headed out. Our guide's name was Bill Troxell, and if you check out current information for Gettysburg, he happens to be the Mayor of Gettysburg. He is also the direct descendent of the first man who built a home in Gettysburg and owned a carriage shop in town. He was born in that first house, as were all of his predecessors. So, with this said, you know the tour was going to be amazing.

Bill is an incredibly friendly, intelligent and informed individual. Before we hit the battleground, Bill took us through town to show his family home, as well as to point out these "things" embedded in the side of houses all over town.

Mortar round to the left of the window hear the top
..mortar rounds. Yes, they are still there, as well as the bullet holes. Historic society ensures that these reamains of our past are not lost.

Off to the battlefield! As we drove very slowly through miles and miles of road winding through the battlefields, Bill told us stories that few ever will hear. From stories of the war, to golfing with President Isenhower and seeing President and Mrs. Kennedy touring the site in the early 60s in their convertable with no guards around.

Bill grew up playing on the battlegrounds, so as a young boy, he and his friends found things you wouldn't believe! He pulled out a bullet that soldiers having a limb amputated would bite since it was being done on the grounds. Herein came our expression, "bite the bullet."

The historic society has completely restored Gettysburg to an exact replica of how it looked during the 3 day battle, from where fences are located, what trees were there, to what fields are plowed.

Another mortar round near the bend in the rain gutter
It was like stepping back in time.

We stopped at the first major battleground were over 3,000 men died within a 3 minute time span. When I stepped out of the car, I was overwhelmed by grief that washed over me like a wave. You could feel the grief, anger and fear as you stood there. Many tears were shed during our tour and this was just the first of many.

My favorite monument had to be the _____________ regiment who had their dog, Sally, at the base of it. The story goes that the troops were in a horrendous battle and many fell. Sally never left her men, though the troops had retreated. She stayed with the dead and dying, not allowing Confederate soldiers to loot the bodies or touch anyone. She was there for 5 days, guarding her men and starving to death. When the regiment returned, Sally still stood strong, though it had been 5 days with no food or water.

Sally - Troop member of 11th Pennsylvania Infantry - a true hero
The troops saved Sally, who eventually was killed in battle 6 months later. Today, tourists leave money at Sally's feet and the Forest Service picks it up every night and donates the funds to the local ASPCA. Despite a very steep hill to the monument, I got up it on my crutches to pay my respects.

When we first started the trip into Gettysburg I tried to get pictures of all of the monuments. I knew after 5 minutes it wasn't going to be possible. The monuments seem to be everywhere.

For anyone who has ever had any interest in history, American or otherwise, I strongly recommend visiting this battleground and hearing the amazing history.

David says:
I've always had an interest in the Civil War. Great story about Sally.
Posted on: Mar 02, 2008
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Our wonderful guide, Bill Troxell
Our wonderful guide, Bill Troxell
Mortar round to the left of the wi…
Mortar round to the left of the w…
Another mortar round near the bend…
Another mortar round near the ben…
Sally - Troop member of 11th Penns…
Sally - Troop member of 11th Penn…
Gubner Warren
Gubner Warren
Monument dedicated to those from A…
Monument dedicated to those from …
Looking down into Devils Den
Looking down into Devil's Den
photo by: spocklogic