This past Thursday I decided, on the spur of the moment, to make a quick trip to Gettysburg. The wife and son would be out of town for the weekend, things are a little slow work-wise, so I figured what the heck. Wifey reserved a room for me at the Hampton Inn on York Street for Friday night, I wrapped up a few things that needed wrapped up, and I hit the road for Gettysburg Friday afternoon. I got into town a around 6:30 and made a B-line for the the parking lot behind the Travel Lodge. The Horse Soldier was closed, of course. I guess the Visitor’s Center relocation has not affected their business to the point where they will stay open past 5:00 pm on a Friday night during the busiest season for the town.
And busy the town was! After talking a bit with Licensed Battlefield Guide Andy Ward (I ran into him in the parking lot when he was on his way to take more of his fine battlefield pictures), I took a walk down Steinwehr Ave, past all the T-Shirt shops, ghost tour booths, and throngs of tourists. At The Farnsworth House book store I picked up a copy of the new biography of Francis T. Meagher. Later that night I stopped into the Reliance Mine Saloon for a couple or three Yuenglings.
Bright and early Saturday I made my way to the new Gettysburg Visitor’s Center, which I had not had the opportunity to visit. It’s big. Really big. Lots and lots of space in this sucker. The museum is nice, and the whole story of the war is laid out for what is undoubtedly the overwhelmingly typical visitor. And it is the visitor’s center, after all. The bookstore offers a nice selection for that same typical visitor, though there are also a few obscure titles (the reprint of Phisterer’s New York in the War of the Rebellion was a bit too pricey for the quality, though I thought about it). I also took a walking tour from the VC to Cemetery Ridge, designed again for the typical visitor. In this case, lucky typical visitors because it was led by Ranger and author Gregory Coco. Ranger Coco offered an unusually candid and humanistic narrative as he led our group to the Widow Leister house and The Angle, admonishing us all to take time to think of all the good things we have, and not to focus on the negatives. It was a beautiful day, so after the tour I wandered about a bit. The 20th Mass. “Pudding Stone” monument (the last photo) is one of my all-time favorites.
As I headed back to my car, I passed this kiosk. Yep, that face peering at you is non-other than Francis Brownell of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves, profiled here.
I returned to my favorite parking lot and, after a quick bite at O’Rorke’s Pub (named for the fellow whose account of his experience at Bull Run can be read here), set off for a long walk around town. I was pleasantly surprised to run into old friends Jim and Kathy Semler and we had a nice chat. Before heading home I returned to The Horse Soldier and purchased a print of Don Troiani’s New York’s Bravest, which depicts the 11th NY and the 69th NYSM at Bull Run. I’m not a big fan of Troiani, but the subject appealed to me. Now to get it framed and find a place to hang it.