©Bert Gildart: One hundred and fifty years ago yesterday, Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg address, and I regret not having posted something about it November 19th. It was a memorable day in American history and was commemorated in part with a presidential visit to the battlefield.
The speech is one of my favorites and the subject of Gettysburg is one I have covered for magazines on at least four different occasions. In high school I was required to learn the speech, and still remember it to this day.
WHO WAS EDWARD EVERETT?
I can’t add much to what newspapers recounted, but all sources say the speech was effective because Lincoln was able to get straight to the point. In two minutes Lincoln said what Edward Everett had just tried to say in two hours.
Who was Everett? At the time he was a Congressman and well known speaker who had preceded Lincoln on the day’s roster of speakers, but most don’t remember his name.
Lincoln Pennies left by appreciative visitors to Gettysburg; General Longstreet, and note
the expression of calm on the general’s face contrasted with the look of terror in the eyes of the horse. One of my favorite statues at Gettysburg.
Essentially Lincoln said that if Democracy won’t work here, it won’t work anywhere. But he said it choosing words that have lived down through the decades. CNN summarized it this way:
“His words are some of the most memorable in American history, forever stamping our collective minds with “four score and seven years ago,” and “all men are created equal,” and of course a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
JUST 272 WORDS
All together Lincoln used 272 words and they are displayed at Gettysburg on a plaque. Today, visitors deposit Lincoln pennies on that plaque, a combination I thought made for an exquisite image.
Images from the battlefield sandwich image of our Airstream as we search this Gettysburg campground
for a site on a lovely fall day. After parking we toured battlefield to view some of the 1,328 statues now commemorating the nation’s most intense battle.
Of course, Gettysburg National Battlefield tells more than just the story of Lincoln. Hundreds of statues now piece together episodes from our nation’s bloodiest battle to include vignettes of Generals Mead and Longfellow and of my favorite general, General Robert E. Lee. That’s not to say I wanted to see the nation split, but most historians agree that General Lee was the best tactician, though perhaps not at Gettysburg. The Union won the battle and if Robert E. Lee had listened to General Longstreet, his “Warhorse,” it is likely the Confederacy would have prevailed on July 3, 1863.
But it’s hard to say that either side won as both sides lost thousands of men. Together almost 8,000 soldiers were killed in the course of the three-day battle, but the tragedy doesn’t end there. Records suggest that an additional 38,000 soldiers either went missing or were wounded. The overwhelming tragedy is that these were Americans killing Americans.
HIGH WATER MARK
Gettysburg tells all these stories, which generally conclude at the High Water Mark. Here an open book represents the northern-most point to which the Confederacy advanced.
Yesterday, November 19th, the Battlefield recalled the Gettysburg address – and it recalled Lincoln and what may be one of our nation’s most significant tragedies. If John Wilkes Booth had not assassinated Lincoln, most likely conciliation of North and South would have been hastened – for Lincoln was a compassionate man.
If you’re interested in learning more, read Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, by James L. Swanson, or Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever, by Bill O’Reilly, Gods and Generals by Jeffrey Shaara, or The Killer Angels a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1975.
AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR:
4th ed. Autographed by the Authors
Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.
Big Sky Country is beautiful
Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State
Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.
$16.95 + Autographed Copy
What makes Glacier, Glacier?
Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent
Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons
$16.95 + Autographed Copy