Originally published on forbes.com on June 30, 2013. By following these post's you will be able to experience last year's Gettysburg Sesquicentennial in real time.
I got a late start looking for a hotel room for the Gettysburg sesquicentennial. I threw it out as a challenge to somebody I knew in the time share business, but he came up empty. Then I had my travel agent try and amazingly, he came up with two rooms at the Gettysburg Hilton. He was kind of amazed telling me that it looked like Super Bowl pricing. I figure every 50 years or so, I can afford to splurge. Public accounting has been good to me. So my covivant and I are encamped at the Gettysburg Hilton. The other room was taken by my friend from Central Florida who brought his family his wife, Mrs. CF and three boys CF1, CF2 and CF3.
CV and I arrived in Gettysburg around 9:30 AM on Saturday and headed for the Visitor Center. As we walked by the Ranger Activity stations, we stopped to listen to a woman in period costume talking about what it was like for the residents of the town cleaning in up in the time after the battle. The smell of rotting bodies of men and horses. Kids being injured and killed as they fooled around with loaded muskets left on the field and unexploded ordnance. At the other activity station, kids were being "enlisted". We would see them learning to March on the way out.
Oddly the crowds have not started getting huge. The battle went from July 1 - July 3, but apparently the biggest crowds will be next weekend when the largest number of re-enactors are expected. The Park Service does not allow re-enactors to be tramping around the actual battlefield firing muskets (Just the powder charges, no bullets). There will be "interperters". Near the Pennsylvania monument, we saw a campground being laid out, with one large tent already set up. It had a "hospital' sign on it. It was set up by Bob Tycenski, a Verizon power technician, who represents the medical services of the 14th Brooklyn. He told us that the Society of Civil War Surgeons, who will be represented there, has some real physicians as members. Bob said he did re-enacting for about 15 years, but got tired of running around in the hot sun, so he transitioned to something where he could sit in the shade and talk to people. I saw his uniform hanging in the tent. A blue jacker with red pants. The 14th Brooklyn fancied themselves "Chasseurs". Brooklyn's hipster roots are deeper than I realized.
I spoke with Rick, a paramedic with the Gettysburg Fire Department. They are volunteers. The Borough of Gettysburg does not have a very large population, less than 10,000. Rick said it is shrinking. Thanks to battlefield preservation there is no development and old houses on the main drags are converted to gift shops and the like. Since 1863, the Borough has become accustomed to being invaded. Rick told me that many residents have rented out their houses, although he did not know what the going rate. Others have just moved out for the week.
Rick was directing traffic in front of Meade's headquarters for Empire Productions. There was some massive sound and video equipment in the adjacent field for live coverage of some of the events. I briefly chatted with a sound crew from AVS Production, who were in from New York. They did not know who exactly they were setting the equipment up for. As a veteran of the hotel industry (two and a half years as a night auditor), I knew where I could get intelligence on the matter. According to the front desk clerks, there are a lot of people from A&E encamped at the Hilton with me and CV. Somebody also mentioned the History Channel. I didn't know that the History Channel was still interested in history. Whenever I turn it on it seems to be overweight guys struggling with family dysfunction.
The big splurge yesterday was hiring a private tour guide. Traffic was still pretty light. Although I consider my knowledge of the Late Unpleasantness pretty superficial, it is rather deep compared to CV. Licensed guide Fred Wieners kept it very interesting for both of us. Mr. Wieners is a retired Air Force officer who has taught at the War College. The battlefiled was under the supervision of the War Department till the 1930s when it was turned over to the Park Service. Cadets from West Point would do battlefield tours to learn small unit tactics among other things. Maybe they still do. That is why Dwight Eisenhower retired to Gettysburrg. Mr. Wieners told us that he made many of the lessons about communications and intelligence that are illustrated here relevant to young officers training in cyber warfare. He told us that there is something called cyber high ground.
The team from Central Florida rendezvoused with us at Camp Hilton last night. When we were foraging at Ruby Tuesdays, the hostess asked us how many and we said seven. I was inspired to say "Magnificent Seven", so I may stick with that in the rest of my reports. I have to close out now as we are going to start scouting soon.
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