Monday, August 18, 2014

Exploring History in Late Summer

Reading about historical events can bring you into the experience, especially when you read the words of those who lived it. But when the weather is pleasant, who wants to be inside all day? Fall is a wonderful time to get outside and, as one fellow once said to me, "get your learning on!"

My husband and I did that recently on our visit to Gettysburg. I thought I'd share a few pictures. We followed the auto tour with a CD we purchased at the gift shop, but we could have easily spent much more time exploring the area and the museum.

Gettysburg is a popular tourist attraction and the NPS has done a wonderful job educating people about the tragic events that took place there and about why Gettysburg was the turning point in the Civil War, which did none the less continue for almost two years.

This part of Pennsylvania is a gorgeous part of the country, and it was an absolutely gorgeous day the day we visited, as you can tell from the photographs. I took many more than this sample.

I had no idea there were so many monuments at the battlefield. Having been to Valley Forge, I suppose I should have expected it. I was--no surprise--keenly interested in the Irish brigade and the monuments erected to memorialize them.  The landscape already reminded me of Ireland. I could well imagine the Scots-Irish who settled here in the 18th century thinking the same thing.
An Irish wolfhound mourns at the base of a Celtic cross erected to honor the Irish Brigade.

When we came across the Celtic cross monument (you can see it in its entirety here: I thought it might be modern. Maybe that's because of the time I spent in Ireland where it would be completely modern in comparison. But it was in fact sculpted by a former Confederate soldier and was dedicated in 1888. Father Corby himself blessed the monument. And speaking of Father Corby, there is a monument to him in the park. From my guidebook:
"Father William Corby was a holy cross father, chaplain of the 88th NY, one of the regiments of the famed Irish Brigade."
He apparently gave an inspirational speech to his men. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to be a chaplain at Gettysburg.


Below is a photo from Wikipedia of some Gettysburg chaplains. Father Corby is in the front row on the right.
"Irish Brigade Chaplains, c. 1862(corrected)" by Unknown - Wikimedia Commons-copy of File:Irish Brigade Chaplains c. 1862(cropped, exposure corrected). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - 

The question that kept springing to mind for me was what about the town? We were told it was a town of only a couple thousand people who, after the three day battle, were tasked for caring for over two hundred thousand injured soldiers! Here are couple of photos I snapped out the car window, one of a statue of President Lincoln whose address occurred four months after the battle.

 Yesterday I happened to be browsing through novels I had previously downloaded on my Kindle and not yet read. I came across this one, which explores my question. I'm reading it now.


Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing, including her new Ellis Island series: Grace's Pictures and Annie's Stories. Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Ireland and Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland. She combined her love of history and baseball to co-author the biography Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research's Larry Ritter Book Award. In addition to books, Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio. Visit her online at

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