Day One. A morning mist like teardrops kissed slate silhouettes at break of day riding from the west on their quest with little left to say. Buford’s steeds thundered through the fields leaving silence on their heels and blades of grass that bid them pass amidst their graceful sway. While yonder, with weary marching feet from Chambersburg in sweltering heat Rebs paused beneath lush woods of green and wondered what the day would bring. The Yanks rode hard, the Rebs advanced not much was left to happenstance in Gettysburg each met his prey and shrieking, slaughtered through the day that saw the Rebels sweep the street and Yankees make a swift retreat to nearby hills and knolls. From their vantage point the Yanks looked down on quaint three story homes of town and churches that, transformed to wards were strewn with bloody sheaths and swords of those who rode and those that marched at that early morning’s dawn.
Two fish hooks formed outside of town Cemetery Hill was Yankee ground Rebs faced the Round Tops along Seminary Ridge while at the Roger House, not far away young Josephine Miller baked all day with heavy heart, warm and true hot bread for the boys in blue. The fight that followed was courage and grit in the Valley of Death many were hit at sundown when the fire ceased a bright moon shone an eerie peace upon the carnage all around. Few men slept and many wept with Bibles resting next to guns tin cups by crackling fires lay as fathers, brothers, sons and kin reflected on what might have been, what could have been what should have been that now was lost, at such a cost life seemed to be a bitter pill as dawn’s light slowly stroked the hill. Many missed their wives and mothers even those who fought their brothers for a cause each thought was right dreamt of going home that night far away from the bleak brigade and sanguine fields bereft of shade to awaken to a soft caress and perhaps some distant welcome trill of a calliope’s serenade. Meanwhile General Lee had a strategy to destroy the Federal flank but Meade prevailed, and though he’d failed Lee by no means shrank. Heart tinged with sorrow he planned the morrow to strike the Yankee core he thought for awhile then with a sad smile chose Longstreet for the chore.
Crickets sang, the birds chimed in at the dawn of that third day as wounded moaned and horses groaned air reeked from flesh decay. Both sides felt a sense of doom and longed to end the desperate gloom. An attempt to hit before the dawn had left the Rebs a skelter and running for the nearest tree or rock that offered shelter. Thirteen thousand southern soldiers formed in precision line parade as 1:00 p.m. the awful din of artillery shook the glade. For two hours more the cannons tore a path towards Cemetery Ridge as the mighty line in one accord made peace with whom each praised as Lord. The cannonade’s cacophony finally began to quell and each man knew that was his cue to step out through the mouth of hell Pickett’s voice through smoke arose high above the fray; “Up men, up and to your posts and let no man forget today that you are from Old Virginia!” “Virginia, Virginia, Virginia”, his troops all roared as one while each presenting bayonet and shouldering a gun. Armistead’s sword swirled the smoke and cut a sweeping arch “Virginians, for your lands, for your homes, for your sweethearts, for your wives for Virginia….FORWARD M A R C H! Black clouds cracked with a ray of light as thirteen thousand men of might stormed through shrouds of fuming fires, drummers drumming, flags unfurled swords extended, clenched fists hurled! The Yankees saw the Rebel charge from high upon their ridge and furiously fought that wall of men who faltered, then came back again closing in their ranks, still advancing on the Yanks. Hand to hand the Blue and Gray fought in such a savage way that tears are shed until this day. Then one by one the guns fell still the scorched earth caked with blood from broken bodies on the ground where once the brave had stood. The rest is history, so they say thousands of brave men died that day giving it their very best in unmarked graves they’re laid to rest. The Ones whose dreams did not come true the Ones who fought and never knew the Ones for whom each valley and dome of the Battlefield was now their home.