The largest Civil War battle ever waged in the Western Hemisphere was fought 140 years ago near the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It began on July 1, 1863 and ended two days later with the climactic "Pickett's Charge". More than 150,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were drawn into the Battle of Gettysburg. By the time it was over, 50,000 men had lost their lives and a thousand more were wounded, making it the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the War Between the States.
Gettysburg Living History
On Monday, July 21, the multipurpose room at Crossroads Christian Fellowship in New River was filled to capacity on the hot summer evening. Families from all over the Valley came to see a one-hour Gettysburg living history dramatization performed by Bob Farewell. Adults and children alike were taken back in time to the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, while learning all about one of the most famous battles in American history. They were able to follow the events of that fateful day as they listened to one of the “soldiers” who survived the battle.
Actor/performer Bob Farewell, a Civil War re-enactor who appeared in the movie Gettysburg, is an avid history buff and passionate storyteller who involves the entire audience in his presentation. Farewell, portraying an aging Confederate private in uniform, presented a moving first person account of the second day of the battle. This is the day when the Confederate army tried six times to capture a stony hill called Little Round Top. It was a pivotal moment in our nation's history, one in which God's hand was evident in the events surrounding it.
Bob described his performance as follows: "I try to portray a simple Christian farmer that must make life-changing decisions that will effect his and his family's lives forever. I am not trying to resurrect the "cause" but rather offer a view of the heart issues that changed the course of our country’s history. As a Confederate soldier I have an obvious bias, yet I show how a soldier had to make his choices based on his particular world view.”
Farewell performs all over the United States. His entertaining and historically accurate perspective makes the Civil War come alive for children and adults of all ages. He includes numerous facts in his presentation, many of which are left out of modern day textbooks. A homeschool mom called the one-man show “very educational, entertaining, & inspiring!”
Civil War Facts & Figures
Records that show that the youngest boy to fight in the Civil War was only 10 years old. The average soldier’s ages ranged from 15-25, but some fought all the way up into their 70’s and 80’s.
The highest rate of casualties was in the color guard. If the enemy could see the flag, that’s where they directed their fire. Nevertheless, the flag bearer had an important position. He led the way for the troops to follow. If a flag man fell, another man would pick up the flag and take his place.
Contrary to popular opinion, slavery was not the primary issue of the Civil War. Previous movies (Glory) and documentaries (Ken Burns' The Civil War) imply that slavery was either the only cause or the only one of consequence. However, the war was no more about slavery than World War II was about saving the Jews from the Holocaust – even though these side issues were also important. It was actually a debate over state’s rights that led to the Civil War.
94% of the Southern soldiers did not own slaves; only 6% did. Union General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife owned some slaves, while Confederate General Robert E. Lee had already emancipated his slaves in 1860.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Post-battle preservation efforts saved small portions of the Gettysburg battlefield as a memorial to the Union victory. Then on February 11, 1895, congressional legislation was signed to establish Gettysburg National Military Park as a memorial dedicated to the armies that fought the great three day battle. Gettysburg National Military Park incorporates nearly 6,000 acres, with 26 miles of park roads and over 1,400 monuments, markers, and memorials. The Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg contains more than 7,000 interments including over 3,500 from the Civil War. It was here that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address. For more information about the park, visit www.nps.gov/gett.
The Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln's most famous and eloquent words were spoken in this brief speech, immortalized in history as the Gettysburg Address. It was delivered at the dedication of a cemetery that held the remains of more than 3,500 soldiers who fell at the Battle of Gettysburg. After purchasing the land on Cemetery Hill, Pennsylvania officials wanted to consecrate the grounds with an appropriate ceremony. The Honorable Edward Everett of Massachusetts was selected to present the oration for the occasion. President Lincoln's appearance came as a surprise, but he was quickly added to the program. Mr. Everett spoke for nearly two hours, covering all three days of the battle as well as the purpose of the war and other related subjects. Lincoln’s remarks, delivered at noon on November 19, 1863, just four months after the battle, are a powerful summation of Lincoln's war aims as well as a moving tribute to those who died. While Lincoln's speech lasted only two minutes, Everett is said to have remarked that the President said more than he had been able to say in his two hours!
The "Gettysburg Address" is one of the great speeches that everyone should read: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we can not consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who have struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people - by the people - for the people - shall not perish from the earth.”
Did You Know…?
An Arizona State Park is the site of the "Westernmost Battle of The Civil War," and the largest Civil War miltary re-enactment in the Southwest takes place there every year. The Civil War battle took place near Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862, when an advance detachment of Union forces from California attacked a Confederate scouting party. The battle lasted for 1-1/2 hours, and three Union soldiers were killed. Every March, "The Civil War in the Southwest" comes alive again as over two hundred re-enactors converge on Picacho Peak on foot and horseback. Visitors enjoy viewing exciting mock battles that took place in Arizona and New Mexico during the Civil War. Also on display at the March re-enactment are recreated military camps and living history demonstrations. For more information about Picacho Peak State Park, go to www.pr.state.az.us/parkhtml/picacho.html. (The Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum at 3901 W. Pioneer Rd., Phoenix, sometimes hosts Civil War re-enactments as well. Call 623-465-1052 or check their website at www.pioneer-arizona.com for upcoming events.)
Gettysburg (1993, PG) – The more you know about the Civil War, the more you'll appreciate the painstaking attention to detail that director Ronald F. Maxwell invested in this movie. Gettysburg was pretty much taken verbatim from the book, The Killer Angels. From the first ideas and story drafts, to the final editing and post production, the movie was 15 years in the making. Gettysburg presents a historically accurate depiction of the events and battles of the Civil War. It portrays the personal struggles of real men on both sides, and provides insight into what the war was about. It features some of the most authentic Civil War battle scenes ever created, culminating with Pickett’s charge, the most courageous and heartbreaking infantry assault in military history. For the first time in 130 years, the actual site was allowed to be used as a movie set. In addition to an all-star cast, the movie featured over 13,000 volunteer Civil War re-enactors who came from all over the world, paid their own way, provided their own uniforms and props, and fought the battles in front of the cameras using the same tactics as they actually happened. While filming during the summer, the re-enactors also experienced the same conditions as their predecessors. For example, the original soldiers had just marched for miles and had no water when they attempted to conquer a hill in 98-degree heat, while wearing wool uniforms. Out of respect, the re-enactors who played that part removed their own canteens during the filming of the movie. See if you can spot Bob Farewell in General Armistead’s brigade. He was “killed” five times in one day!
Gods and Generals (2003, PG-13) – If you want a glimpse into what life was like during the Civil War era – from the ideas of morality, faith, and honor to the politics, mindset, and challenges faced by each army – this movie is an ideal choice. Closely based on the book by the same name, Gods and Generals is a bold, touching, and fulfilling war epic. Plus, it’s the most religious, non-politically-correct movie to ever come out of Hollywood! Unfortunately, this “prequel” to Gettysburg didn’t last long in theaters. Mainstream critics complained about its religious content, eloquent dialogue, and especially about its length. But in my opinion, all those things are what makes it a great movie! Gods and Generals focuses on General Stonewall Jackson’s journey of faith through wartime. He sets a fine example of godly manhood as a husband, a father, and a soldier. We are given profound glimpses into the hearts of men who fought with equal bravery for what they believed was God's will. General against General. Brother against brother. Friend against friend. The film revolves heavily around prayer, scripture, and discussions on life and death. Even though the extended battle sequences are long and drawn out (someone questioned how many times do you need to see guns fired and reloaded), I think this gives a more accurate representation of what the war was really like. After all, the real battles could go on for hours and the soldiers weren’t able to stop and take an intermission! Martin Sheen was asked to reprise his role of Robert E. Lee from Gettysburg, but he could not due to a prior commitment. The role was taken by Robert Duvall who is a descendant of Robert E. Lee.
Civil War Trilogy: Gods and Generals/The Killer Angels/The Last Full Measure, by Michael Shaara, Jeff M. Shaara. (The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that the Gettysburg movie was based on. In Gods and Generals, author Jeff M. Shaara continues the trilogy started by his late father, covering the action prior to Gettysburg. Finally, The Last Full Measure picks up with Confederate General Robert E. Lee's retreat from Pennsylvania and continues through the end of the war. This exciting historical fiction trilogy is a modern classic.)
Faith in Gods and Generals: An Anthology of Faith, Hope, and Love in the American Civil War, by Ted Baehr and Susan Wales. (This anthology captures an aspect of the Civil War that has been elsewhere little explored - that is, the deep faith of many of the participants on both sides of the conflict. A companion volume to the epic film Gods and Generals, it explores one of the major themes of the movie—devout, godly men and women on both sides of the Civil War who fervently believed that their cause was not only just but that they enjoyed God’s favor. A must-read for anyone who sees the film or plans to see it, to further their understanding of these important historical characters. Contains photos, letters, diary entries, articles, and eyewitness observations.)
Fields of Fury, by James M. McPherson. (A colorful, kid-friendly history of the Civil War. Each major battle is summarized and analyzed in a single, concise, two-page spread that includes eyewitness accounts (many from kids!), "Quick Facts," maps, photographs, and other illustrations. The book also has a glossary, index, list of websites, bibliography, and timeline.)
http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/warweb.html (The American Civil War Homepage is very comprehensive, containing a wide variety of historical resources that are truly remarkable. It includes tons of links, archives, and web resources with information on battles/units, Confederate & Union documents (political & personal), genealogy, leaders, heritage links, organizations, education, reenacting groups, music, battle flags, and much more!)
www.militaryhistoryonline.com/gettysburg/ (Military History Online: Battle of Gettysburg features background information and a day-by-day overview of the battle and its aftermath, essays, message boards, and more. One of the best Civil War sites on the Web.)
http://www15.brinkster.com/gburginfo/ (The Battle of Gettysburg Resource Center: assorted trivia about Gettysburg and the battle, interesting and unusual stories, a photographic tour of the battlefield today, maps, book list, and more.)
www.azreenacting.net (Arizona Living History: Historical and Civil War Reenacting in the Southwest.)
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