Monday, December 15, 2014

2. East Cemetery Hill

When Nancy was in third grade in Gettysburg, her family moved to a house on the east side of Baltimore Street at the base of Cemetery Hill.  It was a two story, brick home which was standing during the Battle of Gettysburg. 

If Nancy had lived there on July 1,1863, she probably would have been hiding in the cellar with family members. In the late afternoon that day, Union troops were retreating south on Baltimore Street to Cemetery Hill under heavy fire from the Confederates.

If Nancy had lived in that home on November 19, 1863, she would have seen President Abraham Lincoln and local dignitaries up close and personal on their way to the National Cemetery.  

When Nancy and I were growing up in Gettysburg in the Forties, a feature attraction on East Cemetery Hill was a huge round brick building called the “Battle of Gettysburg” Cyclorama.  Inside, visitors were surrounded by a  377 foot long painting depicting in spectacular realism the chaos of battle during  Pickett’s Charge.

The Cyclorama was brought to Gettysburg in 1913 for the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Battle. It is now located in the National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.  

On East Cemetery Hill, about 400 yards from Nancy’s house on Baltimore Street, there was a monument for Union General Oliver Howard who looked out over the steepest and best hill for sledding in Gettysburg. When the snow fell in the winter, Nancy and her friends spent many hours enjoying that hill which was the scene of fierce fighting in July of 1863.

The sled ride from the top of the hill ended on Wainwright Avenue which led north to our high school and south to Culp’s Hill. In the spring the road on the east side was lined with fragrant blossoms of honeysuckle.

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