Tuesday, January 6, 2015

5. Exploring the Battlefield

The Gettysburg National Military Park which was simply called the “Battlefield” in the Forties when we were growing up in the small town made famous in 1863, and it was ours to explore and enjoy.

General Meade’s Headquarters between Hancock Avenue and the Taneytown Road was an easy one mile bike ride from Nancy’s home on Baltimore Street. Today, it is locked and secured, but back in the Forties it was open, and Nancy remembers how frightened she was to explore the dark, damp basement of that little house with friends when she was young.

According to one source, there are 26 miles of paved road on the Battlefield. Over the years, Nancy and I have biked and/or hiked just about every mile alone, together or with other friends. When I was a Boy Scout, we were required to do a 14 mile hike to qualify for a First Class rank, and Bill Snyder and I walked just about every one of our 14 miles on the Battlefield.

As a Boy Scout,  I also remember a weekend when our Troop 77 camped on Pardee Field, a small grassy meadow south of Spangler’s Springs.  Just over 80 years after fierce fighting on that field, members of our Troop put up pup tents, got water from the spring, cooked on wood fires and told ghost stories around the fire at night.  Today the Spring is closed.

The towers on the Battlefield provided excellent sites for Boy Scouts to practice relaying messages using Flag Semaphore during the day or Morse Code with lanterns at night. People are not permitted to be on the Battlefield after dark now, but in the Forties, that was no problem. 

Growing up in Gettysburg was a wonderful experience, and as we recall other adventures from our past, we’ll be sharing them with our readers. 

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