In which our author sees far more memorials and monuments than is good for her.
But first, a photo I neglected to post yesterday, of the orphanage that became the guest house of last night’s lodgings:
There is an eighteen-mile-long automobile tour that you can take at Gettysburg, which will run you through the entire place in roughly chronological order. “I’ve never seen so many monuments in my life. They’re everywhere. Little bitty ones. Small-to-medium-sized ones that marked particular brigades, the bases of which were round (Confederate) or square (Union) depending on the army. Medium-sized to enormous ones, some plain stone, but most with stone or bronze sculptures.” I took pictures of a few — one with Lee on Traveler:
One sculpted by Gutzon Borglum (the man who went on to create Mt. Rushmore):
Some of the bigger ones looked like buildings:
And there was an eternal flame (I think that’s what that was, anyway):
There were so many that it was hard to frame some of the most interesting ones without others intruding in the background.
“I started out reading all kinds of things, then caught myself reading less and less as I went on. Not just because of the literal quantity of the stuff, but because of its content. One can only read about so many bloody deaths and so many gory details without wanting to weep. Which, ultimately, is how Gettysburg made me feel. The frustration and the anger and the sheer weight of the souls who seem to be stuck here… Even on a bright sunny fall morning, there was no other way to account for” the sadness of the place.
“So I spent my morning driving and walking on the battlefield, half-hearing the sounds of fighting, and seeing things I couldn’t quite account for out of the corner of my eye. It’s most unsettling.”
I ate lunch at a place called (groan warning) General Pickett’s Buffet, but only because Lonely Planet recommended it and had done so well the night before. Otherwise I’d never have set foot in a place with a name like that. It was almost a Southern-style cafeteria, and the food was good.
Then I headed south on a back road that was supposed to take me to Hagerstown, Maryland, which it did, eventually, and into one of my literary pilgrimages (that is, if you’re willing to concede Nora Roberts as literary). Roberts’ MacKade books, one of my favorite romance series, is set in western Maryland, and one of the MacKade brothers had a law office in Hagerstown.
I had figured on checking my email at the library, but the wait for a computer was about an hour long, so I decided not to do that. Then I headed down into real MacKade country. It’s twelve miles from Hagerstown to Antietam National Battlefield, and supposedly another fourteen down to Harper’s Ferry, where I’d planned to spend the night. “Well, I made it to Antietam going ooh, there’s the Barlow place! there’s the MacKade farm! and thoroughly enjoying myself.” Then I headed down towards Sharpsburg (Roberts’ model for the fictional town of Antietam) and promptly got so lost that I finally waved down some guy in a truck to ask for directions.
I did eventually make it to Harper’s Ferry, but I think I took the long way around. It certainly was the scenic route…
Tomorrow, in addition to my usual daily post, I have a guest blogger coming to visit, the author Kathleen Ernst, of The Sites and Stories blog, who will talk about her own impressions of Harper’s Ferry. I hope you’ll enjoy what she has to say.