The past couple of days, I had the distinct privilege of tramping the fields of Gettysburg with some outstanding tour guides, including the incomparable Ed Bearss, who led two tours on Saturday and accompanied us on today’s battlewalk. Ed’s delivery and style are certainly unique, and his memory for details is simply amazing. He’s in his early 80s, but walked briskly up steep slopes and hillsides that readily winded men half his age in the 100+ trampers. The event was the annual spring muster of the Gettysburg Discussion Group (GDG), and attendance was way up due primarily to Ed’s presence as a tour leader.
I missed the Friday presentations and group dinner at Gina’s restaurant due to work and family commitments. However, I was there for all the rest of the weekend events, starting with Tim Smith and Gary Adelman’s 7 a.m. battlewalk of Spangler’s Spring and the events on the lower elevation of Culp’s Hill (that portion was actually owned by Spangler, not Mr. Culp). Then, it was time hike miles in the heat and humidity with Ed Bearss and Dean Schultz (the local guru on Gettysburg people and places). Ed and Dean led the trampers in the path of Hood’s Division from the Alabama Monument on Confederate Avenue across the Bushman and Slyder farms, up the slopes to the deceptively steep knolls near the G.W. Weikert, later known as the Timbers, farm. Ed was talking in his rapid fire all the way up the slopes while most of us were gasping for air. He finished at Devil’s Den and the Slaughter Pen.
In the afternoon, Ed led a second tour, this one of Early’s attack on Cemetery Hill, focused on the North Carolinians’ advance (Col. I. E. Avery’s brigade). Nearly 1/3 of the earlier trampers were too tired to take the second walk of the day. Ed had just as much energy when he was done talking and hiking as when he began.
During a two-hour break, I drove over to the battlefield of Fairfield, a scant 10 miles from Gettysburg. I also took time to look over the terrain for one of the forgotten skirmishes of the Gettysburg Campaign – the June 21, 1863, skirmish along Muddy Run northeast of Fairfield between Bell’s Adams County Cavalry and part of Jenkins’ Brigade of Rebels. Then, the muster attendees were treated to a wiener roast at the GAR Hall in Gettysburg, followed by yet another talk (no walking this time) from Ed, whose stamina and energy were unmatched.
On Sunday, Ed hiked along on Dave Schultz and Dave Wieck’s Battle Between the Farm Lanes walk, offering occasional nuggets of information.
A very satisfying weekend, to be sure!!! Sunburn, several ticks I had to shoo off of me, several blisters on my toes, but a lifetime of memories of great fellowship and solid Gettysburg information gleaned from the master, Ed Bearss.
Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!