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Gettysburg & Richmond Trip

  On July 24, 2005, Kyle and I headed from Midland, Michigan toward Richmond, Virginia.  Leaving town at about 1:00, with a stop in Perry for lunch & supplies, we finally got well underway and arrived that night after 11:30pm in Chambersburg, PA.  Trip odometer:  550 miles.

July 25 we made the short drive the rest of the way to Gettysburg, with the plan to see as much as possible before it was necessary to leave for Richmond, where I was due about 4:00pm to check into a conference and (hopefully) attend a meeting.

 

Upon arrival at Gettysburg, Kyle & I naturally went first to the visitor center, and toured the cemetery.  My primary goal for the trip to Gettysburg was to visit the graves of Lucius & Minard Decker, both from the 20th New York State Militia, and killed at Gettysburg July 3, 1863.  I wanted to see for myself not only their graves, but also where they fought over those three days, and the site where they were killed.  Lucius & Minard were brothers of my great, great grandfather, Samuel.

 

The graves were fairly easy to find, just browse around until you come across the New York graves, then we walked through until we found Lucius & Minard.  I took a couple pictures, then placed pennies on their stones similar to that of many other graves, with Lincoln showing.  That's Kyle Decker, third great-grandson of Samuel.

 

Nearby is the New York memorial.

Also within the cemetery area itself is the memorial showing the site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.  The plaque on the main monument describes it as being donated by Kentucky in honor of her son, and contains the words of the Gettysburg Address.

Alright, so on to the information gathering part of the visit.  I've long known that Lucius & Minard were both members of the 20th New York State Militia (the original regiment name, which was kept), also known as the 80th Infantry.  Now the trick of the day was to find out where exactly on the battlefield they were on July 3rd.

 

Earlier descriptions that I had read suggested approximate locations on cemetery hill, not far from the current site of the cemetery site where they are now buried.  Also, a speech given in 1903 by Captain John D. S. Cook of the 20th N.Y.S.M. provided clues, but until I saw the site for myself I wouldn't really understand it.  We headed back into the visitor center so I could browse through some books, which also put them on cemetery ridge.  The large maps available helped a little bit as well, but nothing proved definitive.  So Kyle & I wandered out onto the area of cemetery ridge.  I took some more pictures.

 

Also, along the back side of the ridge is the location of the building that General Mead used as headquarters during the battle.

 

Not sure of the exact location, I took a general picture of the area at the top of the ridge, pointing toward the cemetery.  This gave me some confidence that while I wasn't exactly sure where the two Deckers were when they were killed, we were in the right area.


 

After leaving the area of the visitor center and cemetery ridge, we headed out to go to the monument for the 20th N.Y.S.M., but as we drove south we decided to stop at this observation tower.

 

 

What impressive views of the battlefield.  Hard to believe the scope of the battle that took place here, until you see the size of the battlefield, with Seminary Ridge on the left, and Cemetery Ridge on the right.

 

 

Also, in the first panoramic picture toward the Southeast of the tower, Little Round Top & Big Round Top can clearly be seen.

OK... so the next step was to head over to the monument for the 20th N.Y.S.M.  Along the way we browsed through the Lutheran Theological Seminary, right near where the fighting began.

 

The monument marks the site where the militia began fighting on the first day.  The front of the monument reads:

Ulster Guard

20th N.Y. State Militia

80th N.Y. Infantry, 1st Brig., 3d Div, 1st Corps.

Organized 1861 at Kingston N.Y. as 20th N.Y.S.M.

Apr. 28, 1861 Entered U.S. Service for 3 Months

Sept 5, 1861 Re-entered Service for 3 Years

Sept. 5, 1864 Re-enlisted as Veterans for 1 Year

Jan 29, 1866 Mustered Out of Service

 

 

The back of the monument reads:

Held substantially this position from about 12M July 1st 1863 to 4 P.M.

July 2d on Cemetery Hill in Support of 3d Corps.

July 3d in Front of Line of Battle Resisting Pickett's Attack

Number Engaged 375.  Killed 35.  Wounded 111.  Missing 24.

This told me I was heading back to cemetery hill.  But first I had Kyle take a picture of me next to the monument, and we also took a picture of the nearby monument to the First Corps, Third Division, First Brigade, of which the 20th N.Y.S.M. was a part.

So now I knew that the 20th N.Y.S.M. was defending against Pickett's charge on July 3, which took place at the site of the "Copse of Trees" pictured here. The site is now marked by the "High Water Mark" monument signifying the farthest point that Pickett's charge reached on July 3rd, 1863, which was the furthest encountered during the battle.

 

 

Along the way we passed by the Pennsylvania monument, which was probably the most impressive (understandably) of all the monuments on the site.

 

 

I took many pictures of the High Water Mark monument, in order to capture not only the monument itself, but also the many plaques on the monument signifying the many brigades involved in the attack, on both sides of the fighting.  The plaque on the right lists the 80th New York under the First Army Corps., Newton's.  Third Division, Doubleday's.

So, Kyle and I ended up very nearly where we began - back on Cemetery Hill, just to the right of the High Water Mark of the Rebellion.  Given the new verification that the 20th N.Y.S.M. was defending against Pickett's charge on July 3, 1863, it is very likely that within this general area is where Lucius & Minard Decker both were killed.  While they served within different companies of the militia, the information suggests that the militia was at the front lines repelling the assault of Pickett's  Charge.  I now believe that I know where they were killed, and it is right near here.

 

 

Also in this area is the monument erected in honor of General Meade.

And so ends Gettysburg.  Now it's time to head to Richmond to begin the conference.  We arrived there about 4:15 (at the hotel) just missing the beginning of my informal 4:00 meeting.  Then we checked into the hotel (the Richmond Marriott), and parked the van in the parking deck in back.  Trip Odometer:  820 miles.

Interesting thing is that we spent three days in Richmond, Virginia, and I never took a picture.  First off, it was HOT - mid 90s to 100 degrees every day.  Each night Kyle & I walked somewhere, first night down to the canal and around down by the water for a while.  It was interesting to see the Civil War background of this town, from the perspective of the south - especially after just having been to Gettysburg.

Gettysburg was the highlight of information gathering for this site, however after we left Richmond, Kyle & I continued on our journey, took some more pictures, & spent a couple extra days to get home.

 


September 16, 2005