This week, on a special edition of Bill Green's Maine, Bill travels to Gettysburg to look at the siginificant role Mainers played in the largest battle ever fought in North America. From Augusta's John Chase, the most wounded man in the battle, to Joshua Chamberlain, perhaps its greatest hero, Bill has stories of the sacrifices Maine men made that define heroism even today.
This week's Blog written by Bill Green.
Sorry to repeat a golden oldie, but people like this show and July 2nd should be a state holiday in Maine known as "Little Round Top Day."
This show is a little different than all the other Bill Green's Maines. Photographer Tom Phillips and I went to Gettysburg to produce a series of pieces for the news. Not long after, Bill Green's Maine was begun. I decided to piece the news series together in a half hour format.
I think the pieces are good. I love Civil War studies and have spent so long on them, that I'd like to think I have a couple of things to say. However, this is not a comprehensive look at Maine's role at Gettysburg. I'd like to go back some day and do more. Maine regiments played an enormous role in this battle.
Part One: This piece gives us a look at the battlefield. Many southern soldiers wrote in their diaries about what a stunning place the Pennsylvania countryside was. It makes it easy to understand why Robert E. Lee had "invaded" the North. He wanted to rest the South from the devastation it had been experiencing. He also wanted it to look like the South was winning the war so that a foreign power, preferably England would intercede on their behalf.
This part focuses on the charge of the 16th Maine. This heroic action happened on the other end of the field and on the first day of the fighting. The story of how the 16th was ordered to make an impossible charge-and knew going into it that they would not come out-is an action even braver than the 20th Maine's famed action on Round Top. I was trying to make the point that there was an awful lot of heroism on both sides at Gettysburg.
Part Two: Looks at the famed action of the 20th Maine. I think it's great to give people a look at the land and to walk around it. To get a feeling for how steep Little Round Top was and to see what it is there today. Incidentally, it's the same hill, but lots has change. Most notably, historians tell us that it was extremely rocky. In the late 19th Century, many of those rocks were ground up to make the road bed for roads that were constructed accommodate the tourists. Also, small stone walls were constructed to mark the lines. As an old man, Chamberlain objected to these walls because they were not there in 1863. A few of the men threw up "breastworks," but this was a standup fight.
Part Three: More around the Little Round Top fight with some discussion of what really happened and how the action is portrayed today. Chamberlain was one of the most educated men on the field and arguably the best writer. His words resonate today. People who read them are drawn to the actions of his regiment.
Part Four: This is a summary of what I have discussed previous. Chamberlain wrote, "In great deeds, something abides." Certainly, great deeds happened at Gettysburg. It was the largest battle every fought in North America. What was it for? What did it mean? Why do so many people go there? What are they searching for? Gettysburg is a wonderful place. It's a great place to visit, whether you're with a family or by yourself. I have a friend who has taken some of his favorite texts and just sat on the ground at a particular spot in the battle and read. I have also led my small children on "Pickett's Charge." There's no better way to a feel for a battle by going to the ground and walking it.
It's a great pleasure to have this job and be able to explore the various subjects that interest me. Thanks for tuning in.