Celebrating 20 Years!

Celebrating 20 Years!

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Civil War Tour, Day 5 -- May 2, 2010

Since the Battle of Gettysburg spanned three days, we asked for three separate two-hour tours so we could learn more details of the fighting and personal stories of the people involved. Yesterday was our first tour, and we were lucky to have the same guide, David Hamacher, showing us around the battlefield areas in the morning and the afternoon.

Because the Gettysburg landscape is full of hills and valleys, we were reminded that holding the high ground was critically important to the soldiers. Little Round Top looked like a small hill until we saw the breathtaking view from the top. Although the climb would have been difficult, soldiers used teams of horses to pull cannons up a logging path on the back side of the hill. Then they set up their artillery to repel the enemy forces below.

We learned that battle locations were named differently, depending on the point of view. Union forces named battles based on topographical features while Confederates named battles using their names for the towns. Therefore, what the North called the “Battle of Antietam” (based on Antietam Creek) was named by Southerners as the “Battle of Sharpsburg,” which was the closest town.

Names of locations also changed depending on the events that occurred in the area. For example, “Plum Creek” became “Bloody Run”; the base of “Little Round Top” was changed to “Slaughter Pen” because of the number of soldiers who died in those areas. The small town of Gettysburg (population around 2400) was suddenly invaded by almost 176,000 soldiers and had to turn its homes into hospitals to treat the wounded. Standing in the now-peaceful places, we thought often about the casualties of war, and it was difficult to imagine the sights and sounds of the three-day battle.

We ended our day with a buffet dinner at Dobbin House, which was built in 1776. The home, now a restaurant, is the oldest building in Gettysburg.

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