Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--East Cemetery Hill and Statue of General Hancock, Gettysburg, PA

Pub. by C. A. Blocher, Gettysburg, Pa c 1920s

I've never been to Gettysburg, so some maps helped me get a sense of the lay of the land. This waymarking site pinpoints the location of the statue and has a small gallery of photos. Much has been said about Abraham Lincoln in the days surrounding the Inauguration of President Obama. This map shows the site of the Lincoln Speech Memorial.

I don't know how the Obamas are holding up partying at ten balls on Inauguration night, but I was feeling woozy just watching some of it on TV. Last I heard they were expected to arrive at the final ball around 2:15 a.m. and would return to the White House for their first night's sleep in their new residence around 4:00 a.m.

Maybe that's why when I saw this postcard in the box the quiet of it said
Hush! for just a little while after all the excitement of the day. Pause and be thankful that, for us, tomorrow is full of promise, unlike those who rest at Gettysburg. Winfield Scott Hancock, who is honored with the statue shown in this old postcard, is not one of them. He's buried at Montgomery Cemetery in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Hancock is an interesting historical figure I knew nothing about before reading for this post. Here's information on his fascinating life, including:

Winfield Scott Hancock (February 14, 1824–February 9, 1886) was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the American Civil War. Known to his Army colleagues as "Hancock the Superb", he was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. One military historian wrote, "No other Union general at Gettysburg dominated men by the sheer force of their presence more completely than Hancock." As another wrote, "... his tactical skill had won him the quick admiration of adversaries who had come to know him as the 'Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac'." His military service continued after the Civil War, as Hancock participated in the military Reconstruction of the South and the Army's presence at the Western frontier.

After the Civil War, Hancock's reputation as a soldier and his dedication to conservative constitutional principles made him a quadrennial Presidential possibility. His noted integrity was a counterpoint to the corruption of the era, for as President Rutherford B. Hayes said, "... [i]f, when we make up our estimate of a public man, conspicuous both as a soldier and in civil life, we are to think first and chiefly of his manhood, his integrity, his purity, his singleness of purpose, and his unselfish devotion to duty, we can truthfully say of Hancock that he was through and through pure gold." This nationwide popularity led the Democrats to nominate him for President in 1880. Although he ran a strong campaign, Hancock was defeated by Republican James Garfield by the closest popular vote margin in American history.

Mike and I attended a wedding about nine summers ago. The bride was the daughter of a man who had been in treatment with me, and evidently I made an impression on her during family visits at the treatment center (she was just a little girl at the time). Turned out that she and her fiance' were heavy into the Civil War Reenactment scene, and their wedding was designed around that theme. Her wedding dress was not totally "Period" but did have an old-fashioned look. The groom and his attendants, however, all wore their full Civil War uniforms. Some Union, some Confederate. Heavy. Wool. Layers. And beards. As I said, this seemed to be a lifestyle for them. It would have been interesting enough, but the day set a heat record.......I don't remember what the temperature rose to but my contacts fried onto my eyeballs on the drive home which was nearly an emergency.

The wedding was outside in a little-known, overgrown park by a creek. When we arrived there were four attendants out in a dusty field directing parking and they looked like they were losing the battle. I had a bottled water with me and offered it to one of them and he literally grabbed it from me and chugged it down. By the time the reception line was formed after the ceremony some of the men had unbuttoned their coats, but they stood stalwartly by their buddy in his time of need, good soldiers all.



dmarks said...

Great selection. I was weeding through my cards the other day and found a small stack of Gettysburg cards.

Darlene said...

I had two great-grandfathers who were in the Ohio regiment in the Civil War. I tried looking them up on the Ohio list at Gettysburg, only to discover that neither one fought there. They were both wounded, however, and one nearly died.

It's fascinating to read up on that terrible war.

Steve Morozumi said...

from Obama to civil war to past presidents. i like how you wove it all together. very nice.

-Steve @ fluxlife

Melinda said...

That seems so bizarre to have a wedding fashioned after the Civil War! I am somewhat of a history buff but I can't really see fashioning my wedding after any time period--for me, the only thing that was important was Les, me, and our vows.

I attended Penn State and one summer, I took a roadtrip and visited some of the more historical areas of the state. It was really great--I had a good time; it was a time of solitude and discovery. I didn't really like living in PA that much, but I did like the beautiful countryside and the history that exists there.

Take care--


p.s. Wow--I didn't realize the Obama's hit their final party at after 2:00 a.m.! I am truly getting old--as I was asleep for hours by that time! It was an amazing day--I kept wiping tears from my eyes all day. A day for the history books, to be sure.

dmarks said...

I would not have begrudged the First Public Servant the freedom to have slept today off.

Yesterday, I'm sure, was busy, exhausting, harrowing, and went very late.

Lydia said...

@ DMarks,
I'll be looking for one from your selection! Mine is actually a small booklet of Gettysburg postcards with at least the cover missing and possibly the first one or two postcards. It's pretty cool.

No, I wouldn't have begrudged the day either....although I saw that the girls did get the day off from school.

@ Darlene,
TWO gr-grandfathers in that regiment....that's impressive! It's impressive, too that you have been able to find out that kind of information. Did any photos from the time survive in your family?

Your comments are always so nice and much appreciated. :)

@ Melinda,
Nope, that kind of wedding wouldn't be for me either. Mike and I were married at the Municipal Bldg in NYC; it was great.
I realize I know very little about Pennsylvania; it seems to stay away from the limelight.
Away from the limelight was where I was at 2:00 a.m., too! :)

Marie Reed said...

Cool! I do a blog event called postcard friendship friday! Great minds think alike:)

Lydia said...

Well, I certainly will be over to your blog to see your postcards! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving your friendly comment. :)



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