Gettysburg scenes for locked-down Civil War fans

Probably competing with the Virginia Monument for most-photographed-Gettysburg landmark, the Gouverneur K. Warren statue on Little Round Top gazes across battlefield beauty toward distant South Mountain. I love this view. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

With much of America locked down tighter than Ben Butler’s New Orleans, Civil War buffs are finding battlefield access difficult, if not downright impossible. Many won’t get to Gettysburg this spring, for sure, and not much is open there now anyways.

So let me share some Gettysburg scenes, if only to let us dream of better days and a long hike across the battlefield…

The closest Maine monument to Devil’s Den belongs to the 4th Maine Infantry. You can’t get much closer when you’re cemented to a boulder! (BFS)

Gettysburg monuments and statues vary in size, design, color, and texture. Some sort of stone — granite’s the favorite, by far — went into the monuments and bronze into the statues.

If veterans could conceive a design and the proper authorities would sign off on it, a monument might even incorporate a little color.

The 93rd Pennsylvania survivors opted for a routine granite monument, but splashed some blue on the cross (right). You will find this monument practically next door to the 5th Maine Infantry’s white monument off the north end of Little Round Top.

Gettysburg’s natural beauty changes with the seasons and  the daylight. Dawn and dusk offer that low light so favored by photographers. One September evening near the Copse of Trees, while busy shooting the sun dropping behind South Mountain, I turned and saw this scene.

Just north of the Copse of Trees, the setting sun transforms to gold a cannon belonging to Lt. Alonzo Cushing’s Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery. (BFS)

Gettysburg abounds in wildlife, which might or might not pose. A critter can enhance a Gettysburg photo; there was the time that, while standing near the Minnesota monument, I happened to look up:

The Bluebird of Happiness perches on the 1st Minnesota Infantry bayonet. That’s quite the view! (BFS)

This magnificent cottontail popped up near the 19th Maine’s left-flank marker. (BFS)

Sometimes the wildlife does not care to pose by a cannon/monument/statue, so a photographer makes do with what’s “happening now.”

Whitetail deer often appear at dawn or toward sunset, and smaller varmints like raccoons and skunks usually turn out at dark.

Cottontail rabbits like the day, red-tail hawks hover overhead in the sky or trees, a hungry fox trots past while ignoring park visitors, and, its presence sometimes announced by someone hollering in a bit of fright, the occasional snake slithers across an asphalt path. Be prepared: the animals are there.

Spring blossoms near the Copse of Trees point toward the nearby Codori Farm. (BFS)

Sitting at the Soldiers National Monument, the statue “History” writes about the battle and lists the slain heroes. (BFS)

Some Gettysburg scenes lend themselves to excerpts, snippets taken from the whole, rather than the whole occupying the frame.

The imposing Soldiers National Monument in the national cemetery begs for full-frame composition, but its components deserve individual attention.

I appreciated the National Park Service cleaning the entire monument before the July 2013 sesquicentennial observances, undertaken in :wicked” hot weather, at least by Maine standatds.. The four corner statues had not looked better in a long time.

A wounded North Carolinian points his comrades toward the Union lines. (BFS)

Some Confederate monuments, especially Virginia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi, incorporate great expression and passion. While the Robert E. Lee/Traveler-topped Virginia Monument lures many, many visitors, the North Carolina monument better portrays war’s combat and cost.

Beneath the flagbearer and the two rifle-toters kneels a wounded soldier, his right hand clutching his gut wound. Going down for the count, he points his friends toward the distant Yankees and Cemetery Ridge. He’s not coming back; the others might not, either.

The morning sun illuminates the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry monument on the eastern edge of Cemetery Ridge. (BFS)

May we yet walk on Gettysburg’s hallowed ground in 2020!

The setting sun casts a long shadow behind the 40th New Yorker hiding behind his stone wall near Plum Run. (BFS)







Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at