On April 23-24, 2016, Gettysburg National Military Park will host their inaugural Spring Battlefield Foray, a special weekend of free hikes and walks that will focus on the organization, tools, and tactics utilized by the two armies that fought at Gettysburg. These hikes will bring together park rangers, historians, and licensed battlefield guides to provide a special and in-depth experience.
The programs will explore the battlefield on foot and provide an intimate view of the Gettysburg landscape and the soldiers of the two armies who fought upon it.
All programs are and open to the public. No registration is necessary.
“April is a great month to explore the battlefield,” said Toni Dufficy, Chief of Interpretation at Gettysburg National Military Park. “Not only will these programs visit less explored areas of the park, they will also offer something new to students of the battle and the war.”
On Saturday, April 23, special programs include 2 1/2-hour in-depth hikes exploring key episodes and phases of the battle from the perspective of the different branches of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia. The hikes involve significant hiking and walking, occasionally over rough terrain. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes are highly recommended.
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – “It was nothing more than a stand-up fight” – Infantry vs. Infantry on July 1st. From the firefight in Reynolds Woods to the savage combat at the Railroad Cut, the foot soldier dominated the fighting on July 1, 1863 west of Gettysburg. Advantages and disadvantages of terrain, arms of the combatants, and the ability of unit commanders to make quick decisions made the difference in victory or defeat on the field that day. Join Park Historian John Heiser on a 2 ½ hour, in-depth hike examining the tools and tactics of the Union and Confederate regiments involved in the opening clash at Gettysburg. Meet at Reynolds Woods, Auto Tour Stop 1. Park along Reynolds Avenue.
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – “A Spirited Duel” – The Artillery on July 2nd. Confederate artillerymen E. P. Alexander wrote of the fighting on July 2 that, “I don’t think there was ever in our war a hotter, harder, sharper artillery afternoon than this.” From Warfield Ridge to the Trostle Farm, follow Park Ranger Matt Atkinson as he explores the various Union and Confederate batteries that dueled for supremacy on the bloodiest day of the battle of Gettysburg. Meet at the Peach Orchard. Park on Sickles Avenue. Do not park on Wheatfield Road.
3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Clash of Cavalry – The Battle at East Cavalry Field. After two days of stubborn fighting, the Battle of Gettysburg began anew during the early morning hours of July 3, 1863. Though the fighting at Culp’s Hill and Pickett’s Charge is more famous, the pitched cavalry battle fought three miles east of town represents a compelling chapter in the Gettysburg story. Join Park Ranger Tom Holbrook and explore the fields, farms, and crossroads where cavalrymen once crossed sabers. Meet at the parking lot on Confederate Cavalry Avenue. Park along Confederate Cavalry Avenue.
Sunday, April 24, the Foray offers “Hiking the Union Fishhook,” a Special Program from 8:55 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. In better understanding the numerous battles within the Battle of Gettysburg, it becomes clear that the various fights were interconnected and walking from place to place is the best way, bar none, to grasp this. Led by Licensed Battlefield Guides Tim Smith and Garry Adelman, this rigorous hike will cover the Union fishhook as it was generally positioned on July 2 and 3, 1863. Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, the Wheatfield and Cemetery Ridge is the goal by lunchtime with Cemetery Hill, Culp’s Hill, Spangler’s Spring and more rounding out the day. This hike not only entails eight miles of walking up, down, around and along hills and ridges, but requires a relatively fast pace. Water, headgear, sun protection, insect repellent and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes and a packed lunch are highly recommended. The hike will begin and end at the flagpole at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. All participants should park in parking Lot 3 of the Museum and Visitor Center.
For more about the book series, the park’s Winter Lecture Series, Ranger programs, and other events go to www.nps.gov/gett.