“In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls… generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.” Joshua Chamberlain
Tonight I am getting ready for bed but still preparing for tomorrow and Sunday as I lead about 30 of our officer students and their family members on what is called a “Staff Ride” of the Gettysburg Battlefield.
This is the second time that I have led this trip since I have been assigned to this teaching position. Since I learned that I was going to take over the responsibility for the trip I have written produced a text of around 180 pages for my own work, a text that grows with each month. Many of the chapters of that text have been posted to the Gettysburg page on this site.
We drove up today and in the van I was in we were able to talk about aspects of the campaign as well as the Civil War connected to this battle. We also discussed the timeless aspects of leadership and dealing with the complexities of people and organizations. Unlike the last trip we had good weather for the trip up, although we may be dodging rain showers and thunderstorms tomorrow.
To me Gettysburg is indeed “hallowed ground.” That is why I led the article with the comments of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the hero of Little Round Top. I feel that “mighty presence” that Chamberlain described every time I come here. I am drawn here by the actions of men who I never knew but through books and movies, but men who I feel a deep kinship, something spiritual, something deep, something that abides.
I know that as I lead the staff ride the next two days that I will see things that I never noticed before, and those things will inspire me to study more and write more. On my last trip I was drawn to the actions of Brigadier General George Sears “Pop” Greene at Culp’s Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Freeman McGilvery directing his artillery to stop the crushing Confederate assault at the Peach Orchard, the Wheat Field and Cemetery Ridge on day two of the battle and the sound preparations and expert leadership of Brigadier General Henry Hunt of the Federal artillery on day two and three.
I don’t know what will grab me tomorrow and Sunday, but I know that something will and of course you will hear about it here.
I am honored to teach, and in a sense to pass along a bit of what the men who fought here did to consecrate this ground and to give our nation a “new birth of freedom.” It is my part to continue to bring to fruition what Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address:
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”