Wednesday, May 20, 2009

At Gettysburg; or, What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle

Miss Tillie Pierce was only a young teenager when the Civil War was raging in America. It was during this time, the summer heat heavy upon her now infamous town, that the battle of Gettysburg occurred.

I have always had a fascination with Gettysburg- the town and the battle that took place here- and getting my hands on this book was a great excitement. Years after the war had come and gone Tillie wrote her account of what she saw and heard (as evident from the title) during her time in Gettysburg while the battle raged on.

She writes everything eloquently and gives many details. The amount of mud that sunk the wheels of the wagon she was in. The bits of battle going on all around her. The soldiers who were injured and under her unprofessional care.

The book is under 100 pages long and places in a format of before the war, each day of the war, and after the war. She describes her experiences in detail as she is away with her neighbor with intentions of helping the neighbor while they left town in order for safety. At the time no one knew just how large the Battle of Gettysburg would be and they found themselves at some points in the middle of the battle itself. Later on describes what her family had experienced while they were within the town itself.

It's one thing to visit Gettysburg now as a 22 year old in the year 2009.... a full 146 years after the battle had occurred. But it still stands as the greatest loss of human life on American soil. The bullet holes can still be seen on the sides of the homes in the town itself. The cemetery still has grave upon grave of those who have fallen. It's easy to be told the facts and understand what happened from moment to moment from historical information but it's a completely different thing to be presented with the hands on accounts from someone who was just a little girl when this horrible battle broke out.

What would you do if a battle, killing thousands, broke out in your town? What would you do if you had to hide in your basement during the day so as not to be hit by a stray bullet? What would you do if soldiers would break into your house, demanding food, taking your animals, and quite possibly hurting any soldiers of the opposing side whom you have in the home and are trying to heal?

It's a heavy subject and something most of us, thankfully, have never had the chance to experience ourselves. But this book gives you an idea of what it was like, even if it's a glimmer.

The book isn't regularly printed which I find to be a great shame. I bought it through Dodo Press which distributes books which are out of print or rare. I highly suggest all get their hands on this book and read it. Do it. Even if you are not into war, the Civil War, or personal accounts. It's under 100 pages as I've mentioned but it's worth the read.
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1 comment:

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