Glenn W. LaFantasie, the Richard Frockt Family Professor of Civil War History at Western Kentucky University is the author of a book called Gettysburg Heroes: Perfect Soldiers, Hallowed Ground. He said this about the battlefield at Gettysburg, “The past is not always tangible or even knowable. But sometimes it can be seen and every now and then it can be felt.”
LaFantasie and his daughter traced on foot the route Colonel William C. Oates and the 15th Alabama took in launching their doomed attack on the afternoon of July 2, 1863 against Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine on Little Round Top.
When he and his daughter finally arrived at the top of Little Round Top, Sarah said “Can you feel that?” She could not describe the feeling she had, but it was something intangible, like a fog or shadow, and it made her feel sad. Perhaps she had encountered the lingering spirits of William Oates and his brother John, (who died there), Joshua Chamberlain, and all the brave men of Maine and Alabama who fought like demons for possession of that little hill.
“Our pasts,” LaFantasie said, “are locked up inside us. Sometimes when we least expect it, they come spilling forth and intersect with other parts of our lives. On a misty spring day, across the lush fields and hills of Gettysburg, my daughter and I felt far-reaching echoes of our history”
If you have ever visited Gettysburg, you will understand a bit of what all this means. It is a feeling and yet it is more than a feeling. It is a part of our lives gone pehaps horribly wrong and we wish we could right it. Instead we go to a battlefield, any battlefield and we FEEL IT because it is hallowed ground..