Friday, April 27, 2007

CWL --- Walking Gettysburg's Battlefield: Culp's Hill

Gettysburg Battlewalks: Culp's Hill, Hartwig, Scott, Pennsylvania Cable Network, 1 hour 31 minutes, 2003.

This tour is a testament to Scott Hartwig's ability to hold a story together for 100+ walkers. For the armchair viewer, this particular dvd in the Gettysburg Battlewalk series, has no vistas, no panoramic views, and no closeups of monuments. Its trees, trees, trees and trees. Viewers would do well to just listen to parts of this battlewalk while consulting any combination of the following materials: the McElfresh watercolor map, Pfanz's 'Gettysburg: Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill, the West Point Atlas of the Civil War, Hartwig's guide to battlefield monuments and Archer's tourbook, Culp's Hill at Gettysburg: The Mountain Trembled. Hartwig introduces the Culp's Hill battle as 'not a happy one.' He views it as one of defeat, tragedy, courage, mediocre generalship and the advantage of a hilltop position with breastworks.

Key elements of the story are Slocum's decision to leave one brigade on Culp's Hill after being ordered to remove the entire 12th Corps, Greene's decision to order his brigade to build breastworks, and the loss of command and control of troops by Confederate generals. Hartwig states that among the causes of this loss is the physical distance between Lee's headquarters and Ewell's headquarters with the town between them, the terrain over which CSA troops fought, and the lack of understanding of the topography of the Culp's Hill battlefield. Hartwig also sees Lee's orders to Longstreet on July 2nd and 3rd as they relate to Lee's orders to Ewell on July 2nd and 3rd as creating the loss of control by Lee of his army corps attack schedule. This particular loss by Lee puts Ewell at a disadvantage. While Ewell's corps is fighting, no other CSA troops are attacking.

Hartwig amply presents soldiers' words to describe the ferocity of the battle. The active listener will take notes on the chronology of the events because much of the ground is fought over twice. The tour goes halfway up to the summit, then down, up to the lower summit, then down, over to the edge of Pardee's field, then back to base of the the summit, then up to the top, then down to the bottom again. The actual tour took between 2.5 to 3 hours; the dvd contains 1.5 hours of lecture material. This battlewalk is recommended to those who have a well stocked library and have visited the Culp's Hill site at least once.

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