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Bicycling Through Battlefields

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
While there are several ways to tour the famous Gettysburg battlefields, bicycling gives visitors a chance to experience the scenery firsthand.

From the observation deck of the 110-foot-high granite pavilion, Rice pointed out a view of the Peach Orchard, behind which the Union soldiers took position until falling prey to Confederate fire.

He then led the group down a winding road, shaded by an umbrella of trees and bordered with sculptures erected in honor of the fighting regiments: a sleeping dog, a cross, a drum, a fallen man.

The cyclers rode through the Wheatfield, which absorbed the blood of fallen soldiers, and to Devil’s Den, a cluster of boulders and a site along the Union’s path away from the advancing Confederates.

The bike tour then continued up a
127-foot hill to the peak of Little Round Top. Union soldiers ran up the long, steep slope to position themselves for defense, but Gettysbike’s website warns that some riders might prefer to walk their bikes up the incline.

From the vantage of Little Round Top, riders could gaze down on open fields that resemble the farm landscape of the late 1860s, as well as a backdrop of rolling hills. Cannons — many of them authentic — dot the land.

The last stop was Cemetery Ridge, where the final surge occurred. Commonly known as Pickett’s Charge, it was at this point that the Union soldiers drove back the advancing Confederate Army with severe casualties. The next day, July 4, Lee began withdrawing, ending the battle.

In the frenzy of the fight, the Union soldiers piled rocks on an existing low wall of stones to keep the rebels at bay. A portion of that stone wall remains, and the cyclists dismounted to walk over and touch a piece of history.

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