From Gettysburg, PA; Saturday, March 14, 2015
Written by Jill Frueh and Joel Barickman – Presiding Fellows
As the class of 2016 boarded the bus on a dreary Saturday morning we said good bye to the capital city and headed to Gettysburg, PA.
Our first destination was the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center. While there, we watched a 20 minute film which highlighted events leading up to the battle, referred to as the “turning point of the war”. A brief history of the war explained the reason for the conflict, which was the argument over allowing slavery to expand into the new territories. The movie also highlighted the significance of the battle on the town itself as it not only became the sight of bloodshed in the Civil War, but also became a hospital for quite a long time after the war, a burial ground for casualties, and later the site for the historical Gettysburg Address given by president Lincoln months later when a national cemetery was designated. At the conclusion of the film, the viewers traveled up the escalators to the cyclorama. This famous 131 year old painting depicting the last battle of the war, Pickett’s Charge, vividly captured the scene of the July 3rd battle.
Next the class boarded a bus to head to the Eisenhower Farm. This 189-acre farm near the battlefield was the one and only property purchase of our 34th President and First Lady Mamie. It was explained that he purchased the property because of his desire to put in place conservation efforts on his own land. He used to say, “I shall leave it better than I found it”, when referring to his land. He also took much pride in his string of Black Angus cattle. By 1960 the farm boasted 100 cows with calves
When looking through the halls of the old show barn his success was apparent. Many ribbons and banners hung in the barn office. As we toured the home, containing 98% original artifacts, we learned of the style of the first lady and her love of the property. The place they called home for many years was more than just a place to relax, it was also a farm and diplomatic ground.
Finally the class boarded our charter bus for a three hour tour of the battlefield. Terry Fox, a sixth generation resident of Gettysburg, former Gettysburg College professor and Battlefield Guide Emeritus explained in detail each battle and the leadership lessons learned. The battlefields that had been restored to 90% of their original states were the perfect classroom to end our week. His lessons explained why the North, with more money and people, were losing miserably to the South with less resources but better Generals. Eventually he explained that General Lee was very confident in his abilities but fell short because of his lack of communication. He expounded that Lee lost the war because of bad communication. He stated that “a lack of communication will bring loss and defeat”. He also spoke about the quality of communication saying that “you can’t tell the same message to everyone and expect the same outcome”. And finally he spoke about leadership and the two types, transactional and transitional, explaining that you will be a better leader if you have others help with a joint plan.
It certainly is apparent that we covered a lot of ground this week, walking just over 42 miles! As we dined together as a group we shared our insights for the week. Our briefings and receptions certainly gave us many things to consider as we travel back home for the spring planting season.