Our first stop was the “bivouac of the dead”. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. After the 3 day battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, there remain over 50,000 dead, wounded, and missing soldiers, plus hundreds of dead horses. Eventually the stench was overwhelming. Those that could afford to have their dead relative shipped back home, did so, mostly officers. The remaining dead were left on the battlefield, or put in shallow graves, which were washed open by the heavy rain on July 4, 1863.
The decision was made to bury the 3,000+ union soldiers in a cemetery to be created in Gettysburg. President Lincoln was invited at it’s dedication on November 19, 1863 to say a few words. (His Gettysburg address while there was 8 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, Pa.)
Two interesting facts: 1) no confederate soldiers were to be buried in the cemetery, and 2) the only civilian casualty of the battle was Jennie Wade who was a resident of Gettysburg. At the age of 20, she was killed instantly by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863 while tending wounded soldiers.
About 12 confederate soldiers did mistakenly get buried here.