Well, it’s official. Inside Pulse Culture has launched. I know I received a few emails asking “What’s going to happen now that the Daily Pulse’s are gone? What’s going to happen to Nygotha? ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE RETROGRADING AGAIN???”
Well, this is the answer. Culture is going to be where you can still be entertained by the IP staff, and also get some IQ boosting at the same time. You’ll be learning (yes, LEARNING. Don’t whine you pussies. You’ve been reading me for how long? It’s educational dammit!) about food, world history, and Literature. Peruse the section and enjoy what is to come.
Now back to subject at hand.
Gettysburg is probably the most famous battle of the American Civil War. Countless books and films (both documentary and Hollywood blockbusters) have been written about these three days of bloodshed. Even though there were bigger and bloodier battles in the Civil War, this overshadows them all for some reason. Over 1 million people a year come to the battlegrounds to view this site in which 50,000 people died; a casualty listing larger than the population of the actual town of Gettysburg itself! And of course in any place that has witnessed this much death and grief, some of those 1 million tourists are going to report sighting of spectral apparitions of those that should have departed this world long ago.
The battle of Gettysburg was a battle of desperation. it was the Summer of 1863, and the month was July. The Confederate Army of General Robert E. Lee needed every supply imaginable. They lacked food. They clothes were little more than rags and many lacked shoes for their feet. Horses too were rare, and these animals were in great need for carrying supplies. Lee received a report that there was an overabundance of supplies in Pennsylvania. Lee thus devised a plan in which he would kill two birds with one stone by moving his army north. Not only would he get supplies this way, but Lee believed that by pressing his army northwards, the Union would divert some of their troops that were currently occupying the capital of the South, Richmond, Virginia. As an added bonus, lee felt that this push into the North could also take out supple and communication lines to the Union soldiers currently fighting in the Confederacy.
Lee and his troops pressed onwards into Pennsylvania and they camped outside the town of Gettysburg. Lee sent a brigade of his fighters into the city to claim supplies in the name of the Confederate Army. However, the Union army was ready for this phalanx, and caught them by surprise. It would turn out that the army of Union general George Meade, who had actually only been made General a week or so ago by President Lincoln, had been following Lee’s Confederate Army. Meade’s army had moved from Richmond towards Lee’s just as the Confederate General has surmised. However, Lee had not planned for a Union army to find his so quickly, especially not at Gettysburg. Of course, it was also blind luck that General Meade’s army found the Southern soldiers as it was.
Although some historians like to paint a romantic picture and say that the Battle of Gettysburg was planned and deliberate in an attempt to romanticize things, the truth is, the Battle of Gettysburg was a battle of sheer coincidence, and occurred simply because the South needed shoes.
The battle began on July 1st, 1863. It would last for three days as mentioned previously, and when the smoke and dust would clear, the war would be all but over for once sides, mentally and financially.
During the first day of battle, both sides pressed the Gettysburg terrain in an attempt to find leverage in the rocky landscape it consisted of. Parts of the battlefield shift sides several times as both armies retreated and advanced in a desperate attempt to find “the spot” on the field. The North secured a hill known as, “Little Round Top,” which would serve them strategically through the battle and allow them to fend off repeated Confederate attacks. Little Round Top would become greatly discussed and analyzed by Civil War Scholars along with other battle areas that would go onto received colourful names like, “The Valley of Death and Bloody Rum,” named after the massive amount of blood that painted the ground and rocky hillside around it.
The second day of battle was pretty much a stalemate for all involved. Meade even contemplated a retreat due to the lack of advancement they had made, even though his army outnumbered Lee’s by 15,000 men.
It’s the third day of fighting that has really become iconic in American history. In truth, it was little more than a wholesale slaughter of Confederate troops. Lee’s first blunder of the day was to send a strike force directly into the center of Meade’s army. Lee’s plan was to send 12,000 troops directly across a wide open field to where the Union troops were located, a place called Cemetery Ridge. Anyone else see the problem with this? Wide open field? A place called Cemetery Ridge? I dunno, maybe it’s just me. The leader of this assault was General George Pickett, who had arrived the night before as part of reinforcements to aid the beleaguered General Lee.
As expected the men were slaughtered like cows in an abattoir thanks to the terrain advantage the Union had with Little Big Top and Cemetery Ridge. Artillery fire killed thousands upon thousands of Confederate soldiers, but those that survived kept charging towards the Union like lemmings. Of the 12,000 soldiers that advanced in that kamikaze mission, only a few hundred made it to the Union camp. Needless to say Lee had made a lifelong enemy in Pickett and today, War aficionados use the term “Pickett’s Charge” as a euphemism for a suicidal mission.
Although the Battle of Gettysburg is considered only three days long, it actually lasted another two days as more events unfolded.
On the Fourth of July, the American holiday known as “Independence Day,” both sides laid low, waiting for the other to make the first move. Instead, no one did anything. In the afternoon a massive rain swept the land, killing any chance of fighting that day.
Only July 5th, General Lee and his army retreated towards Richmond. Meade deliberated on whether or not to give chase, and a few days later, chose to hunt Lee’s army down in pursuit. But that battle is a tale for another time.
Gettysburg is officially the battle the crippled the Confederate Army. From this point on, the South would be fighting not to win, but merely to stay alive. Gettysburg was the last of the great battles of the Civil War, and it had broken the South in two.
Aside from the troops however, there are the citizens who lived in Gettysburg to consider. Many were German, Scottish, and Irish immigrants and they returned to find their homes and property utterly destroyed by the fighting. Few, if any, received any monetary compensation, leaving these people even more destitute and starving than they were before. Oddly enough, only one citizen of Gettysburg was killed during the five days both armies occupied the area.
Even after the destruction inflicted upon the town, the citizens showed compassion and allowed the homes that were still standing to be turned into makeshift hospitals. Actually, pretty much every building in the town ended up becoming a makeshift hospital. It was one of the most gruesome sights of the way. Buildings and streets gained permanent bloodstains from the sheer amount that was leaking from the casualties. Due to a lack of medical knowledge back then, limbs were amputated instead of set, and it was impossible to miss the several stacks of severed limbs in the town that surgeons created. Corpses too joined the stacking process, and due to the near hundred degree temperatures of that July, the corpses swelled and bloated from the heat, stinking and decaying at a rate no olfactory sensors should have to deal with. Because of the sheer levels of gore and rot permeating the air, the nearby townsfolk began soaking their handkerchiefs in sweet smelling oils and pressing them to their faces as they went out and about their normal daily routine.
The Southern Dead were transported back to Richmond for burial. Meanwhile, the Union bought 17 acres of cornfield from the Gettysburg townfolk, and created a national cemetery. The Union would bury 3,654 corpses at Gettysburg. 1,608 of those could not be identified.
With a battle and aftermath such as this, it is no wonder that Gettysburg is considered haunted. Death and massive trauma are considered the two big reasons behind why ghosts stay on the mortal plane (if you believe in ghosts, that is…). So let’s take a look at several of them.
Generic Hauntings: With the millions (and millions!) of Gettysburg tourists, there has been no shortage of ghostly occurrences being reported. Many people have claimed to have heard ghostly gunfire, spectral noises of people screaming and crying, and of course the age old sighting of ghostly soldiers, still fighting a battle that ended long ago.
Little Round Top: According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley (who wrote the Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits), a park ranger related to her a story about a group of Foreign Dignitaries who went on a Gettysburg tour and ended their investigation of the battlefield at the summit of Little Big Top. There at the top of the hill, the dignitaries were greeted with a full on cosplayer filled reenactment of a Civil War regiment in full uniform marching towards the valley below. At least, that’s what they thought they saw, until they learned later that there was no reenactment occurring that entire day of any kind, and that no group of cosplayers were on the entire battlefield ground at any time that day.
Devil’s Den: There is a lot of supernatural phenomenon reported at Devil’s Den, an area in which the Confederate army placed sharpshooters in an attempt to dislodge Union troops from Little Big Top. How Devil’s Den received it’s name is not clear, but the region consists of boulders and jutting rocks that curve and coil along is a snake like pattern. Of note is the fact this area was considered haunted by locals and Native Americans long before the battle of Gettysburg
Devil’s Den was originally an Indian hunting ground and folklore from before the war claim that a major battle amongst Native Americans had occurred there. Settlers would report hearing ghostly cries and hollers in the night of long dead Indian warriors. There were also sightings of ghostly Indians, performing strange (to the white immigrants) ceremonies and yelling war cries and other hollering noises. Devil’s Den had long been referred to by those in the region as a ghostly place that pervaded with a sense of desolation and made people shudder.
After the Battle of Gettysburg, corpses were strewn all along the length of Devil’s Den. Some of the Confederate soldiers who died there were left to rot by the Union and the citizens of Gettysburg. These bodies received no burials and were most likely picked apart by wild animals. And if you’ve heard even a few ghost stories, you can surmise what was to follow.
Now sightings of ghostly solders are frequent occurrences in the area. Most interesting of all is if you take photographs in the area, shadowy figures in the shape of men will show up on the photos themselves. Shadowy figures that were not seen by the naked eye when the picture was taken.
Cashtown Inn: This inn is located 8 miles from Gettysburg proper. It was at the Cashtown Inn where several Confederate soldiers visited before the actual battle itself. Now the inn is haunted by the ghost of a Confederate soldier, whose footsteps can be heard, and whom can actually be viewed as an apparition on rare occasions. According to legends, the ghost was even caught on film thanks to a photo taken in the 1890’s. A ghostly soldier can be seen sitting on the porch of the inn when no man was sitting there before. The question that begs to be asked of course is why is there a ghost there of all places?
Pennsylvania Hall: This area is also known as the old as the “Old Dorm.” Pennsylvania Hall is one of the largest and oldest buildings in Gettysburg College. The hall is one of many places that served as an impromptu hospital after the battle. General Lee even watched battle unfold from inside here. Sorry gang, he stayed far away from the fighting itself.
Here in “The Old Dorm,” one can find ghostly soldiers patrolling the building. One apparition is seen in the cupola of the building of the building, waving his arms hysterically. It probably doesn’t give the best first impression out there. And of course, Phantom noises are commonplace.
Rose Farm: This farmhouse was, like many standing buildings at the time, used as a field hospital for the injured of both sides. The land was also used as burial plots for many of the people as well. By 1963, most of the bodies buried here were removed and reburied in national cemeteries, but the ghosts of the dead did not leave with their bodies. Rose Farm is now supposedly filled with ghostly soldiers, along with their spectral steeds. At night if you go to the remains of the graveyard, one is supposedly able to see glowing apparitions.
George Weikert House: Not much here. Just a house on the battlefield that survived. Typical ghostly footsteps and a door that can’t be closed.
Hummelbaugh House: Confederate Brigadier General William Barksdale died here. He fell in battle and his dying body was brought here. Barksdale was laid out in front of the house and died begging and pleading for water, even as the residents were giving him it by the spoonful. Even to this day, his pleading for water can still be heard long after his body was consigned to the earth.
Another addition to this story is that Barksdale’s widow came to Gettysburg to collect her husbands corpse for burial in Mississippi. She brought along Barksdale’s hunting dog and when they arrived, the dog went to Barksdale’s grave, and then refused to leave it, under any sort of coaxing or duress. Eventually Mrs. Barksdale left the dog behind, who died from both starvation and dehydration without having moved from that spot, and refusing any food or liquids from the locals. It’s ghost supposedly haunts the area as well.
And this is just a smattering of accounts I found in Rosemary’s book that I mentioned above, as well as stories in two books by Mark Nesbitt, who specializes in the Ghosts of Gettysburg,
And that’s it for the Civil War trilogy. As always, I’m here to answer any folklore, occult, or spooky type monstery beasty question you might have. Just let me know what you’d like to know, and I’ll answer it to the best of my ability.
This week, I really wanted to do a Tapas. I love them. For those of you new to the word, A tapas is usually a bite sized morsel to be eaten with a white wine, beery or sherry. Tapas are the main foodstuffs of Spain, where every lunch and dinner has some sort of tapas serving.
The word “Tapa” actually means, “lid,” and it originates from the slices of bread innkeepers from long ago used to place on top of wine glasses. They did this to keep flies and dust out of the drink. Eventually the Andaluciens decided that they could put some tiny serving of food on top of the bread to drive in more customers. And thus the concept of the tapas was born.
In Europe some restaurants have a large variety of tapas, and ordering 4-6 of these servings can usually be a meal in themselves for several people. This week I’ve chosen something I really enjoy eating, but that I know is not what a lot of people like to eat. But the Epicurean in me says that I should be about expanding your tastes and thus I’m giving you this recipe in the hopes some of you will brave this foodstuff and make it yourself. Trust me, you won’t regret it. It’s delicious.
Chicken Livers in a Sherry Sauce
Yes, yes. I know. Liver. Ew. So many people fear the liver for some reason. However, this dish is amazingly popular in Spain, and is often made from lamb and veal livers as well. However, that gets a bit pricey for the American consumer. If you want another variation to this dish, add some quartered mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of capers. Man, I love capers, but like chicken livers, a lot of people hate their lemony taste. However, if you like both, you will be shocked how incredible they are together.
1 pound (450 grams) chicken livers
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I can’t stress this enough. ONLY EVER USE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
One-Third cup of dry sherry
Salt and pepper to tastes
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Crusty French bread
1. If necessary, trim the chicken livers. Cut away the ducts and gristle, if any are on them. Then cut the livers into small bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened but NOT browned. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
3. Add the chicken livers to the skillet and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Be sure to be stirring constantly at this time, until the livers are firm and have changed colour on the outside, but are still pink and soft on the inside. Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken livers from the pan and transfer them to a large warmed serving dish, or several smaller ones. This is to keep them warm while you do the next step.
4. Add the sherry to the skillet. Increase the heat and let the sherry bubble for 3-4 minutes. This is to evaporate the alcohol and reduce it slightly. At the same time the sherry is bubbling, deglaze the skillet by scrapping and stirring all the bits on the bottom of the skillet into the sauce by using a wooden spoon. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the sherry sauce that you have made over the chicken breasts and sprinkle onto the parsley. Serve the tapas piping hot along with pieces of baguette to soak up the remaining sauce. Conversely, you can scoop the livers and sauce on the bread chunks and eat it that way as well.
And so begins the first issue of the second volume of Things That Should Not Be. As always, I love getting your emails and hope you take a good look at the rest of the section.