Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (Location Key)


Gettysburg is the site of the largest battle ever fought on American soil, between Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac, commanded at that time by George Meade. During its three days of fighting, July 1-3, 1863, almost fifty thousand men were killed, wounded or captured. For many commentators, the Union victory there marked the turning point in the Civil War. In Absalom, Absalom! the Confederate regiment formed in Yoknapatawpha is there under the command of Thomas Sutpen, though the novel's two references to the battle replace sentimentalities or even military history with irony: at Gettysburg one of the regiment's wagons carries the thousand-pound marble headstones that Sutpen managed to import for his wife's and his own graves in the family cemetery back in Mississippi (154), and Shreve, the Canadian roommate who shares with Quentin Compson the burden of trying to understand the Sutpen story, thinks "Pickett's charge" occurred in "Manassas," Virginia (289). Quentin corrects him. According to Gavin Stevens (in Intruder in the Dust), "every Southern boy" - he is thinking, of course, about white boys - remembers "two oclock on that July afternoon in 1863," knows which Confederate generals were there in Gettysburg at the moment when Longstreet reluctanctly gave Pickett the signal to begin that disastrous charge, can't help wondering how the outcome of that battle and the destiny of the South might have been different (199). In Go Down, Moses, Picket's charge up to "Cemetery Ridge" is part of the argument Roth Edmonds is having with his cousin Ike McCaslin about the meaning of Southern history (272).

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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania