After the Shenandoah, we headed to Gettysburg for two weeks. This post is not about the battle itself, which was horrific, or the private horseback tour we took, which was an experience we’ll remember for an awfully long time. Rather, it’s about my personal connection to those events.

One of my great-grandfathers was Orlando Porter. On August 22, 1861 he enlisted in Company I of the 7th Regiment, Michigan Infantry on the day it was formed. The 7th Michigan got around quite a bit during the war, fighting at most of the significant battles in the Eastern Theatre, including Gettysburg. Today at Gettysburg, there are monuments to virtually every unit, northern and southern, that was present during those three days. While we were there, we found the monument to the 7th Michigan and I, of course, took some photos.

Orlando went on to have an interesting time. He was eventually made a sergeant and acting sergeant major in another Regiment. And on August 22, 1864 (three years to the day of his enlistment) he shot a private of the 11th Maine Artillery dead. The shooting took place on a train platform in Beltsville, MD and occurred in the line of duty while defending soldiers and civilians from the rowdy, and possibly drunk, private. He was incarcerated in the Central Guardhouse in Washington, DC, and eventually exonerated of all charges. He mustered out of the service on December 20, 1864 at the age of 32 when his enlistment expired..

My family has a bunch of documentation, including 5 witness statements, his acquittal letter, a letter of recommendation from the Commandant of the prison, and various other documents from his life but unfortunately no photos of him are in my possession. Reading these documents provide a strong link for me to the historic events that took place so long ago.

If you get a chance, visit Gettysburg. If nothing else, it’s a beautiful spot for long walks on cool spring days. And a beautiful spot to remember awful events.