David Fisher - Blog

David Fisher - GETTYSBURG - a sesquicentennial commemoration

David Fisher - GETTYSBURG - a sesquicentennial commemoration

GETTYSBURG - a sesquicentennial commemoration

In June and July 2013, David Fisher went on holiday to America with his eldest grandson, Sam Russell, and part of the trip through seven States was always to be present at the exact time of the commemoration of Pickett´s Charge at the culmination of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War at 3 p.m. on July 3rd. This article by Ike Wilson appeared in the Frederick News Post [Maryland] on July 4th 2013:

 

 

 

Whether David Fisher and his wife, Pauline, would attend the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration was not a question for debate. Fisher, of Leicester, England, said he had to take part “in one of the most outstanding demonstrations of unswerving bravery from the Confederate soldiers in the advance known as Pickett´s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.”

Fisher and his wife, who is an historian and expert on the American Civil War, have visited many historical sites in several American states. “Being English, we are most empathetic to the Confederate cause — not because of the issue of slavery, but because we love the Southern states, where we are always greeted like long-lost relatives, and because the government of Victorian Britain found it necessary to side with the Confederacy because of the cotton and its importance in the economic life of northern England,” Fisher said.

Re-enactors from England, Australia and Germany booked 17 rooms at Frederick’s Red Horse Comfort Inn, said Joe Shelton, a former Frederick resident who portrays Confederate Gen. James Lawson Kemper in the re-enactments. A hotel employee could not confirm the number of rooms taken by Civil War enthusiasts, but said many re-enactors are at the hotel and no rooms are available.Pauline Fisher´s birthday is today and David Fisher´s birthday is Dec. 7 — the day Pearl Harbor was hit — “so we were destined to love America, and we do,” he said.“Meeting people like Joe (Shelton) has made America more real. There’s a little bit of America in me and my wife now.”

Shelton, a Frederick native, and George Wells, of Madison, Va., who portrays Gen. Robert E. Lee, lauded the foreigners’ Civil War knowledge.“We find generally that English and German people know more about American history than many Americans, and that’s because they’ve studied it, and there’s been such a letdown in the teachings in American schools,” Wells said.

 

Click here for the link to the article in the newspaper. The following link: [click here] takes you directly to the Fox News article on Gettysburg which, alas, does not contain the interview with David.

A requested write-up of the event was printed in the opinion columns of the Frederick News Post´s Sunday edition on July 21st. Click here for the link for this article in the newspaper.

 

A chance meeting in the beautiful city of Frederick a few years ago led to one of the greatest experiences of my life and that was at Gettysburg on July 3, 2013.

It is difficult to equate making that statement, now I’m back in England, without considering many of the wonderful things my wife and I have already experienced in the United States of America: the majesty of Death Valley and the Grand Canyon; the peace and beauty of the Outer Banks; the might of Niagara Falls; the spectacular Amicalola Falls in Georgia; the Little White Houses of FDR and Harry S. Truman; wonderful theatrical performances in Cleveland, Ohio and Abbeville S.C.; historic sites from Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y. to Fort George, Fla.; museums of world importance in D.C. and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Fla.; remarkable smaller ones such as the Kermit Museum in Mississippi and the Johnstown Flood Museum in Pennsylvania.

But even impressive state capitals, the glitz of Las Vegas and the beaches of Miami cannot compete with what we consider the best thing about your great country — and that is the people.

Everywhere we have ever been in 33 states so far we have met people who have greeted us like long-lost relatives. They’ve invited us to their homes, sent presents and greetings throughout the year and welcomed us wherever we have visited.

The coincidental meeting in Frederick was, therefore, most propitious. It was with Joseph Shelton, who re-enacts the distinguished figure of the Confederate Gen. Kemper who, though injured at Gettysburg, bore a terrible injury with fortitude and became the first governor of Virginia after Reconstruction. Joe himself is also a remarkable man, with a long and proud family history in Frederick. He and his wife Linda were very openhearted at the first meeting and we have remained in close touch ever since.

Joe also introduced us to the general of generals: the esteemed and illustrious Robert E Lee, portrayed with uncanny likeness by the wonderful and generously spirited George Wells of Madison, Va., who at the recent Gettysburg 150 led the troops and followers up the field. He was greeted as a hero by the thousands of spectators who had braved the morning rain and the searing heat of the afternoon of the 3rd of July in order to witness this historic occasion.

Why was I so moved? Well, possibly because these dear friends dressed me in a Confederate colonel’s uniform and insisted that I accompany them on the walk. The surge of emotion they received when greeted by the troops and ordinary members of the public was palpable. Their understanding of their alter egos in terms of character and method of portrayal was matched only by their deep desire to recreate this historic moment to perfection — and I was a very lucky Englishman not only to observe this but be a part of it as well.

The knowledge they possess about the war was such that I felt these famous generals were back in the saddle. I saw people weeping as they greeted them and there was a very poignant scene when a young Union private, with tears in his eyes, was saluted by General Lee at the High Water Mark. The playing of “Taps” along the length of the wall by many buglers was a stroke of genius, and the silence whilst this was being done provided an intensely profound feeling among the spectators and the re-enactors.

America has its grand scenery, it great cities, its fantastic museums and delightful byways, but what it possesses in abundance is the strength of its population. I was very proud that day to be an honorary American, if only for a short time, and to have the opportunity to understand a little more about the American psyche and also to experience the intensity of the human history and emotion of places like Gettysburg.

What makes America the great country it is?

Its people …

 

David Fisher writes from Leicester, England.