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Homecoming 2017

Homecoming 2017 for Gamma Sigma and Bluegrass Tekes
Homecoming 2017 is rapidly approaching so now is the time to make your Homecoming plans.  The dates to remember are Friday, October 6th through Sunday October 8th.  You have always heard that if it is not broken don’t fix it, so the plans for Homecoming 2017 will not change.

Keeneland‘s first day of racing is Friday, October 6th so this popular activity will be the same.  On Saturday October 7th UK will be playing Missouri as always game time is unknown and should be announced within 10 days of the October 7th game.  Now that the basics have been provided read on for how the rest of weekend will unfold.

Thursday,: October 5th 
For those arriving on Thursday we will meet in the Teke House lobby (AKA Homewood Suites, 249 Ruccio Way) for Happy Hour from 4 to 5:30 pm, BYOB.  Then it is off to wherever the Thursday night group desires for food, drink or both.  For late arrivals call Dave at 859-351-6216 or Bob 859-489-1799 for our location.  The latest arrivals will be able to find us in the Teke House lobby for nightcaps.

Friday, October 6th:                  
Morning: Sleep late because you have a full day and night of activities.
Afternoon:  Keeneland is running so it is back to the annual Teke Day at the races.  For those who wish to travel together to Keeneland meet in the lobby of the Homewood Suites by 11:00 AM, otherwise plan to be at the track shortly after 11:00AM.  At Keeneland head to the usual table at the far left end of the grandstand as you face the grandstand next to the grassy area.
Evening:  Frater Don Oschwald has once again invited Gamma Sigma Alumni to his historic home for an informal party after our day at Keeneland.  We appreciate Frater Oschwald and his wife’s hospitality for what will once again be an enjoyable evening.
Time: 6:00 P.M.  Social and strolling the property.  7:00 P.M. Dinner
Location: 3500 Huntertown Road.  Gate 67, Versailles, KY
Directions: From Lexington, West on US 60, two miles past Keeneland, Left onto Huntertown Road at Shell Station, proceed 1/2 mile to 3500 Huntertown Road then right at Gate 67
Note:  Alcoholic beverages are NOT provided. Please feel free to bring alcoholic beverages of your choosing for use or sharing.  Food, drinks, ice, utensils, etc. are provided.
After Frater Oschwald’s The Homewood Suites meeting room (AKA TKE Chapter Room) will be open until the last Frater locks the door when he leaves.  This event has sometimes occurred in the very early hours of game day. 

Saturday, October 7th.         9:30 am:  Gamma Sigma Alumni Association annual meeting in the Homewood Suites meeting room (AKA TKE Chapter Room).  Make plans to attend not only for the business part but for your input as to other things you would like your TKE Alumni Chapter to be doing. The rest of the day will depend on game time.  If it is an early game we will have supper after the game, if it is a late game then we will have dinner before the game.  No matter when the game and food we will have nightcaps in the Teke Chapter Room.  If you are interested in purchasing tickets for the game contact Bob Kirkland as soon as possible.  With Coach Stoops in his fourth and perhaps best year to date UK football is moving from being the largest outdoor cocktail hour to competitive football.  So if interested in tickets contact Bob at 859-269-1970.   If you will not be going to the game then then join Dave & Lisa Norat at their home at 494 Retrac Road.  This group has cheered the CATS onto victory from afar more than once over the years.  

Sunday, October 8th  Once again time to head home and mark your calendars for Teke 2018 dates.Lodging for Homecoming will be at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, 249 Ruccio Way Lexington, 859-223-0880, Ask for TKE Alumni Group or for the Dave Norat Group.  Call early because the rooms may be released as early as 4 weeks before October 6, 2017.  The hotel is already sold out with a waiting list so, please do not delay in reserving your room.  Remember it is Homecoming weekend and Keeneland is running so book early. So, head to Lexington and contact Bob at 859-269-1970 or Dave Dave, at 859-223-8229 if you have any questions or need answers.   Bob and I are looking forward to seeing you at Homecoming

Social Calendar for 2017

Happy 2017 to all you Bluegrass and Gamma Sigma Tekes, get ready for a number of traditional and maybe not so traditional events for this upcoming year. But, before we talk about 2017 lets’ take a moment and review what happened in 2016. While the Civil War was put on hold for a year, three Tekes and their spouses spent 30 days in Europe for a river cruise down the great rivers of Europe, leaving Amsterdam and ending in Vienna. There were also a number of impromptu gatherings at local restaurants as Gamma Sigma alums stopped in Lexington on visits elsewhere to catch up on Lexington’s changes and relive old events. One visit even sparked an idea that local and visiting Tekes gather regularly over coffee or beer. Year 2016 events ended with a day at Keeneland, an enjoyable evening at Fraters Oschswald’s Woodford County farm, an annual meeting and a Homecoming victory enjoyed either in the stadium or at Fraters Norat’s house. Hopefully as you read about 2016 you will like what is planned for 2017 and will mark your calendar to be as active as possible.

First, As you know for several years the association has offered a mid-year road trip for its historically inclined Fraters and significant others who care to travel as well. We have traveled to Gettysburg, Atlanta, Charleston, Franklin, Murderers, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Petersburg, among other Civil War Battlefields. This spring we will again visit Civil War battle sites in or near the Shenandoah Valley. We envision a 5-day road trip, Monday May 15 through Friday May19. Our tentative plan will take us through four National Battlefields, a National Historic Park, and a Virginia State Battlefield. Our span will be from the first major battle of the war in 1861 to the disastrous defeat in 1864 that closed the Valley. Our plan (subject to modification by the Fraters present): 

On Monday, we will arrive in the afternoon at Hampton Inn Martins burg South-In wood, 4758 Granddads Road, Linwood, W.Va.25428, phone-304-229-6677. We will have a block of rooms reserved under TKE Alumni or Dave No rat. We predict the customary beer-and-bourbon sampling and storytelling.  Tuesday sends us east to Mantissas to two battlefields under one NPS umbrella - the first and second battles at Mantissas. 
From Mantissas, the armies marched north and met again at Sharpsburg, on the banks of Antietam Creek. This is our Wednesday destination. Actually a battle of three fronts, the September day saw more Americans die than in other day in history. From there, we will drop down the Harpers Ferry, the site of John Brown's attempted slave insurrection.

On Thursday, we spring ahead to the final Valley Campaign in 1864, at Cedar Creek, the 2nd Corps, Army of Northern Valley, the actual and spiritual heir to Jackson's Valley army of 1862, met Sheridan's new Army of the Shenandoah, initially triumphed but was ultimately broken, losing the Valley for good. 
Friday is travel day for those heading home. But a last stop awaits those going South. The battle of New Market was fought earlier in the 1864 campaign but is distinctive for reasons. John Breckenridge commanded the Confederates. Prominent Kentuckian and perhaps one of the greatest men in American history, Breckenridge had been Vice president of the United States, runner-up in the election to Lincoln in 1860, commander to the Orphan Brigade, and last Secretary of War for the CSA. Among his troops was the student body of the Virginia Military Institute, mostly boys too young to have gone to war. The cadets filled a gap in the rebel line, advanced to break the union ranks, captured a battery, and marched into legend. 
In addition to these battles, the Winchester area contains battle sites from the Valley Campaign of 1862. And, as an added inducement, we will be near a number of craft breweries and distilleries. Oh, for more time!

Second, A summer activity to be announced but a suggestion has been made to attend a Lexington Legends baseball game again. We are open to any number of options so if you have one in mind let us know. Mid July to early August is the suggested time.

Third, UK’s Homecoming Football game weekend,with time and team to be announced in late August. If you have suggestions on other activities please contact Dave (859-223-8229) or Bob (859-269-1970). Looking forward to seeing and hearing from all you Tekes.

Homecoming 2016

Yes, once again Homecoming is upon us.  The fall event for Gamma Sigma and all Bluegrass region TEKES means to head to Lexington for Homecoming 2016.  Opening day for Keeneland is Friday, October 7th so the weekend will start with a day at the races, followed by a day or maybe an evening at Commonwealth Stadium.  As always game time is to be announced.   What we do know is our Homecoming opponent is Vanderbilt.  Vanderbilt has beaten Kentucky 4 out of the last 5 times these teams have met  Probably the most embarrassing was last year’s melt down at Vandy  .So here is how the  weekend will unfold.   Don’t forget spouses and significant others are all invited to attend as well.  If you know any Tekes in your area bring them along as well.  If they are in the Bluegrass now they are a Bluegrass Teke.

Thursday,: October 6th  For those arriving on Thursday call Dave at 859-351-6216 or Bob 859-489-1799 to let us know you have arrived

Friday, October 7th:              
Morning: Sleep late because you have a full day and night of activities.
Afternoon:  It is off to Keeneland so race fans start remembering how to read a racing form.  If you wish to go as a group meet in the lobby of the Homewood Suites by 11:00 AM. or meet at the track.  At Keeneland head to our usual table at the far left end of the grandstand as you face the grandstand next to the grassy area.
Evening:  Don Oschwald has invited Gamma Sigma Alumni to his new but historic home for an informal party the Friday evening before UK Homecoming.  This is a great opportunity for our membership and we look forward to hearing your favorable response and to seeing you at this gathering.
Time:  6:00 P. M.   Social and strolling the property.  7:00 P. M.   Barbecue Dinner
Location: 3500 Huntertown Road.  Gate 67, Versailles, KY
From Lexington, West on US 60, two miles past Keeneland, Left onto Huntertown Road at Shell Station, proceed 1/2 mile to 3500 Huntertown Road then right at Gate 67
Note:  Alcoholic beverages are NOT provided. Please feel free to bring alcoholic beverages of your choosing for use or sharing.  Food, drinks, ice, utensils, etc. are provided.  Please RSVP to:Bob Kirkland   859-269-1970    or Dave Norat     859-351-6216
Late Evening:
The Homewood Suites meeting room (AKA TKE Chapter Room) will be open from Post Don’s PM until the last Frater locks the door when he leaves.  This event has sometimes occurred in the very early hours of game day.

Saturday, October 8th.       9:30 am:  Gamma Sigma Alumni Association annual meeting in the Homewood Suites meeting room (AKA TKE Chapter Room).  Make plans to attend not only for the business part but for your input as to other things you would like your TKE Alumni Chapter to be doing.  The campus is still changing.  New dining halls, the student center is gone and they say the K-Lair is back so you might plan a walk around campus.  Lunch or dinner will depend on game time and will be provided in the TKE Chapter Room.  For those not going to the game we can watch it in the hotel lobby or venture over to Dave & Lisa’s house, group’s choice.  No matter where we watch the game or who goes to the game we will have nightcaps in the Teke Chapter Room.


Sunday, October 4th:  Once again time to head home and mark your calendars for Teke 2017

Lodging for Homecoming will be at the Homewood Suites by Hilton, 249 Ruccio Way, Lexington, 859-223-0880, We have some rooms reserved for the weekend. The rooms are listed under the Norat name and might be found by TKE.  Try both because there has been some confusion with the hotel.  Either way call early because the hotel is sold out and the rooms will be released 2 weeks before homecoming weekend. 
Game tickets will probably be available at the stadium so don’t worry if you have decided to come to Homecoming at the last minute.
So, head to Lexington and contact Bob Kirkland, 859-269-1970 or Dave Norat , 859-223-8229 if you have any questions or need answers.  For weekend planning purposes please let us know if you will be attending  Bob and I are looking forward to seeing you at Homecoming.


Civil War Road Trip 2015

As planned, this year's Civil War Study was the war in Virginia, 1864-1865 - the Petersburg and Appomattox Campaigns. During four days in May, six Fraters and two ladies toured Cold Harbor, the Richmond National Battlefield Center, Malvern Hill, Petersburg National Military Park, the Crater, Pamplin, Sailors Creek, and Appomattox Court House.

Social Schedule, 2015

Gamma Sigma and All Bluegrass region TEKES should be ready to get together as we thaw from all the cold and snow and plan to be a part of our 2015 spring, summer and Homecoming activities.  

For the spring we will once again continue following our civil war leaders who will be taking us east to Richmond Virginia where we will tour the Confederate Museum, Richmond Battlefield, Cold Harbor, The Crater, and Petersburg.  Our home base will be a Hampton Inn in Colonial Heights Virginia. 

Plans for the summer gathering are still up in the air and we are open to suggestions as to date, time, and location.  We are always looking for ways to get everyone involved and there are still plans to visit Frater Wasley in Cape Cod, Massachuetts hopefully in the next year.  

Homecoming will be October 3rd versus Eastern Kentucky University.  Keeneland‘s first racing day is October 2nd so those popular activities will be the same.  As you can see we are still being faithful to our annual three event schedule and would like to visit different areas of the country so jump in here those of you throughout the country and plan something for us because we are ready to try something different.

Now check your schedules, pencil us in and plan to attend as many events as possible.  After you have the dates in your calendar call a pledge brother, little brother or big brother and ask them to join us in Virginia or Lexington.  The first event of 2015 is the week of May 11th through the 15th.  Hotel information follows.  The second event is awaiting your input as to best summer date, activity and location.  The third event as always is Homecoming and TKE Day at Keeneland with additional details to follow and will be posted on our web page.
Lodging for the May trip to Virginia, summer event, and Homecoming is as follows.

May 11th -15th –: Hampton Inn Petersburg-Southpark Mall 400 East Roslyn Road, Colonial Heights, Virginia (1-804-520-7333   The rate is $119.00 plus tax per room per night.  A block of rooms have been set aside under TKE-Civil War.  The rooms will be released May 4, 2015.  If there is a problem Amy is the contact person.

2015 Summer Event if in Lexington, Ky.:  Homewood Suites by Hilton, 249 Ruccio Way Lexington, 859-223-0880.

Homecoming 2015 – Lexington, Ky.:  Homewood Suites by Hilton, 249 Ruccio Way Lexington, 859-223-0880.

Contact Bob, 859-269-1970 or Dave, 859-223-8229 for more detailed information on the Richmond, Virginia trip or if you think you missed any updates to 2015 TKE events.  Bob and I are looking forward to seeing you at one or more of our annual events.


Summer Road Trips, 2014.

This summer, Gamma Sigma Chapter offered two road trips. The first, June 3-6, took a contingent from the 1960's to Branson on a visit to Frater Terry S. While there, we attended three shows on his advice. Probably the most interesting was the 1960's Show that Terry had created and once produced. We looked back on music we enjoyed and remembered from our high school and years at U.K.

On another expedition, June 13-19, a historically minded group studied Civil War sites in Tennessee and Mississippi. Scheduled and a few unanticipated locations on this week-long trek included Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Parker's Crossroads, Tupelo, Brice's Crossroads, and Vicksburg. The Natchez parkway, some Indian mounds, a steamboat trip up the Mississippi River, and beer and barbeque on Beale Street in Memphis rounded out the trip, before return to Lexington.

Nashville wrapup

Our annual histrical road, this year to Nashville, is in the books. Dave N, our social chairman reports: "We have been to Nashville; now it is time to travel to Lexington for our annual summer event, with Homecoming to follow on November 2, 2013 against Alabama State.  Nashville proved to be an enjoyable time thanks to Marty O’Haver’s help with restaurants, lodging and stops at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, the civil war sites for the battles of Franklin and Murfeesboro and of course Printer’s Alley and downtown Nashville.  While we were exploring the battlefields, the wives had an encounter with a long horn steer while watching a rodeo parade down Main Street, Franklin.  They were so torn up that they had to revive themselves in what they said were the best Bloody Marys they have ever tasted.  . . . a good time was had by all." 

Civil War in May: Charleston and Savannah

Gamma Sigmas in their prime years appear to have acquired a need for history, and especially the civil war (Gettysburg in 2010; Atlanta in 2011). In the week of May 14, our road trip gathered us in Charleston with a quick run to Savannah.

As usual, the week involved beer, wine and bourbon in the hotel lobby, and lunches and dinners in memorable eateries. Notable meal locations included Sheem Creek Grill, Fleet Landing and Rue Jon. Tuesday was a road trip (within the road trip) to Savannah.  This day included stops at the Savannah History Museum, Fort Pulaski, and Fort James Jackson.   Fort Pulaski is a magnificent masonry fort, built to withstand any assault. Accordingly, the Confederates expected Pulaski would protect Savannah against all Yankee comers. Unfortunately the architects of the fort did predict long range rifled cannon. Fort Pulaski was reduced in 36 hours. Lunch was at the Crab Shack on Tybee Island, an open air eatery with alligtorers much in evidence and a dangerous shrimp sandwich.

Wednesday was devoted to Charleston with a tour of the Charleston Visitor Center, and the Charleston History Museum. The ladies among us enjoyed the Market Place and all took an "adventurous walk" to our lunch location. Our visit concluded on Thursday with a boat ride out to Fort Sumter. Unlike Fort Pulaski, the old fort in Charleston Harbor looks little like into appearance on April 12, 1961. The damage is not from the Confederate bombardment in 1861, but for a Union siege that reduced it to piles of stone. But also unlike Pulaski was never surrendered to the Union besiegers.

The next social event is our annual informal gathering in Lexington, the weekend of July 27-29. Watch this space for details on activities and accommodations.

History Crawling, August 2011

Gamma Sigma's summer event focused on the beauties and history of Madison County, just to the south of Lexington. Following lunch at Hall's (remember the newer restaurant next to the burned down dive known as Johnny Allman's and beloved by TEKEs), an expedition was launched to a little known hill fort overlooking the Kentucky River near Booneborough. The obscurity of the old Union earthwork is obviously due to the strenuous climb needed to reach it. An additional member joined us on the way to the top. A large dog appeared on the up slope and guided us up to a wonderful view of a bend in the River, departed into the woods at the exact spot that he join us, on the way. A studenpendous German dinner closed the day (after brew sampling, of course).

Saturday saw a caravan headed for Valley View Ferry. That's right, the old boat continues to operate and, for at least one us, holds a little history of its own. The TEKE's moved on to Richmond. Most people, including uninformed Civil War fans, know little of the Battle of Richmond. Part of the campaign that included Perryville but fought by a different army (this one commanded by Edmund Kirby-Smith), the Battle of Richmond exploded in late August 1862. The Confederates surprised the Federal column drove it through the town to the River and destroyed it, moving on to occupy Lexington and Frankfort. The battle field is now marker and a fascinating little museum, worth the trip, is on the field. Having disposed of the Federals, Gamma Sigmas joined wives at Boone Tavern in Berea for the always tasty and well priced legendary fare. Hot Browns were the majority choice. Following the feast, the historians returned to Richmond and a spiritual visit to White Hall, home Greene Clay, 4th great grandfather of Mobes. Another big dinner and more brews (and some good Kentucky corn) closed the day.

The Board in planning 2012 summer event. Watch this space.

Atlanta Road Trip 2011

The Atlanta Road Trip was hot and happy, guided, and supervised by Atlanta local Frater Ted, your webmaster's Little Brother and former housemate. Ted hosted a gathering Monday night at his interestedly-decorated house and beautiful pool garden. The next day, a small historically-minded group of Gamma Sigma TEKES and tolerant wives again hit the Civil War Trail, hiking the Rebel high point of the Atlanta Campaign (1864) at Kennesaw Mountain, where Joe Johnston's Army of Tennessee held and battered Sherman's Union Army Group for two weeks. They visited Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, on the Site of the the beginning of the "Great Locomotive Chase," and its resident jewel, the General, the engine that Union raiders stole and attempted to take into friendly lines.

Wednesday found the latter-day warriors at the Atlanta Cyclorama, a magnificent circular painting and build-our diorama of the battle for the city. The Texas, the Confederate pursuit locomotive is on-site. After lunch at a classic burger joint, the Varsity, a few brave males headed for Stone Mountain, a monolith of granite with an enormous carving of Confederate leaders incised into its side. Beer at the hotel completed the demi-week of fellowship as Fraters headed home in varying directions.


Fraters - Remember that a gathering is now being planned for Lexington, August 12-14. Your webmaster's peeking has uncovered the possibility of the scoping Civil War happenings to the south of Lexington.

Homecoming 2010

This October, summoned by the call of the Bluegrass, Kentucky Fraters convened in Lexington for the 3rd happening of the Association's social year. As in prior years, the festivities culminated in Kentucky's Homecoming football game against Georgia.

Lexington fraters, many of whom were veterans of the Gettysburg road trip in May, joined by several out-of-staters, determined to stretch the weekend by a pilgrimage to the Perryville Battlefield, where in 1862, the armies in Blue and Gray clashed near the farm of President Bob K's forefather and the Confederate invasion of Kentucky was turned back. Notwithstanding the well deserved reputation of Gettysburg, Bragg's Kentucky campaign and the companion invasion of Maryland by the Army of Northern Virginia were the best opportunity for Confederate independence (photos). The Fraters tempered their disappointment with result of the battle with a visit to the Makers Mark Distillery. After sampling the current product, several Fraters noted that it appeared to be not such a fine a whiskey as they remembered back when few could afford to buy it (and maybe then only for a very special lady) and before their tastes for spirits had matured (photos).

On Friday, Fraters paid homage to the ponies at Keeneland, commandeering the usual tables on the homestretch not far beyond the wire (photos). We know of one big payout, a few smaller tickets cashed, and nothing for the cockroach. Both winners and losers and others attracted by the taste of the barley brew convened on the TEKE Homecoming Chapter House, AKA Homewood Suites and dined on pizza purchased by the nickels and dimes of those in attendance. Archie brought his new lady, who brightened the weekend and was extremely tolerant of the refugees of Maxwelton and Hilltop. Mary, you are one of us.  

A tradition of Gamma Sigma's Homecoming celebration is a nighttime trip to check out John and Debbie Wagner's Halloween House. We all remember that last year, their display won NBC's contest for best Halloween House (and have yet to receive their prize). Each year the visual experience increases as the Wagners add more timely exhibits (Was that Sarah Palin in Frater's yard? Yips!) All of well-lubed TEKES were amazed, horrified, scared, and/or amused - pick one or more (photos).

In accordance with the by the Constitution, Saturday opened with the Gamma Sigma Annual meeting (photos). Fraters will be pleased to know that the Association is financially healthy and has had a very full social year three events - Gettysburg road trip, Lexington in August, and Homecoming. (Check out the news for a summary of the meeting). In the afternoon, several fraters and their ladies, toured the campus, led by David the Rat. We spent in inordinate amount of time in the College of Law Building. A survey of the class composites revealed that a disturbing number of Fraters are law school graduates.   What does this mean? Others joined the group for beer and nibbles at Pazzo's. New brews! Yum! The Association provided dinner at the Chapter room.  The Fraters split, some with tickets headed for the stadium and the tailgate scene. The rest watched the defeat at the home of David and Lisa (yes, on the tradition of the 1960s, the cats lost, 44-31 - they should have, could have, won - old story).

Click for all Homecoming photos

The Second Happening of 2010

A small, but enthusiastic (and thirsty) group of Gamma Sigma TEKES and wives convened in Lexington for the Second Happening of the 2010 Gamma Sigma social calendar.  (The first was the Gettysburg road trip). Gathering during the first weekend in August, the event worked out of TEKE Alumni Chapter House, AKA Homewood Suites. Many Fraters arrived on Friday afternoon and found snacks and welcome back beverages in the hotel's conference room (AKA TKE Chapter Room and always available the our Association when Fraters are in town).
On Saturday, several out-state Fraters, guided by Social Director, examined the new Limestone corridor from Kennedy’s Book Store to Main Street has been totally reworked with new sidewalks, streetscapes, and now street side dining.  Limestone as we knew it is completely changed.  Limestone was closed for a year as construction crews made significant changes to this old pathway to Two Keys that they now call the downtown corridor.  Sadly the Cockroach garage is gone with no historical marker to commemorate the site.

In the afternoon, a healthy contingent headed for the Shaker Village Boat Dock on the Kentucky River.  The Dixie Bell paddle wheeler cruised the river and give us a magnificent view of the Kentucky Palisades.   After the cruise we headed back to the TKE Alumni Chapter House to clean up, rest up and drink up as we prepare to dance the night away with the Torques.

The Torques!? Yes, the great rock and roll band of the late '50s and 60s. Don't remember? Well they weren't the Beatles perhaps and are a bit elderly (as was the audience), but a bargain. They played (as we drank the local wine) at the Talon Winery of off Tate's Creek Road.  The evening ended where? At the Alumni chapter room for a sampling of weird and wonderful brews. Thus ended the summer gathering and the Second Happening. What a great warm up to our Third Happening in October, Homecoming! 

Gamma Sigma Alumni Association 2010 Road Trip
TEKES Invade the Gettysburg Battlefield

Yes, history did repeat itself, at least for those TEKEs who are Civil War enthusiasts.  As did the legendary Army of Northern Virginia in the Summer of 1863, Gamma Sigma of TKE invaded Pennsylvania to revisit the Battle of Gettysburg.  Arriving on May 10th and departing the morning of  the 13th, the TEKEs, several of whom were supported by their spousal auxiliaries, traveled the battlefield during the day and debated at night the battles that happened there almost 147 years ago.  Although the academic advisor (the Old Cockroach) had envisioned three nights of scholarly lectures, it soon became evident that the members (almost evenly divided between Yankees and Rebels) had studied their lessons and desired a seminar format.  Put differently, a group of Fraters, when properly sustained with suds and Kentucky corn beverages, will prefer to debate and any attempt to direct them otherwise is, well, like trying to herd cats.  Nevertheless, both in our evening discussions/tastings and our battlefield surveys, we managed to absorb the major planned themes: context and significance of the battle;  order of battle and the leadership of the armies; consequences of the battle; the mythology of the battle that the Nation adopted in its reconciliation; and the subsequent fate of the battlefield and why it is so well preserved.

We spent two days on the field itself.  On Tuesday,  Fraters descended on the new visitors center, now moved off of Cemetery Ridge.  The new museum is much better organized and covers the entire war and aftermath, although with notable historical revisions common to all NPS battlefields.  We also saw the film, “A New Birth of Freedom,” and the magnificent Cyclorama, the immense painting of “Pickett's Charge.”  In the very rainy afternoon, a small; caravan of vehicles set out to follow the NPS-recommended route, started with the 1st day’s meeting engagement on Macpherson’s Ridge, through the second day’s Confederate offensives on the Union left flank, around to the Union’s defensive position on Little Round Top (remember Colonel Chamberlain in the move, Gettysburg), and on to the Union Center on Cemetery Ridge.  

On Wednesday, those who were able to go the distance set out early to march the ten-mile loop that the academic advisor had traveled in years past with the boy scouts.  Starting at the headquarters of Union Commanding General George Meade on Cemetery Ridge; traveling south past the immense Pennsylvania Memorial; thence east to the Peach orchard and the Wheatfield (where Sickles’ Union Third Corps was destroyed);  and west to Devil’s Den and Little Round Top (famous for the defense of the 20th Maine).  The march then turned south again to the arduous climb up Big Round Top; east to the Confederate line and down the procession of  Confederate state monuments; to the Virginia Memorial (near where General Lee met the retreating soldiers on July 3rd); and west again across the field where three Southern divisions assaulted the Union 2nd Corps line on Cemetery Ridge. Click to see pictures fraters on the battlefield

Notwithstanding the busy days of “staff rides” (military officers will recognize the term), our nightly seminars were lively and well sustained.  Fraters were surprising well informed  about the battles (yes, the Battles of Gettysburg – there were a number of actions).  We learned that one of us, Frater Ric Wasley,  had a dual mission: researching a book as well as sampling the latest in brews.  Ric is writing a novel about the battle to be titled "Candle in the Wind."  Watch the Gamma Sigma news and we will let everyone know when it is ready to read.   

A final note:  This experience convinced those on the battlefield that the annual Gamma Sigma social program should consider future road trips mixed with events in Lexington.  A number of ideas were floated.  The Association seeks the input of all Fraters, both by e-mail, phone, or at one of the remaining social events this year – the August gathering in Lexington and the Homecoming celebration in October (plug! -  these will be advertised on this website).  Check often!

There are many excellent books on the battle. Our academic advisor has encountered several good treatments in his research at George Mason University.  Perhaps the best newer analysis is Stephan W. Sears, Gettysburg (2003).  Another fine narrative is James Stuart Montgomery,  The Shaping of a Battle: Gettysburg (1959).  For a detailed examination of the misnamed Grand Assault, look for George R. Stewart, Pickett’s Charge: A Microhistory of the Final Attack of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863 (1959);  and Earl Hess, Pickett’s Charge – The Last Attack at Gettysburg(2001).  Those interested in the subsequent development and preservation of the battlefield should read Jim Weeks, Gettysburg:  Memory, Market, and an American Shrine(2003).  Finally, the enlargement of memories of the war and their uses in society is separate study.  In addition to Weeks, consult David Blight, Race and Reunion, The Civil War in American Memory(2001); Thomas Desjardin, These Honored Dead:  How the Story of Gettysburg Shared American Memory (2003);  and Carol Reardon,  Pickett’s Charge in History & Memory  (1997). UK graduates will note that Coral Reardon earned her doctorate at our very own school.