GETTYSBURG, Pa. - The Battle of Gettysburg was an important strategic battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, and Old Guard officers were able to put their knowledge of the battle to the test.

Officers from 1st and 4th Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), spent two days last Friday and Saturday traveling to various points around Gettysburg. The staff ride was led by Dr. Stephen Carney, a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History on Fort McNair.
Photo of staff giving direction

"Staff rides usually consist of senior Army leadership, Secretary of the Army Staff, Office, Chief of Legislative Liaison and Congressional staffers," Carney said.

Dr. Carney has led several Old Guard staff rides to Antietam, Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg.

The different battles are all meant to lead up to one another, looking at the exact terrain and apply the military doctrine of the time, said Cpt. Lauren Miller, commander of the 529th Regimental Support Company, 4th Battalion.

The group set out Friday morning on bicycles, riding through the battlefields to several stops including Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Cemetery Hill, and Barlow Knoll.

At Barlow Knoll, Col. Joseph Buche, regimental commander of The Old Guard, challenged the staff to answer whether they would send a unit to battle, knowing they would suffer heavy casualties. Several officers said no, while others justified sending the unit, suffering for the greater good.
Soldier making playful expression

"As leaders, we need to learn how to motivate subordinates in order to accomplish the mission. This can be directly related to The Old Guard's mission and the Army's mission," said Miller, a native of Gettysburg.

At each stop, one of the staff played a character from the battle. The staff was given reading material from Dr. Carney and was expected to brief the group about the individual they were assigned and apply military strategy and what lessons they can learn from it, said Cpt. Ramon Ortega, the 1st Battalion Intelligence Officer.

"We were able to better understand the military decision making process and how it has to be fluid by playing characters from the battle," Ortega said. "All of the lessons I can apply in my everyday job and when I take a command."

The two-day staff ride concluded on Saturday and officers of The Old Guard were able to apply the lessons of Gettysburg to everyday operations.

"It was a good experience and will help me in the everyday decisions that I make," Ortega said.

History effects the way important choices are made and have a profound impact on the future. By learning about the past, the staff of The Old Guard becomes more and more aware of the everyday decisions they make.