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Growing Up at Gettysburg

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Do you have the kind of bullet that killed Lincoln?” asked a tourist buying a Derringer pistol, wearing a God Bless America T-shirt. I looked up from the counter a bit confused. I’d come in late after watching Steven Spielberg and Doris Kearns Goodwin speak at Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery for the 149th Remembrance Day, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s address. I was cold, and my coffee had only begun to wake me up.

“It should be the size of any pistol bullet,” I said. “I’ll look up the caliber on my phone and see if we can find one that matches.” It was a strange request, but it didn’t faze me the way it would have years earlier. I had been working in my family’s store, The Horse Soldier, for a little over six full months after graduating college in 2012. I had promised my grandmother, who had worked at our front counter every day possible until retiring this year, that I would stay at our relic and antique store through the summer of 2013. We were preparing for the deluge of tourists that would be drawn by the 150th commemoration of America’s bloodiest battle; this was no time to be squeamish.

I picked up a U.S. Minié ball from hundreds of bullets stashed in front of our counter and wondered whether my grandfather knew what he was signing us up for when he found his first one.

Relics from Gettysburg

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