The highest-ranking soldiers to ever set foot on Little Round Top: President Dwight D. Eisenhower served as tour guide for his erstwhile WWII counterpart, Viscount Bernard Montgomery, on their trip to the Gettysburg battlefield in May 1957. Eisenhower had a close connection with Gettysburg, the site of his World War I service, as commander of the Tank Corps Training Center at Camp Colt (better known as the site of Pickett’s Charge). So enchanted were Ike and Mamie with the Pennsylvania countryside that in 1950 they bought their retirement home, a 189-acre farm, on land adjoining the Gettysburg Battlefield itself.
As president, Eisenhower’s Gettysburg farm served as a sort of second Camp David for entertaining world leaders. It was rare that Eisenhower’s guests wanted to tour the battlefield as well, but when the retired Field Marshal of British forces came to visit, it was first on his to-do list. Ostensibly there to meet on NATO business, Monty and Ike spent a whole day as Gettysburg tourists (albeit with more battlefield expertise than most). From the museum to the monuments, from climbing the observation tower to sitting in on the electric map presentation, Montgomery absorbed all the Civil War history with curiosity and reverence.
The British military legend, like so many other Gettysburg visitors, couldn’t help himself from being an armchair general, though. In Monty’s opinion, Pickett’s Charge was “monstrous,” and generals Lee and Meade deserved to be “sacked” for their performance at Gettysburg.
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