Reliving the Battle of Gettysburg

| September 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

In July Gettysburg, Pennsylvania honored the memory of one of the most decisive battles in U.S. history. On July 1st through 13th, 1863 the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg took place. It’s believed that this Battle was the turning point of the American Civil War. Many historians agree that it was on these hallowed grounds that our nation was saved.
Gettysburg battle

If you have any interest in history, actually even if you don’t, you should plan to visit Gettysburg. History in general is usually not of much interest for me. I tolerated the subject in school and memorized dates and details long enough to get through each exam. My husband and daughter are the history fans in our family. That’s what brought us to Gettysburg the first time our family visited. We didn’t plan it that way, but we were there on the anniversary dates of the battle itself. And even though I’m not a history fan, there were a few things that stood out to me that made it one of my favorite destinations even to this day.

Gettysburg Battlefield

First we stopped in the Visitor Center as soon as we arrived. We were hoping to get an open slot for a Park Ranger to ride in our car, answer questions  and share insights as we drove the battlefield. Unfortunately the slots were all filled that day, but we bought an audio driving tour on cassette tape. (Remember those?) We drove to each point along the route, then stopped and listened to the narrator describe the scene with battle sound effects playing in the background. Actors interspersed quotes from men who survived the battle. It was so valuable in reliving the events and evoking the emotions of those fateful days so long ago.

Along the way we also encountered a good number of men in Civil War uniforms from the North and South. There was to be a battlefield reenactment the following day and they were getting the lay of the land. We noticed quickly that these men still expressed the same passion for their “side” as those who lived through the war.  It seemed odd to me to be so opinionated about an issue that was decided over a hundred years ago, but maybe they were just staying in character.

Something about that place with the countless memorials, historical buildings, men in uniform and sounds of battle won me over. Maybe it was the reality of remembering all those that sacrificed their lives there. Perhaps it was reading the Gettysburg Address. In any case, it was so inspiring and I would strongly encourage you to go if you haven’t been there before.

Tour Options:

Artillery Ridge Horse Tours

This year the park offers a number of battlefield tours that can be arranged at the Museum and Visitor Center. Tour the park with a Licensed Battlefield Guide in the convenience of your own vehicle or ride along with others on a tour bus accompanied by a guide (offered seasonally). There is a fee for a guided tour. They also offer self-guiding auto tours like the one we took and tours on CD, which can be purchased at the museum book store. Commercial bus tours of the park are available through companies in Gettysburg too.  Plus you can also get a Gettysburg Walking Tour app for your iPhone. I would caution that the battlefield is quite expansive so I would imagine it would take quite a while to walk to all the strategic points. Tours on horseback, segway, scooter, bicycle and carriage can also be booked if you’re interested in something a bit different. The horseback tours could certainly add another level of reality to the experience.

There’s also a bookstore, extensive museum, a fully restored Gettysburg Cyclorama that dramatically depicts “Pickett’s Charge”, and the film “A New Birth of Freedom”, narrated by award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, which focuses on the significance of Gettysburg.

Seminary Ridge Museum Grand Opening:Seminary Ridge Museum

July 1st of 2013 marked the grand opening of the Seminary Ridge Museum, on the campus of Gettysburg’s Lutheran Theological Seminary, the museum tells the story of the first day of the Battle, Civil War medicine and the role that faith played in the conflict.

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

Abraham Lincoln

November 19th, 2013 also commemorated the 150th anniversary of the date when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his 272-word, brief, but brilliant speech that many of us memorized in school – the Gettysburg Address.  Remember…”Four score and seven years ago our forefathers“…

Did you know that after the ceremony Edward Everett, the featured speaker at the dedication of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, wrote to Lincoln, “I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

Now that’s great speech writing! President Lincoln was wrong when he said, “The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here…”

More Helpful Information:

Have you been to Gettysburg?  What was most memorable for you? Do you have any plans to head there this year?

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Category: 1 - 9 Days, All Year, Duration, History, Learning Travel, North America, United States

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