Our decision to visit to Gettysburg National Military Park, also called the Gettysburg Battlefield came after we had "prepped" a bit by watching Gettysburg, the 1993 epic (just under 4 hour) film that focused on this significant Civil War battle.
The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863 was a major turning point in the Civil War. The Union Northern Army of the Potomac's victory ended the Southern Army of Northern Virginia's second invasion of the North. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrated his army around Gettysburg on the approach of Union Gen. George G. Meade’s forces.
Gettysburg was by far the bloodiest battle of the entire war with over 50,000 killed. To this day, it remains the single bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. soil.
Touring sites that previously were just names we had read or heard about including: Devil's Den, McPherson's Ridge, Seminary Ridge, Big Round Top, Little Round Top, Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Culp’s Hill and East Cemetery Hill we tried to imagine the battles fought there. We viewed Cemetery Ridge where the infamous and ill-advised Pickett's Charge with heavy casualties ended the battle.
We walked through the Soldiers National Cemetery, burial site for the Union dead, the site is in the anchor of the Union battle line and includes a portion of the battlefield. The cemetery served as the inspiration for the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln's on November 1863 here. It is also the burial site for U.S. soldiers from other wars.
This was a first time visit for and we found it to be a somber experience especially on the very rainy days we were there. We took a guided bus tour the first day, then a self-guided auto tour, stopping at many of the memorials and viewpoints a second time.
We started at the Gettysburg NMP Visitor's Center run by the U.S. National Park Service. It has exhibits featuring battle relics, inter-active exhibits, and a resource center which provides computerized information on soldiers who served at Gettysburg and elsewhere. The center features A New Birth of Freedom narrated by actor Morgan Freeman and the restored Gettysburg Cyclorama depicting the fury of Pickett's Charge. There is an entry fee for museum admission, the film, and the sight and sound cyclorama. (More about this amazing artwork in a future post.) FYI, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands, Golden Age and Golden Eagle passes are not accepted for admission. There are discounts for active military, seniors and youth (6-12 years) AAA members, and children under 6 years are free.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a Father's Day weekend in Lancaster, PA visiting with daughter and son-in-law, Coleen and Paulo and grand puppy Lola.
Also, the trip involved a steam train ride (no surprise) which Grenville will happily post about later.