Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is the site of a massive and extremely costly battle in the American Civil War. The battle raged from July 1 to July 3 in 1863, in and around the town itself. It was the climax of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North. After defeating Union General George Gordon Meade's Union Army of the Potomac on the first day, and nearly winning the second day, Lee launched an assault against the Union center in what has become know as "Pickett's Charge," which many consider to be the "High Water Mark" of the Confederate Cause in the Civil War. After briefly breaking the Union line, the Confederates were forced back with terrible losses, effectively ending the battle. Total casualty reports differ, but the figure is most commonly put as 51,112 Union and Confederate killed, wounded, captured, or missing, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and the bloodiest battle in American History.
In 2006 my daughters girl scout trip planned a trip to Washington DC. I was a fortunate chaperone. Somehow her amazing scout leader was able to plan a four day DC trip and a quick stop on the way home to Gettysburg all under $160- per person, meals included. It was an amazing trip and we did nearly everything Washington DC had to offer.
A picture of my daughter posing with some re-enactors. We did not get an opportunity to watch an actual re-enactment. That kind of stuff interests me and I would remember that part much more then the walls and walls of "old" stuff.
Here are some of the girls in the parking lot. They had more fun just being together then spending time at Gettysburg.
Cuddling up to an old black and white picture of the Troops. I cannot even tell you if these are Confederates or Union soldiers. This was our first EVER National Parks Passport Stamp, as it was the first time I learned of it. (I missed all of DC, bummer).
I do know that I will not be one of the thousands of people who will be making an appearance in Gettysburg this year especially this week. The anniversary celebration is sure to bring put thousands.
In 2008, the family visited Gettysburg on our return trip from Orlando and Disney world. I will post both someday when I have much more time. If I recall this visit was even less entertaining then my 2006 trip, but we did do some additional touring of the town and saw some of the landmarks. I believe this was less entertaining simple because the kids I had with me, had just left the MOST MAGICAL place of EARTH, a bunch of rusted out cannon balls was totally not even close to thrilling.
A picture of my son with a soldiers hat on. He could almost have passed as a re-enactor. He was about the exact age of most of the soldiers who fought this awful war.
My youngest poses in front of a horsed soldier.
My daughter smiles at the camera as she stands next to a cannon.
My husband watches a film about the battle, as my son by the look on his face is clearly had enough of Gettysburg. My daughter had her history final the following year and it focused on this war. When I asked her what War the test was about she gave some off hand statement, "I don't know? Something with the North and South." I reminded her that we had visited Gettysburg just the previous summer and she couldn't recall the name of the WAR. And I thought all this historical travel was sinking in. Maybe for some, but she certainly had not got much more from the two visits then I did.
My little guy poses in front of a Gettysburg map. The local area is actually very pretty. There are many older homes, shops, etc and several "tourist" like things to do. We only drove through the area, and did not get to enjoy to much of what the town has to offer. There are apparently several things that happened to the people and the town who lived in Gettysburg during the war as well, including one woman's fatality due to a stray bullet. I wouldn't mind going for another visit, but without my kids. My friend Mary is really interested in this kind of stuff and her brother is actually a re-enactor and I think she mentioned he was going to be there this week. What I would really like to do is take a Ghost tour, I have heard Gettysburg is really haunted.
Now who do you think wore a hat just like that? Would it be Abe Lincoln? Shirley it would. Even my youngest knew who he was, and my oldest began the infamous "Fore score and seven years ago speech" ( The Gettysburg Address) that was said right here in the town of Gettysburg on November 19th 1863, ( 106 years later, to the date, yours truly was born.)
Here is an insert from the Gettysburg information I obtained on my last trip.
Pros: The countryside is beautiful. There is a lot to see and do. There were plenty of bathrooms. There was lots and lots and lots of information available. Expect to see a few people (even visitors) wearing period clothing. On our last visit, we saw several tourist in the museum wearing uniforms, (now that is a true civil war buff) .Overall it is pretty cool!
Cons: It can get pretty crowded, go in the off months (not the summer). I was not prepared. Although there is a lot of information, there is almost too much information. Get some of your own history lessons before you go. (you'll never read every single sign in the museum on one trip.) Don't bring kids unless they have some passion for the history. My kids boredom made the trip less enjoyable.
Even though I have a vague memory of my visits, I would not object to a return visit. It certainly can hold ones interest, I just think having little ones with you prevents the opportunity to enjoy this vast amount of US history.