Dow’s 6th Maine Battery Monument
When we were getting ready to embark on our full-time journey, John asked where we should go first. He suggested Yellowstone , and my reply was why? We had already been to Yellowstone a couple of times in the past when we would take vacations. Then, I suggested heading east to Gettysburg, PA to see where the Battle of Gettysburg took place. Needless to say I won?
We didn’t know what to expect once we got here. Of course, we knew that the Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1 – 3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, PA by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. And, that the battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and was the turning point of the war. It was trying to visualize the scope of the battlefield spread out over 6,000 acres that we were not prepared for.
Pennsylvania State Memorial
Our first stop was a trip to the visitor center where we picked up a self-guiding driving park map. The map laid out a 24 mile route that traced the three day battle in chronological order. We set of driving the route. Our plan was to get an overview and then go back in the following days to explore the park a little more. After all, we could go back to McPherson Ridge, Pitzer Woods and Little Round Top to name a few locations. After we started the drive, we did not expect so many monuments, markers and memorials along the route. There were approximately 1,328. We knew we would be driving this route many more times during our stay.
Top L to R: Virginia State Memorial, 78 & 102 NY Infantry and 123rd NY Infantry. Bottom L to R: 13 NJ Vols, Excelsior Brigade Monument and 2nd Brigade 1st Division 2nd Corps. (More pictures later in blog)
The next day we drove around the park again looking at more monuments. When we got to McMillion Woods on Seminary Ridge, we stopped to watch and listen to re-enactors talk.
We also stopped by Little Round Top. (Picture looking down from the top.)
On the third day, we went back to the Visitors Center to see the Cyclorama painting. In the late 1880s, French artist Paul Philippoteaux created the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama. He spent months on the battlefield researching the battle. It took Philippoteaux and a team of assistants more than a year to complete the painting. The result is a breathtaking canvas that measures 377 feet in circumference and 42 feet high. Longer than a football field and as tall as a four story structure, the Gettysburg Cyclorama oil painting, along with light and sound effects, immerses visitors in a 360 degree view of Pickett’s charge during the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg. After viewing the painting, we spent time looking at the exhibits in the museum at the Visitor Center. The Cyclorama and exhibits were very interesting to see. It gave one a better sense of what happened during the battle.
Just a couple pictures from the Cyclorama.
After viewing the Cyclorama and visiting the museum, we again drove around looking at the monuments. Seemed like every time we drove around the grounds we would see a new monument that hadn’t noticed before.
Top L to R: 3rd Brigade 1st Division 3rd Corps, Brigadier General G.K. Warner, and Major General John Buford. Bottom L to R: Alabama State Monument, Virginia State Monument and 42nd NY Infantry “Tammany Regiment”
Day 4 we went to view the Gettysburg Diorama. The Diorama is sort of a relief map of the entire 6,000 acre battlefield with over 20,000 hand-Kinsley soldiers, horses, canons and buildings. We sat through a 30 minute light and sound show of the 3 day battle which takes place on the Diorama.
Also, in the same building we went to The Spirit of Gettysburg. This interactive animatronic exhibit brings to life the 3 days that changed the course of the civil war.
We were enjoying our visit to Gettysburg so much, we decided to stay an additional night. Our last day in Gettysburg, we drove around town, looked at monuments and stopped by a few souvenir shops to see if there was something we thought we might want.
Top L to R: 11th Massachusetts Infantry Monument, 120th NY Infantry 2nd Brigade and can’t remember the name. Middle L to R: 11th Pennsylvania Reserve 40th Infantry Regiment Mounument, 1st Vermont Brigade and 15th & 50th NY Engineers Monument. Bottom L to R: 44th NY Infantry, Louisiana State Monument and Mississippi State Monument
Gettysburg was definitely an interesting place in history. It is well worth a visit. And we would come back again.
The Battle of Gettysburg Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 – 6:00. The park roads are open 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM. And the Soldiers National Cemetery is open dawn to dusk. Entry to the park and visitor center is free.
There is a fee of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 6 – 12 for the film “A New Birth of Freedom” narrated by Morgan Freeman, Cyclorama and museum exhibits at the Visitor Center.
The fee to go to to both the Gettysburg Diorama and The Spirit of Gettysburg is $10 for adults and $7 for children 6 – 12. The Diorama is open daily from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM. The Spirit of Gettysburg is open daily from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.