When it comes to Civil War battlefields, Gettysburg is at the top of any ones "must see" list. I considered doing a day by day explanation of the three day battle but figured that would take too long and I'm already so far behind blogging. But if you have any questions about the battle I do have the answers!
We began our visit at the new visitor's center where they did an excellent job explaining each day of the battle and how it affected the soldiers, town and nation.
Outside the center we couldn't pass up a photo op with President Lincoln.
One of the highlights inside the center was a huge mural, and audio sound effects, depicting the battle.
The artist even painted Abraham Lincoln into the mural. Can you pick him out?
We spent a long time at the visitor's center but finally got in the car and began our journey through the battle. A good place to start is at the Lutheran Theological Seminary where, on the morning of July 1, General John Buford utilized the cupola of the building as a vantage point for directing his troops. He realized the importance of holding this area until Union troops could arrive and engaged the Confederate troops for the first day of battle. And, yes, we climbed up in the cupola too.
Back on the battlefield, we drove past the usual, and unusual, state monuments.
The drive guided us thoroughly through each day of the battle and told us about each officer and the brave soldiers who gave their lives for the North or the South.
Every officer, except one Union officer (a long story), has a monument in his honor. This one is for General Longstreet, General Lee's second in command.
Some monuments are natural. This is looking out from Little Round Top toward Devil's Den. The land between The Round Tops and Devil's Den was called Slaughter Pen. You can imagine why.
Confederate sharpshooters took up positions among these rocks to take aim at Union soldiers on Little Round Top.
The largest of the monuments at Gettysburg is the Pennsylvania Memorial located near the end of the battlefield drive.
On the day we were there, there was a Union encampment with people in costume explaining the different aspects and hardships of the life of a Civil War soldier.
Music played a big part in that life. Music kept soldiers marching forward, signaled troop movements, and was an all around morale booster.
The 3rd day of battle was the bloodiest yet, culminating with what is known as Pickett's Charge. The trees on the left of the photo mark the furthest point that the Confederates were able to advance on the Union line. The charge resulted in the utter destruction of Pickett's brigade and the eventual defeat of the Confederacy.
Following the battle, thousands of soldiers lay dead and dying all over the fields around Gettysburg. Most of the dead were buried in hastily dug graves. Others were claimed by family that descended by hundreds into the town to find their loved ones.
It was quickly decided that such a huge battle deserved it's own National Cemetery and the Union dead were re-interred here. Abraham Lincoln was the keynote speaker delivering his now famous Gettysburg address. I'm sure we could have spent many more days at Gettysburg but we learned a lot about this pivotal battle.