Yesterday, I took a trip to visit Gettysburg. I have been there once before and wanted to go back. I was originally going to visit last weekend, but I was having major issues with shin splints in my right leg and decided to wait. I expected to be walking somewhere around 10 miles, and the pain was mostly gone when I started the morning. It was a cold morning and I ended up leaving about 40 minutes later than I had originally planned. I still got there early, just not as early as I might have wanted. The drive is just over 1 hour, so it’s not too bad.
I started off by parking close to the railroad station. I had a general agenda for the day. First was to get a coffee drink at The Ugly Mug Cafe, followed by walking over to Robert E. Lee’s Headquarters. Next would be going to the battlefield, visiting General Meade’s monument, and visiting the Pennsylvania Monument. There was mention of Devil’s Den the last time I visited, so that was a thought, but it was a bit far for walking and I wasn’t sure if I would do it (I did). On my way back, I was planning on walking through the downtown area, possibly visiting the Jenny Wade House, getting another coffee drink, and then going back to the car. The final part of the Gettysburg National Military Park visit would be to head over to the museum.
I wasn’t sure if it was going to be really crowded. Even though the Battle of Gettysburg took place July 1-3, 1863, the Gettysburg Address was on November 19, 1863. I was later informed that they were expecting the crowds to be in the next weekend, so I lucked out, since it wasn’t overcrowded.
It was a bit cold when the day started (low 30s) and it was very bright and sunny. The sun wreaked havoc on my pictures, since it was at the wrong angle for some of the shots. I’ll share them anyway. This isn’t for a photography portfolio, so I don’t mind if they aren’t perfect. All of the pictures were taken with an iPhone 6 which may not last much longer (had to charge it twice while I was there).
When my day in the Park was finished, I had logged about 13 miles walking around. My legs were struggling towards the end of the day, but they made it. There are a lot of hills in the area, so it’s not just walking, but it’s going up and down hills, climbing up a couple of rocks here and there (my choice), and making stops here and there to look at landmarks. There are a lot of monuments and markers in Gettysburg. I barely touched the surface. If I was there for one week of non-stop walking, I might be able to see most of them.
There were some decisions that I might reconsider next time. I did not have any liquid with me. Other than the coffee drink early on, I didn’t have anything else to drink until I was back in the downtown area, about 4 1/2 hours later. I wore hiking boots. Most of my walking was on paved paths, which made it rougher on my feet, but there were areas where I was climbing on top of rocks, so having the boots were good for that. There is a self-guided auto tour, which is where I was doing most of my walking. It might have been easier to drive around, stop, take pictures, and go to the next. But I think I enjoyed the challenge of the walk. My shin splints started back up when I was walking between the Pennsylvania Monument and Devil’s Den. A couple of sharp pains that had me cussing under my breath. But I continued on. I really can’t complain, though. Shin splints and sore legs are nothing compared to the pain the soldiers went through while they were fighting or after they were struck. When I got back to the downtown area, I had an option to walk over to the Jenny Wade House, but it was a little more walking and there was a line, so I opted against it. That can be seen on another visit.
I’ll share some pictures and a few comments here and there. I hope you enjoy!
There are quite a few buildings that have this Marker. It would be a challenge to find them all, but it could be fun…
The C.W. Hoffman House was built around 1843.
This is General Lee’s Headquarters. It was more North than I expected, but it has been preserved well.
There are a lot of cannons all over the place, which is not surprising, but I still think it’s pretty cool to see them (even if they did not see action during the Battle of Gettysburg).
I made my way over to the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The first picture shows a number of gravemarkers that are listed as “Unknown”. There are also names on some of these as well. The other two pictures just give a small glimpse of the markers in the cemetery. There were more than 50,000 killed, wounded, captured, or missing.
The Lincoln Address Memorial is not where the actual Address was given, but it is a nice monument (especially when the sun isn’t covering it with shadows).
There are many monuments and markers.
This is the Major General George Gordon Meade Monument. He led the Union to victory.
I wanted to take a picture of the monument with the sun shining above and the monument casting a large shadow. One of the instances that the sun worked out okay.
The Copse of Trees was the focal point of Pickett’s charge during the last day of the battle.
The Pennsylvania State Memorial stands along Cemetery Ridge and was completed in 1914. This is a beautiful structure (there is much more to it than is shown here). There is a very narrow spiral staircase that allows you to get to the upper level. No problem for me on the way up, but missed a step on the way down and tweaked my left ankle. You can really see the Battlefield when you are up above, so I would recommend it if you can.
This tree talked to me while I was heading over to the Pennsylvania State Memorial. As I was getting close, I could hear some creaking from the branches. I stood underneath and could hear the crunching as the wind was blowing through the trees. It was a nice, serene moment. I took a step back for this picture, since the sun shining through seemed to capture this moment nicely.
Devil’s Den had it’s name prior to the Battle, but during the battle it was the location of many casualties.
There are crevices throughout the rock formation. Not sure what it looked like back in 1863, but it was interesting to see.
This picture is from the top of the hill, since you already saw the picture from below.
Providing a closer view of how the fencing was constructed. This is all over the place, but I think this shows the intricacies of a “simple” construction.
Not sure if you can really see this, but this was taken around noon and there was still some ice on this little puddle of water.
General Meade’s Headquarters and Barn.
Making my way back downtown, and I saw this sign. I never really think too much about town names, but Gettysburg was named for James Gettys. He purchased 116 acres of his father’s property in 1786. In the same year, he divided the land into 220 lots and held a lottery where citizens in the area could purchase the rights to one or more of those lots. Thus the beginning of Gettystown, which would be named Gettysburg in 1811.
There are “Witness Trees” in Gettysburg, which were alive during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Jennie Wade was the only direct civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, killed by a stray bullet on July 3, 1863. She was only 20 years old. I wasn’t able to make it to the house where it happened, but was able to pass by her birthplace and where she lived when the battle began. She had gone to her sister’s house on July 1 to help her sister with a newborn baby, and was struck on the morning of July 3 while kneading dough for bread.
After making it back to my car, I made my way down to the Museum. I thought this was fascinating to see the ammunition still lodged in the tree trunk. I cannot imagine the pain that those soldiers felt when these went through their bodies.
Just a few more pictures from the Museum.
These weren’t all of the pictures. I had a few that I took that were more scenic views of the Battlefield, and some that were just too overtaken by shadows. I hope you enjoyed this. If you’ve made it this far, I thank you and would love to hear any comments or feedback you have!
2 thoughts on “Visiting Gettysburg National Military Park – November 16, 2019”
Excellent educational review for us folks that can’t walk all those miles anymore. We have been there before, but did not see all the things you pointed out. Thank you
Love you Dad and
educational and adventurous