Gettysburg: a July journey to 1863

By | July 18, 2016

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If you go to Gettysburg and take the time, maybe take a tour, maybe just drive around, read some of the monuments, read some of the plaques, you will come away changed. ~ Jeff Shaara

I’m so irritated – I know I wrote up the previous trip to Gettysburg and I can see the category, but the post(s) are inaccessible due to the multiple blog crashes. All I can access is this reference to a post in my old LJ. Bah.

In any case, the 2016 visit was just as inspiring as I remember the 2007 one being. Although I didn’t have time to visit it or the museum, it was great to see that the Cyclorama had opened as planned and that the Battlefield had the Visitor Center and museum complex that it so deserved. After a train from Penn, a mad dash to the car rental location before they closed and a quick hop down US-15, I finally arrived at the aforementioned Visitor Center and used it to do the trip planning I hadn’t done before deciding to do this trip. Yes, I’ve been talking about this trip since 2013, but didn’t manage to book it further than 36 hours out or plan anything until arrival.

Making the book store my first stop? A blessing and a curse. I bought Civil War 150 as a planning tool for my continued battlefield tourism and have four additional Gettysburg related titles on my wishlist. The two that I’m probably most curious about are: Jennifer Murray’s On a Great Battlefield and Jim Weeks’ Memory, Market, and an American Shrine. Yep, can’t take the tourism student out of the girl. And I need to re-read Confederates in the Attic.

After extracting myself from the shop and getting a snack, I set out on the Battlefield’s “auto tour”. In hind sight, I should have taken an organized tour. There was a lot I missed when trying to read signs, the auto map, and drive simultaneously. When I go back to Gettysburg-and I will- I’ll do it over two days (allowing also for time for the museum & cyclorama) and book a tour. While July is also authentic and in perfect time for Dad’s anniversary, I’m going to do it during cooler months so I’m more inclined to get out of the car and walk the area around the monuments.

Among the highlights that I did see: Abner Doubleday, the New York monument, the stunning views from atop the Pennsylvania and the Virginia Memorial.  In line with my fascination with Robert E. Lee that started while reading Robert Poole’s On Hallowed Ground, I was taken by the Virgina, an architecturally and historically stunning monument. From there I was steps from the walk to Pickett’s Charge.  I didn’t do the walk (see aforementioned heat), but Andrew Weigel did and his write up is amazing.

Did I get to do Gettysburg proper? No, not really. Do I need to do more homework before I do it again? Yep. But it was still the perfect way to spend the day with Dad. Here’s to more Civil War battlefields and continuing the education that started with Bull Run in August 1996.

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. ~Abraham Lincoln

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