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Gettysburg

This small hamlet in Pennsylvania is where a decisive battle of the American Civil War took place on July 1 to July 3, 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, the Union victory that ended General Robert E. Lee's second and most ambitious invasion of the North. Often referred to as the "High Water Mark of the Rebellion", Gettysburg was the Civil War's bloodiest battle and was also the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln's immortal "Gettysburg Address". Today it is a national military park that you can tour, which we did on Wednesday, August 30.

In preparation, we watched the movie Gettysburg (directors cut 1993) which is 4 1/2 hours long during the three nights prior to our visit. Filmed at actual battle locations and full of authentic details, the movie plunges you into the heat of the bloodiest battle fought on American soil and gave us some context to the circumstances and characters that played a role in this famous historical event.

Wednesday morning started with a 40 minute drive to the town of Gettysburg from Codorus State Park. While in town, we stopped for coffee then headed to the Gettysburg Diorama & History Center on 241 Steinwehr Avenue to experience "The Battle of Gettysburg", in a fully narrated truly unique diorama with an original light and sound experience! The diorama battlefield can be viewed for 15 minutes before the program from 360*. Gettysburg Diorama put the battle into perspective as it appeared in 1863 and illustrated the troop movements for ALL three days of battle. The actual battlefield covers 6,000 acres, an area too large to visualize without this diorama birds eye view. It appeared to be carefully researched and meticulously assembled; the Diorama contains over 20,000 hand-painted soldiers, horses, cannons and buildings.

A self-guided auto tour of Gettysburg covers all areas of the battlefield in more or less chronological order, from beginning to end of the battle. So we started at the National Park Visitor Center to pick up a free map with the driving tour directions clearly marked. There are sixteen stops on the Gettysburg Auto tour. The tour works chronologically with the events of the battle. Driving through the park, after seeing the movie and the diorama, was so much more meaningful and impactful for us.




Driving the 24 miles through this National Military Park was a solemn experience. It is heart breaking to realize there were over 52,000 casualties (killed and wounded) from the Union and Confederate armies during the 3 day battle of Gettysburg.


Once again, we have come to appreciate the opportunity to visit many of fascinating historical places on the East Coast of our country as we travel.



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