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  • This Town is the Turning Point of our Nation! 🇺🇸🪖 - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

This Town is the Turning Point of our Nation! 🇺🇸🪖 - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Today: An interview with a Gettysburg tour guide and a guide to visiting all the historical landmarks!

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Today’s location is for all you history folks! Check it out below ⬇️!

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a town just littered in history, was the very location where the future of our country was decided for good.

Let me take you back to the summer of 1863, when the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, became the epicenter of one of the most crucial and bloody battles of the American Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg unfolded over three hot July days, from the 1st to the 3rd, and would forever alter the course of American history.

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On the morning of July 1st, Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee clashed with Union troops led by General George G. Meade. Lee had marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania, hoping a major victory on Northern soil would sway public opinion in the North and encourage foreign intervention on behalf of the Confederacy. The initial skirmishes began northwest of the town, quickly escalating as reinforcements poured in from both sides.

As the battle raged, Union forces were pushed back through Gettysburg, regrouping on the high ground south of the town, known as Cemetery Hill. This strategic position formed a defensive line shaped like a fishhook, stretching from Culp's Hill on the right to the Round Tops on the left. Despite fierce Confederate assaults, this high ground proved pivotal for the Union defense.

Day two, July 2nd, saw heavy fighting at key locations like Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, and the Peach Orchard. Confederate troops attacked both flanks of the Union line in an attempt to break their hold on the high ground. Notably, the defense of Little Round Top by Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his 20th Maine Regiment became legendary for its determination and tactical brilliance.

The climax of the battle came on the third day with Pickett's Charge. Lee, determined to break the Union center, ordered a massive frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge. Approximately 12,000 Confederate soldiers marched across open fields under heavy artillery and rifle fire. The charge, led by General George Pickett, reached the Union lines but was ultimately repelled with devastating losses. This failed assault marked the end of Lee's offensive capabilities and forced him to retreat back to Virginia.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest of the Civil War, with over 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing.

Four months later, President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery. It was here where his brief but powerful Gettysburg Address redefined the purpose of the war, emphasizing the principles of liberty and equality and the importance of national unity.

We wanted to give you all an even deeper look into Gettysburg and its history, so we reached out to the esteemed author, former professor & college president Brad Gottfried, who has written 5 books on the Battle of Gettysburg alone. Today, he is retired but is still an Antietam Certified Battlefield Guide and a Gettysburg Licensed Town Guide.

Here’s what he had to say:

What is it about the history of the Civil War in particular that sparks your interest?

“From childhood, the Civil War has always fascinated me. It was an epic struggle that lasted far longer than anyone could have imagined and is filled with drama, courage, and sacrifice. There are so many facets of the Civil War that can interest folks: the military campaigns, the politics of the war, the diplomacy, civilian life, medical advances, slavery, etc.”

Besides Gettysburg’s rich Civil War history, what else in the town has helped you draw a connection to Gettysburg (people, way of life, food, parks, etc.)?

Gettysburg is a thriving small town filled with art, music, events, and commerce. It is small (and safe) enough to be able to walk around easily and see the sights. I can feel the vitality of the town as it constantly reinvents itself. It is no wonder that many folks from around the country choose Gettysburg as their retirement community.

As a licensed town guide of Gettysburg, you know all the ins and outs: What are some of your favorite places to talk/teach about? What places/activities never get old?

“Although I am a military historian, I love the stories relating to the town and its history. From its earliest beginnings as a tavern owned by Samuel Gettys, its role in the battle, Lincoln's visit, the rich role played by Black Americans, Dwight Eisenhower's presence in the town, and so much more! Most of our tours are 90-minutes in length, but there are so many stories that can be recounted — there is never enough time to tell them all. Therefore, we are able to tailor our tours to the interests of patrons. Many of our guests take several tours to get a richer understanding of the town's unique history.”

What are the places around town that you notice intrigue visitors the most? Which places are  “uniquely Gettysburg?”

“I think the stories of the sacrifices the civilians made during and after the battle resonate with most of our patrons. We show guests the hospitals and explain the role townspeople played in helping soldiers during the worst periods of their lives. Stories of Lincoln's visit also intrigue our visitors. Just about every building in the downtown area has a story to tell.”

After writing 19 books about the Civil War, you are presumably quite educated on the area's history in and around Gettysburg. In your eyes, what has been the general allure of Gettysburg as a town and as a community throughout its history, and where do you see the town heading in the future?

“Gettysburg was the largest battle of the Civil War. It was also the bloodiest and the one that turned back Robert E. Lee's army. It is the story of courage and sacrifice among, not only the soldiers, but also the civilians of the area. No other battlefield is as well marked and well-studied as Gettysburg, and to top it off, it has one of the earliest national cemeteries and the only one dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln. All of these have contributed to the allure of Gettysburg. I believe that Gettysburg will continue to draw individuals in the coming years as it played such an important role in our history.”

History buff? You’ll want to visit these spots!

Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

  • Overview: Begin your visit here for a comprehensive introduction to the Battle of Gettysburg. The museum offers extensive exhibits on the Civil War, the battle, and its aftermath.

  • Highlights: Don't miss the Cyclorama, a massive 360-degree painting depicting Pickett's Charge, and the film "A New Birth of Freedom," narrated by Morgan Freeman.

  • Activities: Pick up maps and guides for the battlefield, and consider joining a ranger-led tour for expert insights.

Explore the Gettysburg Battlefield

  • Tour Options: You can drive, bike, or take a guided bus tour through the battlefield. Self-guided driving tours are popular, with stops at key sites.

  • Key Stops:

    • Little Round Top: Offers a panoramic view of the battlefield and was a critical defensive position for the Union army.

    • Devil’s Den: A rugged, rocky area that saw intense fighting.

    • The Angle and High Water Mark: The climax of Pickett's Charge and considered the turning point of the battle.

  • Activities: Walk the trails, read the historical markers, and visit the numerous monuments and memorials that honor the soldiers from both sides.

Visit the Soldiers' National Cemetery

  • Overview: This is where President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

  • Highlights: The cemetery is the final resting place for over 3,500 Union soldiers. The Gettysburg Address Memorial marks the spot where Lincoln gave his famous speech.

  • Activities: Take a peaceful walk through the cemetery and reflect on the history and sacrifices made here.

Head to Downtown Gettysburg

  • Historic District: Stroll through the charming streets of downtown Gettysburg, lined with historic buildings, shops, and restaurants.

  • Key Sites:

    • David Wills House: Where Lincoln stayed the night before giving the Gettysburg Address. The house is now a museum dedicated to the speech and Lincoln's time in Gettysburg.

    • Shriver House Museum: Offers a glimpse into civilian life during the battle through the eyes of the Shriver family.

  • Activities: Explore local boutiques, art galleries, and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants. Consider visiting a local cafe or ice cream shop for a treat.

Visit the Gettysburg Heritage Center

  • Overview: This center offers interactive exhibits that focus on the civilian experience during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.

  • Activities: Learn about the impact of the battle on the local population, view artifacts, and watch immersive films.

End at the Seminary Ridge Museum

  • Overview: Located in the historic Lutheran Seminary, this museum provides a deep dive into the first day of the battle and the role of medical care during the conflict.

  • Highlights: Climb the cupola for a panoramic view of the battlefield, similar to the one used by General Buford to scout Confederate movements.

  • Activities: Explore the exhibits on military strategy, field medicine, and the experiences of soldiers and civilians.

Evening Activities

  • Ghost Tours: Gettysburg is famous for its ghost tours. These evening tours take you through the most haunted locations in the town and on the battlefield, offering spine-chilling stories and a different perspective on the town’s history.

  • Dining: Enjoy dinner at one of Gettysburg’s many restaurants. Options range from casual eateries to fine dining establishments, many of which emphasize locally sourced ingredients and regional cuisine.

The reverence for the events that took place here is palpable, from the meticulously preserved battlefield to the poignant monuments scattered throughout. Visiting the town is more than just a trip through history; it's an immersive experience that brings the past to life in a way that few places can.

Today, Gettysburg stands as a testament to resilience and remembrance. Beyond its historical significance, the town offers a welcoming community, scenic beauty, and a variety of cultural and recreational activities that make it a destination worth exploring. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply searching for a unique getaway, Gettysburg invites you to discover its enduring charm.

See you in Gettysburg!

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