A Civil War Primer at Gettysburg

We discovered that Gettysburg National Military Museum and Battlegrounds was not quite 20 miles away from us at Gettysburg Farm RV Resort.


We decided to take the day and go see. We are not history scholars. Yes, we enjoy historical museums and find that the information usually does not completely match our schooling from our younger years. We have not previously taken the time to study history of the various parts of the USA over the past forty years.

Since we are now full-time travelers, it is time for us to try to fill in many blanks in our education on this subject.  This was a Civil War Primer for us.  We won’t try to explain or show our ignorance on the subject, but will share what we experienced. It was a fascinating stop.


Gettysburg was and is a charming quiet place for such sadness of bloodshed

We had no idea of the vast area of the battlegrounds, nor the enormity of the casualties and that it was a 3-day battle at Gettysburg. This was a project that needed much more time than we had to give.  We were moved at what we saw and the solemnity of it all.


We started as usual at the Visitor Center to try to get our bearings and make a plan for an afternoon. We were lucky to catch a showing of the intro film, narrated by Morgan Phillips within 10 minutes of our arrival. That gave us the background to understand the why’s and how’s behind the State’s succession and the extinct of the conflicts between the southern States and the Federal Government.

From there we went to the Cyclorama.  Which is a painting on canvas hung from the ceiling and goes 360 degrees around the room. It too is narrated and has tremendous sound and visual effects. We felt like we were in the middle of the fighting and looking for a place to hide from the battle cries, the cannon balls firing from all directions and the noise of the gunfire.   It was so frightening in simulation, that I can’t imagine what it must have been to live through or worse to be maimed or to die there on the fields.

After the cyclorama we took ourselves to the museum. It was a collection of time period artifacts and short films depicting the life of those who lived here during that time. There were slave shackles and invoices of sales, there were examples of Confederate and Northern uniforms, arms, supplies and displays of everyday life for a foot soldier as well as for the officers.


We grabbed a bite to eat at the food service and headed out with a CD disc guided tour of the battlegrounds. This alone is over 2 hours to complete the tour at a minimum. However, it was so interesting and vast. The landscape is basically the same.


Once a battlefield

The audio on the CD narrates the circumstances, the goals of each Commander or leader on each side, the struggles that the soldiers had to deal with and the outcome. How many casualties on each side and who won or lost.


The stops along the way were of battles at each site and the regiments that fought on both sides.  There were statues, stones and other forms of artwork depicting the battle.  We were in awe as we solemnly drove through the various battlegrounds.


Our final stop of the day was fitting.  It was the National Soldier’s Cemetery, where President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address during a dedication of the cemetery.


Graves with identities on the stones



The enormity of unknown soldiers buried here


President Lincoln dedicated this cemetery with his famous Gettysburg Address.

As we say over and over, we wish we had more time here to discover the many more aspects of this area.  Maybe next time…..


I remember memorizing his Gettysburg Address in high school

2 thoughts on “A Civil War Primer at Gettysburg

  1. I can see how one could feel they were there, it would make one very sad to think of the loss of life think how many mothers and wives would wonder where/how their loved ones died


    • Thanks Jo, You said it aptly. It was so very sad that families were torn apart in the dispute between the states and then not all men return home, leaving their loved ones wondering if they were living or dead.


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