Over the course of three days from July 1-3, 1863, what was perhaps the most tragic day in American history occurred. The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest and deadliest day in American military history. Never before or since that date has so many Americans lost their lives in a single engagement.
To make matters more tragic, they died at the hands of other Americans. Today the Gettysburg Battlefield is a somber place of remembering and soul searching. A place where Presidents give speeches and where people remember the dark days of the country's past. Today there are memorials to remember the occasion and the preservation of the Union and Gettysburg is a place every American should visit.
Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center
One of the main attractions at the site is the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center. This is where one can plan one's visit to the battlefield and gain an understanding of the various locations at the battlefield site.
- Hours: 9 am to 4 pm or 5 pm
- Closed: Normally Closed Tuesday And Wednesday
- Holidays Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day
The Museum and Visitor Center is owned and operated by the Gettysburg Foundation. It is a non-profit organization focused on education and works in partnership with the National Park Service. The Gettysburg Museum displays one of the largest collections of Civil War relics anywhere. It offers interactive displays, multimedia presentations, and information about those who served in the Civil War.
One of the best ways to really get to see and understand the battlefield site is with one of the Licensed Battlefield Guides. These guides have helped preserve history and bring the site to life for more than 100 years. These Licensed Battlefield Guides offer two-hour car and bus tours of the battlefield. It is possible to make reservations for these guides, otherwise it works on a first come first serve basis.
Gettysburg National Military Park
The Gettysburg National Military Park is responsible for interpreting and protecting the site of the Battle of Gettysburg. It is managed by the National Park Service. Some of the adjacent areas that were supportive of the battle part, not the actual battle are included in the Gettysburg National Cemetery - these include supportive locations that supported the army's reserves, supplies, hospitals, and the like.
The landscape on the battlefield has also changed somewhat as today the site is more wooded than in 1863, though efforts are being made to restore it to the state of then. These efforts are going so far as to replant now gone orchards and woodlots.
Over time it would seem that Americans are losing interest in this historic site with attendance falling significantly over recent decades. The five major Civil War battlefield parks operated by the National Park Service have fallen. In 1970 a combined 10.2 million visitors visited Gettysburg, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Antietam, and Chickamauga/Chattanooga; in 2018 that was down to 70%. Attendance to Gettsyburg has fallen 86% over that time.
Together with the Pearl Harbor Museum, it is one of the most important military sites in America
The Pennsylvania State Memorial
The Pennsylvania State Memorial is a monument within the national park. It is to remember and commemorate the large number of Pennsylvanians who fought in the battle. The memorial is located at Cemetery Ridge which was the location of the northern army's battle line on those fateful days.
- Largest: The Pennsylvania State Memorial Is The Largest Of The State Monuments At The Site
- Fact: 34,530 Pennsylvanians Fought At Gettysburg
Eisenhower National Historic Site
Next to the Gettysburg park (but unrelated to it) is another site of interest - the Eisenhower National Historic Site. This preserves the home and farm of the 34th President. For those interested, they can see where Dwight D. Eisenhower lived after 1950. It was his weekend retreat and a place he welcomed world leaders. Some of the most notable of these guests included Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Charles de Gaulle, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Additionally, he hosted the Governor of California Ronald Reagan. Reagan was governor before being president.
Where To Stay
The gateway for the Military Park is the town of Gettysburg. Today Gettysburg is a small town of around 7,500 people and it has a range of accommodation options. Some of the choices of accommodation include; Gettysburg Hotel, The Union Hotel, and 1863 Inn Of Gettysburg among many other options.
Where To Eat
Gettysburg is a small town but hosts plenty of dining options for the famished traveler. Gettysburg includes options like Hunt's Battlefield Fries & Cafe', Garryowen Irish Pub, Dobbin House Tavern, Mason Dixon Distillery & Restaurant, and many others. Of course, it has usual chain restaurants like McDonald's and KFC.