What to See When Visiting Gettysburg

In my last blog I covered some of the basics of visiting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania such as the tours, shopping, eating, and a little bit of history. This time I will talk about some of the specific areas where you will be stopping. If you have not seen the movie Gettysburg with Jeff Daniels and Martin Sheen, it may be a good introduction to some of the places you will be seeing.

I usually plan to drive to Cavalry Field first because it is outside of town and more difficult to find. This is where George Custer’s people clashed with J.E.B. Stuart’s boys in gray. It is a quiet part of the battlefield because it is so detached. The tour buses don’t go here and few tourists are usually here, unlike other places on the field. I have been known to grab a takeout lunch in town and enjoy it surrounded by the solitude of Cavalry Field.

Perhaps one of the most well known places on the battlefield is Devil’s Den. Over the past few years, the bus tours have stopped going here so be sure to know how to get here on your own. The place is totally incredible with the huge boulders.

Also in the area of Devil’s Den you will find the Bloody Wheatfield and Triangular Field. And overlooking the Den is Little Round Top, a place made more infamous by the movie I mentioned. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain defended an area near this spot for the Union by having to resort to a bayonet charge. A monument to him is here as well as many other monuments that are found here and all over the battlefield.

Nearby is Big Round Top. This is actually more like a mountain climb and it is a self guided tour if you wish to see the battlefield from up there. The only time I tried it, my legs ached like fire for days, so proceed with caution when deciding.

If you are starting the tour with a narrated bus trip or an auto tour tape, you will start at McPherson’s Woods where General John Reynolds was killed and near where the first shots were fired. At the other end of your tour, the last part, you will see the National Cemetery where Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was presented.

What else will you be seeing while exploring this historical town? One of my own favorite spots is where Pickett’s Charge happened. The thought of thousands of people marching across that open field and into the gunfire and cannon fire is very sobering and it is usually one of the busiest spots on the battlefield.

Other places not to miss:

1. The fabulous museums found in Gettysburg
2. Spangler’s Spring and Culp’s Hill. (This is part of the “three hour” auto tour as opposed to the “two hour” version.
3. The supposedly haunted Sachs Bridge. (Although many places all around town are reported to be haunted!)
4. Jennie Wade House. Found beside the Holiday Inn Battlefield. This is where the only civilian death occurred during the battle. Jennie was baking bread when a bullet killed her.
5. 11th Corps Line
6. Oak Ridge and the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.
7. Evergreen Cemetery. Found beside the National Cemetery. This is the cemetery that was already in operation during the battle. Jennie Wade is buried here.

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