Raymond visited Gettysburg many moons ago, before we were married, and was very moved by the battlefield. He's always wanted to bring us all back to see it, so we were thrilled to make this stop on our journey.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War.
The battlefield itself is so expansive and winds all through town and across the countryside. Huge monuments line the roads and pop up everywhere. Because of the scale of it all, we opted to book a two hour bus tour to help us grasp the scene at Gettysburg.
We scored top level seats on a double decker tour bus, which gave us amazing views (plus, it was a super fun new experience.) Each person on the bus is able to listen to the tour guide via headphones, so there's no worry of missing any information as the bus winds back and forth between historic markers. The bus tours conveniently start right at Cemetery Hill, which played a key role in the battle.
This battle spanned so much space and involved so many people, both Union and Confederate, that it is honestly hard to keep all of the names, regiments and key points straight. Just understanding the sheer size of this battle and the significance of it all was very moving.
The tour bus lot is also right across the street from Gettysburg National Cemetery, where many of the men who fought in this battle are buried, and also where President Lincoln gave his infamous Gettysburg Address. It was a solemn walk through the cemetery as we imagined how that crowd felt as Lincoln addressed them on November 19, 1863.
Just down the road, we were also able to tour the David Wills house. A prominent and wealthy attorney in town during the time of the battle, David Wills had one of the largest homes in town and was host to Abraham Lincoln when he came to town to dedicate the cemetery after the battle. We were able to see the bedroom (complete with the same bed and even linens) where Lincoln slept, and the office where he carefully crafted "a few appropriate remarks," which would later be known as the Gettysburg Address.
TIP: **This house is run by the NPS, and completely free to tour - Don't miss it! It's only open on Saturdays & Sundays, 1pm - 5pm**
We also enjoyed wandering around the little downtown area and going in several shops. It was really cool to check out some of the war relics on display at the antique shops.
The Sachs Covered Bridge
Located just on the edge of town, the Sachs Bridge is known as Pennsylvania's most historic covered bridge in the state. Built in 1852, it features an ithiel lattice system of supporting trusses.
The Confederate Army began its retreat to Virginia by crossing this bridge after their fall at Gettysburg.
Camping in Gettysburg
There seemed to be several great campgrounds near Gettysburg, but many were booked solid. We stayed at the Drummer Boy RV Resort (part of the Thousand Trails program, although we are not currently members.) It worked great for us, and the kids had a ton of fun at the fishing pond. It was also really conveniently located and close to the historic activities.