Last fall, my husband and I joined three other couples on a weekend trip to Gettysburg. I hadn’t been to Gettysburg since I traveled there with a busload of my fellow 8th graders … more years ago than I care to count. This time we experienced the famous historical site with a much different perspective and appreciation.
Gettysburg has myriad hotels, motels and B&Bs from which to choose, most within a walking distance to a variety of restaurants and shops. We chose Farnsworth House Inn, a delightful B&B with a rich history, period-style tavern – and bullet holes on one side: an enduring reminder of what not only happened in the expansive battlefields, but in the town as well.
Not far from our B&B, our first stop was the National Cemetery, where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address. From there, we headed to the newly remodeled Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. Next, we piled into the car and drove to the battlefields, beginning our journey at Devil’s Den. Strewn with enormous boulders, Devil’s Den looks out onto an expansive field, which stood between the Union stronghold and Confederate assault lines.
If you’re able, I suggest climbing from Devil’s Den up the face of Little Round Top, as the Confederate soldiers did during their assault. For me, it was quite a climb in my cross-trainers, without anything on my back. It was hard to imagine these soldiers, wearing wool uniforms, leather shoes and carrying 90+ pounds of gear with a rifle, running up the side of the hill in the July heat. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to a spectacular view, as well as visitor information plaques which walk you through the battle, day by day.
As we drove back to the B&B and throughout dinner that night, my group of historical time-travelers marveled that we were struck by the same feelings: There was a shared sense of heaviness that we all felt while touring the cemetery and battlefields. It was the thought of the 160,000 soldiers who fought through the relatively small place, or the 50,000+ casualties that made us reflect on the enormity of the battle so many years ago.
Gettysburg holds not only a rich historical perspective, but provides non-partisan honor for those who fought there in a battle that helped shape what our country is today. And we all agreed: We have to plan another visit … soon.
Today's blog post was written by Julianne Hanes-Jordan, marketing director for AAA Western and Central New York.
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