Pennsylvania Civil War
Gettysburg National Military Park
Podcasts: Gettysburg Civil War Tours
One of the best-known and most studied battlefields in the world is visited by well more than a million people a year, so expect crowds and traffic in the peak season. Many believe the three-day battle here July 1–3, 1863, decided the outcome of the war. This beautiful park offers a driving tour that covers some of the best-known areas of the battlefield including Little Round Top, Cemetery Ridge, Pickett's Charge and Culp's Hill. Abraham Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery here.
Museum and Visitor Center
1195 Baltimore Pike
(between Baltimore Pike and Taneytown Road)
717-334-1124 extension 8023, 866-889-1243, www.nps.gov/gett
The new $103-million visitor center and museum has opened a short distance east of the old facility, which is now closed. The museum features 12 exhibit galleries that tell the story of the war and the July 1863 battle through quality story-telling artifacts, maps, high-tech interactive displays and other material. Also featured in the new center are a 22-minute film, bookstore, restaurant, certified guide service and NPS ranger help.
The famous Gettysburg Cyclorama has been restored and is now open in the new visitor center.
Miles of park roads connect major battlefield landmarks including Little Round Top, Cemetery Ridge, Devil’s Den, Culp’s Hill and sites on the First Day’s battlefield. Check at the visitor center for the times for free ranger-led tours of various sections of the park.
Visitor center hours are 8 am–6 pm April–October (closes one hour earlier other times). The park itself is open 6 am-10 pm April-October. Closes at 7 pm other times. Admission to the visitor center and the battlefield is free. A combination ticket for the museum, Cyclorama and film is $10.50 per adult. Ticket and certified guide reservations may be made through www.gettysburgfoundation.org.
Gettysburg, the Town
This small town, subject of such terror and turmoil in 1863, has become part museum and part amusement park, thanks to its history. Some of the attractions the town are of high quality, some are not. All suit someone's taste. Many are geared for kids. A good Gettysburg Civil War Walking Tour brochure, produced by Main Street Gettysburg Inc, is available.
Walking tours of the town, covering the civilian experience during the street battle, are available. The tours, offered 10 am-4 pm, begin at the Gettysburg Hotel, 1 Lincoln Square, April-November. Cost is $10/adult. Call 717-339-6161 for more information.
Tours of the battlefield by licensed guides are available from the park visitor center. See www.gettysburgfoundation.org for reservation information.
Seminary Ridge Museum
111 Seminary Ridge, Gettysburg PA 17325
Located in one of the historic Lutheran Theological Seminary buildings this museum is devoted to the story of the first day of the battle, the site's use as a hospital and the history of the Seminary. The building is most famous for its role as observation post for Union Gen. John Buford as he tracked the coming Confederate attack from the cupola. Open daily 10 am-5 pm (June-August). Closed Tuesdays (September-November and March-May) and open Friday-Monday (December-March). Museum only $9/adult; $29/adult with Cupola tour.
David Wills House
8 Lincoln Square, Gettysburg PA 17325
Abraham Lincoln was a guest in this house the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address, dedicating the national cemetery here. Wills's home was a focal point of the cleanup following the devastation of the 1863 battle. The second-floor "Lincoln" room has been restored, and seven museum galleries describe the town's recovery following the battle. $6.50/adult. Open as follows:
- 9 am-6 pm daily May–August
- 9 am-5 pm daily April/September and November
- 10 am-5 pm Friday–Sunday December–February
- 9 am-5 pm Thursday–Monday March
The Rupp House History Center
451 Baltimore St, Gettysburg PA 17325
Excellent exhibits connect the fighting in town and the civilian experience with the battlefield. Creative displays highlight each day of the battle and the aftermath. A short audio-visual presentation sets the stage followed by examples of the sights and even the smells of the time. The 1868 home was built on the foundation of the war-time residence of John and Caroline Rupp. The Center is the home base of the Friends of the Parks at Gettysburg. Free, donations welcome. Open weekends May–September.
309 Baltimore St, Gettysburg PA 17325
Tours offered on the half hour of the restored 1860 home of George and Henrietta Schriver. The story of how the family and their neighbors survived the battle is told during the tours. Highlight is a Confederate sniper nest in the attic. Open Monday–Saturday 10 am–5 pm, Sunday 11 am–5 pm (April–Nov. 20). Call for hours other times. $7.95/adult.
The Gettysburg Railroad Station
35 Carlisle St,
Gettysburg PA 17325
Abraham Lincoln arrived at this 1859 station about 6 pm, Nov. 18. 1863 — the day before he delivered his famous address. Exhibits in the station tell that story and describe the station’s role during and following the battle. The building was among the first hospitals and was a busy place serving the wounded (transporting nearly 15,000) and the town when rail service was restored a week after the fighting ended. Open daily 10 am–noon and 1–4 pm. Free (donations welcome).
The station is now the Gettysburg town visitor center. Visitor center hours: 9 am–5 pm Sunday–Thursday, 9 am–7 pm Friday–Saturday June–November. Shortened hours other times.
1325 Old Route 30, Cashtown PA 17310 (west of Gettysburg)
Civil War Trails sign on the grounds of this early 19th-century building describes a meeting between Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and A.P. Hill as they listened to the sounds of a growing battle near Gettysburg. Confederate troops coming from Chambersburg passed by here en route to the battle. The Cashtown Inn is currently a restaurant and bed and breakfast.
Trails sign across from the town hall, 10 S Queen St, Littlestown PA 17340
Union cavalry arrived in the area the night of June 29. 1863 while feeling for the Confederate army. Union infantry camped in the nearby fields the night after as they marched north toward Gettysburg. Local citizens welcomed the soldiers (about 30,000 passed through town) with cheers and food, lifting the army’s morale.
Trails sign at the Fairfield Inn, 15 W Main St, Fairfield PA 17320
On July 4-5, 1863, most of the Confederate army retreated from the Gettysburg battlefield through Fairfield. They left sick and wounded soldiers in their wake. Prior to the battle, the town was the stage for a sharp cavalry battle fought July 3 as the much bigger battle raged nearby.
Website links to places listed here: Pennsylvania Links