Gettysburg: Because really, what else what I pick?

I know, right?  Call the morning papers.  I’m writing about Gettysburg again.

A tiny, nondescript little Pennsylvania town (albeit the seat of Adams County) where in July of 1863 the Union and Confederate armies met and decimated each other over the course of three days.  Approximately 51,000 casualties.  The so-called “High Water Mark” of the Confederacy.

This year is the 150th Anniversary of the battle, which I’m fairly confident will be chaos and heat and an overabundance of pretzels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because look, I’m cheap and not spending a fortune on Sutler food.  If there’s Sutler food to be had.

Surprisingly, I don’t write as much fiction about Gettysburg as you might think I would.  In fact…I’ve never written fiction about Gettysburg.  I’ve written a prologue to a novel set in Gettysburg, but I never went through with it.  Can I explain why?  No.  But there you go.

Anyway, for the enterprising traveller to Gettysburg, I give you today’s Top Five Things to See at Gettysburg.  In no particular order!

Pickett's Charge
Pickett’s Charge

1.  Pickett’s Charge

In the movie Gettysburg, aside from a plethora of bad beards, the movie is pretty well-known for the climactic Pickett’s Charge at the end.  “General Lee…I have no division!”  Walking the field where Pickett’s Charge took place gives a new perspective to the battle.  Yes, I realize the landscape has changed somewhat since 1863 (Thank you, World War I tank training ground), but you get an idea of the rise and the fall of the land.  You can understand how Federal soldiers could watch approaching Confederates cross the field and disappear as they marched into low-lying land.  And, there’s always the off-chance you’ll see a ghost like I did.  Or fall in a mud puddle like I did.  At any rate, it’s beautiful and the silence of the field (if you’re not there in the middle of July) is breathtaking.

2.  Jennie Wade’s House

Look, skip the ghost tours.  Don’t waste your money.  The ghost tours aren’t going to take you on the battlefield; you aren’t going to wriggle around The Wheatfield in the dark looking for orbs and doing glass divination.  You’re going to stand on the sidewalk outside of the Farnsworth House.  Or in a parking lot.  I really enjoyed the Jennie Wade House (technically it’s her sister’s house: Jennie Wade lived more in town) tour.  It’s been a few years, so I can’t guarantee it’s the same, but when The Hubs and I took it, we got to walk around the first floor and the basement.  As I recall, they had kind of strange hours of operation, so check before you head over.

My favorite monument at Gettysburg, the monument to the Irish Brigade.


Featuring a life-sized sculpture of an Irish Wolfhound, this is actually just my favorite monument on the field.  Well, other than the monument where The Hubs asked me to be his girlfriend.  But yeah, I’ll leap out of the car and pose for a picture with this one every time we’re there.  The Hubs just rolls his eyes at this point.

Special note: I’ve blogged about it before but I’ll point it out again: check out how I’m, yet again, hiking in flip-flops and a hoodie.  Yup.  Fashion plate.

4.  Little Round Top

20120506-115336.jpgNo trip to Gettysburg is complete without a jaunt up Little Round Top and the adjacent Big Round Top (or as my dad used to call it, Little Big Top).  Parking can be tricky with all the tour busses and cars pulled over for the audio tour (unless, of course, you’re like we are and are there in the dead of winter.  Or fall.  Or early spring.  Or the middle of a blizzard).  However, the terrain is stunning, with huge boulders and rocky landscape leading over to Devil’s Den. 

Little Round Top is also where Strong Vincent was mortally wounded.  I’m randomly a huge Strong Vincent fan, probably because I find his name just about as awesome as Moxley Sorrel.  Anyway, you can check out period carvings on a boulder commemorating where he was hit as well as a monument to his unit with his visage on top (which I just hiked to on our last trip to Gettysburg).

5.  The Georgia Monument

I’m actually really sorry I don’t have a picture of it to post, but it’s one of those actual photograph pictures pasted in my scrapbook and the photo doesn’t do the monument justice.  The Georgia Monument is inscribed with one of my favorite phrases of any monument on the field.  I think it’s applicable not just to the state of Georgia, but to any soldier who fought in the battle.  Any battle, of any war.

We sleep here in obedience to law.  When duty called, we came.  When country called, we died.



  1. I have always wanted to visit Gettysburg. I asked my husband if we could go there when we visited his family in Philadelphia, but the trip was too far for his elderly father. We went to Valley Forge instead, and no offense to the father of our country, or the men who suffered there, it just didn’t have the pull on me as Gettysburg. Thanks for writing this post and making my desire to go there one day even stronger. And by the way, you’re right: that memorial inscription is so moving.

    1. Thanks, Darlene! I’ve never been to Valley Forge, but my dad went to seminary outside of Philadelphia and he and my mom went a few times. Hubby and I have been to Fort Necessity outside of Pittsburgh. It was pretty interesting, as was Bushy Run Battlefield (French and Indian War). Even though Gettysburg has its annoyingly overcommercialized moments (ie General Pickett’s Buffet or the plethora of ghost tours), it’s such a beautiful and worthwhile place to visit!

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