Gettysburg National Military Park


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Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania commemorates the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle. It is considered a turning point in the war, with the Union forces repelling Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North. Over the course of 3 days of fierce fighting in July of 1863, about fifty thousand soldiers died…the costliest battle ever in American history.DSC01685

Five months after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln dedicated a National Cemetary at the site and delivered the famous Gettysburg Address, reminding everyone of the principles behind the Declaration of Independence and urging unity in the hopes that,

“these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Did you know that when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, he was suffering from a mild case of smallpox?!

We visited Gettysburg on Labor Day Weekend in 2011. We started out at the Visitor Center where we perused the museum, watched a short film and viewed the interesting Cyclorama Painting. We picked up the Junior Ranger booklet for my daughter to earn her badge.

The Eternal Light Peace Memorial dedicated on July 3, 1938, commemorating the 1913 Gettysburg reunion for the 50th anniversary of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. The natural gas flame is visible from 20 miles away.

We then took a two-hour bus tour around the battlefield and memorials. Tours are conducted by licensed battlefield guides…they have to take a course and pass an exam in order to conduct tours on the NPS site. Our guide narrated throughout the bus ride and we had several stops where we could get out, stretch our legs and take photos. There are over 1300 monuments, memorials and plaques here, comprising one of the largest collections of outdoor sculpture in the world.


Our favorite was the Castle at Little Roundtop because we could go inside and climb the stairs to an observation deck. This memorial is for a New York regiment in honor of Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth who was the first Union soldier killed during the war. It was here that there were some volunteers performing a living history. This union soldier spent some time talking to my daughter and helped her with her junior ranger packet.


Location: 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA 17325

Designation: National Military Park

Date designation declared: Declared a National Park in 1895, decades prior to creation of the NPS

Date of my visit: 9/3/2011

Our junior ranger being ‘sworn in’

23 thoughts on “Gettysburg National Military Park

  1. Smallpox!!! I had never heard that before and I’m quite familiar with the Civil War. Great post. I visited Gettysburg in 2016 – they’ve done a fabulous job preserving the history around there.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have never been to Gettysburg and did not know that it had over 1300 monuments, plaques, etc. Great photos too!

  3. Great pics! I’ve visited a few times and it’s always special to stand where Lincoln gave his address. Being from Michigan, I have a special affinity for the Iron Brigade, whose several monuments are on the Chambersburg side of the battlefield.

  4. I enjoyed this post a lot, thank you, T. It is fortunate that we have this park to commemorate the sobering high loss of life here. Wow, 50,000 soldiers. Great photos, info, too. And congratulations to the Junior Ranger, that last photo is so dear.

  5. I visited once when a child, back in 1982. Since then, I have read a bit about the battle and would like to see the site again. As a youngster I don’t believe I appreciated the magnitude of this event.

  6. I don’t think the scope of our life experience when we are children enables us to appreciate the importance of visiting these historic sites. My parents dragged me to places like this when I was a kid and I was more attracted to whatever cannons I could climb up on than actually learning anything from history. But somewhere along the way, some of it did sink in, and now I am moved by these parks.

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