Our practice while taking a long trip in the car is to travel during the day, when possible, and to stop for a rest and some exercise every two hours. We were returning to Ithaca from a long trip down south when, at about the time for a rest stop we crossed the Mason-Dixon line to approach the city of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on US Route 15.
The signed for the Gettysburg Battlefield pulled us in and we spent three hours looking around, longer than we planned for a rest stop.
The staff at the visitor center were very helpful with our off the cuff visit plan. With the auto tour in hand we made our way to the “High Water” of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, the Union battle line that marked the end of Lee’s second invasion of the north and the turning of the Civil War.
The expanse of the Gettysburg National Military Park warrants a stay of three days, at least.
These photographs from my cell phone, augmented with titles and description, will give you a taste of what this national historic site has to offer.
Notably, the day of our visit, February 12, is Lincoln’s Birthday. February was a quiet time to visit and we were blessed with a sunny, mild day. In the warm weather the place is packed with visitors.
I have a feeling for the place because my 10th birthday in 1963 coincided with the hundredth anniversary of the Civil War. Also because a figure in the aftermath of the battle, David Wills, shares my surname. A lawyer who lived and practiced in Gettysburg, David Wills organized the burials and it was at his home that President stayed before the dedication of the cemetery and where the final touches of the Gettysburg Address were written. His home, a museum, is closed in the quiet season.
Most Americans alive today would not exist if this battle turned out differently.
One of the chilling realizations from the day is almost half the Union graves are for unknown soldiers.