Gettysburg Pennsylvania: A Place of Epic Tragedy, Symbol of Hope

Gettysburg PennsylvaniaGettysburg, PA – Nestled into America’s rural countryside lies a small town that was the epicenter of war just a few generations ago. In this scene, the future of the United States hung in the balance. It was where, months later, a tall, lanky president arrived on a train and later delivered an immortal speech that would turn the town from a place of epic tragedy into a symbol of hope.

Gettysburg: A Place of Epic Tragedy, Symbol of Hope

Turning Point at Gettysburg | A Critical Battle in America

Today, Gettysburg is one of America’s most iconic historic destinations
– neighbors of just a couple hours' drive from both Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Together; these three destinations paint a detailed picture of American history – from the nation’s roots in Philadelphia to its most defining moment in Gettysburg, to the centerpiece of the ideals set forth by the country’s founding fathers in Washington.

Nearly four million visitors come to Gettysburg annually
– hoping not only to learn but to pause and reflect on what those three days meant for this small town and a nation divided. Travelers can be seen in the woods line along the Confederate camp riding horses while listening to stories told by licensed battlefield guides about battle tactics and anecdotes of war. The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center is bringing visitors in touch with the larger context of the American Civil War and how this town became that pivotal battle that reshaped history and remains relevant today. Young and old visitors are mesmerized by the town’s famous 135-year-old Cyclorama painting, which immerses guests in the fury of battle on July 3, 1863, through a light and sound show.

In Downtown Gettysburg, families tour the Shriver House Museum – a home built just a couple of years before the battle but found itself in the crossfire during rifle fire. The Shriver family story represents that of most Gettysburg civilians who not only endured the war’s most tragic battle but were for months tending to casualties and for years rebuilding their war-ravaged town.

The town is surrounded by a 6,000-acre Gettysburg battlefield, which includes 42 kilometers of roadway that take travelers through farm fields and forest, and alongside more than 1,300 monuments, markers, and plaques – one of the world’s largest outdoor sculpture collections. During warmer months, visitors retrace the Confederate march across Pickett’s Charge or gaze out over Little Round Top as the Union Army did 155 years ago at Pennsylvania Memorial, looking for ancestors' names etched into the site battlefield's most significant monument. Encampment soldiers dressed in Civil War uniforms watch over the battlefield throughout the summer, capturing the imaginations of travelers with sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of war.

In the evening, visitors sit at any historic tavern discussing day discoveries before laying heads down at night inns scattered across the countryside, many of them Civil War hospitals after battle swept through town.