"GETTYSBURG - LEE IS REPULSED" Top 5 Page for this destination Gettysburg National Military Park by mtncorg

Many people consider July 3, 1863 as the turning point in the American Civil War considering the twin momentous Union victories on that day: the surrender at Vicksburg and the repulse of Robert Lee here at Gettysburg. The battle here at Gettysburg was certainly the biggest and most sustained three day affair of the entire war - over 60,000 casualties on both sides in some of the most desperate fighting seen. Lee was the aggressor on each of the three days. His defeat, ended his second - and last - invasion of the North. Never again would he be able to sally forth on such a scale. The true turning point was just around the corner - U.S.Grant was coming out of the West to take command. Grant would attack Lee again and again. Lee would win most of the time, but his victories were pyrrhic in nature. His armies were not able to sustain the losses that the Federals could. With the continual bleeding of his army and the destruction of the Confederacy on other fronts, he would finally be forced to surrender in April 1865.

Gettysburg remains a town of local importance in the farmlands of southern Pennsylvania - much like it was before the climactic battle of early July, 1863. There is a preponderance of tourist attractions relating to the battle - and many, with no relation whatsoever. The main focus remains upon the battlefield, however, and what it meant in the larger sphere of American and Civil War history. The battlefields surround the city acting as an incomplete buffer to city sprawl and ensuring terrible traffic in the central part of town. On several battlefields of the Civil War, you have no trouble finding solitude. Gettysburg is a definite exception. This is a Park that I would advise seeing off-season because of the crowds. Fall can be an exceptionally beautiful time of year, for example.

This battlefield differs from most others with what is known as the granite forest - huge numbers of battlefield monuments erected (mostly around the turn of the 19th Century) by surviving Union soldiers. For the battlefield purist, this is distracting, but for those of us not so pure, the monuments can be a help to follow the actions that took place and the units involved. There is a dirth of Confederate monuments, though each Southern State has placed a State monument on the fields in more recent times to try and make up for that. The vast number of monuments (1,328 monuments, markers and memorials are to be found - though many of those serve only to mark the presence of units on the fields) is because of the importance the battle took on in the pysche of the North and, eventually, in the country. Sometimes it seems that every regiment in the Union army has a monument somewhere here on the fields. That is not completely true, but many regiments in the Army of the Potomac did put something up. The grandeur and the uniqueness of the monument has more to do with the financial success of the soldiers in their post-Civil War careers than their actual sacrifices here at Gettysburg, but the puzzles of connecting monument to history is a fun one that you can investigate afterwards, as it also seems there is a website for each regiment somewhere on the internet, as well!

The Park covers quite a bit of ground making a car useful, though certainly not essential. You could cover the Park in saddle - horse or bicycle - and getting out of the car to walk about, whether just amongst the monuments or farther a field such as replicating the path of Pickett's Charge is something that you could find invaluable to understanding more of this battle that has become emblematic for the Civil War.

My tips are offered in more of a chronological order than in geographic order. Day one, two and three with some of the first two days on the confederate side being offered up in the off-the-beaten-path area (with links from their federal opposites). I cannot emphasize enough what a good map like the one published by Trailhead Graphics will do to help you makes sense of everything on the ground here. You can get a quick and dirty look at the battle at Gettysburg, but I recommend also reading one of the big books on the battle if you really get interested - I like Stephen Sears' “Gettysburg“, but there are many other options available as Gettysburg is probably the most written about battle out there. Also helpful is the “U.S. Army Staff College Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg” from Jay Luvaas and Harold Nelson which will bring the battle alive as you wander about. There is auto tour route given in the Park brochure that you almost have to travel because of many one-way routes. Another good reason to stop by the Visitor Center.

  • Intro Updated Jun 6, 2007
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Reviews (52)

Comments (8)

  • Greggor58's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    What revered ground this Historic Site is!!The detail that you've provided is nothing less than amazing..you've assembled a terrific page here.The battle and General's names are familiar but certainly not the details!!

  • Segolily's Profile Photo
    Apr 28, 2009 at 6:21 PM

    Wow, will be visiting very briefly in June and was looking for information. I think I have found the right place. Thanks for the details.

  • easterntrekker's Profile Photo
    Apr 1, 2009 at 6:14 PM

    We're planning on going in a few weeks. It got my interest when I saw it on a documentary on haunted places. Great pages!!

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2008 at 2:58 PM

    Excellently informative page here - I made a beeline for this famous/infamous place a few yrs back driving around following a guided driving tour on CD. Ken Burns stuff is also fantastic.

  • Aug 7, 2008 at 12:02 PM

    See Lance Herdegen's "Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign (October 1, 2008.). More information will be posted here shortly, including an interview, excerpts, and more: www.savasbeatie.com

  • Paul2001's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2007 at 9:09 AM

    Wow what an astonishingly well researched page. Utterly fascinating. Thanks for all the time it must of taken to research and prepare this great page.

  • travelfrosch's Profile Photo
    Feb 3, 2007 at 11:24 AM

    My goodness... will there be a quiz later? ;o) It took me two separate visits to read it all. Well done! Cheers, Mark

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2007 at 9:25 AM

    Great pictures and the most comprehensive descriptions of a single battle on VT. It's definetely a place and page for history and the War Between the States lovers.

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