Gettysburg Off The Beaten Path Tips by AlbuqRay Top 5 Page for this destination
Gettysburg Off The Beaten Path: 26 reviews and 72 photos
Little Round Top from Ayres Avenue
Near The Wheatfield on Ayres Avenue's far southeast loop there is a view of Little Round Top from the valley. It is much quieter there than up on Little Round Top. One of the videos shows this "Valley of Death," as it was named after the battle, along with both Round Tops. There are several memorials, including ones for the 13th PA Reserves Bucktails and the 5th NH Volunteer Infantry.
Although the 13th PA Reserves did not arrive until the second day, they played a crucial part in defending their home state. The Charge of the Pennsylvania Reserves is well documented during the battle of the Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield. The Bucktails were also called upon to clear the Rebel sharpshooters from Devil's Den. It was during this battle that COL Charles Taylor, the youngest colonel in the Army of the Potomac at the time, was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter when CPL Brookin's, of Company G, rifle misfired in the defense of COL Taylor.
There is a 5th NH Volunteer Infantry monument near The Wheatfield. They arrived on that field late in the evening of 1 July 1863 and were held in reserve throughout most of July 2th until about 4:30 in the afternoon when the brigade commanded by COL Edward E. Cross, was ordered into the "wheatfield" to turn back the aggressive Confederate attack on the Federal left. In three hours of desperate fighting the regiment lost 86 of 177 officers and men. COL Cross was mortally wounded by a musket ball that struck him in the navel and exited near the spine. The monument was dedicated by the veterans of the 5th NH Volunteers 23 years later on 2 Jul 1886. All but the horizontal granite stone are indigenous to the site.
Evergreen Cemetery from East Cemetery Hill
The Evergreen Cemetery is a private cemetery that was located on Cemetery Hill before the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. It was established in 1854 when a group of local residents headed by attorney David McConaughy bought land on Raffensperger's Hill south of Gettysburg along the Baltimore Pike for a community cemetery. The large brick gatehouse was constructed in the late 1850's. During the Battle of Gettysburg, the hill was a key position for the Union Army. As a consequence, the cemetery and its gatehouse suffered damage from incoming artillery shells, as well as from the thousands of men and horses who tramped through it during and after the fighting. The Soldiers' National Cemetery was established immediately west of it after the battle. Although today the Soldiers' National Cemetery is closed to new burials, the Evergreen Cemetery is still active and plots may be purchased.
South of the Pitzer Woods Stop #6 on the self-guided auto tour, there is an observation tower named after GEN Longstreet. It is one of the last three remaining U. S. War Department-era observation towers and offers the visitor a panoramic view of the battlefield. Originally, there were five towers constructed on the battlefield but this is the only one built on West Confederate Avenue. From the observation deck, one can appreciate the distance that Longstreet's Confederates had to cross to reach the Union positions at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield and in the Peach Orchard. See also a videoclip.
The tower was the last major structure to be placed on West Confederate Avenue, which was also laid out and paved by the U. S. War Department at the turn of the century. William Robbins, a Confederate veteran of the battle and one of the first battlefield commissioners, promoted the avenue so that Confederate artillery and infantry positions could be marked. Robbins worked with original reports and documents while relying on eyewitness testimony from visiting veterans to compose the tablets. This portion of West Confederate between Millerstown Road and the Emmitsburg Road is lined with numerous Confederate battery positions as well as several state memorials and brigade markers.
The tower also overlooks the farm that is today Eisenhower National Historic Site, the retirement home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The farm buildings used by GEN Longstreet as a temporary headquarters stood on the Eisenhower property, but they no longer exist. I did a pass on climbing all those stairs but it would have been a great view. The nearby marker says Dwight D. Eisenhower was General of the Army and the 34th President of the United States. He loved history and bought the 189-acre farm in 1950. After his election in 1952, the farm became his retreat and he even met world leaders informally there. He retired to the farm in 1961 and lived there until his death in 1969. First Lady Mamie lived there until her death in 1979. Since 1980, the farm has been managed by the National Park Service. Admission to the farm is by shuttle bus only. The buses depart regularly from the Museum and Visitors' Center.
Lincoln Train Museum
The Lincoln Train Museum is at 425 Steinwehr Avenue, which is about half a block past the American Civil War Museum. There is a simulated train ride that follows the route that took Abraham Lincoln from Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg in 1863 for his famous speech. The Lincoln Toy Train Collection has operating layouts featuring over 1000 trains and colorful dioramas illustrating the role of the railroad during the Civil War. The museum is open daily but the hours vary with the time of year: June-August, 9 AM to 9 PM; April-May and September-October, 9 AM to 7 PM; March and November, 9 AM to 5 PM. The admission is $7.25 for adults, $3.50 for children (4-11), and children 3 and under are free. The time allowance is about one hour.
American Civil War Museum
If you continue walking southwest on Steinwehr Avenue (Emmitsburg Road, US-15), past the Soldiers' National Cemetery Annex, then a couple of blocks past Washington Street (Taneytown Road, MD-134), you will reach the American Civil War Museum at 297 Steinwehr Avenue. I believe it used to be called the wax museum. Their self-guided tour presents the history of the Civil War era and Battle of Gettysburg using life-sized dioramas. There is also a re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg in the digitally enhanced Battle Room exhibit, followed by an animated version of Abraham Lincoln?s Gettysburg Address.
Trostle Farm from #11 Plum Run Stop
The Trostle Farm and Plum Run were GEN Sickles established his headquarters in the yard of the house and waited for the arrival of GEN Meade. Sickles' advanced battle line stretched from the Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard, and then northward on the Emmitsburg Road, a very wide area to cover and Sickles barely had enough troops to do so. Once the Confederate attack had begun at 4 PM on July 2nd, Meade ordered Sickles to keep his troops where they were so that they could be reenforced. Sickles was mounted on his horse watching the battle when one of his legs was seriously wounded by a Confederate shell (he later lost the leg). Countless Union soldiers marching toward the sound of battle encountered the general on his stretcher, calmly smoking his cigar and saluting them with a wave of his hat as he was carried along the Baltimore Pike, an inspiring sight to those who about to go into battle. Although many thought GEN Sickles almost lost Gettysburg for the Union, he helped saved it in 1895 by introducing legislation establishing the Gettysburg National Military Park.
Plum Run was also the site of Bigelow's Stand. A narrow farm lane that ran east to west beside the Trostle buildings was used by Union artillery to reach positions near the Peach Orchard, and retreating artillerymen galloped their horses and guns back down the same lane to make their way toward Cemetery Ridge. Most of the Union batteries made it except for the rookie 9th Massachusetts Battery, commanded by CPT John Bigelow. Bigelow was ordered to hold until a new artillery line could be formed on Cemetery Ridge. The men unlimbered the guns, loaded, and grimly waited for the converging ranks of southerners to get closer. "The enemy approached over the knoll," Bigelow reported, "Waiting till they were breast high, my battery discharged... double-shotted canister and solid shot. Through the smoke [I] caught a glimpse of the enemy... torn and broken, but still advancing." Bigelow's gunners kept up a steady fire, keeping the Confederates at a respectful distance until orders to withdraw finally arrived. Quickly the men quickly limbered the guns. The first gun team rushed toward the single gate near the house and had almost made it through when a wheel caught one of the posts, upsetting the gun in the gateway and blocking it. They had to retreat without their cannons when the Confederate infantry reached them, but they had gained valuable time.
Looking Toward the Peach Orchard from Sickles Ave
On 2 Jul 1863, the Union line ran from the Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard, then angled northward on Emmitsburg Road. Federal cannon bombarded Confederate forces crossing the Rose Farm toward the Wheatfield until about 6:30 PM, when Confederate attacks overran this position. Today the peach orchard itself is on the same ground where part of the original orchard stood, which is the southeast corner of the intersection of Wheatfield Road with Emmitsburg Road. The orchard was much larger in 1863, the bulk extending northward of the Wheatfield Road in front of the Sherfy House. The Peach Orchard stop is #10 on the self-guided auto tour. From this location, to the west one can see the peach orchard and the observation tower by the Eisenhower Farm. To the northeast is the Pennsylvania Memorial. To the east is the 7th NJ Infantry Volunteers Memorial.
Steinwehr Gate to the Annex
You can see the Steinwehr Gate into the Gettysburg National Cemetery Annex from the porch of the Gettystown Inn B&B. Be aware that that gate is closed at dusk. The Annex opened in 1967 after the main cemetery reached capacity. The "Friend to Friend" Memorial is located in the Annex. It commemorates the estimated 15,000 Free Masons that fought on both sides at Gettysburg. It depicts wounded Confederate GEN Lewis A. Armistead placing his pocket watch in the hand of Union CPT Henry H. Bingham with instructions to deliver it back home to his family. The Soldiers National Monument and the New York State Monument are just up the hill.
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