When you are so close to Gettysburg, a trip to the battle fields is a must. We had a chat with Cindy while doing the laundry and were telling her where we were headed the following day. And as we are discovering that everyone is so nice and helpful, she handed us a CD and book so we could tour the battlefields ourselves.

Early in the morning (or early for us) on the 156th anniversary of the start of the battle, we headed off down to Gettysburg, for another trip down into the history of the USA. The battle at Gettysburg is something I have heard about and I know it was where the Americans’ say their country really began but I really did not know much more than that.

We began our tour at the Visitors Centre / Museum and took in the film “A New Birth Of Freedom” which outlined the history behind the Civil War, followed by a viewing of the Gettysburg Cyclorama. This was painted in 1883 an is an incredible oil painting that depictes the final day, giving a chilling representation of that horrific battle. The Cyclorama is 377 feet long and 42 feet high and took just over a year to paint. Both TOH and I were left in total amazement and feeling quite ill at the thought of the over 50,000 that were killed, wounded or went missing over the 3 days of fighting.

We spent a further hour or so wandering around the Museum, looking at artefacts that after what we had just seen, became alive to us and made me aware even more of the horrors of wars, and in particular the hand to hand warfare of the 1860’s.

It was a relief in some ways to walk out of the centre into the sunshine, heat and humidity, away from the horrors of war.
Back to Henry and with the CD on, map and book in hand, we headed of on our tour of the battlefields.

The battle was fought over something like 23 square miles over 3 days (1st , 2nd and 3rd July 1863). The tour took us from McPherson Ridge where it all began and where the only Officer in the Union Army was killed, up past the Eternal Light Peace Memorial which was erected in 1913 (which was unveiled by 2 veterans of the war, one Union and one Confederate), along West Confederation Ave past numerous memorials to all the military units from both sides that fought, on up to Little Round Top which looked down on the Devils Den and The Slaughter Pen (no description needed for how this got its name), past the Peach Orchard (an idyllic field now, but not back then) then up to the incredibly beautiful Pennsylvania Memorial and finally the High Water Mark where it all ended with the Union beating the Confederates and the turning point for the Civil War (which actually went on for another 2 years).

One of the things that go to me, were the houses and farms that were in the middle of this battle (some still srranding). What those people must have gone through. Also the stories of friends and brother fighting on differnt sides meeting on the battle field. So so sad.

The areas we toured around were quite beautiful and peaceful. Such a far cry from 156 years earlier. But I must admit that there were so many memorials that towards the end the memorials did all start looking the same. But this doesn’t take anything away from what happened here and the importance of the Gettysburg battle to the birth of this nation.

For more photos click the link below:

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