LOCATION: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
This post is part of my Gettysburg Trip Series. This is the beginning of the series.
I’m not into history, so the thought of going to Gettysburg never really intrigued me. However, when Troy and my Dad suggested attending the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, my interested peaked at the opportunity for an experience worth having. The Battle of Gettysburg is one of the largest in the Civil War. Fighting took place July 1-3 in 1863. The 150th anniversary would be celebrated by four days of battle reenactments and historical talks. Hotels in the area sold out a year in advanced so this was obviously huge.
We arrived on the 3rd day so we could see some battles. Upon arriving to the visitor center via shuttle, we heard that the tickets to the reenactments were sold out for the day. We had no idea that tickets were even needed since it wasn’t posted directly on the website. Luckily a few shops in downtown were selling 2 day passes. We proceeded to wait 45 minutes just to take a bus to downtown. After securing our tickets, (thanksfully) we had to find another shuttle to take us to the battlefield. THREE shuttles later, we finally made it. The battle reenactments were fought on an empty field and not the actual grounds that the Civil War had taken place at. While waiting for the battle to begin, they had educational tents, book signings, and various merchandise to purchase. Further back were the reenactment camp sites where they portrayed the life of soldiers and women during that time. Everyone was in period dress and uniform and performed their roles well.
Being 90 degrees and humid, I have no idea how they managed to survive the heat. I had been out in it for several hours by now and was already sick from dehydration and heat exhaustion. You were also allowed to talk to the people in the camp. There were actors from all over the world participating and they had to pay their own way to take part in the ceremony. It seems odd to me that Gettysburg makes money off an event that tourists want to see reenactments at, yet charge the actor to be in the reenactment. Doesn’t seem right.
After walking around a few hours we were all a little disappointed with how everything was set up. We expected more activities and historical tents and definitely a foolproof transportation system to the event. However, we were able to see our reenacted battle, which was the sole reason for coming. You can read about that experience HERE.
After a disappointing first day out at the battlefield, we decided to end our day on a high note…at a local brewery! We went to Appalachian Brewing Company.
There, they had various craft beers on tap and gourmet burgers. I tried the Purist Pale Ale and enjoyed it. Troy got a tasting variety pack and there were many great choices there. I highly recommend this place for beer and great food in the Gettysburg area.
Day two definitely proved to be much better than day one, mainly because we actually knew what we were doing and how to get there. We did the auto tour of Gettysburg. Along the tour, it took us into the National Park and onto the actual battle grounds. There were many monuments and memorials that gave remembrance to the events at each spot.
There were also canons propped up everywhere along the vast amount of fields. It was pretty hard to believe that soldiers crossed all these fields to get to the battle spot. How did they ever have the energy in all those heavy clothes in July?
One of my favorite locations was at the top of a hill called Little Round Top. Here, in 1863, is where Col. Chamberlain led his Union troops to fight off the Confederate Army.
It was a pretty big hill so fighting here must have been difficult. After completing the auto tour, we went to a local winery for wine tasting. The Adams County Farm Winery has a shop in downtown Gettysburg but we decided to head to the main winery right outside the town for our tastings. I thought we would get to see some of the wine grapes and parts of the winery, but sadly there wasn’t much to see.
Tastings were free and we were able to pick six choices of our own. All of their reds were fantastic and they had some commemorative 150th anniversary wine blends that were pretty good. I thought this winery was great, except the lack of ambiance for actually going TO the winery instead of the shop.
After wine tasting, we headed back into town to explore some of the shops. The downtown area has rows and rows of shopping and seemed like an interesting small town. You could get all kinds of civil war souvenirs and a lot of people walked around in Union hats. After a brief moment there, we headed back to the fields to see our second battle, and last one of the series.
Later that night, we went on a ghost hunting tour. Gettysburg is filled with all kinds of ghost stories and paranormal activity. You can read about my ghost hunting experience HERE. It’s pretty creepy to say the least!
Overall, Gettysburg is great for History enthusiasts. For me, it was ok. I’m glad I was able to experience parts of the 150th anniversary. It was an opportunity not to miss.
*Thanks Troy and Dad for accompanying me on this adventure.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? I think it is important to see everything there and I enjoyed the reenactments, but I don’t think I need to do it again.
HOW TO DO THIS:
Gettysburg info: http://www.gettysburg.travel
Reenactment info: http://www.gettysburgreenactment.com
Appalachian Brewing Company: http://www.abcbrew.com/brewpubs/gettysburg
Adams CountyFarm Winery: http://www.adamscountywinery.com