Gettysburg Travel Review


View of the battlefield at Gettysburg

Nicholas Scoggins, Staff Reporter

Over the Columbus Day weekend, I went with my mother and her boyfriend Troy to the town of Gettysburg. It was an incredible experience.

It did not start out well, our flight was to Baltimore (since Gettysburg is a rural town), however Southwest Airlines screwed up my boarding pass and we missed our flight. We had to spend six hours in the airport waiting for a second flight. After the grueling ordeal, we finally arrived at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and got our car. It was about a two hour drive through Maryland and Pennsylvania. One of the things that struck me was that Pennsylvania was mountainous. As we approached the border we saw the outlines of the Blue Ridge mountains against the sunset. I later learned that General Lee used these mountains to shield the advance of his army. We finally met with Troy at a hunting cabin where we stayed.

To keep in period fashion, Troy (who is ex-navy) blasted reveille while I was trying to sleep. We went into town to get breakfast. One awesome detail is that the town has preserved many of its historic buildings from the battle, one was still riddled with musket holes. We ate at the historic Gettysburg Hotel (part of which was present during the battle) and then hit the antique shops.  One issue is that much of the stuff for sale is overpriced, for the town is a shrine for Civil War enthusiasts. Nevertheless, we found a good one called Gettysburg Antique Center. They had antiques not only from Civil War, but also the World Wars. I bought a M1910 canteen for the WWI reenacting impression I am putting together and we left for the actual battlefield. If you have been paying attention to the news lately, you’ll know that many Confederate monuments have been torn down recently. However here they are left up and untouched. There were also numerous memorials to Union troops. The largest monument was erected by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, honoring all Union forces who fought during the three day battle. This was all, of course, on the battlefield itself, which does not fail to impress.  

The battlefield is sort of a rectangular shape with the town itself on the far left and Big Round Top Hill at the far right. We drove through the treeline that Confederate forces massed to launch an assault on Union positions. There were numerous reproduction cannons and memorials marking where Southern units began to assemble. We also saw a farm actually present at the battle as well as the ranch where President Eisenhower retired. The next major point was the so-called High Water mark of the Confederacy, here there was a marker marking the furthest North that Confederate forces reached during the battle. Besides its historic significance, we were also awed by the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge mountains in the background. We reached the so called “Devil’s Den,” a mass of cracking rocks that changed hands multiple times during the battle. This was within walking distance of Little Round Top. Here the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment fought off several attempts by Southern troops to seize the hill.

We had seen a lot on our first day and went to Taco Bell for dinner. Afterwards, I crashed at our cabin, ironically we passed by a still active National Guard armory in what is considered a major military site.

The next day we took pretty easy, we ate lunch, and I went to grab some items at a military surplus shop. Afterwards, my mom and I bid farewell to Troy and we drove to Baltimore for the next leg of our journey.

So as for my thoughts, I loved Gettysburg. I think it is amazing that they have managed to preserve the towns appearance to be similar to that of when it was during the battle. It has excellent food, nice antique stores and good lodging. Also the battlefield was impressive, not much has been built on it, so it looks very similar to when the battle took place. Also the nature around the place was amazing. The area is heavily wooded and the mountains in the background complete the picture. In addition the weather was pretty nice.