Battle of Gettysburg: 150 Year Anniversary

Fences bordering the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Fences bordering the Gettysburg Battlefield.

2013 is the 150-year anniversary of the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.    Located in Pennsylvania, the Gettysburg National Military Park is a good stopping off point for anyone travelling through the eastern U.S.  You won’t be sorry.  We packed in some serious history in an overnight and half-day visit on our way to New York.

After a long day of driving we arrived in Gettysburg. I wanted to stay in a historic property to make it even more meaningful, so we lodged at The Brickhouse Inn* (1898 and 1830, are the dates of the two adjacent houses that make up the Inn; we stayed in the 1898 main house). Having been forewarned our room (appropriately named “New York”) was on the third floor (with no elevator) we were prepared with a small overnight bag. The Inn was lovely and very comfortable.  For those like us, on a quick time schedule, we had read a personally guided tour would be ideal and we booked a guide through the Inn manager.

After a day in the car, we wanted to stretch our legs, so we took a quick walk through the charming, historic town and explored up and down the streets. Historic markers are well-placed and easy to follow. Good news for my husband, pretty much all the stores were closed.

The Inn manager suggested for dinner we try the nearby Dobbin House Tavern, built-in 1776. We ate by candlelight in the cozy basement. We honestly felt transported back a few centuries – the atmosphere was lively and with tables tightly packed together, we soon found ourselves chatting with our neighboring diners.  Food was just OK (I had crab cakes), but the atmosphere was definitely worth the effort. This building also served as a “station” on the famous “Underground Railroad”.  There is also a more upscale restaurant, not in the basement, on the property.  We hit Kilwin’s for ice cream on the way back to the Inn.

Breakfast at the Inn, on the outside terrace, was delightful and delicious, a great way to start the busy day.   This morning at 9 a.m. our guide met us at the Inn for our private tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park. Guides go with you in your car.  Our battlefield guide was a moolighting high school history teacher. The three-hour tour followed the three days of the battle, as well as pointing out all the monuments to the various state and local groups that fought. He really put the drama of the battle in perspective, but it was still hard to imagine the horror that took place in this now peaceful and tranquil area of rural Pennsylvania. He must’ve picked up on my Southern origins, as well as my husband’s Yankee background, and I felt like he did a good job explaining the battle from both Union and Confederate perspectives. We learned a lot, and realize every American should see this important historical site.  What took us so long?

*Due to the anniversary celebrations, accommodations in the area are hard to come by for summer 2013 – so be sure to make arrangements in advance.  If you do schedule a private tour you should plan to tip the guide.

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