After 20 Years...Finally Gettysburg
Jun 21, 2011
|On Monday morning, June 13th, we pulled out of Hickory Hollow Campground on our way to Gettysburg, PA. New friends, Jean and Ron, came over to bid us safe travels and sent us off with hugs and handshakes. We hope to see them down the road.
Twenty years ago we passed through Gettysburg while traveling with my parents on a trip to Maine. Tom and I both wanted to stop in Gettysburg. My Daddy, with both hands on the steering wheel and his foot on the gas pedal announced, "There is nothing here." and kept driving. We waited 20 years to see Gettysburg.
We had an uneventful day of travel. However, after checking with AAA, we took their recommendations not to travel Highway 30 to Gettysburg. We headed south to Maryland and traveled I-68 East to I-81 which we traveled North to Gettysburg. It was a pretty drive over good roads.
When we were at Parker's Crossroads Campground in Yuma, TN, the work camper couple recommended Artillery Ridge Campground to us. We found it to be an Escapees 50% off park as well as a Passport American Park. We had a nice site for $25.00 a night. We had planned a 3 night stay.
On Tuesday we headed a 1/2 mile down the road to the new Visitors Center for the Gettysburg National Battlefield. There is not a parking lot near the building....about a 10 minute walk for us. This visitors center is not operated by the National Park Service but by a commercial company. It is obvious from the time you enter that it is a commercial enterprise. Everything cost! So we got in line a bought our tickets to see the Film and Cyclorama and our fare for the bus ride to the Eisenhower Farm. We took time to enjoy actually very good sandwiches in the food court. We visited the bookstore until the time for our film. The film was narrated by Morgan Freeman, he does lots of the National Park films. The film was very interesting and covered the 3 day battle at Gettysburg. After the film you take a lonnnnnnnnng escalator to the circular room that houses the cyclorama. The cyclorama is an oil painting in the round of the last battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, Picketts Charge. The cyclorama was recently restored and moved to its current location in 2008. While we enjoyed the narration and the cyclorama, after visiting the battlefield, we would like to visit the cyclorama again. We now better understand the battle and we think the painting would be better understood after visiting the battlefield.
Next on our list was a visit to Ike and Mamie Eisenhower's Gettysburg Farm. No cars allowed on the farm per the Eisenhower's wishes. The only way to see the farm is via shuttle bus. This was the only home the Eisenhower's owned. It was purchased in 1948. After restoration it became their home and the weekend White House during his terms as president. The barn was painted green because Mamie thought it went better with the house. The house was a typical 1950's home of someone important. 99% of what is in the house is original to the house. Ike raised and showed Black Angus cattle on his farm. There was a putting green in the backyard.
The farm is adjacent to Gettysburg Battlefield. From the farm you can see a viewing tower on the battlefield. During Eisenhower's presidency the secret service wanted the tower closed but Ike said "No, it belonged to the people." One day one of the secret service men went up the tower and took a picture of Ike putting on the putting green. He put a "X" on Ike's hat, placed the picture on Ike's desk. A few days later Ike told the secret service he thought the tower should be closed!
We returned to the visitors center and visited the bookstore. It was a mad house and the worse place I have ever seen to get your Passport Stamp. This was a long day and we were glad to return home.
Wednesday morning we headed to the battlefield with map in hand. We first visited the Union side of the field starting at the largest monument at Gettysburg....the Pennsylvania monument. From here, Cemetery Ridge, you can see across the battlefield to Seminary Ridge, the Confederate Line. There are lots of markers that tell of the battle and monuments placed by various states. We next sought the way to the Confederate side of the battlefield. We stopped in downtown Gettysburg for a very good lunch at The Pub and then visited a local bookstore that had lots of books on the Civil War. The owner was from Marietta, GA. The world is indeed small. He gave us directions to the Confederate Line. On Seminary Ridge you could look across the battlefield to the Union Line. We stood near a personal tour guide and really learned a lot about the battle. On July 1 & 2, 1863, Lee's Army of Northern Virgina had pushed the Union forces back and he thought their Army weaken. On the morning of July 3, 1863, the cannon bombardment ensued for hours. With the field covered in smoke from the cannon fire and thinking that the Union Army was out of ammo and thinking that JEB Stuart's troops had the Union troops trapped from the rear, Lee ordered his troops to begin their march across the field towards the Union Line. Lee miscalculated. The smoke was blown away, the Union Army was not weaken and they opened fire on the unprotected Confederate troops, and JEB Struat's calvary was not where it was suppose to be. The results disastrousrous for the Confederates. We continued our drive around the battlefield.
We had planned only two days in Gettysburg and a month might not be enough. While our initial visit took this off our "Bucket List" we hope to return and spend more time.....and hire our own personal guide.