Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 2 and 3: Gettysburg

After our busy day sightseeing in Philadelphia, we headed to Shawn and Lori's house to have dinner, pack and head to Gettysburg. This was one place I have always wanted to see, and I was so glad that the Thomas family wanted to take us! It's about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive, so we headed out Friday night and spent the night in Gettysburg. That way we were ready for all the touring of the battlefields early Saturday morning.
When you first get to the National Park, you watch a movie which gives background information on the battle. It was truly a turning point in the Civil War with great casualties both for the North and the South. The battles were fought over a 3 day period, July 1-3, 1863. During the summer months, it gets very humid and I can't imagine marching for miles in wool uniforms in that heat. Gettysburg is such a nice, quaint town, and it was forever changed after the battles. After the movie, you could tour the museum which had tons of artifacts from the battles. We spent about a few hours there looking at everything. Here are some of the pictures from the museum. It is just an amazing place and so hard to explain in just a few photos.
All the kids in front of a real Union soldier's uniform.
This would be a typical tent for an enlisted Union soldier. It really was just a piece of canvas held up by a pole, pretty sparse living conditions.
After we toured the museum, we took a break for lunch before we began our car tour of the battlefields. We ate at the Dobbin House Tavern which is one of the oldest buildings in Gettysburg and stands today much the same as it did 200 years ago. In the middle 1800s, it was used as a hiding place for runaway slaves. The food was great, and the atmosphere was incredible.
The Thomas Family enjoying lunch. They are the greatest friends and hosts. They took us everywhere and we had the best time sightseeing with them. Thanks you guys for a wonderful three days; we love and miss you!
After lunch, it was time to tour the battlefields. There are many ways to see them; you can walk, bike, or ride in your car. Lori had a CD that would tell you where to drive and then it would tell you about that particular battlefield. It was a rainy day and so it was nice to be in the car all dry and warm. We did get out periodically and take pictures and think about what took place there. It was a very sobering experience.
I had no idea the battlefield was so huge; it seemed like just acres and acres of land. It was such a gloomy day that you could just imagine the thousands of young soldiers marching across the fields. Since it is a national park and on the historic register, they have tried to preserve it just as it was in 1863.
Lots of roads that just seemed to lead to open fields.
Abby and Ben in front of a cannon. As we drove, there were many of these along the road.
Periodically there were observation towers which gave you a good view of the vastness and size of the battlefields. We had to hike up a ton of steps; I didn't know Ab was afraid of heights until we got to the top. The wind was blowing really hard and she could not wait to get down. She was a good sport to stick around long enough for the picture.
Ben in front of Devil's Den; some of the most bloody fighting was done here. Some of the most graphic photos of the battle were taken among these rocks. The Wheatfields. Another bloody battle took place here. Soldiers could walk across the fields and not touch the ground because there were so many bodies. It just made me so sad to think of so many young men lying dead here.
There are monuments for all the states who fought at Gettysburg. This is Pennsylvania's monument.
A copy of the Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Such a magnificent speech and only 10 sentences in length. Before Lincoln spoke, another man spoke who was known as a great orator, and he spoke for over 2 hours. Humble Lincoln gave his speech and that is the one we remember.
Approximate location of Lincoln's speech. I thought he gave it right after the battle, but it wasn't until a few months later, November of 1863.The entrance to the cemetary. It was a great day to be able to walk where one of the most horrific battles took place. It's a place not to be missed. After we were done with Gettysburg, we headed back home.
On Sunday, we went to church with the family. Ben and Abby loved the ward; the kids were so friendly and welcoming to them. We are certainly spoiled having a church within walking distance; Shawn and Lori drive about 30 minutes or so to get to church. I meant to get a picture of the kids all ready for church, but forgot.
After church we came home and just relaxed. Shawn cooked a great dinner on the grill and the kids enjoyed just hanging out. Here the kids are playing Uno and having a great time.
After dinner, Lori drove us around their town. What a beautiful town! We found the oldest tree in their town; it was there when William Penn settled Pennsylvania in the late 1600s. It was one old, huge tree which Ben really wanted to climb.
After our drive, it was time to head back and pack and get some rest before the drive to D.C. on Monday to meet Brian. Thanks Lori, Shawn and kids for a great weekend. Can we come back again soon?


  1. I am so jealous! A trip to historical sights back East will be our next big family vacation. We went to Valley Forge last year before heading to Cooperstown and I loved all the history! Can't wait for the D.C. post.

  2. Oh my gosh, I LOVED Gettysburg. One of my favorite places back there. Looks like you guys had a blast!