Friday night I had a nice girls’ night with some old and new friends in the area. It was nice to get out and hang out with friends and not sitting around moping in my apartment.
Other than those Friday night plans, my weekend was all clear. So my mom decided on a day trip for us. To Gettysburg. We’ve had gorgeous weather for January, and this weekend was no different. It was almost 60 degrees when we went, but it was super windy. I’m sure it’s perfect in the spring or fall. But for January, it was amazing.
I’m a history buff, even if it’s more focused on ancient history. But to be able to see a battlefield from the Civil War up close was so interesting. To look across the ridges and fields and just know that there were lines of men fighting a much different war than I did was a different experience. I could put myself in their shoes and imagine what it must have felt like to fight a war like that. I would recommend a trip to anyone on the east coast. It was only a two hour trip (with traffic) from Alexandria.
We started out at the visitors center and museum. This time we didn’t hit the museum, but we plan on going back a couple times for different trips. The museum and center are new and built in 2008. I’m interested in what’s in the museum, but that’s for another weekend.
We ended up meeting up with a couple that my mom knows (and who are a lot of fun like us). There are options for bus and private tours, but we opted for the self-guided auto tour. You get a map and follow the directions. You can stop where ever you want for how long you want, or skip sites (which we did – it was way too windy to climb up a tower, even if the view was great).
So we drove around and stopped at the three points of interest from the first day of the battle. We stopped at McPherson Ridge first, where, at 8 am on July 1st, it started. From there, you could look across the fields and get an idea of what the soldiers saw on that day. The seminary across the field was there during the battle. The ridge was dotted with memorials to different units and states that fought in the battle, as well as different generals.
The Eternal Light of Peace Memorial was the next stop. It was the sight of a huge and bloody fight. Years later, the veterans from both sides returned to dedicate a memorial for peace. There’s an eternal flame on the top of the memorial and the site overlooks a large part of the battlegrounds.
There were some memorials that were more interesting than the others. This was the most interesting one we saw.
Our last stop of the day (after a delicious old-fashioned lunch) was at the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and the dedicated cemetery. The speech actually took place about 300 yards away, but this is the memorial.
The cemetery itself was beautiful with the wreathes placed at each of the stones. The lighting was perfect too.
It was also a great place to get a little artistic (I’m not naturally artistic at all!). The cemetery we could walk around was separate from an older and probably still-in-use cemetery by a beautiful wrought iron fence. There were cannons everywhere.
There was also a dedication to the unknown soldiers from the battle. The poem marked the graves of the unknown. There were also smaller stones for those from different states, even from Wisconsin and Illinois.
Overall, I would definitely recommend a visit to Gettysburg. It was a gorgeous and historically relevant site that everyone should see once.
And some more pictures from the trip 🙂