I visited Gettysburg National Battlefield in February 2013, when I was stationed in Maryland for a few months. Gettysburg was one of the first trips I took, and I credit that trip for being the catalyst that got me out of town and traveling around pretty much every weekend thereafter.
It’s a relatively short drive from where I was staying to Gettysburg. I had never been there, but it was one of the things that I had earmarked ahead of my trip as something I’d like to see. I had been to Pennsylvania before, but never to the battlefield. Assuming I might not be there again anytime soon, I made the trip pretty early on.
Despite the cold and blustery temperatures, I loaded up the car with my Leica M6 and my Hasselblad 501CM and headed north. The park was relatively full, with people visiting the various points of the battlefield in a steady stream virtually the entire time I was there. Entrance was free since I had an annual national parks pass (bonus!) and that park was far larger than I had anticipated. Expecting to walk from place to place, I found instead that the scale of the battlefield necessitated driving around. The park was clearly marked, and the map I picked up at the front gate was helpful in navigating the series of one-way streets between stops.
All of the major parts of the park were landmarks that I visited, and there were memorials and monuments all over to the various participants in the battle almost a century-and-a-half ago. Statues, gravestones, markers, and signs littered the landscape as I made my way around. I climbed Big and Little Round Top, walked through Devil’s Den, climbed the memorial to the Pennsylvanian participants, and hiked the Peach Orchard (among other stops).
It’s not the most photogenic place, especially in the overcast winter light that I had on the day. It’s basically just an empty field with markers denoting the events of the days in early July, 1863.
Having been incredibly interested in the American Civil War as a teenager, it was cool to finally see some of thing places that I had read so much about, but the day consisted largely of driving around the battlefield, stopping and getting out, shooting a few frames, and then warming up in the car again on the way to the next place.
As I said earlier, the visit to Gettysburg prompted me to get out more while I was in Maryland. For that, I’m happy. I enjoyed other Civil War sites that I saw later more than this one, but Gettysburg is a pretty big deal in the pantheon of US historical sites. I’ll post more about the others I visited when I have a chance, so stay tuned for that.
If you want to see more shots of the day I spent at Gettysburg, you can find those here.
Until next time,