The Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point in the American Civil War and a huge victory for the abolishment of slavery in America. The eventual end to the civil war meant the continuation of the Union, allowed the implementation of the 13th amendment and secured the freedom of millions of African Americans.
In June 1963, Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee marched into Pennsylvania and the Union Army of Potomac forces, led by Major General George G. Meade were in pursuit trying to protect the north. On the 1st July 1963, the Confederates engaged Union forces on McPherson Ridge and there began the battle of Gettysburg.
Today, there is a fantastic museum in Gettysburg covering the entire ordeal. A cinematic narrated by Morgan Freeman kicks things off followed by a fairly unique display in the Cyclorama upstairs. The Cyclorama is a 130 year old painting depicting “Pickett’s Charge” the pivotal point in the battle. A light show illuminates the circular painting which is a whopping 13m tall and 115m round.
Around the museum there are many striking quotes from both Confederate and Union supporters. It’s quite scary to see how some of the Confederates talked about their “property” and their right to perpetuate slavery so emphatically. You really have to wonder what sort of person could believe those things are right and morale…
If you have a car you can take a tour around the key battlefield locations and monuments. You can go to The Little Round Top that was held by Colonel Vincent to save the Union’s left flank. You can also see the sombre slaughter fields like The Wheatfield and The Peach Orchard where thousands perished during three days of battle.
The Virginia Memorial sits to the west of the last Confederate assault known as “Pickett’s Charge” occurred on the 3rd July 1963. Here the Confederates were sorely beaten and the battle tipped in favour of the Union.
In three days of fighting, there were over 50,000 casualties and several thousand of these are buried at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.
After the fighting, at the cemetery’s dedication on the 19th November 1963, President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. It’s considered one of the best speeches in American History.
The museum showed a copy of the 13th amendment. It was probably the first time I really paid close attention reading one of these historical documents in a museum. The jist of it was obvious, but I really wanted to see how it was worded.
I wouldn’t say I’m a person who is particularly interested in American history, but I was intrigued to learn more about Lincoln and those who fought for the rights of African Americans.
The National Museum of American History on National Mall in DC really didn’t deliver any of that for me, but the Gettysburg Museum covered a lot of what I wanted to know well and thoroughly covered the battle as well.