Civil War
Things to See & Do in Pennsylvania
Gettysburg National Military Park
Located 50 miles northwest of Baltimore, the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of the largest battle ever waged during the American Civil War. Fought in the first three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg resulted in a hallmark victory for the Union "Army of the Potomac" and successfully ended the second invasion of the North by General Robert E. Lee's "Army of Northern Virginia". Historians have referred to the battle as a major turning point in the war, the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy". It was also the bloodiest single battle of the war, resulting in over 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured or missing. The Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg was dedicated on November 19, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address. The cemetery contains more than 7,000 interments including over 3,500 from the Civil War. Post-battle efforts preserved small portions of the battlefield as a memorial to the Union victory. On February 11, 1895, congressional legislation was signed to establish Gettysburg National Military Park as a memorial dedicated to the armies that fought this great battle. Gettysburg National Military Park incorporates nearly 6,000 acres, with 26 miles of park roads and over 1,400 monuments, markers, and memorials.
Gettysburg National Cemetery
To properly bury the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, a "Soldiers Cemetery" was established on the battleground near the center of the Union line. Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin supported the proposal with state funds to purchase the cemetery grounds and pay for the reinterment of Union dead from inadequate grave sites that covered the battlefield. It was here during the dedication ceremony on November 19, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln spoke of "these honored dead..." and renewed the Union cause to reunite the war-torn nation with his most famous speech, the "Gettysburg Address". The cemetery was landscaped by William Saunders, founder of the National Grange. The Cemetery was completed by 1872, and turned over to the care of the Federal government. In 1933 responsibility of the cemetery was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service. Today, the Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for American veterans from all of this country's major wars and conflicts. It is closed to new burials. The cemetery is also the site of numerous monuments and memorials including the "Friend to Friend" Memorial in the National Cemetery Annex.
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