Copy of Gettysburg National Military Park

In the summer of 1863, the farming community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, became the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. The fierce fighting left 51,000 casualties in its wake, turning farm fields into graveyards and churches into hospitals. The battlefield's first visitors were thousands of relatives searching for dead and wounded soldiers.

The preservation of the battlefield and the establishment of Gettysburg National Cemetery are a testament to the resolve of Gettysburg residents to not only rebuild their town but also to honor the fallen. Today, visitors who come to learn more about the battle can tour the battlefield and see more than 1,400 monuments and markers, or choose to walk with a ranger through Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Over the years, Gettysburg has continued to be a treasured and popular destination. As a result, the park has faced continuous threats from commercial development. At the end of the 19th century, developers built railroads and tourist facilities at the edge of sacred battlefield lands, but many of these inholdings were eventually sold to the government and removed.

The Park Service, with the help of a coalition of partners, recently completed an ambitious program to restore the battlefield grounds to the way they looked in 1863. Visitors can now understand how small features of the landscape, such as fences and orchards, played a large role in both the battle's outcome and the life and death of individual soldiers. Learn more about this major milestone for the park.

Read More in NPCA's Park Advocate Blog

Partners and Progress: Bringing 1863 Back to Life at Gettysburg

By Joy M. Oakes, Senior Director, Mid-Atlantic Region Twenty years ago, a 307-foot-high observation tower loomed over the historic battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Utility lines laced the sky, Civil War-era artillery carriages rusted in the fields, and the “Home, Sweet Home” motel welcomed overnight guests on the fields of Pickett’s Charge. Visitors crammed the park […]

Preserve Historic Station at Gettysburg

Gettysburg Train Station. Photo (c) Alan Spears/NPCAThe small train station was only about four years old when it was pressed into service during Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North in July 1863. The western terminus of the Gettysburg Railroad was first used as a field hospital, as so many places were while the battle raged nearby. Later, more than 15,000 wounded soldiers would be transported to care or home from this platform.

Sharing the “Real” Civil War

A sunset as seen from the Union position on Little Round Top, with a statue of Gen. Governeur Warren.Several years ago, Gettysburg National Military Park interpretive ranger and historian D. Scott Hartwig shared the following story. He was near the old Zeigler’s Grove visitors center when an English couple, spotting his Park Service uniform, stopped to ask a question. They had toured the battlefield, visited nearly every monument and statue, and seen the […]

Today’s Cuts Mean Wide-Ranging Impacts for Parks—and People—around the Country

Blue Ridge ParkwayBy now, I’m sure you know just how serious the situation is for our national parks due to the sequester cuts which will go into effect later today. It’s alarming that this very avoidable threat is about to become a reality. From Yellowstone to Cape Cod, the Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains, our national heritage and […]

Don’t Just See the Movie! Honor Lincoln’s Memory by Helping to Preserve More of Gettysburg

Lincoln MemorialToday is the 149th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Abraham Lincoln’s short but masterful affirmation of freedom and human equality still endures as one of the most famous and moving speeches in all of American history. It’s no wonder our 16th president continues to capture our imagination. Like millions of people around the country, […]
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