Monday, August 9, 2010

My World - Gettysburg revisited

Last Friday the grandsons and I made another visit to Gettysburg National Military Park. We have been to Gettysburg several times in the past, but this is the first time since the new Visitor's Center opened in 2008. The new center is south of the National cemetery with access from both Taneytown Rd (Rt 134) and Baltimore Pike (Rt 97). The center includes visitor information, the museum, the cyclorama, bookstore, food services and is the starting point for guided tours of the park. The new building is more attractive and roomy than the old Visitor's Center. There is also a lot more parking than before. The National Park Service web site for Gettysburg contains a wealth of information.

Abe Lincoln and his hat are prominently featured through out the building. Here Chris gets his picture taken with him. The Visitor Center, Cemetery and battlefield are free. Access to the museum and cyclorama are about $10. The fee includes a 22-minute movie about the Battle of Gettysburg. Guided bus tours cost more.

After the movie we ascended the stairs to the platform in center of the Cyclorama. Cycloramas were 360-degree paintings where the viewer stood in the center. They were popular in the 1800's though few remain today.

The "Battle of Gettysburg" depicts the charge toward Union lines by Pickett's infantry on July 3, 1863. The Union victory on that day was the turning point, but not the end, of the US Civil War. Lee's army retreated and more battles were fought. Sherman's army stormed across the south. The war ended at Appomattox, VA in April, 1865. Paul Philippoteaux and his staff of 20 artists painted the cyclorama in 1883 - 1884. It is 377 feet around and 42 feet high. It was first on display in other US cities and later permanently displayed in Gettysburg. In 2003 a conservation effort began in preparation for moving the painting to the new Visitor Center. The new display includes light and sound effects. Along with the narration of the events of the battle, sounds of the guns are heard and portions of the painting are lighted. (Note: non-flash photography is allowed).

At the entrance to the museum are displays of confederate and union uniforms. There also were 3 people in 1860's period dress roaming the Visitor Center. The museum displays weapons, artifacts, documents and events of the period. There are also several video displays providing information. One section has typical camp settings for soldiers of that time period.

The US Civil War was the first to be photographed. Historical photographs are included in many of the displays. The photographs of the battlefields and wounded that were published in papers back home gave everyone a sense of the horrors of war. The National Archives and the Center for Civil War Photography are two online resources for Civil War images.

Note: This post is one in a series of posts I am doing this week on Gettysburg. "Extra" editions of "My World" will appear with Gettysburg images, as well as on my other memes.


Sylvia K said...

What a marvelous post, Lew! Love your photos and they do give one the sense of history. Look forward to more! Enjoy your week!


LadyFi said...

What a fascinating look at history!

EG Wow said...

I visited Gettysburg many years ago and even then I felt moved by what I saw. But I think is must be even better now.

Ann said...

What a great Grand Dad you are. You instill a sense of pride and history in them.