Gettysburg is a borough in south central Pennsylvania, ten miles north of the Maryland border. In 1863, two armies of 170,000 men converged on this farming town, home to 2,400 citizens. To see how downtown Gettysburg was swallowed by three days of fighting, click here to view a battle map by the American Battlefield Trust. Or to read Civil War Cycling’s dense but detailed study notes for Day 1 Gettysburg, click here and look under the Detailed Summary for “Union Retreat Through Town.”
The following photos showcase a sampling of historic buildings in downtown Gettysburg today.
Lincoln Square is actually a circle, but this central hub of downtowtn Gettysburg was “the Diamond” in 1863. Named for President Abraham Lincoln, the president stayed at the David Wills house (on the Diamond) the night before he delivered The Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.
Christmas lights adorn Lincoln Square square in December:
Next, we see an eerily empty view of Baltimore Street, which connects to Lincoln Square up ahead. Although parked cars usually line Baltimore Street, this street in downtown Gettysburg clears out for parades and festivals.
Farther north on Baltimore Street is Square is High Street, one of a small number of east-west roads that intersect main roads into Lincoln Square. Note the bicycles near High Street in the following photo. Due to sometimes dense pedestrian traffic, the borough requires that you walk your bicycle while on the sidewalk.
Downtown Gettysburg is a walking town. In the following photo, we see the intersection of Lefever Street and Baltimore Street, currently home to Mr. G’s Ice Cream. Across the road (on the photo’s left, not visible) is Unity Park, which was dedicated on July 5, 2015, and designed by Eagle Scout, Andrew Adam.
Some Civil War Places
Unity Park is a relatively new addition to the downtown Gettysburg scene. In addition to offering a place to sit, the park offers visitors an opportunity to learn a little bit about the role of musicians in the U.S. Civil War. The drummer boy statue that stands in the center is the work of sculptor Gary Casteel, and surrounding that is thirty-six bushes that represent the thirty-six states in the Union by 1865.
Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade was the only civilian known to have been killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Historic plaques at 242 Baltimore Street mark the home of her birth. For the broader story, you might enjoy this Civil War Cycling blog post, “Caught in the Cross-fire—Remembering Jennie Wade.”
Notably, not every Gettysburg monument falls under the management of the National Park Service. For example, in the next photo you see the Culp Brothers Memorial on Steinwehr Avenue. Gettysburg native and Confederate Pvt. John “Wesley” Culp attacked his hometown in July, 1863. He had moved to Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia) before the U.S. Civil War, and later fought in Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. On the other hand, William Culp first enlisted with the 2nd Pennsylvania (and later the 87th) infantry. William did not fight at Gettysburg. For an interesting article that connects Jennie Wade to the Culps brothers, please see “Brother vs. Brother, Friend against Friend: A Story of Family, Friendship, Love, and War,” by Jay Bellamy.
And finally, the next photo shows a view of modern-day Gettysburg College as seen from Oak Hill Observation Tower. The Lutheran Seminary, nestled on the western edge of today’s college, functioned as a field hospital during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.
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