This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the three-day battle that turned the tide of the Civil War. The largest battle ever waged in the Western Hemisphere was fought near the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863 and ended on July 3, 1863 with the climactic “Pickett’s Charge.”
More than 150,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were drawn into the battle. By the time it was over, there were approximately 50,000 casualties and 15,500 deaths – 7,000 for the north and 8,500 for the south – making it the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg was a major turning point in the War Between the States.
Post-battle preservation efforts at first saved small portions of the Gettysburg battlefield as a memorial to the Union victory. Then on February 11, 1895, congressional legislation was signed to establish Gettysburg National Military Park as a memorial dedicated to each of the armies that fought the three day battle.
Whether or not you can travel to Gettysburg in person, the following resources will enrich your knowledge of this significant battle in our nation’s history.
http://www.army.mil/gettysburg/flash.html – A narrated battlescape sets the stage for this interactive multimedia presentation recounting the American Civil War’s pivotal battle, from the U.S. Army Center of Military History.
http://www.civilwar.org/education/teachers/curriculum – Civil War Resources and Lesson Plans for Teachers.
http://www.civilwar.org/education/students – Civil War Resources and Activities for Kids.
http://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm – Gettysburg National Military Park incorporates nearly 6,000 acres, with 26 miles of park roads and over 1,400 monuments, markers, and memorials. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg contains more than 7,000 interments including over 3,500 from the Civil War. It was here that President Abraham Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address.
http://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/150th-anniversary-index.htm – The Gettysburg National Military Park’s 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg 2013 index page.
http://www.civilwar.org/battleapps – A series of Civil War Battle App guides can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Google Play. These GPS-enabled Civil War Battle App guides contain a wealth of historical content from leading historians. You can access accounts and videos from battlefield experts, click on audio links to hear the voices of those who fought at the very places where you are standing, and see maps that show where Union and Confederate units were located at various key moments. The Battle App guides will help you unlock all the rich history that our Civil War battlefields have to offer.
https://www.facebook.com/GettysburgNMP – The Gettysburg National Military Park Facebook page regularly spotlights letters and battle accounts of people involved in or affected by the battle of Gettysburg.
http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/warweb.html – The American Civil War Homepage is very comprehensive, containing a wide variety of historical resources including links, archives, and web resources with information on battles/units, Confederate & Union documents (political & personal), genealogy, leaders, heritage links, organizations, education, reenacting groups, music, battle flags, and much more.
http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/gettysburg-with-kids,12966 – Are your children ready for a living history lesson? “Gettysburg with Kids” tells how to do it right.
http://seattletimes.com/html/travel/2021311966_gettysburghollywoodxml.html – Tourists and history buffs are swarming the Civil War battlefield to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, which has been popularized by books, a Ken Burns documentary, and Hollywood movies (see below).
Gettysburg (1993, PG) – A must-see movie! The epic story of the three day battle that forever changed the course of the American Civil War was pretty much taken verbatim from the book, Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The movie itself was 15 years in the making, and director Ronald F. Maxwell invested painstaking attention to detail. The result is a historically accurate depiction of the events and battles of the Civil War.
Gettysburg compassionately portrays the personal struggles of real men on both sides, and provides insight into what the war was about. It also features some of the most authentic Civil War battle scenes ever created, culminating with Pickett’s charge, the most courageous and heartbreaking infantry assault in military history. For the first time in 130 years, the actual site was allowed to be used as a movie set. In addition to an all-star cast, the movie featured over 13,000 volunteer Civil War re-enactors who came from all over the world, paid their own way, provided their own uniforms and props, and recreated the battles in front of the cameras. While filming during the summer, the re-enactors also experienced the same conditions as their predecessors. For example, the original soldiers had just marched for miles and had no water when they attempted to conquer a hill in 98-degree heat. Out of respect, the re-enactors who played that part removed their own canteens during the filming of the movie. Buy the DVD or watch instantly on Amazon.