On the long road from Maine to Houston, one of our goals was to visit two of the Civil War’s major battlefields, an interest sparked by having read all of Michael and Jeff Shaara’s historical fiction on the subject.
When you look out at the pastoral expanses of Gettysbury and Antietam, it is hard to imagine that 150 years ago these fields were the scene of unfathomable carnage. Antietam, the first battle to take place on Union soil, is known as the bloodiest single day battle in U.S. history with nearly 23,000 killed, wounded and missing reported. The three days in 1863 at Gettysburg produced the largest number (46-51,000) of casualties and is said to have been the turning point of the war.
The Cyclorama at the Gettysburg visitor center gives great insight to what went on there during those three bloody days.
Soldiers, some barely out of childhood, went after each other with terrible ferocity.
and as you walk through this amazing presentation you can almost hear the screams and smell the gunpowder.
I don’t know about you, but for me these images brought tears to my eyes as I envisioned brothers and other relatives firing away at each other because of the difference in their beliefs. I so hope that this country is never as divided again.
In addition to the battle there, Gettysburg is where Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery and gave his memorable address which is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago.
There is equally as much drama at Antietam as one views the sites of various battles such as this bridge where undermanned Confederate troops held off Union soldiers for 3 hours.
Throughout both battlefields are memorials to the troops who fought there
and the generals who led them. Speaking of generals, did you know that 60 from both sides were West Point graduates?
Every state is recognized on the sites where its men held ground. As I walked through these grounds I kept looking down, almost expecting to see a wounded soldier or ground stained by his blood. Without question, visiting the battlefields was a grim reminder of our country’s darkest days.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind
23 thoughts on “The Battlefields”
Takes me about a week to go through the entire weeks blogs… Glad I ran into this one. Very informative… Thanks.
We visited Gettysburg years ago and while on the tour an overwhelming feeling came over me…I felt as though I could actually feel the presence of the fallen soldiers around me…I am with you..I hope we never have to be in that situation of being divided….you cannot help but be emotional when visiting Gettysburg…
It’s been years since we visited Gettysburg, but I vividly recall the solemn wave that washed over me while viewing that amazing cyclorama. Being surrounded by this amazing work of art made me feel as if I were in the center of the battlefield. Walking the battlefield, meant so much more to me after seeing that art work. It’s one thing to read the history; to know the numbers of soldiers killed; and the numbers of family members grieving at home. But to feel that you’ve seen the horror of this historical event is so emotional. Your post brought back a lot of those feelings for me. Well done! laurie
I have walked Pickett’s Charge in all seasons of the year, and one fact remains constant – it was a desperate, futile measure that must have been terrifying to those who undertook it. Gettysburg is a powerful place!
We live in Texas but met 3 couple friends in Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago. My husband is a history buff and we have visited many battlefields over the years. We were in Gettysburg over 40 years ago and when we returned with our friends, it was so beautifully done. The visitor center is awesome. We took the bus tour around, which was led by a very knowledgeable individual. All in all, it was a fantastic day. The cyclorama was good but was so crowded that we could not get the full effect. Great park.
Visiting any historical site makes it all seem so much more real, especially when the ground you are standing on is in your own country.
I’m yearning a bit for a nice long road trip to see what we can see. There is so much in our country I’ve never seen! That really must have been sobering to walk about the battlefields…
You are right about there being so much to see in our own country which is a good reason to take a driving trip every now and then.
Breathtaking. My knowledge of the American Civil War is limited and is now improved having browsed through this post.
You bring back memories of me visiting these battlefields with my parents ….& of us doing so with our children. I hope our children too will visit there with their offspring, as only on seeing those exhibits & walking the battlefields does this sad part of our history truly come alive. Thanks for this most meaningful blog.
I Love walking history, the kind you can touch and imagine, we live in Manassas and have a ton of battlefields around, as well as historic areas of interest! Gettysburg is one of my favorites. thank you for the history lesson, love the pictures!
Have you done the Cyclorama? It’s incredible?
No I have not, I think my youngest daughter would love that. I think it would be amazing to see.
Standing on the battlefield at Gettysburg is a very sobering experience. Thanks for your perspective.
Great post! Timely. These battlefields leave a strong impression~
Indeed they do.
Incredible. The suffering in unimaginable. We drove down the Natchez Trace through Mississippi where the soldiers used to march to and from their homes and the battles and you can feel their presence, it is quite overpowering. I can’t imagine standing in these cementaries.
I didn’t expect the experience to be so moving.
Dark Days of Our History and so very important to remember. Many of my German ancestors were murdered by the Confederacy because they refused to take part in the war as they were antislavery and came her to establish a German Kingdom and wanted nothing of the war. So sad.
Thanks for this post! Living only 50 miles from the carnage at Vicksburg, we visit the park at least once each year. It is always a sad moment to realize what happened there. The awe and reverence is staggering, yet an honor to stand where good men once gave their lives on both sides.
Have you read Jeff Shaara’s book on the battle? It’s quite good.
No, I will check it out though! Thanks!