Gettysburg: The Civilians' Story
Welcome to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, presented by Insight Guides. My name is Katherine and I’ll be your guide. This tour takes approximately one and hour 30 minutes to complete, not including any time spent touring museums or any buildings. You can stop at any time and start again at the same spot later. You can follow the route on your phone or simply listen as I guide you from one sight to the next. I’ll be giving you clear directions and the audio will automatically start playing when you get close to the next sight on the tour. Don’t worry if you need to skip a sight as the tour will pick up at the next location.
For three days in 1863, this quiet market town in the Pennsylvania countryside was the site of events that engraved its name in the forefront of American history.
The Battle of Gettysburg was arguably the defining action of the Civil War. Union and Confederate forces collided here almost by accident. Robert E. Lee wanted to threaten Harrisburg, which was the Union's largest supply depot and major railway center. Lee and Union General George Meade were maneuvering their troops to position themselves to have an advantage when the inevitable fight began. But a chance encounter turned into a skirmish and continued to escalate. Three days later, 50,000 soldiers were dead, wounded or missing. While the war dragged for for nearly two more years, the Confederate Army was shattered and never again posed a serious threat to the Union.
Take away the traffic and modern signage and today's Gettysburg looks much as it did in 1863. Our tour focuses on the events and aftermath of the battle as it affected the civilians living in the town. This is a story of everyday people caught up in a monumental clash of two armies; of dealing with its tragic aftermath; and a two-minute speech that sought to bring solace to the mourners, honor to the fallen and a sense of purpose to the country.
Gettysburg is a busy town with lots of traffic and many tourists. Be careful when crossing streets, especially where there are no crosswalks. Please stand to one side when you stop on sidewalks. If a church is open, you are welcome to visit, but please remember that it is a sanctuary and house of worship.
With that said, let's step back to 1863.
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