Late spring is the perfect time of year to visit Gettysburg as the tourist and reenactment season has yet to begin and the stinking heat of summer has yet to enshroud the bucolic Pennsylvania hamlet. The popular destination can easily be reached in less than three hours from South Jersey or any point in the greater Philadelphia area. While Civil War buffs and professional ghost hunters could easily make a long weekend of it, we found that one day is perfect for a leisurely self-guided auto tour of the sprawling, picturesque and monument laden battlefield followed by a stroll through the quaint downtown area full of bed-and-breakfast establishments, restaurants, souvenir shops and haunted houses.
What struck me most about the battlefield was not only its size and scope (give yourself at least two hours for the free self-guided auto tour if you plan to make the appropriate stops) but also the meditative peacefulness that now enraptures the place where so much violence once conquered. It’s a true marvel just for the scenery let alone the history. One of the most interesting aspects is a small residential strip of majestic country homes smack dab in the middle of the battlefield, among which is the charming Double Day Inn Bed & Breakfast, no doubt a dream stay for history lovers and ghosts. In town, after a bite to eat at the popular Pub Restaurant in Gettysburg Square, we stopped at the store for the local Hauser Estate Winery for a wine tasting. Walking out with a few bottles of their signature Jennie Wade White Wine, we naturally made our way down Baltimore Street to the infamous Jennie Wade House where a stray bullet claimed the life of young Jennie, the poor girl now immortalized as the one and only civilian casualty in the battle that claimed over 50,000 lives. Apparently at nighttime on most weekends a myriad of candle-lit walks, ghost tours and seances are available for visitors to partake in, but the Jennie Wade House is one of the few authentic haunted spots open by day. The thought of being in town late at night or staying at a place like the Double Day Inn are intriguing enough to make this first-time visitor hope to return soon for a longer stay.
Below is a selection of photos I took on the battlefield and at the Jennie Wade House Museum.
Written and photographed by David H. Schleicher
Points of interest in Gettysburg mentioned here: