Help/suggestions for visiting Gettysburg/Antietam

ErnieMac

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
May 3, 2013
Location
Pennsylvania
Hey yall. My wife and are planning a trip (good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise) to see Gettysburg and Antietam the last week of Sept. and first week in Oct. We will have a total of six days on the ground. I have already purchased a battlefield guide and map book, as I plan to do more or less what I did at Chickamauga, and actually walk as much of the battlefields as reasonably possible. With this in mind, I was planning to devote at least three whole days at Gettysburg, and if time permitted, also see Antietam. My ancestors fought on both fields, and I especially want to tour the areas they were engaged. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
You might consider a stop at Fox's Gap on South Mountain. The following link describes the 50th Georgia's actions during the Maryland Campaign.
https://mountainaflame.blogspot.com/2011/03/bloody-50th-georgias-sons-are.html
 

Grant's Tomb

Corporal
Joined
Apr 4, 2020
Plus there's the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick near Braddock Heights if you're interested in how medical care was provided and surgical amputations were performed and Monocacy National Battlefield where Lew Wallace tried to prevent Jubal Early's little campaign to Washington.
 

Georgian183

Private
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Thank you all for your help. My primary concern is having enough time to properly see the battlefields. My tentative plan is for 3 days at each battlefield, give or take. Is this reasonable?
 

brad46033

Cadet
Joined
Dec 16, 2020
Hey yall. My wife and are planning a trip (good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise) to see Gettysburg and Antietam the last week of Sept. and first week in Oct. We will have a total of six days on the ground. I have already purchased a battlefield guide and map book, as I plan to do more or less what I did at Chickamauga, and actually walk as much of the battlefields as reasonably possible. With this in mind, I was planning to devote at least three whole days at Gettysburg, and if time permitted, also see Antietam. My ancestors fought on both fields, and I especially want to tour the areas they were engaged. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
My last visit to Gettysburg was May 2017 when I saw a tour group on horseback. I didn't have time for it myself, but left with the intention of experiencing it on my next visit. If you have three full days, you might enjoy this close up and personal adventure to balance your driving and walking tours.
 

Roljoe

Cadet
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Hey yall. My wife and are planning a trip (good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise) to see Gettysburg and Antietam the last week of Sept. and first week in Oct. We will have a total of six days on the ground. I have already purchased a battlefield guide and map book, as I plan to do more or less what I did at Chickamauga, and actually walk as much of the battlefields as reasonably possible. With this in mind, I was planning to devote at least three whole days at Gettysburg, and if time permitted, also see Antietam. My ancestors fought on both fields, and I especially want to tour the areas they were engaged. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
Although from Canada and 8 plus hours away, we have been going down to Gettysburg for 25+ years and although we all have our preferences, our special battlefield spots or area, I found it most helpful, exploring the Seminary Ridge area including the First shot marker as well...Don't forget to visit the Seminary Museum...Reynolds Woods, Lee's HQ....leaving there, head straight to West Confederate Ave, short two blocks away......here you will find most notably monuments from Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Longstreet Monument etc etc ... It's nice to just park the car and walk around..Keep going and eventually end up at Little Round Top where you'll see the most beautiful sight of the battlefield from the Union point of view including Devil's Den..The Union side of the field has amazing monuments such as the PA monument and lots of others.....I could go on and on but a REAL MUST is the Visitor's Center...get tickets for the short movie, Cyclorama of the battlefield and museum...Don't forget the book store for souvenirs...A bus tour of the battlefield or guide in your car is also recommended. Downtown has GREAT shops and restaurants that no doubt needs support...My wife and I rented an apt for a month a couple of years ago and it was amazing...Even though I re-enacted there, spending that amount of time there was simply amazing....so much to see and do...Have a great trip.
 

Punxsy

Cadet
Joined
Aug 5, 2018
What is now Rt 40 or the “National Road” is really the path that Braddock and his expedition took & built towards what is now Pittsburgh PA in their effort to wrest the area from French control. Washington’s first endeavor ended in failure, surrendering to the French and their Native allies at Ft. Necessity which is just off of the National Road in Fayette County. Braddock’s expedition was then undertaken to gain the area back. This expedition met with failure when they made contact with French and Native forces just a few miles outside of what is today Pittsburgh. They were soundly defeated at the “Battle of the Monongahela” where General Braddock was mortally wounded. Braddock died during the retreat and the local legend goes that he was buried in the road to hide the gravesite as @Arioch mentioned. Oddly enough, Braddock’s remains were identified and his gravesite is marked just off the road he built, Braddock’s Road-National Road-Rt 40. It’s quite near Ft Necessity itself which must be one of those crazy coincidences of history.

Just outside of Pittsburgh is Braddock Township, in which is the site of the “Battle of the Monongahela”. The main road into the city from this location is Braddock Avenu, a road the General would never travel.

It took the British/Colonials a third try to take the area which started the whole thing. Eventually the did force the French from the “Forks of the Ohio” and built a massive fort on the site- Fort Pitt, this of course became Pittsburgh. Weirdly, a main thoroughfare through downtown Pittsburgh is Grant Street. However, this Street takes its name not from General Grant, but from Major Grant of his majesty’s army. It was Grant who finally wrested the area from the French.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Grant_(British_Army_officer,_born_1720)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Pitt_(Pennsylvania)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_Expedition
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Monongahela
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_Road_(Braddock_expedition)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Necessity_National_Battlefield

General Braddock’s Grave:

View attachment 399624

It’s always amazed me that a huge international conflict was started by a young man from Virginia over control of a wilderness confluence of rivers in what is now Pittsburgh. Without this young man going on this fool’s errand then there would be no United States as we know it.
Grant lead an advance unit ahead of Col. Bouquet, who was heading to Ft. Duquesne. His troops were surrounded by the French and their Indian allies. Many were killed and Grant himself was captured, only to be exchanged a few days later.
 
Joined
May 11, 2017
The Civil War Museum of Medicine was in Frederick MD if still there nice stop. Also if at Antietam check out Monocacy which is dubbed the Battle to Save Washington. Small but interesting and u can check it off the list. While in Gettysburg check out East Calvary Field often over looked Battle of Hunterstown like 4 miles away where Custer almost met his maker and I suggest the Seminary Ridge Museum Sachs Coveres Bridge Big Round Top and Park Visitor Center. If u watched movie a ride to Cashtown to see the Inn might be nice too. You can turn down radom roads all over the area and find a wayside marker. Have a GPS and get lost on purpose its a good time.
 

gentlemanrob

Brigadier General
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 11, 2016
Location
South Carolina
I was in Gettysburg this past April and will be again in July. The town is really hurting several businesses are going out and several are hurting so much sure you support local business. Make sure when you visit Gettysburg to plan at least 2 - 3 days. Always know there is more to Gettysburg than just the battlefield. There's a ton of historical places close by as well shops featuring historical items in town. I have also been to Antietam in the fall and I strongly like both battlefields. remember there are other battlefields close to Gettysburg/Antietam.
 

James N.

Colonel
Forum Host
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Location
East Texas
... Anyway,...Washington gets the expedition back to headquarters and makes his report...including Braddocks' promise of a royal army commission....The commanding British officer just laughed at Washington (bumpkin colonial)....Washington never forgot this humiliation...and powered his disdain and aggressiveness vs. the British in the coming independence war 10 years later.
Washington made a special trip to Boston to see Lord Loudon, Braddock's replacement as Commander-in-Chief in the colonies, mainly in order to advance his claim, which as you indicate was rejected. However, he had a subsequently successful career with the British, serving as commander of a two-regiment brigade under Forbes during the latter's advance on Ft. Duquesne. Washington seemed always to be angling for some advantage, a somewhat unattractive personality trait to subsequent historians and his biographers. He clashed with Forbes, who was terminally ill at the time, over the route to be taken, pressing for the old Braddock Road route, mainly because of land investments he had made in the area which would be protected and enhanced by an advance along that route. Nevertheless, with the fall of Duquesne Washington emerged with a reputation as the Colonial officer with the greatest command experience from the war which would serve him well in years to come. Following the campaign and the close of hostilities in the Middle Colonies he resigned and returned to Virginia where he married the Widow Custis and concentrated for a time on his estate at Mount Vernon.
 

rebatheart

Cadet
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Hey yall. My wife and are planning a trip (good Lord willing and if the creek don't rise) to see Gettysburg and Antietam the last week of Sept. and first week in Oct. We will have a total of six days on the ground. I have already purchased a battlefield guide and map book, as I plan to do more or less what I did at Chickamauga, and actually walk as much of the battlefields as reasonably possible. With this in mind, I was planning to devote at least three whole days at Gettysburg, and if time permitted, also see Antietam. My ancestors fought on both fields, and I especially want to tour the areas they were engaged. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
Just a suggestion ,but you should buy “Gettysburg “a journey in time and “Antietam” by William Frassanito. I live in Harrisburg so I get down there often. They are photograph books of then and now it will guide you where the photos were taken right after the battle.
 

Georgian183

Private
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
Just a suggestion ,but you should buy “Gettysburg “a journey in time and “Antietam” by William Frassanito. I live in Harrisburg so I get down there often. They are photograph books of then and now it will guide you where the photos were taken right after the battle.
I already have the one of Gettysburg and just discovered the one on Antietam which is next on my list!
 

Georgian183

Private
Joined
Apr 17, 2021
I was in Gettysburg this past April and will be again in July. The town is really hurting several businesses are going out and several are hurting so much sure you support local business. Make sure when you visit Gettysburg to plan at least 2 - 3 days. Always know there is more to Gettysburg than just the battlefield. There's a ton of historical places close by as well shops featuring historical items in town. I have also been to Antietam in the fall and I strongly like both battlefields. remember there are other battlefields close to Gettysburg/Antietam.
I would love to be able to eventually see all the Civil War battlefields.....my wife and I are taking our dog along as she loves trips too; hopefully there are some dog friendly places around town.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2020
Location
Mid Hudson Valley, New York
Just a suggestion ,but you should buy “Gettysburg “a journey in time and “Antietam” by William Frassanito. I live in Harrisburg so I get down there often. They are photograph books of then and now it will guide you where the photos were taken right after the battle.
Great recommendations. I would also add "Grant and Lee: The Virginia Campaigns 1864-1865." William Frassanito has given us a major contribution to the study of these Civil War battlefields.

Bill
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
We-- CivilWarTalk members-- are having our annual muster just a week later at Sharpsburg. If it's possible to postpone your trip by a week so you could make it to the muster at Antietam / Sharpsburg just maybe the highlight of your trip.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
Gettysburg is great, and you can easily spend 3 days walking the battlefield, that is, if you just want to park your car and go for it. Pickett's charge is a must-walk, and easy enough, with the Lee statue and the tree at the angle to guide you. I walked from Longstreet's tower, straight across through the Peach Orchard, past the Wheatfield, onto Devil's Den, then the 20th Main's position on Little Round Top. A little tip that may or may not be in your guide book, but there is a tiny parking area right in front of the 20th Maine's position, and if you find the small walking trail through the woods that is right next to it, it will lead you to the "end of the line" where the last company of the 20th Maine was refusing the Union left flank. It's a cool little spot that takes some searching for, but there is a short stone wall and a little monument to let you know when you got there.

From the 20th Maine's position, I walked up the road to Cemetery Ridge, then to Meade's Headquarters, which is right there, then down Pickett's Charge, and back to Longstreet's tower. Overall I walked 16 miles that day, and it easily could have been more.

There's also some good shopping in town, whether you want a Gettysburg tee shirt, or some old WWII antiques or old books that are at The Antique Center at Gettysburg. A bit expensive, but possibly worth having as a memento.

All in all Gettysburg is my favorite historical site. Everything there is geared towards the Civil War so it is most fun for Civil War buffs like us.


Antietam is very, very well preserved. Everything is recognizable just as if you were reading about it in a book. It's also very small. I finished the driving tour in about 3 hours and was at a loss for what to do next. You may want to spend a day doing Antietam, and then mark a day for doing Harper's Ferry, which is about a half hour's drive away and also very impressive. But that depends on how much of Antietam you want to see and how long it takes you to get through it all.

As to Harper's Ferry, I think the hike to the top of Marlyand Heights is about 4 miles. So if you want to get that bird's eye view of the position, it might be an 8 mile walk round-trip, plus the time you spend taking in the view. For my part, I just spent a day in the town and that was great.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
Thank you all for your help. My primary concern is having enough time to properly see the battlefields. My tentative plan is for 3 days at each battlefield, give or take. Is this reasonable?

It depends on how much time you want to spend in the visitor's center, seeing the museums, the film, and all that.

I think 3 days is enough to get a good dose of each. The Antietam driving tour took me 3 hours. Then I grabbed lunch in Sharpsburg. 3 days might even bee too much for it, unless you absolutely love Antietam and want to walk a lot or stand there taking everything in. You might find some time for South Mountain or Harper's Ferry. Monocacy might be nearby too.

Gettysburg can easily take 3 days. If you do the driving tour, you can probably see everything within one day, that is, dawn til dusk. But add in the visitor's center if you want it, plus walking, plus checking out the Civil War-themed shops in town, and it will be more. It's also very to get caught up in the sites at Gettysburg. There's so many monuments and I always spend a lot of time at the angle taking everything in. You might want to spend one day just doing the driving tour, then spend the other two days walking your favorite spots.

Also check out Evergreen Cemetery if you want. Jennie Wade and John Burns are both buried there.
 

huds1117

Cadet
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Welcome Georgian183. You have a lot of good history to look forward to, nothing compares with being able to visit the actual sites in person. Gettysburg has been, in my opinion, improved over time and they got rid of some (but not all) of the honkytonk like the tower and have worked to restore the grounds to be closer to their 1863 appearance. Many parts of the battlefield that were heavily overgrown from time are now visible and the NPS has done a good job of it. By all means try to make some time for the Antietam National Battlefield Park and Harper's Ferry which is not far away from Sharpsburg. In 1983 I spent the day at Gettysburg on a hot July day and then drove into Maryland to see the Antietam battlefield. With all the hills and backroads in Western Maryland I had underestimated how long it would take to get there. It's not so much the amount of miles to drive but you're not on an Interstate to get there. So, I came up to the visitor center just as the head park ranger was closing up and met him as he was on his way out. I had mentioned to him that we had just come down from the Gettysburg battlefield and he said that was best that we saw Gettysburg first and that we would truly appreciate the Antietam battlefield more and he was not wrong. All ACW sites are special but Antietam is one of the most intact with so many original buildings still standing. There are monuments but it is not as cluttered as Gettysburg and not as commercial. Sharpsburg, MD has mostly avoided the heavy commercial development such as Northern Virginia has experienced and you'll get to see one of the best preserved major battlefield sites that still exist. Don't get me wrong... Gettysburg is a great experience, but Antietam is well worth your time.

Bill
 
Top