Although the US is a quite young nation compared to Europe or Asia, history is building year by year. There is some impressive past to be found, as well as important moments in world history.
This summer we visited Gettysburg, a small town west of Philadelphia, which played an important and decisive moment in the civil war. The war itself lasted four years, 1861-1865, one of the bloodiest where approx. 720.000 soldiers died. The battle at Gettysburg took place in the middle of the war and lasted 3 days. It caused 51.000 casualties, 12 soldiers died or got injured every minute!
During the civil war three fundamental issues were fought: the survival of the Union, the fate of slavery and the common rights of citizenship (what it means to be an American). Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the USA, wanted to abolish slavery. He was convinced of liberty for all humans as said in the constitution. Not every state was convinced of this way forward and for instance workers were afraid for competition on the labour market once slaves were set free. As a reaction 7 southern states formed the Confedaration of the United States and elected their own president; Jefferson Davis. This was a starting point for the Civil war, as The Union did not want to fall apart, so they fought against the Confederation.
Just outside of Gettysburg there is a pretty new visitor center (2008) explaining you all about what happened on July 1st-3rd 1863. The small cinema shows an interesting movie summarizing the important historical facts. Afterwards you can visit the Cyclorama, a beautiful 360 degree painting visualizing the third an decisive day of the battle. Next we took a 2-hour bus tour driving the route along the most important history markers out in the field. There are over 1300 monuments to be seen, all honouring different regiments, batalions or generals and other high ranking officers. Instead of taking a bus tour you can drive your own car and buy a self guiding audio tour at the bookstore in the visitor center. This gives you the flexibility to stop where ever you want. You can easily spent 2-3 days in and around Gettysburg, but as we just had one day, we sqeezed in as much as possible.
Gettysburg battlefield and monuments
The town of Gettysburg is a small town with many historical buildings. A lot of them turned into small museums. They used to hide black citizens inside or turned into small hospitals and shelter places during the battle. Just outside the center you will find the national an local cemetry, were a lot of soldiers are burried.
Town of Gettysburg