Just three hours from Atlantic City, the largest battle in American history unleashed its ferocity on a small, yet bustling town in Pennsylvania. Gettysburg offers a rare glimpse into our country’s past. Perfectly preserved, this step back in time brings the battle that shaped our nation, to life. Most importantly, it reminds us of what it means to be an American and why so many brave souls gave their lives for a nation that was, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men [and women] are created equal”.
When my son asked to celebrate his 12th birthday camping at Gettysburg, I jumped at the opportunity. This was the perfect covid-getaway. It’s also centrally located, so our family in Richmond, Va and New York City could celebrate with us.
Artillery Ridge Campground and Horse Park is just a mile from the Gettysburg Battle Park and several other downtown attractions. We are not avid campers by any stretch, so we found a campground that has a variety of camping options. We opted for a cabin with running water, full bathroom and air conditioning, but there are also tent and RV options. For us, it was the perfect balance of camping fun and modern conveniences. Each morning we cooked our breakfast over the open fire, then gathered there again at night for s’more fun! It was amazing how little we used our phones when we had firewood to chop and outdoor games to play.
Fought over three days, on a battlefield that stretched across 17.75 square miles, the Gettysburg National Military Park encompasses over 1,300 monuments, 400 cannons and several historic houses. In other words, there is a lot to see.
To get the most out of your trip, consider hiring a Licensed Battlefield Guide. To keep within Covid-19 guidelines we met our guide for our 3-hour tour at the Battlefield Welcome Center and Museum. We all wore masks. Our guide, Steve, led us through the 3-day battle one day at a time. He drove in his car while we followed in ours, stopping at different monuments and locations. The tour was fascinating, and because it was a private tour, Steve was able to tailor it specifically to our family so that grandma, the kids and everyone in between loved it.
A Taste of History at The Dobbin House Tavern
Built in 1776, this historic house has been beautifully restored to its original splendor with many of the furnishings matched to Reverend Dobbin’s original inventory. This grand house operated as a ‘station’ for the Underground Railroad, providing a safe haven for formerly enslaved individuals on their perilous journey north. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Dobbin House was turned into a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers. We made a reservation well ahead so that we could dine inside by candlelight. The menu features modern flavors inspired by history’s methods.
We don’t often think about the impact of a battle from the civilian’s perspective. The Shriver House Museum allows you to walk in the footsteps of a mother and her daughters as they suddenly found themselves in the middle of a violent war. As they fled to a relative’s farm on foot, sharp shooters rooted themselves in Mrs. Shriver’s attic. After the battle, Mrs. Shriver returned with her two young daughters as they walked through miles of dead bodies. To this day, you can see bullet holes and cannon damage to the Shriver House and other homes in the area.