The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863; it ended three days later, with the retreat of the battered Confederate Army. General Robert E. Lee’s plan to invade and crush the North had failed, marking a major turning point in the Civil war. For this reason, many historians consider Gettysburg to be the war’s pivotal battle.
If history is a story—and it is—then the Battle of Gettysburg is a drama filled with complex characters, heroic triumphs, and gallant, disastrous defeats. It is a story that continues to engage and fascinate people; over a million tourists visit the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania each year.
Unfortunately, many of the popular sites are closed this summer, due to COVID-19 restrictions. For updated information on what is and isn’t open, you can check here; in the meantime, we have found a number of interesting resources that will let you see and experience this important piece of American history from the comfort of your own home.
This animated battle map will give you a better visual understanding of the battle, along with a short summary of events.
If you want to delve a little deeper, and really feel like you are there, try one of these excellent virtual tours, led by official tour guides from the Gettysburg National Park Service.
The First Day at Gettysburg, with Ranger John Nicholas
The Second Day at Gettysburg, with Ranger Jim Flook
The Battle for Little Round Top with Ranger Chuck Teague
Devil’s Den with Ranger Matt Atkinson
Cemetery Hill with Ranger Jim Flook
For an (excellent) fictionalized account, I recommend The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, a Pulitzer-prize winning novel based on the events of Gettysburg. This book is available in digital format through the Libby app. The Killer Angels was made into a very good movie, Gettysburg, starring Martin Sheen and Jeff Daniels. The DVD is available at the library, and can be checked out and picked up using the library’s curbside service; for more details about curbside service, read here, or call 330–259–3399.