Gettysburg National Military Park offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War. Each year, nearly one million visitors explore the site of this pivotal Civil War battle and the place where President Abraham Lincoln outlined the future of the nation in his Gettysburg Address. Visitors who experience Gettysburg National Military Park leave with an understanding of the scope and magnitude of the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians alike, which ultimately gave way to a new birth of freedom for our country.
The Gettysburg Battlefield
More than 165,000 soldiers fought with Union and Confederate armies on the battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park. The battle lasted three days — July 1, 2 and 3, 1863, and raged through the town and the surrounding countryside. The largest battle ever fought in North America resulted in more than 51,000 casualties - soldiers that were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Today, the Gettysburg battlefield receives nearly one million visitors annually from all over the world, drawn the area’s historical significance and natural beauty.
The National Park Service at Gettysburg has completed a multi-year project to return major battle action areas on the battlefield to their appearance at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, to help the public better understand the soldiers’ experiences on the battlefield. The project included removal of non-historic trees, but also the planting of trees, maintaining historic woodlots, planting historic orchards, building fences, and more.
Implementation has been carefully managed to comply with best management practices as well as with the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Federal Water Pollution Act and Water Quality Act, floodplain management, protection of wetlands, and all other applicable laws and policies that protect the environment. The project is reestablishing grasslands, restoring wetlands, and improving habitat. A large part of rehabilitating the landscape requires controlling and maintaining exotic invasive vegetation.
Our partners in this project share our commitment to habitat and the environment. They include the Gettysburg Foundation, the Pennsylvania Nature Conservancy, Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Audubon Society, the CREP program of the USDA, six local farmers, park volunteer groups, and others.
Gettysburg National Cemetery
The Gettysburg National Cemetery at Gettysburg National Military Park was established as the final resting place for Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg, as well as for soldiers, veterans, and dependents from the Civil War through Vietnam. It officially closed to new burials in 1972. It was at the November 19, 1863 dedication of the cemetery, before a crowd of approximately 15,000 dignitaries, soldiers and civilians, that President Abraham Lincoln delivered the remarks the world knows today as the Gettysburg Address.
One of the earliest monuments at Gettysburg is the Soldiers’ National Monument, which stands in the center of the cemetery. The cornerstone was laid in 1865 but it was not until 1869 when the monument was complete and dedicated. The sculpture on the monument is the work American sculptor Randolph Rodgers (1825-1892). The first memorial at Gettysburg stands in the Minnesota section- a granite urn dedicated to the memory of the men from that state that fell at Gettysburg. It was erected in the cemetery sometime before 1869. Other notable monuments and memorials in the cemetery include the New York State Monument (1893), the Lincoln Speech Memorial (1912), General Charles Collis Memorial (1906), and Maj. General John F. Reynolds statue (1871).
Size: 17 Acres
Civil War burials: 3,564 total
Post-Civil War burials: 3,307 total
Landscape Architect: William Saunders
Museum and Visitor Center
The park Museum and Visitor Center offers visitors an updated museum experience that tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg and its significance to our nation’s history, within the context of the causes and consequences of the Civil War. Opened in 2008, the museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts and archival materials and provides visitors with a perspective of the Civil War through the words of its participants and spectators, including Presidents Lincoln and Davis, Generals Meade and Lee, soldiers, correspondents, and civilians. Through a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, films, and a host of research resources, the museum provides a Civil War experience unlike any other.
12 museum galleries - 11 based on phrases from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and organized to help visitors understand and appreciate the museum’s major themes, including the Gettysburg Campaign, the Civil War, and its causes and consequences. With more than 300,000 objects and artifacts and 700,000 archival materials, the collection at Gettysburg National Military Park is one of the most extensive in the world.
Interactive stations and hands-on experiences are located throughout the museum. Five of the galleries include short video presentations on the causes of the war, the three-day Battle at Gettysburg, and the results of the war. The two Voices theaters feature readings from the accounts of battle participants.
The Special Exhibits Gallery showcases temporary exhibits to broaden the number of topics covered in the museum.
The Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center — multi-purpose educational facilities — the center provides dedicated space for teacher workshops, classroom use, and distance learning programs.
The Refreshment Saloon and Cafe is a museum café with an outdoor dining terrace.
A Museum Bookstore that includes an extensive selection of Gettysburg, Civil War, Lincoln, and Eisenhower-related titles for all ages, as well as a variety of Gettysburg-related gifts and memorabilia.
The Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center achieved the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification of the U.S. Green Building Council, which sets voluntary standards for high performance, environmentally sensitive, and sustainable buildings.
Size: 139,000 square feet
Exhibit Space: 24,000 square feet
1195 Baltimore Pike
Gettysburg National Military Park is approximately 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and close to a variety of historical, recreational and cultural attractions. We suggest you plan to stay for at least two to three days to explore all that the park and its surroundings have to offer. From Pennsylvania Route 15, exit at Baltimore Street.
Tickets for the film, Cyclorama painting, and museum, and for Battlefield tours, can be purchased online at www.gettysburgfoundation.org, which also offers more detail about the Gettysburg experience.
The massive circular oil painting, entitled “The Battle of Gettysburg,” depicts a pivotal moment in America’s history: the charge of Confederate infantry led by General George Pickett on July 3, 1863. The 2008 restoration of the painting recreated its missing three-dimensional diorama, and other features that provide the illusion that visitors are standing in the middle of Pickett’s charge. Battle veterans were said to have wept when they viewed this stirring example of state-of-the-art entertainment from the 1880s.
One of only two Cyclorama paintings in the United States and about 20 worldwide, the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting experience offers the only historically accurate venue in the country.
“The Battle of Gettysburg” was painted in 1883-1884 by French master Paul Philippoteaux and a team of 20 artists.
The painting measures 377 feet in circumference at its widest point and 42 feet in height. Together with its backing and hanging system, the painting weighs 12.5 tons.
Visitors begin with a viewing of the film, A New Birth of Freedom. Sponsored by the History Channel and narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg and the war that changed the nation. From the film, visitors ascend three stories to the Cyclorama Gallery, where they are immersed in the climactic moment of the three-day battle — Pickett’s charge. A sound and light program brings the scene to life.
David Wills House
In honor of the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial in 2009, the National Park Service opened the David Wills House in historic downtown Gettysburg, offering visitors a world-class museum experience that tells the story of Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, and the aftermath of battle.
David Wills’ home was not just the center of Gettysburg -- it was the center of the immense clean-up process after the Battle of Gettysburg and where President Lincoln put the finishing touches on the Gettysburg Address. The speech transformed Gettysburg's community from a place of devastation to the symbol of our nation's new birth of freedom.
The museum features seven galleries, including two rooms that have been restored to their 1863 appearance: Wills' office, where he received letters from families looking for loved ones after the battle and began planning for a cemetery and its dedication; and the bedroom where Lincoln stayed and prepared to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
The David Wills House is an official site within Gettysburg National Military Park and is on the National Register of Historic Places.