Off To Gettysburg

This is my last full week of summer vacation before the start of school meetings next week.  I'm not complaining as I've had a relaxing and productive summer.  My wife and I did some traveling and I got some work done on the Crater manuscript, which should be completed by December.  I know, I know, I know, but every time I look something else needs to be fixed.  A few days ago I learned that my teaching schedule for the coming year will change for the better.  Where as I usually teach one section of an elective this year I will be teaching two each trimester.  So, for the first term it will be two sections of Civil War, followed by two sections of Civil War Memory, and finally two sections of Race & Gender in the spring term. 

Given that it is my last full week I decided to take a little trip to Gettysburg tomorrow.  It's been a few years since I've been to the Disney capital of the Civil War, but I do want to see the new view sheds since they cut the trees on different sections of the battlefield.  The plan is to leave Charlottesville around 6am and arrive in Gettysbury around 9am just in time to check out the new Visitor Center.  I want to see for myself what all the fuss is about.  From there I am going to play it by ear, but I will probably spend most of my time just walking on various sections of the battlefield.  The weather should be beautiful so it won't really matter where I go. 

I am going to stay in Gettysburg overnight.  Can anyone recommend a good restaurant in town for dinner?  In the morning I plan on taking a little run down West Confederate Avenue to the area around Little Round Top and back up Washington Street.  Hey Jenny, how many miles is that?  How I will spend the rest of the day has yet to be determined.  Perhaps I will do some shopping downtown for a new kepi.

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10 comments… add one
  • Michael Lynch Aug 13, 2008 @ 14:32

    If you’re in the mood for Italian, you might try La Bella Italia on York St.

    Michael Lych

  • Sean Dail Aug 13, 2008 @ 9:00


    If it was a rant, it was a rant because Jorgensen and many of us feel misled by all the propaganda we heard when the new visitor center was first proposed about the inadequacy of the old visitor center to house the artifacts. I won’t say we were lied to, but only because I don’t feel I have enough knowledge of the situation to go that far.

    I do need to make one qualification to my statement that I don’t desire to visit the place again – I do plan to see the new Cyclorama. Ted Alexander’s seminar was provided with an excellent presentation about the Cyclorama’s new digs, and I have high hopes that it may be the one redeeming aspect of the new center.

    I’ll be interested to see how much enthusiasm you have for the new visitor center when you return. I trust you won’t be bringing home one of the popular Lincoln-heads-on-a-stick from the gift shop. They also seemed to have plenty of coffee mugs decorated with those John Paul Strain illustrations that you’re so fond of… πŸ™‚

  • kevin levin Aug 13, 2008 @ 8:00

    sean– I have no problem with a negative review, but that wasn’t a review. It was a rant and made no attempt to understand the exhibit apart from complaining about the lack of weaponry on display. I will have much more to say when I return.

  • Sean Dail Aug 13, 2008 @ 5:07


    The review that Eric W. posted about was written by Peter Jorgensen, publisher of the Civil War News, not Jay Jorgensen, the author of _Gettysburg’s Bloody Wheatfield_.

    To be honest, I don’t see how you can pass judgment on the reviews you’ve read without first visiting the place. I didn’t agree with everything in Pete’s review, but IMO he makes some very appropriate criticisms. And I think its telling that even the people who give it passing marks tend to talk about balancing the good with the bad.

    I’ve been there twice now, and have no real desire to return the next time I visit Gettysburg. My time would be better spent on the field and in the real bookstores in town. I mean, for goodness sake, how can the place stock so much tourist junk in its bookstore but completely ignore Gettysburg Magazine? The entire focus is so dumbed down that I came away feeling like they didn’t care what the buffs want to see in a museum/visitor center.

    I have no problem whatsoever with providing context, discussing the causes of the war, etc. But it seems to me that the Battle of Gettysburg has gotten lost in a vast sea of commercialism and an effort to “wow” visitors. And I don’t think that is an appropriate way to honor the men who died on that battlefield.

  • Jenny Aug 12, 2008 @ 16:21

    I’m going there this weekend to shoot pictures. πŸ™‚

    If you park near the intersection of West Confederate Avenue and the Fairfield Road (Rt. 116) and run a loop down West Confederate Avenue, it’s about 8 miles if you come back on Middle Street. You’ll run some serious hills.

    Check out:

    That’s a pretty safe route, I’ve run it before. Just be careful of the tourists — they don’t pay attention and they act unpredictably.

    (I would not loop back up the Emmitsburg Road — there’s not much of a shoulder and the locals drive it really fast.)

    If you want a shorter route, I run this loop very often when I’m there. It’s nice in the morning.

  • Paul Taylor Aug 12, 2008 @ 6:48

    I, too, will be looking forward to your thoughts on the new VC. It seems to me that the heated controversies all boil down to one question: Is the essential mission of the VC to interpret just the battle of Gettyburg with maximum artifact display but minimal context, or, should they present the battle within a much broader contextual interpretation of the war as a whole? With the latter also comes the inevitable social and racial aspects, not just the military ones.

    It would seem that the park folks have chosen the latter course while the hard-cores prefer the former. I would have to admit to being part of that second group. I visit the various battlefields solely to learn about the tactical/strategic aspects of that particular battle or campaign. Personally speaking, I neither need nor want to be spoonfed information at every turn as to the various gender or racial aspects of the Civil War. There are plenty of other programs that can do that. For instance, I recall seeing a major, Smithsonian-sponsored exhibit in Orlando, FL a few years ago entitled “The Civil War in Florida.” I recall walking out thinking a more appropriate title would have been “The Role of Women and Blacks During the Civil War Years in Florida.”

    On the other hand, I’ve read where the Gettysburg VC administrators are convinced that for the vast majority of their customers, this will be their only visit to a ACW park or museum. Therefore, it’s the park’s duty to present as broad-based an exhibit as possible. Perhaps they have a point.

    Anyway, looking forward to your thoughts. We also look forward to pictures of you posing in your new hat. Perhaps a nice red, Confederate gunner’s kepi, eh? πŸ™‚


  • Heather Michon Aug 11, 2008 @ 21:27

    Yup, Dobbin House is definitely your best bet. (There used to be a great place near The Horse Soldier on Baltimore Street, but they changed hands a few years ago, consigning to memory the greatest roast beef sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.) I was up at the VC in April when it opened, and they were putting the final touches on a walking path that runs from the rear of the new facility to Meade’s HQ on Taneytown Road. If you want to walk over the Cemetery or the Pickett’s Charge line, that’s a good way to go. Have a great time!

  • Kevin Levin Aug 11, 2008 @ 15:10

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Brooks, — I plan to spend a few hours in the VC to observe people as they walk around. None of the ramblings that pass for reviews even try to consider what the exhibit is attempting to accomplish. Whether you agree with it or not it seems reasonable to expect some engagement with the intent of the architects of the exhibit. Jay Jorgensen’s review, which Eric W. posted on was an absolute joke. The other boogie man in the room is this mistrust of anything that smacks of interpretation. Very strange indeed.

  • Brooks Simpson Aug 11, 2008 @ 14:42

    Along Steinwehr Avenue north to Lincoln Square, I like the Dobbin Tavern (as well as the Dobbin House upstairs) and the Farnsworth House. The tavern’s downstairs; Farnsworth, like Dobbin, has several dining areas.

    The restaurant along Lee’s HQ is now a neat microbrewery/restaurant.

    If I were you, Kevin, I’d stand in the gateway to the exhibits and watch how people file in and what they see in the opening area of the coming of the war. I found that most interesting. I’ll say more about what I found when you return.

    I approach the new VC on multiple levels, and in the end I like it a great deal. I’m quite surprised by some of the strongly negative responses I’ve heard. I went into it with an open mind, and I really liked the result.

    I assume it’s 29 to 15 for you. Boy, has that junction changed. πŸ™‚

  • Billy Yank Aug 11, 2008 @ 13:59

    My wife and I spent three days of our honeymoon in Gettysburg. We stayed at the hotel next to Lee’s HQ and really enjoyed the little restaurant right there.


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