Explore the Historic Significance of Gettysburg National Cemetery

rows of identical white marble gravestones against green grass background

No visit to Gettysburg National Military Park is complete without also visiting the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The cemetery came into being in 1863, after the famous Battle of Gettysburg. Just as famously, President Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address here, at the cemetery’s dedication ceremony, just a few months after the battle.

Attracting thousands of visitors every year, the cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers who lost their lives during the battle. Visiting the cemetery is an opportunity to pay respects to those who fought and died for their country.

The cemetery is located on the site of the battle, which took place from July 1-3, 1863. Almost the entire town of Gettysburg endured the battle, where once again the Confederate Army, led by General Robert E. Lee, and the Union Army, led by General George G. Meade, clashed. It turned out to be a turning point in the Civil War. The Union Army repelled the Confederate invasion of the North, gaining a strategic advantage. However, that advantage came with a cost. The battle resulted in more than 50,000 casualties, making it one of the deadliest battles in American history.

Check out other national cemeteries we’ve visited: Soldiers Home National Cemetery, Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Winchester National Cemetery, Fredericksburg National Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, Cold Harbor National Cemetery, and Loudon Park National Cemetery.

Why Visit?

The cemetery is home to a number of monuments and memorials that honor the Union soldiers who lost their lives during the battle. The Soldiers’ National Monument, dedicated in 1869, is the most famous of these. The Soldiers’ National Monument also is the focal point around which burials of U.S. soldiers who died at Gettysburg are laid out in a semicircle.The 60-foot-tall monument features a statue of a Union soldier standing on top of a granite pedestal. The monument serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought and died at Gettysburg.

Soldiers Monument at Gettysburg National Cemetery

You should also look for the Pennsylvania State Memorial, which honors the soldiers from Pennsylvania who fought in the battle. And of course, look for the Gettysburg Address Memorial, which commemorates the famous speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the cemetery.

Visiting the cemetery is also an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the battle and its impact on American history. The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, as it marked the first major victory for the Union Army.

In addition to its historical significance, the cemetery is also a place of great natural beauty. Whether you are a history buff or simply looking for a place to reflect and pay respects, you should not miss at least a quick visit to the cemetery.

A Haunted Ground

Although little evidence suggests that Gettysburg National Cemetery is haunted, ghost stories abound. You can’t help but believe the cemetery is haunted because of its long history and its proximity to the battlefield.

The most popular ghost stories about Gettysburg National Cemetery involve soldiers from the Civil War. People claim to have seen ghostly figures of soldiers marching through the cemetery, heard drums and bugles playing in the night, and experienced a feeling of uneasiness when visiting the cemetery. There are also stories of a phantom horseman who rides around the cemetery and mysterious lights that appear in the darkness. Other ghost stories involve women in white dresses and haunted statues of soldiers.

Know Before You Go

Parking near the cemetery is limited. On high-visit days, you should expect to have to search for parking. Check the park website for any alerts. Start your visit with a stop at the park’s visitor center.

Getting there: National Park Service Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, PA
Hours: daylight
Website: National Park Service

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