Summer Ranger Programs at Gettysburg National Military Park

Courtesy of the National Park Service

From June 8 through August 18, Gettysburg National Military Park will offer a variety of free ranger guided programs that explore the Battle of Gettysburg, its aftermath, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and the history of the park.  Programs take place at the Museum and Visitor Center, on the battlefield, and in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and last between twenty minutes and three hours, depending on the program.

The park also offers special programs and activities for Gettysburg’s younger visitors, and “A Visit to the Past” living history programs, which allow you to step back in time. Look for the links on this page for a current schedule or ask for a schedule at the NPS information desk during your visit.

Check the park website www.nps.gov/gett, and www.facebook.com/GettysburgNMP, for updates or changes to the summer schedule, and during your visit, be certain to pick up a copy of the park summer newspaper that lists all of your choices for programs, tours and other events of interest.

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg:  From June 29 through July 7, 2013, Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Foundation and other partners are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.  An expansive list of special battle anniversary ranger programs and special events is available at: http://www.nps.gov/gett/planyourvisit/150th-anniversary-index.htm .

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURGRanger programs that focus on the three days of this iconic Civil War battle, perfect for our first time visitors.

THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG – AN OVERVIEW (30 minutes) If you want to understand the basics of the battle before you get out on the field this is the program for you.  Meet in the Ford Education Center inside the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 4:00 p.m.

THE FIRST DAY (1 hour) Why did the battle start at Gettysburg?  How did the fighting on July 1 shape the rest of the battle?  Find out on this program that meets at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, Auto Tour Stop 2, daily at 10:00 a.m.

THE SECOND DAY (1 hour) July 2 saw the heaviest fighting of the entire battle.  Understand the key decisions that shaped the day and the action that resulted. Park at Auto Tour Stop #10 and meet at the Peach Orchard, daily at 2:00 p.m.

THE THIRD DAY: “Pickett’s Charge” (1 hour) Learn what happened during “Pickett’s Charge” on July 3, 1863 and discover what its outcome meant for the Union and Confederacy. Meet at the “Ranger Program” sign in the National Cemetery South parking lot between Taneytown Road and Steinwehr Avenue, daily at 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

RANGER GUIDED BATTLE WALKS (2 hours or more) Walk the route of Pickett’s Charge, explore Devil’s Den and the Wheatfield, walk the charge of the Louisiana Tigers at East Cemetery Hill, and much more.  The Battle Walk topic changes daily.   Each program will get you into the field for a closer look at the famous, and not so famous, places that shaped the battle.  Check at the information desk for a complete schedule of daily topics and meeting locations. Water, a hat and proper foot gear are highly recommended. Daily at 3:30 p.m. (Walks begin at 3:00 p.m. in the spring and fall months.)

ON McPHERSON’S RIDGE (1 hour) Edward McPherson’s land was transformed on July 1, 1863, from a self-sufficient farm to a bloody battleground. Who was Edward McPherson and who farmed his land? What does their experience tell us about other farm families that lived on the Gettysburg battlefield? How did the fighting here shape and influence the strategy of the battle in the coming days? Join a ranger on this hour-long walk over the farm to explore these questions and more. Program begins at the West End Information Station on Rt. 30 West. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 1:30 p.m.

EAST CAVALRY FIELD (1 hour) Visit the scene of one of the largest cavalry battles of the war, where Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was stopped by a Union cavalry force that included a new general named George Armstrong Custer.  Meet at the parking area on Confederate Cavalry Avenue.  (Take Route 116 east to reach this site.) Wednesday and Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

“KEY MOMENTS” PROGRAMSThese programs link several key moments of the battle to the exhibits in the museum gallery of the Museum and Visitor Center and are one hour in length.

LITTLE ROUND TOP (1 hour) This program focuses on the fighting on July 2 for this crucial hill, one of the most famous in America. Meet at the General Warren statue on the summit of the hill, Auto Tour Stop 8. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11 a.m.

DEVIL’S DEN (1 hour) More famous today for its unusual rock formations and stories of Confederate sharpshooters, Devil’s Den was vitally important to its Union defenders on July 2, 1863. Meet at the parking lot at Devil’s Den (below Little Round Top), Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3 p.m.

CULP’S HILL (1 hour) Walk the wooded slopes of Culp’s Hill on the right end of the Union line where the most sustained fighting of the battle took place on July 2 and 3. Meet at the Culp’s Hill Observation Tower. Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 3 p.m.

CEMETERY HILL (1 hour) Cemetery Hill was one of the most important pieces of terrain in the battle.  Before it became known as the site of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, it figured prominently in all three days of the battle.  Find out why on this program. Meet at the Baltimore Pike (Rt. 97) entrance to the National Cemetery. Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m.

COST & CONSEQUENCE OF GETTYSBURGRanger programs that focus on Gettysburg after the battle.

NATIONAL CEMETERY (40 minutes) Join a guided walk for a 40-minute program that explores the meaning and cost of the Battle of Gettysburg, and of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Meet at the Taneytown Road entrance to the National Cemetery, Auto Tour Stop #16, daily at 11, 2 and 3:30 p.m.

CARE OF THE WOUNDED (1 hour) Over 27,000 soldiers were wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg.  Learn how they were evacuated, treated, and ultimately, how most of their lives were saved by the medical personnel of both armies.  Meet at the Ranger Program Site behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 3 p.m.

NEW SUNSET ON CEMETERY RIDGE (1 hour) Join a Ranger to walk this historic ground at sunset and explore what happened when the battle ended and the clean-up and care for the killed, wounded and captured began.  Hear compelling stories of courage and suffering, resiliency and memory.  Meet at “Ranger Program Begins Here” sign in the National Cemetery South Parking lot.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7 p.m.

LONG REMEMBERED (1 hour, 15 minutes) Explore the impact of the battle upon the Gettysburg community and walk in the footsteps of President Lincoln.  This 75 minute program meets at the historic train station on Carlisle Street near the Majestic Theater. Sundays at 6 p.m. [Except June 30] Please note that metered parking in Gettysburg is free on Sundays.

NEW THE GEORGE SPANGLER FARM – AN ARMY HOSPITAL AT WORK [1 hour] – The 156-acre George Spangler farm served as the Union army’s 11th Corps field hospital from July 1 to the first week in August, 1863.  Over 1,600 Union and Confederate wounded were treated here.  Recently preserved by the Gettysburg Foundation, the farm stands as the finest example of a field hospital that exists on the Gettysburg battlefield.  For the 150th battle anniversary, the Foundation is opening the George Spangler Farm to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from May 24 through August 18.  Each Friday at 1:30 p.m. the public is invited to join a Gettysburg National Military Park Ranger for a special program exploring this unique site and discovering how an army corps hospital functioned.  Access to the farm is by free shuttle bus from the Museum and Visitor Center.  For more information about visiting the George Spangler farm go to:  www.gettysburgfoundation.org

THE CIVIL WAR EXPERIENCEThe story of the Civil War beyond the battlefield of Gettysburg.

CIVIL WAR SOLDIER (1 hour) Over 160,000 soldiers participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Find out why they enlisted, why they fought, and what they endured during the four years of the American Civil War. Meet at the Ranger Program Site behind the Museum and Visitor Center, daily at 2 p.m.

A VISIT TO THE PAST (45 minutes) Step back in time with costumed interpreters who portray men and women who witnessed and participated in the events of 1863 at Gettysburg. Programs offered daily at the Visitor Center or beginning at the Ranger Program sign at the National Cemetery South Parking Lot between Steinwehr Avenue and Taneytown Road. Visitor Center Programs at Ranger Program Site 2- 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Cemetery Parking Lot Programs at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

EVENING CAMPFIRE PROGRAMS. Rangers present programs on a wide variety of topics on the Battle of Gettysburg and the American Civil War. Campfire programs are held nightly at the park Amphitheater at Pitzer Woods, Auto Tour Stop 6, at 8:30 p.m. [Please note, due to special battle anniversary programs each evening, there will be no amphitheater from June 30 through July 4.]

THE BATTLEFIELD PARKThe transition of Gettysburg from a battlefield to memorial park and beyond.

MONUMENTS OF GETTYSBURG (45 minutes) Monuments tell the stories of the men who fought and died here through symbolism and artistry. Who created these monuments and decided where to place them? What do they symbolize? What are some of the most compelling sculptures? Hear the extraordinary stories behind these memorials during this ranger-conducted program held in the Ford Education Center classroom of the Museum and Visitor Center, Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

HIKE WITH A RANGER (3 hours) Join a ranger for a three-hour hike on the battlefield. This informal program examines Gettysburg’s fascinating layers of history, extending from the battle to present day. Water, hat and proper foot gear are highly recommended. We recommend that visitors call ahead to the ranger desk at (717) 338-4469 for that day’s starting location, or check in at the desk in the Visitor Center on the day of the program. Wednesdays at 9 a.m.

PROGRAMS FOR YOUNG VISITORS

JOIN THE ARMY! (1 hour) Children “enlist” in the army and learn something about what it meant to be a soldier in a Civil War regiment. This program is for children ages 6-12 only, and held outside of the Museum and Visitor Center. Sign up at the Visitor Center information desk. Limited to 25 participants. A family program. Daily at 11 a.m.

JUNIOR RANGER PROGRAM. This free family-oriented activity allows children (ages 5-13) to become Junior Rangers by completing an activity guide as they visit the park and museum. Ask for details and the program guide at the park information desk in the Visitor Center. (A family and small group program).  Special 150th Battle Anniversary commemorative patches available to Junior Rangers throughout 2013.

HANDS ON HISTORY CART. Each afternoon rangers bring out a different themed history cart in the Visitor Center, such as opportunities to load and “fire” a miniature cannon, dress up and drill like an infantryman or Gettysburg civilian, or learn the secret codes of the Signal Corps.  The emphasis is hands on activities that will appeal to the whole family.  Daily from approximately 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Begin your visit to Gettysburg at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike.  For more information and a list of these programs go to www.nps.gov/gett,  For advance tickets to the film, cyclorama painting program, and museum exhibits and George Spangler Farm information, go to www.gettysburgfoundation.org

Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American history.

Katie Lawhon

Management Assistant
Gettysburg National Military Park/ Eisenhower National Historic Site
1195 Baltimore Pike, Suite 100
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Blogging “From the Fields of Gettysburg” at:  http://npsgnmp.wordpress.com/
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