Travels With Lea

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg: Events to Enjoy


Gen. Philip H. Sheridan 

When I was a child, my Aunt Hilda took me to Gettysburg. And I had no idea what I was seeing. Things have changed, and today there  are loads of fabulous sites and sights, with great info.

This summer marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and Philadelphia, —a major arsenal, shipbuilding and hospital center during the Civil War, and home to Gettysburg general George G. Meade, —is marking the anniversary with special events and exhibitions at historical sites and attractions throughout the region:


  • Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library – The Gettysburg Trial of the Philadelphia Brigade presentation brings historian David Trout to remember the Philadelphia Brigade, which suffered a casualty rate of 64% over the course of the war, and recount its tribulations during the Battle of Gettysburg. July 20, 2014. 4278 Griscom Street, (215) 289-6484,
  • Fort Mifflin – Built in 1771, this Revolutionary-era fort-turned Civil War prison’’’s bowels were dungeon-like even during the 1860s. On Civil War Saturday, visitors to the prison, now a National Historic Landmark, learn to drill with a wooden musket, cook over an open hearth, and participate in a scavenger hunt. Guided tours highlight the Casemates, once used as prison quarters. July 20, 2014. Fort Mifflin & Hog Island Road, (215) 685-4167,


  • Mercer Museum – The more than 300 artifacts and interactive stations that form the exhibit Turning Points: Civil War, 1863-1864, examine the military, social and political issues that confronted local citizens as the war reached its climax. Visitors spin a draft lottery wheel, listen to the voices of local citizens and soldiers in eight audio stations, explore a camp tent and cast a vote in the 1864 Lincoln-McClellan election. Through August 25, 2014. 84 S. Pine Street, Doylestown, (215) 345-0210,
  • Chester County Historical Society – On the Edge of Battle: Chester County and the Civil War delves into the county’’s deep division over the war and the choices citizens made regarding the military effort. Visitors can digest these weighty questions while reviewing newspapers, letters and telegrams from the battlefront; photographs; medicine and doctors’ log books; interactive kids’ stations; and artifacts from Galusha Pennypacker (the youngest American brevet major general in history). A database searches county records for ancestors who fought in the war or served as abolitionists. Through September 28, 2014. 225 N. High Street, West Chester, (610) 692-4800,
  • Rosenbach Museum & Library – Letters and other dispatches give voice to Voices of 1863: Witnesses to the Civil War, an exhibition that pierces the events of 1863 with Lincoln’’s handwritten notes and speeches about race and slavery and U.S. Grant’’s personal letters to his family. Through January 5, 2014. In addition, the Sleuths & Spies hands-on tour includes an album belonging to a female Civil War spy. July 5, 2013. 2008 Delancey Place, (215) 732-1600,
  • The Heritage Center of The Union League of Philadelphia – Established as a pro-Lincoln Republican club in 1862, this private club opens its heritage center to the public twice a week. Philadelphia 1863: Turning the Tide shows off the podium that Lincoln stood behind when he gave the Gettysburg Address and the desk and chair General Meade used for his council of War on the eve of the battle. Through March 1, 2014. 140 S. Broad Street, (215) 587-6455,
  • Laurel Hill Cemetery – As the final resting place for General Meade, along with more than 40 other Civil War generals and countless volunteer nurses and surgeons, this historic cemetery hosts A House Divided: The Citizens, the Celebrated and the Seditious of Civil War Philadelphia. The exhibit includes a rotating installation at the cemetery gatehouse that spotlights the “Elite Eleven,” a group of military figures and citizens whose contributions to the war effort epitomize the people who lived during the war era. Through May 2014. 3822 Ridge Avenue, (215) 228-8200,
  • National Constitution Center– One of the only surviving signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation hangs in the center for two months. In addition, this fall the Constitution Center is boosting its Civil War treatment, which now contains interactive exhibits on the Constitutional amendments governing slavery and its abolition, to include content that focuses on the Battle of Gettysburg and other events of 1863. July 25-September 22, 2014. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,

Permanent Collections:

  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia – The museum’’s permanent exhibition, —Audacious Freedom: African Americans In Philadelphia 1776-1876—, details the journey toward freedom undertaken by African Americans in Philadelphia, and chronicles the stories of the Underground Railroad and black soldiers in the Civil War. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,
  • Bucks County Civil War Round Table Library and Museum – The museum overflows with objects and books from Doylestown’’s contributions to the war effort, including weapons, musical instruments, photos, a Lincoln Life Mask, a tome written by Jefferson Davis and CDs of the Internet radio show “Civil War Talk Radio.” 32 N. Broad Street, Doylestown, (215) 340-7164,
  • Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library – The museum houses Grand Army of the Republic artifacts, books and memorabilia such as a blood-stained strip of pillowcase on which Lincoln lay dying, handcuffs (intended to use to kidnap the president) found in John Wilkes Booth’s suitcase, Confederate shoes worn at Gettysburg and the preserved head of Old Baldy, Meade’s beloved horse. 4278 Griscom Street, (215) 289-6484,
  • Meade Equestrian Monument – Alexander Milne Calder, the grandfather of the mobile artist Sandy Calder, and the sculptor of many of the works on Philadelphia’’s City Hall, made a huge statue of Meade atop his horse in 1887. It’’s located near Memorial Hall in Philadelphia’’s Fairmount Park, which Meade played a large role in designing. 43 S. Concourse Drive, (215) 686-1776
  • National Museum of American Jewish History – The museum’’s Civil War collection aims to show that Jews experienced the war just like other Americans. Topics and items illustrate Jewish fighting on both sides of the conflict, Jewish soldiers practicing their faith during the war, Grant’s infamous Orders No. 11 that expelled Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and the commission for the first official Jewish chaplain. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811,
  • The Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent– The museum holds a presentation sword awarded to Meade for his victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, portraits of former slaves who purchased their freedom and became abolitionists and armaments belonging to John Brown from his raid on Harper’s Ferry. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830,
photo by: dbking
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Author: Lea Lane

Lea Lane is an award-winning writer/editor and world traveler, who’s visited over 100 countries. She was managing editor of “Travel Smart” newsletter and was the “Going it Alone” columnist for Gannett newspapers. She has written six books, contributed to dozens of guidebooks, and is a featured blogger on the huffingtonpost, and

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