Looking from Seminary Ridge toward Cemetery Hill.

A panoramic view from Seminary Ridge looking toward Cemetery Hill.

Gettysburg 2004_0010 croppedIf you are like me and find great value in walking the same ground as your Civil War ancestor and he fought at Gettysburg, then it is a battlefield you need to visit.

But do it differently than the way I did. When I visited Gettysburg several years ago, it was an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment trip. I hadn’t even considered it a possibility.

If I were to go again, and I hope to, I’d go armed with narratives of the battle, maps, photos and anything else I would think could help me understand my ancestor’s movements in the battle. I’d plan on visiting several museums and taking part in National Park Service guided tours. I’d also go with a plan for taking my own photos.

But if the choice is between spur-of-the-moment and not going, then by all means go! Make the best of it and then make a plan for next time.