On day 2 of our Gettysburg stay, the weather turned windy and cold. We decided to explore the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center and Museum to stay comfy and warm. But we did have a few more landmarks we wanted to see around the town.
The first landmark was a memorial to Sgt. Amos Humiston, the only infantry soldier to have a monument dedicated to him at Gettysburg. My son has been intrigued with the story of Amos Humiston for over a year. Humiston was shot and killed on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The memorial stands where he fell. His body was found still clutching an ambrotype of his three children. The picture of his children was published in several newspapers and, from this, he was subsequently identified by his wife.
The other landmark we were interested in seeing is not too far from Amos Humiston’s monument. It is the train station where Lincoln arrived when he traveled to Gettysburg to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
Museum and Visitor Center
After seeing these sites we went to the visitor center to explore.
First, we watched a 20-minute(ish) movie about the Battle of Gettysburg. Then, we were ushered upstairs for a view of a cyclorama painting. What is a cyclorama? you may ask. Well, I certainly had no idea. My husband thought it sounded like work (I think he was thinking of a spin class at the gym).
A cyclorama is a very large painting that is designed to be viewed from the center. It wraps around 360 degrees, so everywhere you look there is a different vantage point. Pretty cool, actually.
The cyclorama at the visitor center was painted by late 19th-century painter Paul Philippoteaux, and depicts Pickett’s Charge on the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg. According to the Gettysburg Foundation, it “measures 377 feet in circumference and [is] 42 feet high. Longer than a football field and as tall as a four-story structure.” Light and sound effects, as well as an accompanying life-size diorama, add to the experience.
We then explored the museum, which was set up chronologically from events leading up the to Civil War to the aftermath.
After that, we visited with a park ranger to have some questions answered and pick up our Junior Ranger activity books. As always, the ranger was very helpful. And the kids love the Junior Ranger program. The activities help them learn about and grasp the difficult concepts that they’re seeing around them. And the ceremonial oath they have to take after completing activities makes them feel important, knowledgeable, and responsible. I can’t say enough about the Junior Ranger programs at the NPS parks. They’re great.
After exploring the museum and earning our Junior Ranger badges, we had one more very important landmark we wanted to see, back at the cemetery. We had to find where Amos Humiston was buried. Our trip would not have been complete without seeing it and being on the Earth in the same place that he was.
With help from the ranger, we found it: